i was walking home from a night out with my friends. I was wearing a skirt and we all dressed up nice because, you know, it’s not illegal to! Apparently this looked like a signal of permission for some guys to cat call me. There’s nothing wrong with trying to flirt with a girl but this was definitely not it. I was happy (we had gone dancing, i love dancing) and twirled around while walking. One group of guys was standing close and a guy called out (i live in Spain) “date la vuelta otra vez!” which literally means twirl once more or again. Of course you would understand why (i was wearing a short tartan or scottish skirt, my faves). They were smiling maliciously. And they started giggling. I will take none of this harassment and i legit, calmly, turned around with a big smile and flipped them off. I was kinda surprised i finally started to stop feeling bad and started reacting. Yeah, maybe not the most “ladylike” or expected reaction, but hey, when you cat call harassment, don’t expect anything nice. When i was smaller and things like this happened i used to fell powerless, sad or felt like i was gonna cry, or even felt embarrassed of my face, makeup, body or whatever. I would feel scared and vulnerable of leaving my home with some clothes or doing some things. But it isn’t right. And i’m done feeling sorry for myself or ashamed when it’s not right. Sure left them very surprised. I still giggle when i think about it. Hope it taught them a lesson and taught me not to feel awful but react when i can, or act strategically when it’s not good to react rebelliously (e. someone is following me!). Hope this put a smile on your face too and to all the girls and women who have felt like this, i feel you. But it’s not okay. Most of the time we’ve got to give people a taste of their medicine and a taste of our strength. There are many ways we can do it and sometimes, like this, it’s all about not letting them turn your smile into a frown. Heads up.
5 years ago, on a night out at university, a man grabbed my crotch. I was battling my way through the crowd in a club to get to the bathroom so was separated from my boyfriend and friends. A man grabbed my crotch from behind. I snapped my head around quickly to see who it was but he’d moved away. I was wearing soft material shorts and he grabbed so hard it hurt.I was so scared he might assault me again in the crowd. I ran to find my friends and boyfriend and was crying by the time I found them. Through tears I told them what had happened and that I needed go home immediately. My boyfriend wasn’t even angry or upset on my behalf but reluctantly agreed to leave, my friends were annoyed that I was leaving and ruining the night. I cried myself to sleep and woke up crying in my student halls, nobody in my flat comforted me or knew how to react. It was clear they didn’t think what had happened was an issue at all. I think about that time I was assaulted every single time I’m in a large crowd.
So I’m scared shitless to type this. English is not my first language but sometimes saying something in a different language makes it a bit easier. It’s about 5 years ago I lost my virginity but to my friends i always say my first time didn’t count. And until this day I’m still scared to think about it hard or try to understand what and if it actually means something (sexual assault that is). My first time happened with somebody from school. While I was out with some classmates I got drunk and a girl classmate told me to walk home with this guy I vaguely knew from school. He lived close to me. And I don’t know why but from the get go i told him it’s fine that you’ll walk me home but I’m not doing anything with you so don’t get any ideas. That’s kinda the last clear thing I remember. It gets really vague after that. But I remember being at his front door all of a sudden. I don’t even know what I said or what he said (looking back I was super drunk). But I ended up staying the night and waking up with pain between my legs. Knowing by that feeling we had sex. My first time. I was so embarrassed, ashamed and uncomfortable I just went home like everything was okay. I know my close friends know this but i talk about in a jokingly manner. Like I’m not taking myself serious. I still don’t know what that night meant. Did he assault me? Shouldn’t I be that drunk? I shouldn’t have walked home with him right? All those questions. It just feels like something stupid I could’ve prevented if I didn’t get so black out drunk I guess. But I also kinda know but not quite that it wasn’t alright.
