Do I want to start this by saying this may be a massive TRIGGER warning ok? If you are effected by anything contained in this article, I need to inform you that there are means and help available to you. MALE OR FEMALE!!
If you want to access this help there is first and foremost, in the UK, call the police. Call 101 where you will be given access to this help. If you wish to speak to someone in confidence I would also point you in the direction of rapecrisis.org.uk and also please do not hesitate to call the Samaritans. Call them free on 116 123.
Women are predominantly spoken about suffering sexual abuse but men also fall victim to this. In fact, an article published by the BBC in 2018 headed with,
'Reported sex offenses against men in England and Wales tripled in 10 years'.
A bit of a scaremongering article but it is good to see media publicising men also fall victim to this crime and are affected.
Conversely, at a similar time, The Independent headed an article stating,
'London sees 20% rise in rape reports in a year but police "don't understand" reason.'
So why write an article about this when clearly at present it is extremely prevalent in the worlds eye. Thinking on the whole Hollywood scandal as more and more people come forward having experienced some form of sexual violence, why should I now add my two cents?
Sexual Violence is any unwanted sexual act or activity. There are many different kinds of sexual violence including but not restricted to: rape, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, rape within marriage/relationship, forced marriage, so-called honor-based violence, female genital mutilation, trafficking, sexual exploitation and ritual abuse.
Definition according to Rape Crisis, 2018.
Why is this on the increase? Why are more people coming forward or why are the police received an increase in reports? The most prominent name that comes to mind is Harvey Weinstein. As more and more people gather their confidence based on the bravery of other survivors of these abhorrent acts, it creates a cycle of honesty and a backbone supported by others who have also been through this.
I am one of those women.
I am one of the 510,000 women aged between 16-59 that have suffered abuse.
This is my story.
My first experience of sexual assault came when I was a small child. Playing 'mums and dads', a common game of pretending to play house. My little sister was the child and my neighbor was the dad, I was the mum. The stereotype is to put the baby to bed, dad goes to work and I do the housework. An innocent game which didn't turn out so well but could have been worse. Thankfully, in a way, it never went further than groping but it still plays havoc when sleeping, even now when the flashback hits.
The next time I was exposed to this side of humanity came when I was approximately 5 years old and a person who I will not disclose a connection too, I would be left alone with this person regularly but this only happened once. This person tried to coerce me into performing oral sex, forcefully but not to the point of causing injury. Again, it has set back the whole way I approach letting people look after my children. People look at me as an overly paranoid mother but in reality, I am a survivor not wanting my child to be put in this position. Trust issues are a major balance for childcare as the person who put me through this was in a position of trust and as you can read, it didn't turn out so great.
Some of me thinks, how could things have gone had I told anyone but I have never been a confident person and that was doubly so as a child. I did confess to my parents once that I was even reluctant to ask people for a drink when we were visiting as I did not want to be a burden and put someone out. For a drink? So really I was hardly going to jump out and talk about sexual violence and more so when I did not really fully understand what had truly happened.
The next time it did happen I was braver to talk about things as it was witnessed but this is when I found no belief in the systems to protect us. I was in high school when I was molested by a fellow student I thought was a friend. Plenty of my friends backed me up with this and supported me with witness statements when I put in a complaint. The perpetrator was 3 years older than myself as I was in my first year of high school so I was 11ish. There were no consequences to this person's actions and this person received no form of punishment other than told to stay away from me. This person went on to assault a friend of mine and rape her. Again, no consequences after that either.
As I grew into my teenage years, I had always been quite held back by myself and I wasn't led but I would not put myself 'out there' and risk exposure. I found a love of performance and hiding behind masks with singing, dancing, and drama. People were always surprised by this. Even more so when more presently I have put myself out enough to audition and partake in talent competitions. I do not typically come across as that sort of person.
When we eventually moved back to Norfolk and I had the awkward teen relationships, I had that first intense love. The one that forsakes all else in your world. You two are in your little bubble leaving everything else wanting. I depended on him emotionally as I struggled at home. My parents took in a boy who I did have a relationship with briefly. It was draining and I feel, looking back that this, painted me as a target. This first love relationship was as toxic as it was intense. 16- and 18-year-olds have heightened emotions at the best of times, so when you feel isolated from your family as you watch your things get stolen, you get hit with a sense of loneliness as you try and talk to a brick wall with no one listening. It hurts. It hurts a lot. Especially when you have grown up believing you weren't worth anything anyways.
