Submitted by a Contributor to the #NotGuilty Campaign
By Electra Rose
I am a fragile rose and my head is a broken balloon
I am a fragile rose-
my petals have been crushed
By cruel hands and words-
They lie dead on the floor.
I am told to hush hush-
Denial that my head is a broken balloon.
Collecting remnants of my troubled rose
Is halted each moment that I froze
I thought someone was hurting me again that night.
Boys Will Be Boys
At the strike of embers.
Twelve and no reaction to their toot;
Insignificance of harassing shouts and toots.
Of the place of women;
Men may whistle, shout and toot
But to women it’s all a hoot.
Pretend you aren’t burnt
by the embers
As they’re only embers.
Shrug it off;
That’s just how it is.
We all learn;
Boys will boys.
Fourteen and at a school dance
After a glance
A boy puts his hand up my skirt-
I didn’t even flirt.
I stop him and pretend I’m not burnt by the embers
As they’re just embers.
Shrug it off;
That’s just how it is,
We all learn;
Boys will be boys
I’m eighteen and seriously sexually assaulted,
I didn’t view it as assault.
When you try not to remember
When the embers
You think nothing of the flames
When they burn you.
Shrug it off;
That’s just how it is,
We all learn;
Boys will be boys.
Society taught me women are dolls for men to play with.
I thought it was okay for them to play with me,
To tug my hair without my consent.
We need to stop normalising verbal sexual abuse
If we want to stop viewing physical sexual abuse
Embers are the start of a flame.
You shredded my soul
You shredded my heart, soul and body
And unvaryingly left
My broken paper on the floor
With your forceful, unwanted violation.
I’m not really okay
As my heart is sobbing inside,
My soul is crying for life,
For hope I will stop half dying inside
And move on with my life.
I can’t and won’t let you defeat me-
I am a warrior and I will keep fighting until the end.
I wish I never made you art
I wish I never made you art
Because you shattered me-
You violated me with your dart.
How dare you spoil me
And break my heart.
The Ultimate Betrayal
Betrayal when you broke down my bedroom door
Without my consent.
You left my sky blue crystal eyes
Disorientated, confused, overwhelmed.
Uncertainty clouded my mind
As I walked through my maze inside.
As the days went by
My uncertainty disappeared-
Denial phase was over-
I was raped.
Now I must get out of my maze
And it will take time
But I am like a rose-
Both strong and fragile.
They never plucked my petals,
They just bruised me.
My strength will save me from despair.
Acceptance shrouded my sky in dark black clouds.
Gone is my sapphire sky-
Now all that exists is night.
The night he forefully gave me against my will.
How will I ever get day to return?
That very first day our eyes first met
I had to talk to you,
I showed you the way
So you didn’t go astray.
The truth is that I have never been as forward with anyone,
That night when I said “we should revise French together”.
Except I was too drunk to know what I was saying
And I never thought I liked you
Later I wanted to talk to you more but I became shy every time
lost the will to speak,
Didn’t know what to say
I think now it is because of
What you did to me,
I just thought I liked you.
I wonder if you know
My mouth hurt the day after.
I can’t believe I wanted to have sex,
Watch a French film and eat dinner.
After what you did to me,
How you treated me.
Now I know what you did wasn’t right
You really gave me a fright
As I lay there wishing you to stop
To stop now
To stop kissing me so violently.
I thought you were like me
But just because you’re similar to me
Doesn’t excuse what you did
I felt the sexual tension in the air,
noticed when you arranged your hair
I just focused on that moment where you held me and I was glad
Because no one ever held me,
So I ignored when you made me feel bad,
I ignored the fact you committed digital rape,
That’s right in some states in America what you did is rape
And I told you, “please be more gentle, you’re hurting me”
When all I wanted to say was stop
But I was too intoxicated to say the word stop
Because I never wanted that to happen
And yet you hurt me again
And I had to say it again
And move your hand away
What you did to me was not okay
You took advantage of me
And used me for your own pleasure.
I am not a commodity to be used.
You shall not be excused
For what you did
It was not my fault
What you did was not okay
And I was too used to men taking advantage at every stage
When I was not in a state to know what was going on
And all I ever wanted was to be walked home
Or have a chat
I don’t know why I lied to myself and said I was like that
I am not like that
Now I know why I felt so confused in the morning
And asked myself “what happened?”
And decided to leave straight away
And didn’t want you to walk me home
And didn’t let you walk me all the way home
And didn’t want to text you
Because of what you did.
I now accept what you did.
I hope you realise what you did
Rape Is Murder
Virginal rape is murder of innocence.
Rape is murder of the body,
Rape is murder of the sexuality,
Rape is murder of the soul,
Rape is murder of the heart.
Picking the petals of roses
Without the consent of the beautiful rose is sexual assault.
Ripping the head of a rose off unlawfully is rape.
By Biddyshere Williams
3 months ago my lovely daughter lost her friends on her way home. She was attacked and raped by a stranger. His Uncle stumbled on to the scene and called the police. My daughter ran home. She did not want to pursue with charges. However after hearing of your campaign, she did. After 6 weeks of anti HIV drugs and losing time off work because the drugs made her feel so ill (unpaid) the case came to court and the 18 year old with previous convictions for violence and anti social behaviour was found not guilty. He broke bail conditions twice. My daughter is going to move from her small town because she is afraid of what may happen if she bumps into him. She was brave. She did nothing wrong. The police were shocked at the verdict. He will do it again. What can a mother do to make this right?
