Shared Stories

“Your voice is the one that doesn’t count now”

By Alice 

I didn’t think I would ever be writing these words. But I wanted to say thank you. No, not for that night. Not for what you did to me, how you treated and abused me. But thank you for making me realise who I can be. I have shown myself how strong and resilient I am, how I can tackle anything and defeat it. And not just defeat it, but defeat it with a sense of understanding, defiance and a deeper sense of the world than I’ve ever felt before. I know what is right and what is wrong. I can stand up for myself and for others without a ounce of doubt or shame, I can focus on what matters and what truly counts, and I can be happier because of that. Instead of wasting my time with the trivial and the pointless, I know what matters – and importantly, who. And whilst you took that away from me, now I’m beginning to feel that I’m back, with an even stronger sense of who I am. So fuck you. You who took my voice away and stood over me whilst I died inside. Your voice is the one that doesn’t count now. If you listened to what my friend said, if you heard and understood the meaning of that word ‘unconsensual’, I hope that it planted itself inside of you, that it grows with every decision that you make, and every relationship that you have until you can’t deny it anymore. I hope they realise what you did, the women you are with. I hope that you can’t hold it in any more and you tell them. And then it will be my word over yours.

 

Shared Stories

Jessica’s Letter

By Jessica H 

Dear Rapist,

It has been a long time since I have been able to have a full nights rest. I almost forgot what it feels like anymore. The hatred I have for you is so built up and every little thing sets me off. It has been about 12 years since you stole my childhood away from me like the mean monster you are. I can’t stomach to think what you probably have done to other young girls since you got away Scott free and get to live a happy life. According to the police it is “OKAY” for a minor to rape a minor. Maybe they would have done something if it would have happened now that I am eighteen and you are in your twenties. I however, I still live in fear that someday, some nasty dirty person like you will harm me again. Thanks to you, I am afraid to have a boyfriend and I fear for my future husband.

I’ll never forget that green army tent in the middle of fall. Or the knife that you held to my throat and told me that if I said anything to anyone, my sister was getting it next. I still live in fear that if I see you in town or happen to bump into you anywhere, I am going to lose it. Because while you walk around hehe haha happy go lucky; I sit in the shadows of depression, fear, and anger that you are going to violently attack me again. I’ll never forget the evil devilish look in your eye when you told me that you would never hurt me because after all you are family. After many many many years, months, and minutes sitting in an office with random strangers telling that everything would be okay, I finally realized that everything is not okay.
They say time heals wounds; well I call bluff because those wounds that you left me with will never go away. After years of blaming myself, I just came to realize that I can’t change what happened that night. I can’t change that fact that you are blood related to me. I can’t even change the fact that you get to roam the streets every night like nothing ever happened. What I can change, is the fact that you can’t hurt me anymore because I am stronger than you, I am braver than you, and I am smarter than you will ever be. I covered my scars with imaginary Band-Aids for many years. I finally am able to rip those Band-Aids off and no longer allow you to control me. You no longer have the power to hurt me anymore.

What hurts the most isn’t the fact that you raped me. But the fact that you humiliated me and punished me for things that you did to me. The fact that I can’t sleep at night because I have nightmares of you raping me over and over again. I toss and turn every night, but as soon as I close my eyes I see your face and that green army tent with the silver rods. I see you force yourself on top of me and tell me to shut up as tears raced down my cheeks as you assaulted me. As the green sleeping bag you once had was covered in blood, my blood, is now burnt into ashes. It is weird how as time passes by I can remember more and more details of that tormenting night.

I wish I could feel what it would be like to have a normal life sometimes. Thanks to you, I’ll never know what that will feel like. Thanks to you, I question my faith in God. My family wonders why I won’t go to church and you are the one to blame for that. What you did to me made me believe that if there was a God, he wouldn’t let bad people like you rob someone’s self being from them. You may have taken everything away from me and more but I am strong and I will continue to fight your evil power and make sure you never hurt another person again. What I do know is that no matter what, what you did to me will not define who I am. I am not a victim, I am a survivor. I am neither broken nor beaten. I am battered and happy to be alive after attempting suicide twice to try to erase you from my memory.

