Lavinia

I’ve had a fear of public transport and small spaces for around six years following a sexual assault in nightclub when I was 18 years old. The guy came up to me at the bar when I was with a male friend and asked if I wanted to buy a drink. We shrugged him off and carried on with our night. Later on in the evening I was waiting outside the toilets for my friend on my phone with no idea I was being watched. I was then strangled against the wall out of nowhere as this guy forced himself on me trying to kiss me. It all feels a bit of a blur but luckily my male friend came out of the toilet and saw what was happening and threw him on the floor. I have countless other stories from the age of twelve when I first realised men saw me in a sexual way after an older teenage guy pinching my bum in the pool to being a fifteen year old in school uniform and an older builder (50/60) making comments as I walked passed. I’ve been made to feel uncomfortable countless times on the tube as well. Public transport is essential for my job in London but it’s always half an hour of pure panic. I pick where I’m sitting strategically and move if I start to feel strange. I’ve had therapy and things have got better but I’ve found the recent news about Sarah Everard and Sabina really hard and I feel really angry and triggered. . Last week I was out with two female friends in a bar and groups of men wouldn’t leave us alone. It was as if we weren’t allowed to just enjoy our night and conversations without someone interrupting. These two older guys were sat by us for an hour or so and by this point I was really drunk. Next thing I know I was outside the bar sobbing to my friend as I panicked and I think one of them touched my leg but I’m not 100% sure the whole thing feels a blur. My friend says she thinks I’m sensitive due to what’s happened to me before which is probably true but I’m really tired of this being a constant part of my life. I feel concerned nothing happened and I made a fuss but this is the issue when you are drinking and can’t remember. But Id been sat there for hours fine and then suddenly panic? Which just makes me think I’m acting in a conditioned way ‘don’t make a fuss’. Whenever I speak about this issue women face people say but what about all the men which are terrified to lose their jobs or to make a move incase they get accused of something. That issue seems minuscule in comparison because if you’re a decent man you wouldn’t make someone feel uncomfortable. Every woman I know has has multiple experiences so it’s ENOUGH men behaving in this way for most women to know they need to send the ‘are you home texts’ or make pretend phone calls when walking back at night. Men are the ones that need to stick up against these issues and then I think things would start to change. Instead of it coming with shame and embarrassment.