**trigger warning, proceed with caution**
Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behaviour that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities such as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.
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This contributor would like to stay anonymous.
When I was 14 I was sexually assaulted. It took me months to realise what had happened to me was sexual assault, and it took me even longer to realise that it wasn’t my fault. I don’t know how to word this and I began saying it in my head as though I was telling a story, but in the process of removing specific details I realised that it began to sound almost pleasant and as if I was telling a tale.
One day when I didn’t have school I was meant to meet a friend, but she was busy in the morning so I met her later. Because of this, when another person I knew asked if he could come over in the morning I said yes. We went to school together and I knew him… I guess all the red flags were there, in a conversation we had previously, he’d brought up shaving “private parts” and told me out of the blue that I should get a Brazilian (without any input in the conversation from me). I didn’t reply. Anyway, on this day he came over and we put a film on. We sat watching the film, but he kept asking me to sit closer to him and putting his hands closer to me too. When he asked me to sit closer, I just laughed and kept watching the film.
I don’t want to go too into detail because it’s hard for me to talk about. He kept trying to touch me and put his hands on me and I told him “no”, “I don’t want to”, and I said this multiple times. He wouldn’t stop and he kept persisting, and the more he persisted the more I panicked. As he tried to touch me, I moved away but he just kept following me. I was sat there at the end of the sofa and he was pressing himself up against me and started putting his hands on me, under my clothes, and touching me and he would not stop no matter how many times I told him not to. I closed my legs as tightly as I could and at one point he moved away from me slightly and as he did so, he tried to calm me down by telling me to keep watching the film, but at this point I jumped up and ran outside.
I know that you’re wondering why I didn’t shout at him and push him off but as I panicked, I froze up. I know how unrealistic that sounds. It’s not like it took me minutes to come to my senses, I honestly don’t know how long this went on for.
To some people it may sound like I simply did something I later regretted. The first few weeks after it happened I couldn’t remember the exact details. When I thought back to that time, it was all blacked out and fuzzy in my memory (although I had been completely sober). I didn’t even think that what had happened could have been sexual assault. I knew I hadn’t been okay with it and I knew he was aware of that but after it happened he messaged me, telling me that I wasn’t ‘so innocent’ and that I was a ‘dirty girl’. The more I heard this the more I believed that I had done something wrong, that it was my fault. I told myself that even though I’d said “no”, maybe he’d just thought I was shy? Maybe he didn’t mean to hurt me?
A few weeks later I got the courage to send him a long message telling him how uncomfortable I had been, how it wasn’t okay and I knew it wasn’t my fault and that it was wrong. In response he simply told me that he thought I had been uncomfortable. This made me angry, if he thought I was uncomfortable, why did he keep doing it? Why did he not stop? Why did he think it was okay? I looked online at the definition of sexual assault and the different forms of it and I began to come to terms with what had happened to me and how it wasn’t my fault. This was a month or two after it had happened. I spoke to my friend who urged me to tell an adult to do something about it. I never did, I’m not entirely sure why. I knew I had no proof and I still didn’t think it was that serious, I still thought I might be blamed. It was so long after what had happened that I thought I wouldn’t be taken seriously.
It isn’t something that can go away. Some days I still don’t like having contact with people because I can’t get it out of my head. But I’m stronger now and I know I can’t change what had happened to me. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I’d been ill that day or if I’d met up with my friend earlier or if something was different, would it have ever happened to me?…
I feel so passionately about this but I’m not going to write a self help column about it, as if I have all the answers, when I still have trouble myself. I just know that more people need to be aware of sexual assault and what it actually is, so they don’t blame themselves and are more aware of their own boundaries and when it is wrong if someone crosses them. For my personal experience, I know I should have spoken up at the time. Not just to him, to tell him how wrong he is, but to someone else. To tell them what happened. The thing is, I didn’t, I wasn’t aware on what sexual assault actually was. It sounded so serious and I never thought it would happen to me, and the way he spoke to me made it seem as if what happened was not only okay but also my fault. I know now that it wasn’t my fault and it was serious.
I want more people to be aware that when your boundaries are crossed and you are uncomfortable, or do not give consent, then it is not okay and you are not in the wrong. More awareness needs to be brought up about sexual assault, it is still such a taboo subject and to no one’s benefit whatsoever.
Download them, print them out, pass them out, or tape them up wherever you go.
Bring awareness and start a discussion.