From,
Someone you can no longer hurt nor control

Shared Stories

“I am not letting what happened to me ruin my life”

By an Anonymous Contributor to the campaign

After over a year I decided to go back to my university on a visit for a few days. Last time I was there before the university sent me home I hadn’t had the EMDR therapy that got me over my serious sexual assaults and attempted rapes.

I was worried about my trip back. Would I fall to pieces if I saw one of my attackers? Would I not be able to bear being there because of the associations of the place?

The trip was a success. I loved being back in a place I called home for a year. I saw two of my attackers but I was completely fine and didn’t get very anxious or emotional as others expected.

This made me think that I have moved on from those traumas and can go back to the university I love next year. It would have frustrated me if the place had still had the sinister air and if I had got very anxious when I saw these students as it would have made me feel like they have won.

It’s been the most difficult year of my life and just as I had finished work on traumas at university I was raped by someone. Things are getting better though and my bipolar disorder is finally stabilising and I have moved on from the rape 6 months on. I have hope that things are definitely getting better and I think my psychiatrist will declare me fit to study in June if this continues. At the moment I am enjoying my newfound stability and doing everything I can to stay mentally well. I look forward to going into my second year of university next year. Yes, I have been sexually assaulted and raped and it did seriously affect my life and halt my studies for a bit as well as my bipolar disorder but I am not letting what happened to me ruin my life. I am going to go back and get my degree and move forward with my life.

Shared Stories

I Need to Allow Myself to Process This

By Han W

I am not to blame for the rape. I could not have prevented it and I did nothing wrong as I never expected that to happen. There must have been something wrong with him to do that horrendous thing to me. It is something I need to allow myself to process this, to not have to relive the trauma but instead approach it and allow the police and the older you to be there at the time in your mind, put the younger you with you in a safe place and think of a memory from every year that has past to show it is in the past now. Reassure her and allow her to ask any questions. Repeat to allow it to be less painful.

Shared Stories

#NotGuilty in Solidarity with Consent Workshop Facilitators

A statement by Ione Wells in light of recent discussions surrounding consent workshops at universities, following the publication of an article in The Tab.

I remember my sex education at school. It told me how to avoid getting pregnant, and that gonorrhoea looks very unpleasant and so we should probably use condoms. That was about it. It did not teach us about consent, the key to healthy sex that should come before any of these other issues could even become relevant.

This is a grave, gaping gap in our education system because most people have never learnt about, or had discussions about, the nuances of consent. Many people think that consent is as simple as “no means no”, but it simply is not. Consent requires an enthusiastic “yes”. Consent can be given or withdrawn through body language, as well as words. Consent can be retracted. Consent must be mutual. Somebody who does not have the capacity to consent, someone who is asleep, or someone who is unconscious can’t give consent. Consent cannot be assumed because someone is in a relationship with you, or your spouse. Consent to one sexual act, doesn’t give consent for every sexual act. Consent, or the lack of consent, can be verbal or physical. Consent cannot be assumed by someone’s sexual history, the way somebody dresses, or the fact they choose to drink alcohol. Consent is a complex issue.

I helped to run some compulsory consent workshops to groups of Oxford University freshers last week, and when I asked if any of them had learnt about consent before they gave me a unanimous “no”. They asked important questions, one that every individual should learn the answers to: “would it be rape if somebody had sex with someone who passed out halfway through?”, “how can you check that someone has consented without stopping what you’re doing?”, “how do you know if someone is too drunk to consent?” All these questions expressed great enthusiasm to learn about consent, but also demonstrated how crucial it is that we have these discussions. The fact that not everyone knows the answer to these questions shows that, in some contexts, issues regarding consent may not always necessarily be ‘obvious’ to everyone, and thus we need to talk about these scenarios.

So when a writer for The Tab this week described an invitation to a consent workshop as “a massive, painful, bitchy slap in the face” and “the biggest insult” and called those dedicating time and commitment to filling this gap in our education system “smug, righteous, self-congratulatory” – you know what? I was insulted. I was insulted because do you know what is more “painful” than a consent workshop? The fact that thousands of men and women every year have to be afflicted with the devastating consequences of sexual assault and rape on campuses. The fact that so many people do not know how to recognise when others give or do not give consent. The fact that so many people end up blaming themselves for another person’s inability to check for mutual consent. If the thought of attending a consent workshop makes somebody “overcome by anger” let me tell you that the statistics for assault at universities are far, far more angering than the groups of students across the country trying to reduce them.