I had a lunch date with a guy I really liked and then went back to his house. We were kissing and then I told him I was a virgin and he said that that was fine and we would do whatever I was comfortable with. We continued kissing and started undressing. We were half naked and he put me on my back and came towards me slowly, didn’t say anything and forced himself on me. I pushed him off me halfway through and he asked me if I was sad.
The acceptance of the rape shattered me. I became extremely depressed and suicidal and almost jumped in front of a train. I had to be hospitalised and started a suicide attempt in hospital. The rape combined with my bipolar disorder made for an extremely traumatic and difficult two months.
I was blamed by people who told me that if you get naked with a guy you should expect them to have sex you. I was also told that as I liked him and I dated him, although he forced himself on me, it “didn’t count” as rape.
I asked him if we had had sex when I met up with him a time after, as I was in denial about the rape and had tried to convince myself I had consented. I also think it was because I had been sexually assaulted in the past and so had skewed ideas about consent. I asked him after dinner and once we in his house if we had had sex and he said no. I then got very sad and cried a lot. I asked him eventually what he was thinking and he said he was scared and that he forced himself on me and attempted to rape me. I told him that it wasn’t attempted rape but rape due to the fact penetration occurred.
|I’ve known this guy for 2 or 3 months. During this period we’ve had sex twice with no serious relationships attached. One night he texted me and I told him where to find me in the city. I had drunk a lot before his arrival and right after I saw him I completely blacked out. The only memory I have after that moment is me throwing up in the middle of the street and him picking me up from the ground. The morning after I woke up with a girlfriend who was staying at mine for the night half naked. She told me that when she entered the house he was lying on me naked, having sex with me while I was wasted and passed out. When he saw her he dressed up and run away. I texted him in the morning asking him about what happened but he never replied. I feel completely humiliated and powerless and I can’t stop thinking about the fact that if my friend haven’t been there, I wouldn’t have known anything he was doing.|
I am a gay man from the Netherlands. During a visit to London as a tourist the summer of 2009 my drink was spiked, I was robbed and sexually assaulted by a member of gang targeting gay men. I would like to share my experience appealing against the decisions of the CICA because this may be of use to victims of drug-rape.
I decided to apply for compensation two month after the incident when I realised the police investigation was not going any further. It was the only thing left for me to do.
My application was rejected by the CICA 6 month after applying. They wrote: “It was several days after you reported the theft before you then advised the Police of the sexual assault. l have considered whether his could be related to drugs, however, there is no evidence available to us that shows you were administered recreational drugs, or any date-rape type drugs.” By this time I knew of lab-results showing Diazepam in my urine so I decided to ask for a review. I also further explained the delay in reporting the sexual assault.
To my dismay my review application was rejected in this manner: “We have checked with the police who confirmed that you had a trace of diazepam in your urine….
… you did not see anyone administer anything to your drink ….
in addition, it is noted that you did not inform the police of the sexual assault allegation until around 4 days after you reported the theft.”
This was infuriating. “you did not see anyone administer anything to your drink” What kind of a fool was I taken for? My arguments about the delay in reporting were ignored. I was devastated knowing that appealing would entail attending a hearing. This meant going back to London, something very hard for me to do. In the end I did decide to appeal.
Later on I was sent the hearing bundle. I was shocked by part of the police report. “…the victim does appear delusional…” This confirmed my feeling that my allegation had not been taken seriously. On top of this I now read the officer’s comment to the CICA. “Mr B. stated that he was a willing party when ‘R.’ rubbed his groin. Mr B. did not object to this and in fact stated that he found it pleasurable. No complaint was made regarding the rub of groin but only the subsequent action…. The findings of the toxicology tests do not change my opinion of Mr B.’s allegation.”
Was this the result of being totally open and honest to the police in giving them a very detailed statement? He basically said I should blame myself for what had happened. From this I very much doubted my chances in appealing, as well as feeling embarrassed about the details shown.
By march 2011 the hearing took place in London. A caseworker from GALOP accompanied me for “moral support”. The hearing took 3 hours. Early on a member of the panel started questioning me in a rude way, using four letter words. My caseworker spoke out on this. This intervention did help, the tone was less sharp from then on.
I was lucky to have my case reopened by the police after I read news reports on similar cases 1 year after my incident. It was investigated by a different officer, I was able to get him attend to give evidence in my hearing.
There was a misconception both on the side of the police and the Authority on the effects drugging. The solicitor from the Authority claimed that the effect would be immediate, not gradual. This was vital to her argument; it would mean my drink was spiked after the sexual assault. This would have implications on the issue of consent.
Very important to winning my case was a “diary of events” I had written 5 days after the incident. The process of writing everything I could remember of the events on that night triggered my memory and made me recall the sexual assault. It also helped to piece together the events and filling in some of the blanks. From the start what had been foremost on my mind was finding out what had happened during the time I had “lost” due to the amnesia.
I advise any victim of drink-spiking to do like me. Write down on paper all you can remember in a chronological order. It helps to get back some sense of control. It may also help by giving more detailed information to the police for their investigation.
Part of the written reasons on the decision from the Appeal Panel:
“ His diary of events corroborates his statement .. the later reporting of the sexual assault to the Police, so far from being inconsistent, is entirely in keeping with what would be expected following the administration of Diazepam.
