So last year (I was 12 at the time) I was at a rehearsal for the school show I was taking part in. There was this boy the same age as me who I’d known since primary school. He came to sit beside me on the stairs leading off the stage (backstage so quite secluded). We were just talking at first and it was fine. Then he put his hand in my knee and I brushed it away and moved backwards a bit. This happened a few times until he had me pressed against a wall and his hand was on my thigh. At this point I gave up trying to be polite and just picked his arm up by the wrist and gave it back to him. He tried to touch me again so I got up and left. I know this isn’t as bad as other stuff but made me feel uncomfortable and the few people who saw just laughed at me being “rude” by giving him his hand back.
I was sexually assaulted during my first year at university 10 years ago by an unknown guy. I had my drink spiked during a night out and my memory went completely blank. The next thing I remember is being outside my halls of residence with the guy and I have no memory of how we got there or what happened before this point. Did we walk back? I think we might have, but it was very far and I can’t know for sure. My memory of the assault is also blurry, but it could’ve been far worse had it not been for another student who realised something wasn’t right and chased the guy away before he made it into my room. I spent the next three days alone in my room, feeling ashamed thinking I had somehow invited the abuse into my life through my own actions. I never reported what happened because it took me a long time to really come to terms with it, and to realise that I had been drugged – I had had barely nothing to drink before meeting the guy, when everything went black and have never experienced anything similar either before or after this incident. Looking back, I wish I had done something about it but I have no memory of what the guy looks like and I don’t know his name or anything about him. He remains an unknowable shadow that’s followed me for the past 10 years.
It was night time, last night and I rode my bike home from celebrating the chiefs super bowl win. I was locking up my bike right outside my apartment and he snuck up behind me while I was locking my bike up and asked, “can I help you?” I was automatically so terrified that he was so close to me and why would I need help so I said absolutely not and told him he needed to leave my space. He grabbed my chest and my vagina. I stood my ground. Yelled at him to leave. He walked away, stood by the cars in the parking lot staring at me. I felt like I couldn’t escape. then he came back over and asked for $5. I said absolutely not and was yelling for him to leave. I am human, you are human you need to respect my space and go away. I went back to trying to lock my bike up as I shook intensely. I turned around and he was still standing there. I couldn’t escape without feeling like he would follow me so I yelled for him to leave and then he came and walked over to me again. Me telling him to leave, then firework went off in celebration and he got so intensely scared of the sound that he grabbed me so hard all over my body I didn’t know what his intentions were this time and I yelled “HELP SOMBODY HELP” and pushed him off me and he ran away. I for some reason, finished locking my bike up, looking over my shoulder to make sure he wasn’t there and shaking and I said oh my god what the hell is happening, and I heard a neighbor from somewhere in the distance say “I agree” and I thought, then why don’t you come and do something to help! I saw him again and I yelled at him one last time with all my might standing on the stairs to get the fuck away. And he turned around and that’s when I sneak away, ran around the other side of my apartment so he couldn’t see where I lived. After I yelled at him the neighbors yelled “jeez. Calm down.” And I felt alone. Although I wouldn’t have remembered to yell for help if I hadn’t heard them murmuring before. I went inside, locked the door, kept all the lights off, cried very hard and call the police to file a report. They didn’t find him. I don’t even know if I have the right clothing description because it was so dark and I was so flustered on fight or flight survival mode. It scares me most to think what would have happened if I didn’t turn around. What HAS happened to women who can’t fight back in the moment. It scares me so much to think of the ways it could have gone so very wrong. And I’m grateful I got away. But it’s not okay, at all. And I don’t quite know what to do. Especially since it was outside my own home. And that this can happen to other women and does all the time. I take a vow to always fight for those being abused. I do. And I hope we all can. Rather than being like the neighbors I have and when I scream bloody murder for help, they tell me to calm down instead of coming to check and see what’s going on. Thank you
I was 15, and hanging out with my two girl friends. One of them was talking to an older guy so we went to their house to hangout. We ended up getting kicked out so we went back to my house and invited the guys over. I was in a room with one of the guys and his friend came into the room with his pants down and tried to force himself on me and when I said no he got incredible angry and started to yell. They left but as they were driving away the man threw a rock at my window. It wasn’t till later I also found out he also snapped my laptop in half. I talked to the police about it, but brushed it off to everyone else around me. I didn’t bring up him trying to force himself on me because at the time I thought they would blame me for inviting them over because I was so young. The police had to drop the case and nothing ever happened to him. To this day when I talk about it I brush it off but I’m slowly starting to realize when looking at these other stories that this is not okay.