The writer claimed that the workshops “imply I have an insufficient understanding of what does and does not constitute consent” but then goes on to say “Yes means yes, no means no. It’s really that simple” illustrating, ironically, an “insufficient understanding” of consent – my reasoning being previously stated above in my description of the complexities of consent. The writer also included a picture of himself holding a sign that read “this is not what a rapist looks like”. But when around 90% of perpetrators of sexual violence are known to the survivor, we cannot claim that there are any defining characteristics of a rapist. The myth that rape can only be committed by strangers in dark alleyways is one of the exact myths that we hope to combat in the workshops. He then went on to state that “You’d think Russell Group university students would get that much, but apparently the consent teachers don’t have as high a regard for their peers as I do.” I’m not sure why “Russell Group university students” are somehow exempt from needing consent lessons. Is the writer trying to say that people who don’t go to a Russell Group university are more likely to assault people? Or that a Russell Group education entitles you to somehow not need consent education? Both these assumptions are false. I go to a Russell Group university, one that has hit the headlines repeatedly in the last decade due to rape and assault cases on campus, because many students still do not know where the lines are between consensual and non-consensual sex, and consent education is a relatively new phenomenon. Regularly churning out essays in a library that is hundreds of years old does not make you automatically clued up on consent, or somehow socially superior – to think otherwise is both elitist and dangerous.

My fellow students, colleagues and I do not raise discussions about consent in schools and universities to “selfishly make [ourselves] feel better”. We do it because we want to live in a university environment that takes sexual assault very seriously. We want a student environment that establishes a zero-tolerance policy to non-consensual sexual behaviour from day one. We want a culture where there are no “blurred lines” to any situation involving consent, and one where everyone treats each other with the respect that they deserve. The writer asks for “a little respect for the intelligence and decency of your peers” but my greatest respect is for those who are willing to have discussions about consent. Those who are willing to ask questions, to help each other combat myths, to stop making dialogue surrounding consent taboo, and to accept that they may have not known about all the nuances of consent before, but are willing to educate each other further. Those who are willing to help to stand up to one of the most prevalent acts of violence that our population faces.

It is not an insult to somebody’s “intelligence” to suggest that we should all be learning more about an important societal issue. When a peer or tutor at university suggests that I read more about a crucial academic topic, asks what my views are on it, or recommends that I go to a lecture about it, I do not feel patronised. I do not feel a threat to my “intelligence” because we all know that nobody knows everything, and that we are all constantly learning. Instead, I feel incredibly lucky that I work in a supportive environment where people are committed to mutually making each other’s working lives better. Why should the infiltration of consent lessons into education be viewed any differently, when it comes to our social lives? Especially when consent has an importance in our lives that stretches far beyond any exam result or dissertation.

Since the article was published, many people have leapt to criticise those who have expressed resentment towards the notions that the writer expressed in the article. People on Twitter have told me that I’m what a “false-rape accuser looks like” and that I am “demonising men” by arguing against this article, in favour of consent lessons. But we’ve never said that consent workshops are just for men, or that only men are perpetrators of sexual assault. Assault is an issue that affects men and women, and is committed by men and women, and we highlight this fact in our workshops. We’ve never ‘falsely accused’ people of rape by raising educational discussions surrounding consent. On the contrary, we hope to make definitions of rape clear, so that ‘what is rape’ and ‘what is not rape’ are definitively known concepts, not blurred by any falsities or myths. Others, more irrationally, responded to me saying that they are going to “drink my feminist tears”, and alike, for speaking out about this. But you know what? There have been tears. Many tears shed by many thousands of women and men around the world due to sexual assault. You can try to “drink” them if you want, pretend that they do not exist, or that we’re “crying over nothing”. But whilst you pointlessly “drink” them up, thinking that will somehow solve the issue, we are going to swim across and get out of this epidemic the other side. Swim, because for too many years the voices of survivors, and the discussions surrounding consent, have been drowned and I, for one, am in solidarity with all those finally raising these issues to the surface of our education system.

Shared Stories

Catherine’s Letter

By Catherine

To the one who causes me to scratch myself,

When you said to me “Not all men are like that” meaning not all men are attackers or rapists were you trying to convince both of us that you wouldn’t hurt me because you were a rapist?