…There is no realistic possibility of Diazepam taking effect instantly upon being ingested… The history of gradually diminishing recall is much more likely”
From applying for compensation to finally winning my case in a hearing took 18 months. I am glad I did persevere. It was a very challenging but also very rewarding to finally getting acknowledgment on what happened. The money was less important but did come in handy.
It has helped me to cope with the incident. It was beneficial for my recovery. Ultimately [as with any crime involving sexual violence] it was about loss of power – control. Going through the process of applying, review and appealing has given me back a sense of control over my life. I did accomplish this and it has helped restoring my self confidence.
I do hope this information can help others going through this process.
By Sally Fraser
I remember I had these weird acrylic nail extensions. My mum had paid for me to have them done so that I would stop biting my nails. I had painted them a pearly pale green colour. He had a bald head and I liked the way it felt under them. He had a hairy chest and I liked that too, under my fingers, under my tongue, wiry and salty. He was really sweaty and I’d never seen anything like it, and I remember him taking his glasses off and me asking ‘can you still see me’ and him chuckling and saying yes of course, I was very close up. He was stubbly, rough against my ghostly white skin. But he touched and kissed me perfectly, it was blissful. Yes, yes I definitely wanted this. Not just consent, I actually asked. Please. I want you.
I kept my clothes on, I wouldn’t have been confident being naked in front of someone until years later. My first proper bra. My most grown-up clothes. But still children’s clothes.
The pain was excruciating, it caught my breath and I wondered if I was going to be able to bear it till the end. There was one moment when he let his composure or whatever his not entirely genuine demeanour was slip and sounded frustrated, impatient: just relax. But I couldn’t, so I gently bit his shoulder and held tight.
Afterwards he asked if I felt safe, and warm and loved and I said yes I did and meant it, maybe for the first time. Over the months and years that would follow I would revisit that moment, I was foolish, I had believed someone who said they loved me, that I was beautiful and special. I only ever thought of it as heartbreak, his only crime was deception, not loving me, disappearing.
Until a few months ago, when I heard he had gone to prison. It turns out as you got older the girls didn’t, if anything they got younger. And money started changing hands. Suddenly everything looked different. Maybe I hadn’t been the incredibly mature and sophisticated young woman who had attracted an older man. Maybe this wasn’t a romantic tale of sexual awakening and empowerment at all. I started desperately trying to sort through my memories. Listening to his friend get angry with him and talking about statutory rape, and not knowing what that meant. The time, years earlier, sitting on his knee and him saying I was going to save myself for him. There’s a name for that isn’t there?
Now there is usually a time in the wee hours of each morning when I can’t stop re-visiting that unfolded sofa bed. It’s almost as if I am trying to look over that man’s shoulders and see into my own eyes, trying to trust what I was feeling. Genuine desire, love, lust; on my part even if not on his. But I keep watching and asking: was that a woman or a child? I had always believed it was a woman, the woman I became, I just became her earlier than most people. But if it was a child, then who am I now?
I read your story in the Evening Post recently. It hit a nerve with me as I too experienced a similar incident after a night out with university friends. Unfortunately there is nothing unique about being a victim of a violent crime – what I would share and hope those who have a similar story could take solace, comfort or learnings from is around the feelings of guilt and sense of blame for which I continue to experience ten years later.
I am now coming to realise these feelings. Apart from minor scars I have no lasting effects – but the feelings of shame, embarrassment and a sense of harbouring a dirty secret continues to affect my ability to truly forget.
As a typical university student bonfire night was spent with friends, some drinks and a lot of laughs. After saying good-bye at their street end I continued walking towards home. I sensed someone following me only two minutes later, feeling uncomfortable I crossed the street – I heard the footsteps follow me and in that moment I knew that what happened in the next few minutes would be life changing. It sounds odd – but the sense of knowing was overwhelming. Instantaneously I blamed myself for leaving my friends, being too independent and forgetting that I didn’t have the right to walk home safely!
My attack was over within fifteen minutes and I was lucky enough to have managed to scream and raise the alarm. Thanks to a couple of strangers I avoided rape. The men who helped me that night also managed to identify my assailant.
My attacker was charged with assault and kidnap and six months later I found myself in the witness box. I felt my civil duty that day was to give evidence against him so that this could not happen to anyone else. I quickly realised that I was there to defend and justify my own behaviour – or certainly that was how I felt. Where had I been? How much had I drunk? Did I encourage his behaviour? Your timings of events don’t match your statement? You said he hit you on the right hand side how do you remember accurately if you had been drinking? I was forced to answer these questions in front of my attacker and his family. There were many occasions whilst recuperating where I felt exposed and vulnerable – lying alone in the x-ray scanner at A&E, getting undressed in front of a complete stranger so they could take pictures of my injuries or at 21 having to be bathed by my mum. This was worse than being on the x-ray scanner, that was physical, this was emotional – after everything, I was now beating myself up.
I found it tough writing this. What have I learnt? What would I impart to my younger self or others? I don’t think I have the full answer yet – I’m still getting there. What I do have so far is, share your story with others who have experienced something similar – I didn’t and wish I had. There is strength in numbers. The feelings of what you went through will be too raw for you to rationally tell yourself that you didn’t do anything wrong, you didn’t deserve what happened, that ‘what if’s’ are not an excuse and that you are #NotGuilty.
