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When the #metoo movement surfaced, I first didn’t think I had anything in common with it. "That hasn’t happened to me, I don’t know what they mean.” My second approach after reading countless stories on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and everywhere else all these strong women were sharing their stories was, “Okay, well, maybe I have some experiences, BUT I’m too shy and embarrassed to let the world know.” I’m obviously all for women empowerment and women rights, but it was different when it was about me. I didn’t have the courage, and what would my parents say? Would they be disappointed? Embarrassed?
But if there’s anything I do believe in, it's the healing power of writing, at least for me. There’s nothing as soothing and comforting then to put black words on a white, blank page. I’m a creative soul and most of the time, my head is completely filled with all kinds of weird thoughts and overthinking. It’s not until I write about certain things that I can find some clarity.
So I thought I’d give it a go, get it all out there and then brush it off. Please know that although I’m writing this, it does not affect me in my everyday life, and of course I know that it could've been so much worse. But this is my experience and just as bigger events should be shared, so should smaller. Anything to push on the fact that regardless of the experience, if it feels wrong to you, then it is. Anything to help recognise how we shouldn't let anyone treat us.
When I was 15, I got together with my first ever boyfriend; oh man, how in love I was. He was like a GOD to me, like all first loves are. He had friends, obviously, and there was a big group of us always hanging out. One night, we decided to celebrate one of my best friend's birthdays with a big house party. When you’re 15-16 years old, you can’t handle alcohol at all, regardless if it’s one beer on an empty stomach or half a litre of vodka. But we all drank that night, and I was the one who’d forgotten to eat that day. Result—I "passed" out on the upstairs sofa at about 9:30 PM. A little side note to understand the younger version of myself—sometimes if I got a bit too drunk, I liked taking little "naps" whenever I required. I would be completely aware of what was going on around me, I just needed to close my eyes for a bit. Which was the case at the night of this birthday party; I needed to rest my eyes, but I was still aware of my surroundings, although in a state of drunken cloudiness. I don’t know for how long I’d be laying on that yellow, fake-skin sofa, but I knew my boyfriend had been up a couple of times checking on me. But one of the times, it wasn’t my boyfriend, it was his best friend. This best friend, let’s call him J, started to feel me up, first underneath my bra, but went on to put his hand inside my underwear. Thankfully for me he soon thereafter heard someone coming up the stairs and quickly took his hand out. I was mortified and sobered up faster than an alcoholic trying to buy more booze. I told my boyfriend what had happened, but didn’t dare to tell him who it was. I didn’t want to ruin their friendship, and also I was fairly drunk. If I could talk to my 15-year-old self right now, I would say, “Screw their friendship, it’s all BS anyway, that friend is fucking disgusting. You don’t deserve this” I didn’t tell my boyfriend who it was until we broke up.
When I was 16, this boy made a comeback; not my boyfriend, his best friend. Yeah, that one. My boyfriend and I were no longer together at this point. Open bridges for J, he thought. We’d been at a party on the countryside and had to take our bicycles back and forth. J didn’t have one and thought he would give me a ride on mine. By this time, I was still young and naive, and thought that what had happened last year was sort of forgiven and forgotten about. We were way ahead of the others when he all of a sudden stopped and got off the bike. So did I. He then proceeded to put his leg behind mine and pushed me over so I fell backwards on to the ground. Before I even started to think what the hell was going on, he had his penis out, pushing it towards my lips telling me to “Open my mouth.” Obviously I didn’t, I pinched my lips together harder than when your parents are trying to feed you something gross, pushed him off, and stood up. He quickly stood up as well, telling me again to “Open my mouth.” Just to prove a point, I did, upon where he tried to push me over again. It didn’t work this time, and thankfully our friends finally caught up with us. He dropped me off at home, and since that day, I have had nothing but hate and disgust for that boy.
When I was 17, I was at a house party during a hot summer night. Mainly people I’d never seen before, but I had two of my closest girl friends there. We drank a lot. There was a boy there I kind of fancied, he fancied me, one thing lead to the other, and you know the rest, all good. Later during this night, I’d gone to bed, the party was fizzling out, people went home. I was alone in a room on the second floor, in a single bed, closed door, asleep, when this guy that I fancied—his best friend walks in to the room. Before I even realise who it is, he’s behind me in the bed, inside me, and my drunken head just thought, “Oh just let it get over and done with.” Can you understand how wrong that is? I’d rather just deal with him having sex with me than to make any fuss over it. I never saw any of these boys again and I can’t even remember their names.
When I was 18, and finally had the legal age to go out to a real club, I got to experience boys on the dance floor. How their hands are absolutely everywhere, how they're grinding behind you like they’re trying to copycat the movie Dirty Dancing, how they expect you to want to go home with them, and how they get angry when you tell them off for slapping your ass. Boys, boys, boys….
When I was 23, I moved to London and got to experience a whole new level of going out. Promoters were something I’d heard of, but thought it was kind of too good to be true. I mean, free alcohol without paying? What’s in it for them? I soon was to found out. We were at The Box, which is one of Londons most controversial nightclubs, with a promoter who got us in for free, and the alcohol was flowing. Me and four of my girl friends were having an amazing night; although, at times, shocking due to the live shows. This promoter, however, had other things in mind, and at one point he decided to completely grab a hold of my boob whilst I was dancing, enjoying myself. I was shocked to say the least, so my first intention was to turn around and slap the living shit out of him, and I did. He was probably more shocked than me of that reaction, and said that he was really sorry. I was fuming.
When I was 24, we’d become regulars at this club in central London. We were good friends with the promoter; yes he was flirty, but he knew the boundaries we’d set up. Or so we thought. One night, he decided to grab a hold of my bum out of nowhere. I reacted the same as last time and gave him a slap across his cheek. He was fuming.
When I was 26, last weekend actually, we were out in East London, at a club called Cargo. I know the boys there are a bit more full on, but they’ve never done anything really. I probably got my bum grabbed/slapped three times, upon where I would turn around and everyone would pretend there was something insanely interesting in the ceiling. Two guys approached me, telling me they really wanted to kiss me, and would question me when I said, "No." But worst of all, was this man who danced up behind me, grabbing a hold of me and pushing me against the wall. Then continued with kissing me along my neck, holding one arm on either side of me, so I couldn’t get away, pushing himself on me. I shouted for him to get off, that I didn’t want to and to let me go. What did it take? Another guy to push him off and leading me away. What is almost more scary is the amount of people who must’ve seen this and still did nothing.
So, I guess I’m as much of a victim and as mush a part of the me too movement as anyone else. I probably can’t mention a single one of my girl friends that somehow haven’t been sexually harassed. These are the bigger events that has happened in my 26 year long existence; what I haven’t mentioned is obviously the countless amount of times I’ve been sexually harassed verbally and all the times I’ve feared what a boy might want to do with me. When you’re younger, you’re telling yourself that it is your own fault and that you could’ve prevented it if you “weren’t that drunk” or if you “didn’t wear that short dress,” but when you get older, you realise, “GIRL IT’S NEVER YOUR FAULT.” It’s not your responsibility teaching men how to treat a lady.
Side note: All you men, guys, boys out there who stand up for us women and treat us right, all the respect to you. You’re all we need. Please teach the rest how it’s done.