When you said to me that you could end up being unhealthy for me did you mean that you could rape me?

When I said that I had never been raped but seriously sexually assaulted and you said it was still a violation did you think of raping me because it was the only thing that hadn’t happened to me? That is what you did, you raped me.

When we were in your bedroom and you said that we would do whatever I felt comfortable with was it all part of your twisted game where you would in the end do the opposite?

When you lied when I asked if we had had sex after 45 minutes of extreme anxiety stopping me from saying the words and you denied ever penetrating me was that a way for you to get power over me by making me look like a fool in front of you?

When you denied raping me not long after admitting to raping me did you do that to make me look like a fool and a liar and because you knew that because I had feelings for you and you would trick me into thinking I had been hallucinating?

What was your intended result from the rape? Did you want me to get suicidal or at least try and kill myself? Did you want me to start self harming by scratching again to deal with the pain of what you did to me?

Shared Stories

“You need to learn what it means when a girl says ‘no’ or ‘stop'”

By Anonymous Contributor 

I trusted you. You broke me even though I felt completely broken already. I blamed myself for months for what you did and I have now come to the conclusion that I did nothing wrong – it was all you. I shouldn’t be the only one to suffer from this and I will make you pay. No more hurting people like you hurt me. You need to learn what it means when a girl says ‘no’ or ‘stop’. You are a rapist and a monster and deserve to be behind bars.

Shared Stories

I want to be able to be Intimate

By Anonymous Contributor

I am not the same anymore. I am not comfortable in my own body. What you did to me was disgusting, and somehow you seemed to think that it’s ok to touch someone without asking them? You have wrecked my relationship with my partner. I don’t feel like myself anymore. I am annoyed that I just froze. I wish that I’d got up and started beating you up. I feel sick everyday, I barely eat. I want to be able to be intimate with my partner and I can’t because I have flashbacks. The police said there wasn’t enough evidence and you claimed that I consented. You obviously have no clue what consent is or what it means. I said no to you, but you ignored me. I can’t cope.

Shared Stories

A Letter to Myself

Anonymous Contributor

Dear my current self,

Firstly, it was not your fault and he was 100% to blame for what happened. Stop blaming yourself for trusting him, you had a right to trust him. Secondly, remember that you are very strong. You have got through previous traumas with the help of therapy, and no matter how hard it has been you have battled bipolar disorder. You can get through the aftermath of rape and get your life back. You will be more confident again, be happy and alive again. The days are already much better in general but just keep on going even when sometimes something knocks you back and you despair that you will never be okay again. You will be okay again.

Shared Stories

I Know It Wasn’t My Fault And Yet I Feel Guilty

Anonymous Contributor

I know it wasn’t my fault and that the perpetrator is always to blame and yet I feel guilty about what happened.

I feel like I should have seen it coming. Looking back it seems obvious he was going to rape me and I could have stopped it. I don’t blame myself for undressing, or dating the man as others have, but I feel I blame myself for trusting him and going back to his house on the first date instead of being more cautious.

I know that it wasn’t my fault, and it was 100% his fault, but after being blamed by so many people and living in a society where victims are constantly blamed I find myself subconsciously feeling guilty.

Shared Stories

“I am not alone with this anymore and you are not going to make me suffer”

By Han W. 

I am not the one to blame for my rape in 2009 and I need to remember that. The stranger was clever in the way he made me think it was my fault and the texts afterwards, and a year later, made it seem like he was not in the wrong. He was powerful and that attack has stayed with me. I wonder if it affects him?! I blocked it out, did not dare tell many people. Then years later I develop seizures from the trauma, my body and brain telling me I cannot be in control of this. I need to deal with it. I have had to quit my teaching job, get therapy and tell people close to me. I am mentally ill and pysically exhausted from the non-epileptic seizures. This is effecting not only me but my family. I am angry. I have understood a lot more about assault and the effects of it over the last year and it is never the victims fault. I blamed myself for going to his room but I never wanted sex, I was crying and screaming and he never stopped or was concerned. He knew what he was doing that October night. Luckily I did not catch an STI and had to take the morning after pill to prevent pregnancy. I have told the police six years on. They have been so supportive and helpful. Victim support have been great in providing me with an alarm and helping me apply for compensation due to loss of earnings. I hope we catch you, but I am not alone with this anymore and you are not going to make me suffer.