If I could write to you to tell you about what you have left me with, I think this is what I’d say. Firstly I’d wonder if I was going to be listened to, and then I’d wonder whether it was worth it, because to offer words of honesty to someone who has hurt you beyond repair takes real guts, real strength and real belief in something beyond the immediacy of who and what we both are and once were. I think I’d want you to know that I wonder for myself whether you think of me, whether you think of that afternoon, whether you take time to allow that moment to come into your mind, however fleetingly. In some ways I want to know that it occupies your mind and keeps you awake at night; and yet in other ways I don’t want a space within you or around you, you don’t deserve to have me in your space.
I wonder too if your body has been rocked with memory, if you have felt pain in your flesh, in your skin, within you and in places that it’s hard to say to others ‘it hurts’. I wonder if you have felt your body shaking with memory or when something brings that afternoon to mind. I wonder if you have felt your mouth so dry that words don’t even work anymore, that you can move your mouth and begin to try and speak to someone again and again and the words just don’t come out, however hard you try. I wonder if you have been caught in a wire web of silence and tension, wanting to reach out to one who cares for you at the other side of the room, but not knowing how to break out of the shell that you have built so carefully around you. Or I wonder if you talked of that afternoon, if you felt proud or strong or powerful; I wonder if you told someone what you’d done. Yet I hope that you cried in anguish when you recalled that moment, for you wouldn’t have been the only one.
I want to tell you that I’m strong in spite of what you did, that my life carried on, that you can’t hurt me and that you won’t have the power over me anymore. And yet I can’t tell you that, for you have for too long. You’ve taken my energy as I’ve pushed that afternoon away, you’ve taken my confidence as I’ve recalled it in my mind, and most significantly you’ve taken my body as I struggle to control my reactions to words, to memories and to sensations. You left me with my skin, and I should be thankful, for there was a time when I wondered if my skin too would be broken or if my bone would be crushed beyond repair, but my skin holds my body, my body which is full of memory, full of hurt and full of pain and longs for that memory of invasion to be removed.
I wonder if you planned it, if you meant to go that far, or if you meant to stop. I wonder what it was within you that meant you needed to touch my body so violently, to pull my clothing from my body, to force your body within my body and to push a part of that which was me from my body forever. I wonder what you were thinking when you were crushing me to the floor and allowing the path to indent my back and my legs. Were you looking into my face and wondering who or what I was, did I mean anything to you or was I just an end goal, a thing to be mastered or violated, a means to an end or was there a purpose. And when you grabbed at my breast and pushed it within your hands, did you think of my body, did you think of life that might grow within me that would see the breast as life and nourishment. And did you hear my cry and did you feel my struggle and did you not wonder whether you were doing the right thing. Did you ever wonder, did you ever want to stop. And then when I gave up my fight and you were within me and my pain was beyond anything I’d ever experienced, my breath taken from my body, my fight lost and my fear-filled grief so intense, did you wonder what was happening? Did you wonder what you would leave within my body, or out with my body? Did you know that that experience would become so singular and so hard to replace.
And I wonder how you felt afterwards when you pushed me back and threw back to the floor, when you took away my last fragments of worth. Did you wonder whether I’d make it up, did you care? And did you feel remorse, feel anguish, feel anything that meant that I was the last and not the first. Did you feel empty, desolate, lost or broken; did you body ache in a way that is both of mind, body and soul. Is it possible that my body leaves any memory with you, or is the memory all mine to bear.
And I wonder too, if so far along the journey, so many years down the line, whether it still pricks you, even just once in a while and you think of that afternoon, that moment, that time when life changed forever and a body was irrevocably changed and imprinted with memory.
“So now I fight…So now I walk and work to leave you behind…Now I choose others to walk with me, there is no space for you.”
Too long you have lived in my mind and my body and I long to shake you away, to push you to the ground, and to be the one to stand up and walk away. Too long I have waited for words, for voice and for a space to speak. Too long I have carried it within my body and my heart, too long it has been a thread through my soul, and too long it has pummelled my energy. Too long it has been part of my life. Too long you have been part of my life, and too long I have let you stay there. So now I fight, not to throw you to the floor, for my throwing and your throwing are not worth each other; but now I fight for myself, for my space and for my body. And now in my fight you have no place, you have no right to be part of who and what I am now, you have no invitation to walk this part of the journey with me.
So now I walk and work to leave you behind, to leave you in that place. I don’t know if you’re still there or if your mind and body have travelled so far already, but it doesn’t matter, for now I choose to walk away, to open the space and to show the scars, to walk with it, and now I choose others to walk with me, there is no space for you.
“I have struggled for decades, since December 24th, 1993. I was driving home from a night out. A car followed me which I noticed it beforehand. I made swift turns to get away when I thought I had. I entered through a driveway into the property where I lived and where I was raised. At the time I was 18. There were no gates closing the property off from the street. I got out of the car and a man approached me. He told me he needed to make a phone call because his car had a problem. He said he needed to come into my house. I refused. He asked for money, I gave it to him. As he thanked me and walked away, I turned my back to unlock the door to the house. He came from behind, put his hand over my mouth and asked me to not say a thing. I panicked. He held me from my throat until I begged for air. With force he ripped my pants and sexually abused me. It all happened very fast and he left. I collected all my things from the ground and went into my house. I went directly to my sister and my mother who were asleep and asked them to take me to the hospital for a DNA test. Then I asked my mother to take me to the police to report the incident.
I live in a country where such cases were very rare and no one could help me. I never got a DNA result from the semen, nor was this man ever found. To this day I walk down streets and think it might be him, or the other one, or that one. I will never know who it was. It was dark. My story has been in the dark all these years. I have never known how to deal with it, or if not dealing with it is the best. But I do suffer, so I feel like I am doing something wrong.”