I’m in grade six and on multiple occasions, I have been sexually harassed and assaulted by multiple boys in my class and threatened to be sexually assaulted. A couple of months ago, my friends and I were playing basketball and he started to make comments about me and my friend’s bodies, saying that we should start shaving, or that we look like sluts in the shorts we were wearing. (Which were regular shorts that I wear often, nothing revealing or crazy tight. None the less he can’t say that at any time, no matter what I’m wearing.) I thought about the one poem by Rupi Kaur about body hair. After we were done playing, I went to bring the ball inside to the gym after going outside. He ripped the ball out of my hands and began chucking the ball at me continuously and kicking at my legs. (The rest of the class was inside and only a couple of students were outside, but VERY far away) I screamed for help, but no one came. He yelled at me saying that all I was was a ho and that I should fuck myself. His exact words: “All you are is a fucking ho made to fuck! You motherfucking pussy! You’re just asking for it! (He meant sex. I’m 11 btw.) One day, I’m gonna shove this ball up your ass! Go and fuck yourself!” I’m very tough, but he is a lot bigger than me and could probably beat me, assault me or rape me. He might not have sexually assaulted me then, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t in a couple of years. He wouldn’t stop hitting me and yelling and threatening sexual assault until I could get away before he could go further. I should have hit him back, but I was frozen while it was happening. I was able to grab the ball from him and throw it across the pavement. He ran after it and I got away. Now that I recall it, many of the other students saw, this happen and did nothing. When I got inside, I was shaking, too afraid to say anything, even though I’m the person that stands up for everyone, I wasn’t able to stand up for myself. I cried throughout lunch, and, my close friends helped me get ice for the bruises from the ball and where he kicked me. Even though I was traumatized, one for the most frightening thing that happened that day was the fact that no one that saw this happen helped me or told a teacher. The rest of the day, he pretended everything was normal, even though it wasn’t. My friends and I told the supply teacher. They did nothing because the boy said that he didn’t do it. Later, he told me to: “Shut my goddamned mouth about it, or else.” I don’t feel safe anymore at school, and this isn’t the first time that it has happened to me and to other girls. I will write more of these as the attacks go on and I will tell my teacher every time that it happens. For the longest time, I was afraid to say anything about the assault. The true-crime was is that I was silent. Never let a man tell you to be quiet about harassment and assault. Don’t let him put words into your mouths! Stay strong, report and speak out about sexism, misogyny, sexual assault, domestic violence and harassment. Also, it’s never too late to report. Don’t let men make you think that no one will believe you, no one will listen, that it’s just better to be silent. Because it’s not. Don’t let them take away your voice. I
I had a huge crush on a “class clown” character in my class from the beginning of secondary school. It soon became obvious to him that this was the case and he began manipulating me, making me think he liked me, making me feel stupid and fat and ugly but wanting more and more attention from him. Eventually, I became involved with one of his friends, who began emotionally abusing me (another story – he’d say he was going to kill himself every day). But the original boy kept coming to my house, began sexually assaulting me, telling me I was disgusting and going to hell because it was cheating because I didn’t tell anyone. He did this until I agreed to break up with my boyfriend and date him. He then continued to abuse me, but me over and over again to “do stuff”, telling me that if I didn’t that he’d tell everyone about my mental health issues. I reported him to the police a year later from a psychiatric unit I was sectioned into after starving myself and self harming. Nothing was done. I was still put back in the same school and classes as him. He tormented me daily, saying I’d ruin his reputation and I was a liar and that if I said anything else he would tell everyone I was crazy and on antidepressants. His friends all bullied me also, one of them spiking my drink and assaulting me at a party. They are all still living in the same town as me, walking the streets, laughing when they see me, passing me at college and work making jokes. Feeding lies into the ears of anyone I get close to. Rape culture and gang culture led these boys to stuck together in a toxic group, ruining my life. I have come out of this looking like the lesser person and he has never been happier or more popular. These boys led me to eating disorders, suicidal ideation, self harm and more. Yet to them, it is all a joke because, to them, women are lesser beings, there only for pleasure and to be used and manipulated to their will.