Shared Stories

A Letter to My Assaulter

By Beatrix Mortimer

This is letter written to you. I didn’t know anything about you until 2 days ago when someone flippantly told me your surname, like I should’ve known it. In the same way you probably don’t see me as a real person, I hadn’t seen you as a real person. You were a darkness to me. A darkness with eyes is all I see. It was easier to imagine you like that because I want to have faith in men. I want to believe that they are not capable of taking such advantage of a woman in possibly the most vulnerable position they can be. I did not want you there, I told you to leave, to go away. But all you saw was an object and that object happened to be a real person with a life, with a boyfriend, with a family and with a lot more to give. So I am writing this to make you understand that I am a person.

All women are people with decisions and thoughts and objectives. You took advantage of that and used your strength to overpower me. I thought I was strong, physically and mentally. You have made me stronger, physically and mentally. I know that I can fight now and survive. Yet at the same time I’m not strong. You have taken over my life. I may still be fighting but you have chipped something away which I may never get back. I want to be able to breathe again, I don’t want to wallow in self pity anymore, I don’t want to feel different from my friends anymore, like the distance I feel because they can never understand fully what I went through.

I guess then strength isn’t always the best. I want people to understand, I want them to see my pain, to create awareness. I don’t want people to hear my story and immediately say ‘well you should not have gone to the toilet then’ and ‘why didn’t you fight back’. But then I feel empowered. Those people that are quick to judge empower me because then I feel strong and I feel like a woman. I feel like a woman who can do anything because I survived and all I want is to tell others that they can survive too. I am allowed to walk down the street alone, hell if I want to go to the toilet I can. I did fight back. I used my instinct and I fought back. But then I didn’t. I can’t. I can only fight in my mind. In my mind I can go anywhere and do anything and no one can stop me because I’m fearless.

This is not reality. My reality is not fearless; you took that away. I cannot go anywhere by myself. I have a constant fear if I’m alone at night, a constant fear. No one can really experience that fear. You made me want to succumb, to get it over with. What would have happened then? Would I feel worse than I do now? Would I feel less guilty about my feelings and anxiety because something actually happened? There’s another male view of it – ‘Nothing actually happened’. Another ignorant person who can never understand what happened. Yes nothing actually happened but what’s worse is that sometimes I wish it did, because my feelings feel inferior. But how can one measure feelings or experiences. Sexual assault is exactly that; sexual assault. It is using power and violence to force women to do something against their will, and that has no scale.

You affected me, did I affect you? Did I make you feel like the weight of the whole world is crushing down on your chest every time you think or talk about that night? Did I make you form a thick shell around you when new people come and talk to you? Did I make your body tense up and remember what it felt like to have another’s weight crushing down on you whilst you are struggling? The marks may have gone but the body never forgets. The mind never forgets. You have affected my body, my mind, my relationships. Maybe I have affected yours. I hope I have. I hope that you think about your actions from that night while you spend time waiting in prison. Was it worth it? For just an iPhone and a bit of prey. What did you think whilst walking down that road? What went through your mind as you saw me crouching there? ‘Oh I know I’ll just quickly have sex with that’ Did you see me as a person or did you just see a body? You tried to kiss me. Did you think if you pushed me to the ground hard enough or suffocate my screams enough I would reciprocate? Did you think I wanted that? Did you think I was asking for it? I really hope that now you understand the meaning of consent. It has affected your life too, let this be a lesson but it’s disgusting that it took affecting my life so dramatically for you to be taught that women are not objects made for men. Seriously though what was going through your mind? Did you brag about it to your friends afterwards or were you ashamed? Did you tell them how you got this brand new iPhone 6? Was that just it for you; a missed opportunity and a brand new phone. Look where that has got you. You are not brave, you are not a fighter, you are an ignorant boy.

While you are waiting in prison, hopefully forced to contemplate your actions. I am here, outside free in the basic sense of the word. I am free to walk around at night, I am free to have fun with my friends, I am free to have fun with my boyfriend. You may have destroyed my nerves but you have not destroyed my love. I love. I love my friends, I love my family and I love my boyfriend. You have not rid that of me. I love and it is the best feeling in the world. Do you know how that feels? I love and I am loved. I am loved for me and I guess you have added to that. You have made me capable, you have made me realise that love is the most important thing to me. Happiness and love above all. To love now means so much more because I can feel this even though you showed me the opposite of love. You showed me hate and menace and the abuse of power.