The #NotGuilty campaign would like to add that as a victim of assault you are not doing anything wrong. We encourage the fact that remaining anonymous does not have to be the same as being silenced, and there is no shame in seeking the help that you need. Our ‘About’ section has useful contacts in the UK for receiving appropriate help after assault and we hope that this can be of assistance to survivors.
“Only last week whilst commuting in London during rush hour, I found myself distressed when a man put his hand on my back side and then in one sudden movement his fingers between my legs. At first I tried to justify it – busy tube, an accident, but when I turned to see who attached to the hand I looked to see a smiling face back at me. I was so embarrassed the only thing I did was ask him to ‘move it now’! I regret not making more of an example to try to humiliate him … either way, I felt violated and finding myself panicked when getting back on a busy tube (not easy as I live and work in London). So I am so proud of being part of #notguilty as why should WE suffer this form of abuse!” – Anonymous
“My attacker was someone who I have known for a long time, someone who I have cared for deeply and always trusted. I was in many ways naïve, and too trusting, and I am still trying to not blame myself. Which is crazy, I know what happened isn’t my fault, yet I still find it so hard to not feel guilt. I don’t even feel guilt for myself, but for all my friends and family who have been hurt by this to. When it was happening, I tried to fight him off, but after only a few minutes I gave up and just went into a massive state of shock I guess. After he left, I lay there for a while not really wanting to accept what had happened. So I didn’t accept it, I went into denial for a while, but it got to a point where I couldn’t handle it any longer, I needed support. My family were amazing (bar a few small minded people) and they have really helped me. Telling them was a huge relief and I recommend anyone to do the same.
I went to the glade in Worcester (a rape crisis centre) and was questioned for what felt like hours but I got through it and the people there was honestly amazing. I decided not to report him to the police for now, as I am only 16 and I am in the middle of my GCSE’S, so the added stress of that would not be helpful.
I am, in my opinion, a very strong person, but this has pretty much broken me, at the start I was in a state of shock and confusion and rarely said a word, but I soon came to a realisation of what happened, and it hit me like a truck. I have never felt so empty in my life, it feels like nothing will ever fill that void, but I hope in time it will. To be honest I can’t put into words how I properly feel, but all I know it has ruined a large part of my life. I would love to still be my confident outgoing self, but I no longer am. When I go out in public, my breathing becomes a very difficult situation and I feel so weak. I think that’s what gets me most, is how weak I feel.
But I have read many of stories posted on here and I feel more hopeful that if so many women can move forward, then I can too. I feel inspired by many and hope I can be as strong as them some day, and I’m sure I will.” – Olivia
By Amy Wilson
TW: Images of bruising after a violent attack
“Six years ago, when I was twenty, someone followed me when I was walking home from the club I worked in. It was 4am, and as I walked through an underpass – blissfully unaware of his presence as I listened to music through my headphones – he jumped on me and knocked me to the ground.
In the discussions with police, medical and therapeutic staff afterward, I learned that most people will freeze in a situation like this. For some lucky reason, I didn’t. I screamed “Help!”, I kicked wildly, I continuously tried to lift my head up to see his face even though every time I did he would punch me in the face. When he tried to undress me I kicked harder still, and suddenly, he was running away.
I stood dumbly in the underpass for a short while, unable to find my glasses or my shoes. I did find my phone, though, and I stumbled off to call 999. Unfortunately in my panicked state I couldn’t articulate to the operator where I was. A taxi driver spotted me crying and bleeding in the street and took over.
I have never felt more loved or more strong than I did after that. My flatmates got out of bed and ran through the streets to meet me in the ambulance. The police were endlessly kind. The bouncers at my work drove me to and from the club after that. Everyone rallied around.
And I have felt tougher and safer ever since.”
“What hurts me the most is knowing the person who raped me had done it intentionally. He was aware of me not wanting to have sex with him. He hung around with most of my friends, he wanted to befriend me and I told him if he wanted to be friend with me he needed to stop being creepy toward me and making it clear that he wanted to sleep with me. I made it clear to him that “I will never fuck you, you will never fuck me, nothing like that will happen, you have a girlfriend”.
I believe that not just any guy, but any human would back off when someone doesn’t want to have sex with you. Even when you tell a dog to keep away from you, the dog will do so. The day he raped me, just 3 hours earlier I told him the same thing again “I will never fuck you, you will never fuck me, nothing like that will happen, plus you have a girlfriend” and I told him to stay away from me.
After it happened, I was confused. How is it even possible for me not to know what happened? I remember going to bed and waking up, but I don’t recall giving him consent to do that. I didn’t invite him to my room. I am still confused today. I found what he did to me because he sent me a Snapchat message to tell me what he did to me. I cried and still crying right now, because he raped me to hurt me for the rest of my life. He raped me to prove me the opposite of what I said to him. He raped because I rejected him, confronted him and he would have still raped even if I didn’t say anything to him.
“I found out what he did to me because he sent me a Snapchat message…he raped me”
Before I used to think that rape was about sex, that rapists raped because they were desperate. And what happened to me made me realise rape isn’t about sex, it’s more about violence, power, control and humiliation. If my rapist was that desperate to have sex, and I said NO when he asked so many times he could have probably backed off and asked someone else who was willing to have sex with him. But he didn’t back off when I said NO so many times. Instead, he raped me while I was unconscious in my bed.