I dropped by at an event after work at started talking to a group of people who were old friends (2 guys, one girl). They were in their mid-late twenties. We ended up chatting and getting more drinks and something to eat, then all ended up at the place of one of the guys with more drinks. The men then started trying to make me and the other girl make out with and have sex with each other. I told them I wasn’t a lesbian, and if I was that wouldn’t involve putting on a performance for them. They were shocked when I said perhaps the guys should have sex with each other so they could perform homosexuality for my entertainment, saying ‘that’s not the same’. They both grabbed hold of me at various point, one guy groping me between my legs, which I pushed off (If I was less drunk and if there wasn’t another woman there, I would have just run out of there, but as the evening had started out so civilised and with the other women being present I think I was confused – they had seemed so clean-cut!) At one point one of the guys locked me in his room and ‘ordered’ me to get undressed. I had already told him I wasn’t interested in him. He seemed to think this technique was what women want, that ‘no’ really means ‘yes’, just like in the movies. I told him in no uncertain terms that if he didn’t unlock the door right there and then I would scream the house down and start smashing up his room, and the neighbours would soon call the police, that I didn’t consent to anything and if he laid a finger on me I would consider it assault. Confronted with legal consequences he unlocked the door, and I’m glad to say I vomited all over his living room floor before getting the hell out of there.
When I was 18, I was walking home at night from the train station after a missed train. I took the ‘safe route’ through my parents’ neighbourhood instead of the fast route through the park. It seemed like the wise decision… However, a guy followed me and grabbed me, only 20 meters from my parents’ front door. I was lucky and managed to break loose, the guy ran off and I sprinted home. I was extremely upset, so despite it being half past 12 at night, I woke my parents up to tell them. My mom comforted me, while my dad went outside and drove around the neighbourhood, ready to beat this guy up if he found him. I am in my thirties now, and recently I realised something about this experience that really shocked me to my core – even after all this time. In this entire ordeal, one big thing was blatantly missing: police involvement. At no time were they called, or did it occur to me or my parents that it might be worthwhile for me to give a statement about the events. I still can’t wrap my brain around it: a predator was on the loose in my neighbourhood, and apparently, that was not worth bothering the police for their time for. The other day I asked my mother about this, why the police wasn’t involved, and she didn’t have an answer (even if she, too, was visibly upset about the realisation of it). Violence against women is apparently so normalised that no one is outraged anymore. In fact, no one even realises it’s a crime.
Hi, I’m 19 and I just moved to University. My first night out ever was last week, my first day, (also my Birthday). Everyone was getting horrendously drunk, and although I was cautiously avoiding the punch, the cider was very strong and I could feel myself getting dizzy, light headed: drunk. On the way to the club, a boy starts to loll around, and does the ‘I’m-far-too-drunk-to-support-my-own-body-weight’ arms hanging over random people’s shoulders kinda thing. So he has his arm across my shoulder and another girl’s and he’s chatting, slurring his words, boasting about his skill at MMA (mixed Martial Arts). And I’m uncomfortable as it is, random man touching me awkwardly kinda vibe. But then takes his arm off the other girl and grips the hand of the arm around my shoulder – which is now around my neck. And he strangles me. He’s talking about his martial arts skills ‘hey look strangle hold lol’ and I can’t breathe. He’s cutting off the blood supply to my brain and I can’t breathe and no one in the group around us is doing anything and I CAN’T BREATHE. He stops and it’s all jokey jokey lmao, look at that he just strangled that random girl. ME. And I understand why he did it, he was trying to exhibit his physical prowess; and he did quite successfully at that. While he strangled me. while I couldn’t breathe. Next day; the other girl whose shoulders his arms were being draped over just shrugs it of ‘he was just drunk he didn’t mean it’ like I should shrug this off like it didn’t matter. And I understand – random shit happens when you’re drunk. But it wasn’t her neck. And it’s been 10 days and I can still feel his hands on MY neck. I don’t care how drunk a person is, they are still THEM. They still possess the same consciousness in the same body, and a man – who by the way lives across the hall from me strangled me and no-one that was there seems to care. Only my friends from back home seem to actually be on my side. I don’t want to report him, but every time I see him I’m really scared. That was assault. And he did it because I’m weaker than him – because I’m a woman. This is not okay. Men need to understand that physical strength is not cool when you use it to harm someone, and they need to realise the connotations of drunk men restraining women. Nothing happened after that – but it’s not like I knew that at the time. While it was happening and I couldn’t breathe it’s not like I knew it was going to end. I can’t believe this actually happened to me.