I consider myself an active ‘feminist’, an activist and advocate for my wonderful fellow women-kind. I often speak about my past experiences with everyday sexism, sexual assault and general misogyny and pride myself on my ‘fending off drunk guys’ for me (and friends) on nights out. (Tips include: tell a bartender and/or bouncer if someone makes you feel uncomfortable…thats their job and they are more than happy to help…don’t resort to my favourite tactic of taking out your earrings and yelling in a drunk rage to get your point across!) This weekend I was in London visiting a friend, she told me we were just going for dinner and popping into a bar to say hi to a friend then going home..this bar turned out to be full of Made in Chelsea stars and the general sort revolving this (not my scene at all, I’m happier in a Spoons). I was told by my friend as we walked in to ‘go along with this guy, he’s harmless but will buy us Champagne and he is important to my career’. I quickly realised who this guy was: he clearly took a shine to me and I was forced to sit next to him. I was overwhelmed by the situation I was in anyway and this guy was increasingly touchy with me. I talked about my lovely boyfriend frequently and was told ‘he isn’t a real boyfriend because he isn’t here with you tonight’. I tried to politely edge away and before I knew it this guy was slapping my arse telling me how firm it is and all the things he could offer me financially. Usually this would have ended up with a face full of drink and a very public yell-fest, but I was just too concerned about embarrassing my friend so I made bathroom-excuses. She came with me and apologised for his behaviour but insisted we went back to sit with him for the free drinks. It took another person who had witnessed everything to tell my friend we should move on to another bar. It has only really sunk in a few days late; I am angry at myself for not using my usually well-used voice and I actually ended up apologising to my partner as I felt like I owed him an explanation as if I had cheated on him. If that isn’t ingrained-partiacal-systems I don’t know what is! Anyway; I hope people can learn from my mistakes. Dont EVER put your friends in situations like that, your career is NOT worth your friends body. But also, don’t feel guilty for feeling so awful in a situation that your usual Fiesty Feminist shrinks back into the background out of fear….you are still a wonderful human being and a Feminist.
I was at birthday drinks for my friend’s boyfriend. This was the second comment of the night. I had a broach on that said ‘plant love, grow peace’ any normal guy could have just asked what the broach said but he put it in the context of looking at tits and what does it say and if he wore a broach as a man it would say ‘nothing to see here’,it all felt so uncomfortable and he was talking about this in front of me and 2 others. In the end I said that the broach said, “Don’t look at my tits” and my friend who’s female said, “Yeah why did you put the broach there” in a jokey way but for me it felt like something so innocent as broach which I hadn’t even given a second thought to and just thought it looked nice – was placed in too sexual of an area…I just felt uncomfortable Third comment of the evening….this time another male friend of my friend’s fiancé… I was standing minding my own business just having a general think about whether it was time to go home and the guy said, “What’s wrong with you? Why do you look so sad?” This one really annoys me, I literally was just thinking, I had my normal “face” on. I was pretty annoyed and said I wasn’t sure, maybe it’s just my face and why is he so happy? He then started to ask me if I was giving him grief…wtf! I felt just fed up at this point and wish I’d said he was the one giving me grief. Then my friend’s fiancé came along and made a comment about the friend annoying me and that said something about things can’t be said after Me too movement. TBH this whole night was filled with misogynistic and sexist rhetoric from these things to the, “ladies you chat over there” type banter. I hated it and realised how much I value my male friend’s who are nothing like this and would never make these kind of infantile comments.
(18 yr old, just started university) I was in a club with a friend just escaping two creeps; one of which had grabbed at my friends vagina, and some stranger full on grabbed my ass. Now this kind of thing tends to happen and I’m quite nervous so normally I would have just ignored it, but because I had just been protecting my friend from sexual assault, and pulling her out of a dangerous situation I wasn’t taking any shit. I lightly pushed his chest and told him not go grab me. I was really pleased that I had said something, but it made me think I had only done it as I had just been protecting my friend – I would naturally stand up for them in these sorts of situations and not myself. I’m going to try to treat myself as I would my friends.
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.