All that I want is for him to give me an explanation of why he did that. But I know that I will never get the answer of what I am looking for.”
He is a monster in my head. I have to actively shrink him in my mind each time his face, his hands, his smell invades my consciousness. My mind quickly flicks through little memories, small details that I interpret with hindsight but have no control over. No control. I can feel my mind swirling through it all, my third week of uni, away from home. My uni experience changed from one of fun and excitement to a numb routine to get me through the day.
The next months are filled with an emptiness, I drain away all emotion to avoid the white hot pain in my stomach. Going home after the first semester, my parents didn’t recognise me. I would cry for no reason, sob with my whole body. They could see me breaking apart in front of them. They supported me, fully backed me but I swear they’ve both aged decades before my eyes. It was my decision to see someone, my decision to go back to uni, my decision to report it to the police, my decision to keep my life going. My parents, my support network were my enablers and my friends. They have given me the things that were ripped away from me, control, respect, dignity, love.
I blame myself, I still feel shame, guilt, worthlessness. But I know in the back of my mind that this is a lie. I’m so thankful that I have people around me that demonstrate it’s a lie on a daily basis. I am NOT GUILTY.
What do I want to say? The truth is, I’m not really sure. The #notguilty campaign made me realise that I don’t need to blame myself for things that have happened.
I really struggled with the idea of consent for a while. The idea that me saying ‘no’ really did mean no, that I didn’t have to please everyone and not ’cause a scene’. There was a time whilst at a bar on my university campus when a guy I knew decided it was his right to be able to touch me there and then ‘come on, I can touch you anytime I want’. Whilst I was talking to someone else, he came up to me and put his hands up my top and leant into me. I told him to stop, but I felt like I was that person who was ‘causing a scene’, that everyone thought I should take it more lightly. Maybe I was causing a fuss? Maybe I didn’t have a right to say no? Maybe it was all ‘banter’ and I should ‘lighten up’? This happened a few more times, each time I pulled away from him staying ‘stop it’ and trying really hard not to let it ruin my night. But it happened one too many times so I left and sat outside. People came up to me and asked what was wrong-I just said I wanted to go home. Everyone else left for drinks in someone’s flat and I walked home. The next morning, my friend, the only other girl there, told me the same guy had done the same thing her because I wasn’t there. Like I was his toy.
As a first year, naturally, I wanted to make as many friends of possible. The first night of Fresher’s week, a group of us from neighboring flats all went out together to the student nightclub. One guy obviously had a lot to drink and kept asking me to go ‘back to his place’. Trying not to cause a fuss the first time I had met these people, I laughed it off when he put his hand up my skirt. I held his hand when he repeatedly did it again, so I didn’t have to keep pushing it away. I ignored him when he told me there was ‘no way I could be a virgin’ that I was ‘obviously lying’ and that I ‘did want to [sleep with him]’. The following day, he apologised to me profusely. He’s not a bad guy, he’s actually one of the funniest people I met at uni with a lot to talk about, and now we’re flatmates.
The reason for the way he acted was due to modern culture. Society and social media has a lot to answer for when it comes to consent. Pages like LadBible on Facebook glorify sexism to impressionable young people and the concept of consent is rarely taught effectively in schools. For many people, Fresher’s Week is all about how many people you can pull and drinking to excess. Not only is this damaging to the men who feel like they have to sleep with as many women as possible to have value as a ‘lad’, but this also puts pressure on women not to be ‘frigid’.
The president of the society I was in also happened to be my ‘buddy’ and had a duty of care and guidance during my first year. I lost my virginity to him, when I was drunk. He had no idea. One time when I was in town and had lost all of my friends, he ordered a taxi for us. Although I said I wanted to go back to my flat, he told me I was too drunk and I should sober up at his place. After a glass of water, I wanted to leave. But it was the middle of winter, on one of the coldest days of the year, and he told me to wait until morning and go back then, using his position of power to manipulate me. Still wearing my clothes, I got into his bed and fell asleep despite his hints of wanting to have sex. I was naïve. I thought that because he was older than me he knew better than me, and that this must be the right thing to do. At 3AM in the morning, he woke me up by pulling down my tights. I told him I wanted to sleep, but he carried on. Before I knew it he was on top of me and I remember telling him I didn’t want to, but that didn’t seem to matter. He carried on despite the fact I was tearful. In the morning I had to face the humiliating walk back to campus in my clothes from the night before. He wouldn’t walk with me because, clearly, that would be far too embarrassing for him. He used his position of power to make me feel small, like I didn’t have a right to question him or even (God forbid) to have an opinion of my own. He picked me up and dropped me whenever he felt like it.
After a night out, I woke up with the worst hangover I have ever had. I couldn’t even recognise the room I was in. Eventually I worked out where I was and was shocked to see my ‘buddy’ lying next to me. I couldn’t remember anything after him buying me a drink early on in the night. I was even more shocked when he asked if I could remember having sex. I couldn’t. Not at all. He thought it was hilarious.
A few times I tried to tell him what he did, how he made me feel, but I didn’t want to be ‘that girl’.
On one occasion, when in bed with a guy, without asking he initiated anal sex with me. Without my permission. Not while we were having sex, I hadn’t even consented to sex, let alone anal. I was immediately in pain, and told him to leave without explaining why. For the next 6 months, I dealt with bleeding that I couldn’t tell anyone about for a while because I was mortified about something that I believed to be my fault.