I am safe in love and I know that you cannot have that. I am safe with my boyfriend, with my friends, my family. They make me safe. They make me happy. They empower me. I empower them. I show them my strength. I show them that I can succeed. Although they may never understand I show them that I can survive this unimaginable ordeal and that empowers me.

I am empowered. I am safe and I am loved.

 

Shared Stories

You Can Never Take Away My Voice

By Catherine 

TW: Suicide, PTSD

To the man whom I trusted with my body, heart and soul,

I want you to know what a state I was in after I accepted what you did to me. I have never wanted to die more than I did then and if I hadn’t asked for help I might not still be here today. For two weeks in hospital I cried about three times a day or more about the rape. I painted lots of very dark paintings which all express what a dark place I was in because of what you did. I hardly smiled and lost the life within me- I wasn’t myself anymore. But you didn’t win because I didn’t kill myself even though I came so close and even wrote a suicide note which I later got rid of. I am smiling more again and more of my lively self once more.

I want you to know that you have no more place in my life. The two times I texted you expressing feelings about my rape are the last messages you will ever receive from me. I have unblocked your number and teared up and thrown away the piece of paper with your number written on it.

It is important that you are aware that in my very last message to you I partly lied. I wanted to believe that you have no power over me whatsoever but you do because I am still deeply hurt because of what you did to me. I may not be suicidal anymore but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle to get through life knowing I was raped. Also, I may have gained back some power from you by pushing you off me halfway through but that doesn’t change the fact you raped me.

If I am honest, I am incredibly astonished that you, someone I trusted and who was my friend ‘before anything else’ as you yourself said, raped me.

I want to know why! Why did you decide to damage another human being so much?

You had no right to take away my virginity against my will, take away my choice, not use a condom and rape me especially as you knew I was vulnerable as I had already been assaulted before and had bipolar disorder and PTSD.

I hope that if you don’t feel it now that one day you will feel very guilty for the rest of your life for what you have done as you rightly should.

I no longer have any romantic feelings towards you and I am learning to trust men again including a new male friend.

I refuse to let what you did to me defeat me and stop me from moving on with my life but it will take time to heal the hurt and get my confidence back.

One thing is for certain, you may have taken away my choice and violated my body but you never took away my voice. I said to you in person and over text message what you did to me and I told your close friend what you did to me even if she took your side. I will keep on speaking up about sexual violence whenever I can through the power of words and sharing my experience so I can raise awareness and make others feel less alone. It is through using my voice that I am getting back the power you took from me. You will never take my voice away from me.

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I Refuse to Let you Have Power Over Me

Electra Rose

I refuse to let you have power over me

Like a boulder you crushed me mentally, emotionally, sexually.

You left a negative imprint upon me.

Now my scar from rape is healing-

I cannot erase the wonderful memories with you from my mind,

I still wear the dresses I wore with you

And the underwear.

I refuse to let you have any power over me-

I am strong and I now feel absolutely nothing towards you

Except my locked up anger.

Shared Stories

“He Just Asked Me Why I Hadn’t Punched Them”

It was dark out and pretty late and I was waiting for the bus. I don’t remember where I was going. The street was empty and I waited alone. Three men walked up, I thought they needed to take the bus too. But they came over to me and screamed at me in a language I didn’t understand. Two of the guys started to touch me and they held me by my throat so I couldn’t breathe. Hands were everywhere on my naked body and my hands touched body parts I didn’t want to touch. Everything happend so fast that I couldn’t even think of what to do, or how to get out. I don’t know how long I’d been standing there, it might have been seconds. The bus came and the driver saw what happened and put up the big light and started honking. I got out, fixed my clothes and got in the bus. The driver asked if I was okay and gave me his card. I don’t remember where I went with the bus. I don’t remember how I got out.

I do remember how I tried to tell my (now ex-)boyfriend what happened, but before I had a chance to say anything he just asked me why I hadn’t punched them.