So when this new relationship started it was a whole new world. I had never had a relationship that had a sexual level. I wasn't a virgin as I had lost my virginity maybe a month or so before this relationship began on a drunken night out with a friend when I believed no one else would want me. (I also want to point here that the said friend was a lovely friend and did not in anyway push me, in fact, if anything I had to convince him I was ok. I am happy with the person I gave my virginity too as he was very understanding. It wasn't a traditional way but it was how it worked and it worked at that time.) The relationship was hard and I would give up a lot for him. I put everything I could into it and it wasn't reciprocated. I was made to believe my parents had never really wanted me for anything more than the financial benefits of having a child. No one really wanted me and that I should be happy in that relationship as no one else would want me. But also there were stipulations to abide by to be there but that is a story for another time. The main instance I am going to is the sexual violence. It was on one occasion. I was naked as I sleep naked and we were at his house alone. We had begun play fighting when he had decided he wanted to have sex. I didn't. He didn't listen and he proceeded to penetrate me anally. It was only as I began to cry that he stopped and began apologizing.
I was made to feel ashamed of how I reacted following this incident. I had no means to get out of that house and had to pretend to accept his apology for fear of something worse happening. The doors were all locked. He had the keys and the only isolation I could find was to lock myself in the bathroom until I felt brave enough to face him.
This relationship didn't end well and it led to me attempting to take my own life. I do not think people fully understand the true gravitas of how horribly damaging that relationship was for me and to die was the only out I saw.
I am here now. I am happily married and ever since I have been with my husband, nothing had ever happened until recently.
I worked in a pub and a lock-up went wrong when a customer tried to force himself on me. The next day, I had tried to confess this to the landlord and proprietor who at first seemed understanding. The next day after telling what happened, I was taken aside and told that I had not listened to the lock-up procedure and as a result had put myself at risk. At this point, with what happened, "he would be doing himself a disservice," in not giving me a formal written warning but, "at least it was a distraction from England's abysmal performance against Belgium. Hey Ho!" I did not feel safe working and proceeded to leave immediately. It sucked when I loved that job.
It highlights the whole concept of victim blaming. It makes me feel sick to my stomach that a person can be effectively blamed for something completely out of their control. It should be noted that the proprietor holds these nights and considers the customers as unpaid security. The excellent argument if it isn't a customer who assaults you wouldn't you think?
The world is sickening and the use of sex as a means of power is appalling and unfair. I am not a little woman but I am also easily overpowered as is anyone especially when least expecting it.
Thankfully, now I am in a good job. The ex-employer refused to give a reference knowing full well that in my time in his establishment customers got on well with me, I had covered shifts, never had a sick day, did not complain about the work and got on with it; but due to a very caveman-esque machismo-threatening manoeuvre, seeing the 'story' of my sexual assault as a distraction, he continued to one-up. It annoys me to think that I have not only had to overcome what happened at that place but also having to overcome the reaction when I had been so loathed to report it in the first place. It hurts when I had put so much into working there and it hadn't gone unnoticed even by the landlord, that I could be disregarded in such a manner.
It just highlights why it is needing to be publicised so much, to what level and just how much importance in compassion is needed with these survivors.
I could have just hidden under a rock and trust me, there are days when I do want to do just that but I don't. What good would it do? How would it help others who have gone through or are currently going through it? How would it thank the people who have been an unyielding support to how far I have come? What good would it do to my children to see their mum hide away from it all?
I am showing them strength and resilience. Thankfully, they do not know what happened but they know that mummy lost her job. They know that as a result of what followed, the landlord put our house in jeopardy and risked out children being homeless for the sake of being petty.
There are animals out there. There are pigs out there. There are misogynists who believe a person brings it on to themselves but with every one of us who has been through it can be a testament too, there are also people who are fighting it. Fighting them! Even fighting themselves!
Be strong because there is a light at the end of the tunnel and contrary to what Metallica says, it isn't a freight train coming your way. It is that group of people who are guiding you out.
Remember; Rape crisis, Samaritans and Police!!!
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