I really struggled with the idea of consent because these boys weren’t the monsters I had always been told about, the evil men who attacked girls, they were just normal students who, for a moment, forgot I was allowed a say. However, this is never an excuse. Society, especially the education system, has a moral responsibility to make sure that young men know the boundaries between what they see online and the real world.
In my second year fresher’s week, the Student’s Union accused me of stealing drinks from the bar. They took me to a room away from my friends, and checked the CCTV footage, all of which took about 20 minutes. At this point in the night, I was admittedly very drunk. It was the first time I had seen many of my friends since the year before and I was determined to have a good time. But being taken away from my friends, I suddenly felt quite vulnerable and pissed off that I was on my own waiting for someone to realise I hadn’t done anything wrong. When the manager finally came out and said it wasn’t me, I was so frustrated that I just started crying. The manager took me out into the club saying ‘ahh don’t worry you’ll have a great night’ while pushing VKs into my hand. To take someone away from their friends, to accuse them of something they haven’t done, and then to think the solution is to leave them on their own in a drunk state and give them more drinks is ridiculous. But because I had had a few drinks, I didn’t feel like I could complain after. I wasn’t sure if it was my fault, and I should have expected it. The lack of care for someone who was vulnerable in a place where they should be protected is worrying. It could have been so easy for that night to end badly, for me to have drunk more and ended up passed out somewhere without my friends and with no idea what was happening. Luckily it didn’t, but this is an example of the way that modern society, in particular clubbing culture, perpetuates the conditions for sexual assault.
I’m so happy now, I’ve got the best boyfriend ever, amazing friends and I have completely cut ties with people I don’t need in my life. I think the point I want to make is that although all of these stories involve alcohol, the not guilty campaign has made me realise that alcohol is not an excuse, and that this story is not uncommon. We need to better educate people, to teach people consent, rather than teach girls that if they showed some flesh or had a few drinks then they were somehow partly to blame. I want to stop feeling like I’ve done something wrong, that I’m ‘dirty’, or that I ‘deserved this’ because I partied like every guy at uni does without any consequences.
I am an Australian mother in my mid 40s. I was out with friends at a bar in Melbourne which had security. I went to leave the bar to go to the bathroom, which was inside and in a well lit public place. I was following a friend to the bathroom. A man walking towards me grabbed my crotch and said “hey baby”, and kept walking looking like he owned the place.
I was in shock for a few minutes, I couldn’t believe this just happened! I didn’t want to tell my friends what happened, I didn’t want to ruin the night, we were having fun, but they knew something was wrong. So I told them, we then told the security guards who brushed it off. One friend then phoned security as she was disgusted with the lack of response and passed the phone on to me. I was a bit shocked at the questions, I was asked if I grabbed the man’s arm which I didn’t, so I told them that I shoved it away as I didn’t enjoy the experience. They then asked if he made contact ( which he did). I hope they threw him out, as they were watching me while talking to me on a phone through a security camera, they told me they were. I was asked to describe the creep that assaulted me, but as I was looking towards the bathroom when assaulted, I couldn’t recall much about him except he was shorter than me and wearing a white shirt and blue jeans. I began to question if my outfit was too revealing, which it wasn’t, it was a knee length strapless dress showing no cleavage whatsoever. But now I think back, who cares if it was, it doesn’t give anyone the right to grope me. I did not ask this creep to do this.
Returning home from visiting the GP surgery one foggy November night when I was fifteen I heard muffled footsteps behind me. Having seen one too many Hammer Horror Films I had taken the dog lead with me in case of attack by (insert your own fear) but now felt foolish. The person behind me was almost certainly a commuter walking home from the nearby station. Nevertheless I slowed down in order that this person could overtake me, and therefore relieve my “paranoia”. He did not pass me. The last thing I consciously remember is his left forearm holding my throat from behind, his right fist punching me in the back, and an indescribably frightening voice growling in my right ear. My next conscious memory is of finding myself leaning backwards in a privet hedge and seeing a fist coming towards my face. My assailant punched my nose, then turned and ran off into the fog.
The details of how I got home and the reaction of my parents aren’t relevant but I should explain that in those days any kind of psychological “help” was feared as it would almost certainly be assumed that the recipient would inevitably be incarcerated in an asylum.
Likewise, unless there were broken bones to be set (noses don’t count) or wounds to be stitched visits to hospitals were considered unnecessary. I nursed my bruised and swollen face, my painful ribs, and my broken nose in the privacy of the family home.
The next evening a detective came to the house and took a statement from me, and that was the last time the incident was discussed.
Two days later I was cycling to school through the local allotments and a man came towards me on a bicycle. I felt the bile rise in my throat, expecting the worst, but he took something out of his inside jacket pocket and held it up for me to see as he approached. He was a plain-clothes police officer and he asked if I cycled to school on that route every day. When I said I did he advised me to stick to the highways since the previous day a girl had been accosted by a man on her way to school. Maybe this was true. Maybe the local constabulary were merely being hyper-vigilant after my attack (good for them if they were) but whichever is the case it would seem that they were alarmed enough to attempt to either pre-empt another incident or to catch the perpetrator.
Nobody in their right mind beats a stranger in the street senseless for no reason, or for the purpose of rape. Nobody in their right mind causes injury to anybody. But there are many people who are not in their right mind yet walk among us. Sadly the criminal justice system does not appear to acknowledge this and there seems no enthusiasm in any quarter to examine the motives of perpetrators more deeply in order to address the issue.