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It Was Only After That I Realised How Bad It Was

By Tegan

Mine happened at sixth form college, not uni, but I thought I would share it anyway, as I haven’t told many people about this, not even my parents. I was at a friend’s birthday party, and we were camping overnight in her garden as a few of us were from further afield so we stayed the night. A bunch of guys from her school stayed as well, even though we were told we would have the tent to ourselves. They ended up hotboxing the tent (charming) and then coming into sleep next to us. Needless to say, with three guys and three girls, it was a bit of a squish.

The next morning, I woke up and I felt really weird. It was a few seconds before I noticed that the guy next to me had his hand in my pants, just casually rubbing my vagina. I was horrified. I wasn’t sure what to do. I lay there paralysed for a few seconds before turning over quickly and saying something to him. He turned back around and went back to sleep and I decided to do the same. It was only until after they had gone when I told the other girls what happened that I realised how bad it was. I told a couple of close friends when I got home, one of whom told me to tell the police, but I just thought “why would the police care about something so trivial?”

I messaged one of the guys on Facebook to tell him what his friend had done. He just replied “I’m sorry, he does weird shit when he’s on a comedown”. And that was that. Nothing else came from it: I didn’t tell my parents or anyone else, and luckily I just got over it quite quickly. But from time to time I think about it and feel a bit gross, and wonder why it wasn’t such a big deal.

Shared Stories

“My Rapists”

I’ve become used to saying the word rape. I’m close to being able to drop it into everyday conversation. I’ve come a long way.

A term I am not comfortable with is ‘my’ rapists. Or ‘my’ attackers. They are rapists. They chose to rape me. They don’t deserve to ever lose that label.

But they are not mine.

When I lost that fight, they sickeningly took ownership of my body. They made me one of their victims.

If they were mine, if I ever had any control over them I would make sure they can’t rape anyone else. Unless I win this fight I don’t want anything to do with them. Unless I can prove that they made me their victim and a judge gives me the power to influence their future, no part of them is mine and I don’t want it to be.

Until then, they’re free to be anyone’s rapists.

Shared Stories

“Why can’t I drink as much as I want and still not get raped?”

By an Anonymous Contributor to the Campaign

I once wrote a line in a poem that “All of Southern California smells like the same boy.” And it’s true, it does, and it probably always will. Why can’t I get this one boy out of my head, even though years have gone by and I am happily with someone else? Because he sexually assaulted me.

For the longest time, I would have felt ridiculous to even call it that. Part of me still does, which just makes me angry. It is what it is, right?

He was a nice enough guy. Not that cute, and one of my close friend’s (AJ) good friends. We’ll call him X. AJ was best friends with X’s ex-girlfriend, who had just broken up with him for sleeping and subsequently getting chlamydia from a stripper. So it goes without saying he was not on the top of my to do list that night. But it was his birthday, so we drank and drank and I was so drunk, so drunk that it stands out to me as being one of my most drunken nights out I’ve ever had. We left the club, 4 of us altogether. AJ and a guy she met, and me and X. It was obvious that AJ wanted to hook up with her guy, and so it was suggested that all 4 of us head back to X’s place who lived alone. I was so drunk I don’t remember ever getting to his place or what happened in the moments leading up to what I do remember: this guy with his head in between my legs. It was a complete and utter violation and I felt that as it was happening. I felt it and I wanted to act but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t because I was shocked, because I was in and out of consciousness, because I wasn’t sure who I was with or where I was. It was all very just: shocking. And I remember the things he said to me…about how I was “tight” and now his words literally haunt me…follow me everywhere I go…and it doesn’t feel right to have this stranger’s voice constantly in my head.

The toughest was feeling like I didn’t belong in any kind of category. It was my fault, I was the one who drank so much alcohol, and who knows if when he asked (or if he ever did) for consent I said yes. I very well could have said yes, the problem being that I don’t remember. So who’s fault is it? The fault feels like mine, and still feels like mine, for getting too drunk. I was feeling so bad about it, especially since he had performed sex acts on me that no one ever had done before. It made me feel ashamed and embarrassed and now even years later when I think about it the urge to hide my face in my hands and cry is strong.

