It’s truly a sad thing to become aware of how women have to make so many changes, in order to feel safe while doing something as simple as just walking home. My partner doesn’t even have to think and will just go out without nearly enough precaution as I take. When I specifically think back, I can see it, and can say I am one of the 97% of women that has experienced sexual assault in varying forms, throughout my years.
I’ll begin my experience at about 6-8 years old, just moving into a new neighbourhood, and being befriended from our back garden, by two boys who also lived locally who were approximately 14/15 at the time. Nothing physical ever happened, but they did leer around, and make numerous suggestive comments and remarks.
11/12 years old, attending an after school club. As a shy and very quiet girl, with not many friends, I thought I’d make friends innocently at the club, which I did with a slightly older boy (15/16yo) Being young, I thought it was just how friends hanged out, in secluded areas of the secondary school, bathroom, outside and a dark hallway. You can imagine what happened next, he would kiss, and touch, and after a few weeks, (the club was an evening, once a week). this turned to the full sexual act. I stayed quiet, and didn’t protest out of fear. He raped me. I certainly did not consent, and as it was the first time, it is something I will never forget. But I did not report it, because I was young.
16-18 years old, during a admittedly rebellious stage, still as a nervous shy teenager, exploring online. Befriended by a certain boy (18-22yo) age unsure but seemed older then my age at the time, groomed and enticed me to meet him, usually using guilt masked with infatuation, to perform sexual acts, ranging from him receiving oral to the full sexual intercourse, in secluded public places. Continued multiple times, I never once consented, always resisted, persuaded into it until he was satisfied. Cutting me off, which at the time hurt. Retrospectively I see as a blessing, although because he blocked and cut me off, I had no way of reporting him.
18-20 years old, in a relationship with my ex, who was verbally and emotionally abusive, keeping me in check and controlled. I didn’t know any better and thought I was in love, in this long term relationship. He used physical violence and rape, to satisfy his urges. I can assure you I did not consent in this relationship when the violence became known. I have posted a blog post about this here.
22 years old, a few days before Christmas eve, shopping in my local Sainsburys store with my now partner. Checking out through the self checkouts, a man walked past closely to me and slapped my ass, so loudly, my partner knew what he did and shouted at him making a scene in the store. We talked to the checkout attendant who witnessed and the security guard, who checked footage as we reported to the police. But nothing came of it, as they lost him through the CCTV footage.
I’m now 26 years old, with my 3 year old son. And although I can say this is where my story ends, I have made sure I’m conscious about what I wear, I will cross streets to avoid passing males, I will always text my friend after a night out that I got home safe, I always am aware of my surroundings out on a night out, especially when drinking, and when walking alone especially at night, I will phone my partner or my mum, for the duration of the entire walk. All the time.
I will make sure I educate my son as he grows up, to know what consent it, and how to make women feel safe.
It’s a very important lesson. I haven’t ever immortalized it into words until now. But if I can help another women who’s experienced this, know they’re not alone. Or confirm it’s not just a thought in their head, then I am proud I’ve made this post.