I could not possibly say that my life was ruined by this horrific attack. It was not. I have led a fulfilling “normal” life. What I can say, without hesitation, is that it made me very, very vigilant – to the point where today, more than fifty years later, seeing people engrossed in their small hand-held screens or depriving themselves of their aural awareness by hearing only what comes through ear-piece or headset makes me shudder. To me – overly-sensitive to the possibility of danger – those people are sitting targets for criminals. In my case it also alerted me to the sad fact that all the defence lessons in the world could not help me. Not for the first time when confronted with a frightening situation I had fainted (there may be a more concise medical term or description for not being aware of what was happening to me, but I don’t know it) so although I may assume that I struggled with my assailant, perhaps striking him with the dog chain, I have absolutely no idea if this was truly the case. I know only that I was not killed, but have often wondered if this man eventually did take a life. Without psychological intervention I cannot see any other conclusion to his behaviour.
I would urge awareness on everyone’s part. Almost everybody carries a mobile phone. Be prepared to use it immediately to telephone the police (NOT to film the event!!!) if you see someone being hurt. If you can do so without risking harm yourself, intervene. Sometimes shouting alone can interrupt or stop an attack. Support any plan to provide psychiatric services for those whose behaviour endangers others – and that means an enormous percentage of the people who come to police attention, whether they are subsequently arrested or not.
Meanwhile, we have to muddle through with the system we have, ever mindful of what we can do to protect ourselves and others.
This perspective of a rapist is double-edged – the view of a victim unknown to the rapist, and the view of the wife of the rapist – also his victim.
I could smell oil
What did he do for a living?
He ripped at my clothes
And I felt a ring
Was he married?
His breath stank
Cigarettes and beer
Had he come from a pub?
He was hurting me now
Had he been watching me?
Why hadn’t I stayed home?
Did he have a home?
Someone waiting for him?
Someone who didn’t ask questions?
Here he is…
Slamming the door…
Smelling of oil…
Acting God’s gift…
Stench of cigarettes
They told me
I didn’t listen
That he was a wrong un
His dirty nails
Blood on his hands
Just do what he wants
Don’t ask questions
copyright Anita Pembleton 2014
This poem was submitted to the campaign by a victim of assault anonymously.
“What he did to you
Does not define you,”
People say. No, that’s true,
I have been undefined.
You cut along my dotted line,
Like I were a paper doll.
You tore me to pieces.
Paper thin, maybe,
But not delicate.
Rent apart, for now,
But not beyond repair.
I am re-assembling,
Sticking the pieces,
But some of the pieces,
Are stuck in the wrong places.
Other pieces are missing,
By Megan Caitlin
When I was younger I lost my sister. I think that made me more mature for my age. See, I’m already blaming myself. But, I had a best friend, and we shared almost everything together. She was my ultimate best friend, the sort of girl and friend you rarely ever meet, she knows what you’re thinking before you think it. She knows whats wrong before you say it. You’re sense of humour aligns. I was always slightly worried about her. And I guess due to the passing of my sister, I wanted to protect her and always make sure she was okay.
Her father was very invasive. He was always there, in a creepy way. Most people commented on it. We got on. And my best friend and him got on. Although he told her about his numerous affairs, they got on. He bought us alcohol and cigarettes, and let us do what we wanted. We could watch anything we wanted, and not be told otherwise. He wasn’t much of a parent to be honest.
The first time it happened, my best friend and I were watching Pretty Woman together on the sofa. He came back, drunk, and got under the blanket. I felt horrendously nauseous, I don’t know why. Maybe it was a premonition. He wouldn’t move his hand away when I tried to make him. I kept pushing his hand away and he wouldn’t move it. The next few times I went round nothing of the sort happened again.
Then one day I was in the kitchen and he attacked me again, forcefully. I have flashbacks now and I can see it. This happened on and off for a period of six months. I used to try different approaches to stop him, but nothing seemed to work.
One of the most significant times was in the bathroom, because of the mirror, I could see what was happening to my body and I fought more than ever. I have issues now washing my face and doing my teeth but I’m okay now, more so than I used to be about it. I think it became a way of life really. I think I was so concerned that he was doing it to my best friend as well that I used to try and protect her all of the time. But it wasn’t possible. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t feel like my body or my mind belonged to me anymore. I just felt very sad very confused and very isolated. I felt trapped and I felt alone. It has still effected me now. I’m a bit funny with food. I get nightmares a lot and flashbacks and I am on the edge quite a lot. But after they went on holiday for a week and I realised my life didn’t have to be like that. I protected myself, and I moved away from her.
I told another friend about a year later, a few since then, and my mum when I was 19. It is the hardest thing I have ever been through or could imagine anyone to go through. It’s your whole normality and your entire body, what you live in, taken away from you. I don’t think many people truly realise the daily effects.
But, even though this is all very morbid and very sad, I have found that in this world there are absolutely amazing men and women that help you, inspire you, and don’t let you give up. Day in and day out. There are so many resources that are there for you. And life is so so precious and I am so so lucky in so many ways. I am so proud of my entire family and my entire existence. I have grown up and away from my trauma. It is in my fabric now, it is apart of my past, but it is not in my present. I am proud to be a woman, and I am proud to be a survivor of such an atrocity, so I can have more compassion and a greater insight into the mechanics of our existence as human beings.
We are all capable of being who we want to be and who we work at being.