I was on a night out, enjoying my last night in my university city before I left to go home to live my parents. I was having a great time and I bumped into a guy I’d very briefly met during my time at uni (let’s call him Charlie).We spoke for a couple of minutes but I got into a proper conversation with his friend (let’s call this friend Ben). Me and Ben seemed to be getting along, were just dancing, talking and having a bit of a joke around. He kissed me a few times and I just thought, right cool I’m attracted to him I’ll go for it- it’s only a kiss. The night drew to a close and I left the club with Ben and his two friends. Ben and Charlie said bye to one of there friends and me, Ben and Charlie started to walk in the same direction. I was just getting to a good/safer spot to order a taxi to. From there things started to get very awkward and uncomfortable very quickly when it became evident to the guys that I wanted to get a taxi and go home ALONE. Ben’s tone changed completely, he was being intimidating, and started saying I’d been horrible all night. His friend Charlie chimed in, telling me sarcastically how my makeup ‘was nice’. It even got to the point they were taking the p*ss out of what taxi company I was using – yeah very odd, I know. They were both surrounding me and spewing loads of stuff at me and I was just like “okay”. I turned away from them and was hoping my taxi would get to me asap as at this point I was very scared as to what they were going to do – they seemed pretty offended just because I basically wouldn’t put out and have sex with Ben. Pathetic. When my taxi arrived Ben asked “where’s my hug?” I just shrugged, I didn’t really know what to say, I felt panicky and awful and I just wanted to go home. I replied “I just feel really intimidated right now, I’m going home” to which they scoffed and were pretty much just mocking/taunting me. As I got in the taxi Charlie shouted “Lauren, get a personality some time!”. I just thought ‘wow’, what a low blow – all because I didn’t sleep with his friend. It’s worrying to me as I thought Ben was genuine, intelligent and interesting. It turns out he was just looking for one thing and when he didn’t get it things turned nasty. It’s a shame that I feel it’s a good thing this incident happened as maybe if circumstances were different I would have invited him back to mine and who knows what could have happened then if I said ‘no’.
Myself and a few of my friends went on a night out to our nightclub on our university campus. Whilst I was there I separated from the group of them on the dancefloor to go and get myself some water from the bar. As I got there a guy I had never met before started talking to me, I’m usually friendly back and was polite and said hi to him. This guy offered to get me a drink and I politely refused and explained I was just wanting to get some water but thanked him for the offer. I was then asked by this guy if I would give him a kiss, to which I was very clear and said no, I don’t know you at all there’s no way I’m going to kiss you. He then introduced himself as Ben and asked once again if I would kiss him. I gave him the same response and he seemed to disappear. Next thing I know a bunch of lads from the football team barged over and knocked Ben into me (they didn’t know him so it wasn’t as if it was deliberate), but by this point Ben was very close to me and put his hands on my waist. I tried to move away from his touch but I had nowhere I could go and was already pushing myself quite a bit towards the girl in front of me in an attempt to move away from here. It was very clear from my body language I was not interested in him. However, the more I moved away from him, he would just follow up behind me meaning there was even less space than before. The next thing I knew, Ben had moved his hands up and was squeezing my boobs whilst I was at the bar. I turned around and told him to get his hands off of my boobs and he did. But this didn’t seem to stop him, I then felt his hands trying to lift up my dress and put his hands up my dress. At this point I swore loudly at him a lot and asked him who the hell he thought he was doing something like that, I also grabbed his hands and pushed them away from me- trying to assert some control in the situation to make it clear that I was not interested in him at all. He overpowered me and started moving my hands towards his trousers. I quickly ripped my hands out of his grip and told him he was disgusting for trying to do that. To which his only response was: ‘don’t you want to see what your body has done to me though?’. By this point there was now space for me to get away and I quickly made my escape. My biggest regret is that I didn’t report it. I was in such a state of shock and all I wanted to do was get back to my friends and have a good night and forget about the idiot I just met and so I didn’t report it.