Here’s a collection of incidents that have stayed with me over the past few years. The first few are more serious, shaping the way I form relationships and react to intimacy. The last two are just moments when I felt dismissed, and the last one likely a common shared experience for many femme-folk when on a night out. I’m 16, at boarding school: I have a bit of a crush. He’s my first kiss, of the times I think mean something anyway. He’s handsome, smart. We’re watching a movie, when he pushes the laptop away and climbs on top of me. I’m uncomfortable, I ask to leave his room, but I never directly say no. Condescendingly, he asks “you’re not a virgin, are you?” Without waiting for a reply, he says “trust me, I’m older, this is how it works.” I don’t say anything, because my body just freezes. Later I’ll be told that it’s not just fight or flight, apparently freezing is an evolutionary survival mechanism too. Just stay still for it to be over quickly, maybe it’ll hurt less. It still hurts, excrutiatingly. I feel like I’m floating above my head, hearing the thump thump thump of my head hitting the wall. After, he walks me to my room and kisses me good night. I desperately want him to leave. When he does, I sit on the bathroom floor, crying. I’m bleeding and bruised, but nowhere people would see. I sit under the hot shower for a long while, wash my hair three times, scrubbing my skin red to get the smell off. That cycle, my period is late. Retrospectively, probably from the stress. I am sure it’s my fault. How could I be that irresponsible? When my period comes, I am so grateful. I shut it from your mind and don’t talk to anyone about it for eight more months. Four months later, drunk, I have sex with him, just to prove to myself that’s what the first time was, just sex. Anything more is just my imagination. Although I was stone cold sober that night, for nearly a year I drink too much. I’m 17, at a party: I’m having a few drinks with friends. He’s there, but not really a friend. He keeps putting his hands on my body, I keep moving them away. It’s innocent, I think, he’s young and he just doesn’t get it. This is still in the eight-month timeframe, I haven’t admitted anything to myself or anyone else. The 8 people in the room all leave individually, for a smoke, more booze, weed. Only he is left. He tries to climb on top of me, kissing me forcibly. I am almost paralytically drunk. Luckily the rest come back before things escalate. The next time I’m at a party with him, he pushes a shisha towards me, and the coal burns my wrist. It was an accident I convince myself. He was drunk. But I’ll always have a scar. A year later I hear he’s raped a girl. Things escalate, don’t they? I’m 18, at a club: I’m out with a society from university. The club is crowded, and I can feel the anxiety building up, not being in control of your personal space, which happens sometimes due to my earlier experiences. It turns into a full-blown panic attack, and I end up crying in a corner. One of the people I was there with comes to check up on me. I don’t know him, and I don’t really want to talk about it, so I try to convince him I’m fine. The next time I see him, some months later, he makes fun of me for being too drunk to function. That’s what he thinks happened anyway. I don’t blame him, but stop going to the society. I’m 19, at a club: This encounter is not special or different, but it stayed with me. I’ve never met him before, there’s no connection. I’m getting drinks from the bar for my friends, when he pushes himself against me from behind, hard. I can feel his erection through my dress. I’m physically stuck between him and the bar, and I can feel my heart racing, my body freezing over. It’s a busy night, and none of the bartenders or bystanders pay any attention. My mind blurs. It feels hard to breathe, both because of the panic and how hard he’s pushing. Not sure how, but I slip away, tears running down my face. My friend sees me and just reads my mind, taking me out for fresh air. Somehow he follows me around all night. I’ve almost forgotten about him, when walks up to me, waiting for an über with a girl. Luckily she has a cold head and a sharp tongue on her because I freeze completely. He wants me to go home with him, perhaps the both of us, very persistently. She shuts him down, laughing. I end up in her bed instead that night. Positive end-notes: My assault at 16 (I still struggle finding the correct terms for it) pushed me to help develop my school’s sexual harassment policy, which was previously nonexistent. After over a year I reported it, for my own closure, and was taken very seriously.