After a few weeks of feeling awful I decided to tell a friend. Not the same friend that introduced me to him, but a different one. She immediately called it rape which completely threw me for a loop. I think I even told her “you’ve got to be kidding me.” But then it started to all add up…why I was feeling the way I was feeling…and then I felt worse. Why did I feel worse? Because it felt like I let my friend talk me into believing he raped me when he really didn’t. Was he really such a bad guy? Even though all signs pointed to yes, I still struggled to accept that. Maybe I had wanted him to do that stuff, even if I don’t remember, and who am I not to believe him if he says I wanted him to do it?

But I never gave him the opportunity to say anything. I never asked him what happened. I woke up the next morning naked and alone and afraid and managed to gather up all my belongings sans underwear and leave. AJ assumed I had as good as a night as her, and I let her believe it. I even blamed AJ more than X, because she was the one who trusted him and promised me he was a nice guy. I realize now the blame should go to no one, or to me. But not to me, so no one.

Do I have any advice? My advice seems sad. Don’t drink too much. What kind of advice is that? Why can’t I drink as much as I want and still not get raped?

I guess I’ll never know.

Shared Stories

The Impact Of Sexual Assaults

By an Anonymous Contributor to the Campaign
I have been sexually assaulted whilst intoxicated by 7 different men. 2 of them attempted to rape me.

On four occasions, even though I was drunk I told the men that I didn’t want to sleep with them and so they did other things to me and coerced me to do things without my consent.

On one occasion I was blind drunk and a man indecently assaulted me. I didn’t kiss him back and yet he continued to kiss me and I didn’t stop him until he started touching my breasts and then was trying to touch my vagina. I made an excuse to him that I needed to see my friend to and gave him my number because I was scared and wanted to get rid of him.

My first kiss was not consensual. I got into a guy’s bed just because I didn’t want to sleep on the floor like my friend, not because I wanted to do anything sexual with the man. He kissed me and for the most part I didn’t kiss him back or forced myself to kiss him back-the kiss was forced on me. He also dry humped me and would have raped me as he assumed I wanted to have sex with him and said he was going to get a condom. I had been very passive whilst he had touched me whilst I was in a state where I couldn’t give consent as I had had far too much to drink and this was impairing my ability to say no.

One situation was complicated. I consented to kissing a man I met after going to an event and then going for a drink with him but not him touching my breasts, vagina and bottom. I froze like in many instances when I have been sexually assaulted and was unable to do anything but I felt very uncomfortable.

The sexual assaults made me depressed and the final acceptance of the sexual assaults caused a nervous breakdown which made my depression even worse. I tried to go back to university for the next year but became suicidal to the point where I woke up thinking I wanted to take an overdose and so I had to take the year out to deal with my PTSD symptoms stopping me from going back.

Shared Stories

Two Contributors Talk About Self-Blame

There was a time I let go of myself….I had broken up with a long term partner but enjoyed feeling single again. I had my family & friends and with that came a great social life. On one typically great night out I met a man. He was tall, freckled and Irish. I didn’t need to know much about him and I told him enough about me for him to be interested that one evening. One thing led to another and before I knew it the sun was up, numbers were swapped and I was leaving. A while passed before we unintentionally bumped into one another again at a local bar. A similar night awaited us only this time he pulled up at my house a couple of hours later. A lot had been drunk that evening but it was clear what was about to be laid out on the table. However, I blacked out. When I woke up the next day, he was quick to leave. I went to get tea before remembering that he wanted to have sex without a condom and I said no. Surely it was left just like that? Literally, within minutes my phone was bleeping. I received a text saying to take the morning after pill. This 27 year old man, after being told I did not want to have sex with him without a condom, had gone and put a condom on, only to pull it off when I wasn’t looking. Such a situation makes it difficult to understand who should be blamed in today’s society. I took the blame. I laughed it off with friends but felt terribly stupid and violated beneath. What could I do? I didn’t know so I left it but realised many years later that I wasn’t alone and there are a number of women out there who have suffered the same fate I have but never had the courage to talk about it.

By an Anonymous Contributor to the campaign

My first time was a rape when I was 17 nearly 18. This had been my first experience with a guy. I was confused I didn’t tell my parents or friends till a few months had passed. And since around 18 till 25 or 26 I was floating from one abusive relationship to the other. Maybe in some ways I thought I deserved it the first assault because I met the guy or how I was dressed. I eventually got counselling in a rape crisis centre. Which helped another I stopped hating myself met my current partner and I am currently setting up my own business.

By an Anonymous Contributor to the campaign