Content Warning: Discussing sexual assault / non-consent.
– 1 –
When I was 16 years old, I went to a house party with my boyfriend at the time. We’d had a few drinks, chatted with friends, danced a bit, and eventually went up to a bedroom to have some “alone time” — hardcore making out on a bed that wasn’t ours, surrounded by a sea of other people’s coats, bags, empty beer bottles, and other personal belongings.
It started out happily enough — lots of kissing, hands all over, plenty of consensual fun. It wasn’t long before he had the idea to turn me over, preparing me for sex in his favourite position: doggy style. I found myself shunted right into the corner, staring at the old and peeling wallpaper, the line where two walls met the only thing in my view. I braced myself for the immature, jack-hammer fucking that was about to happen, but I didn’t brace myself enough.
We’d never discussed the idea of anal. It had never even entered my head before. This boyfriend was only my second ever lover, and I was just getting to grips with my own sexuality. We’d messed around with some non-vanilla stuff — spanking, tying up, scratching, blindfolding, etc., but that’s as far as our experimenting went. He was older than me, more experienced, but he knew I was a “beginner”. I’d need to be worked in gently, especially if I was to keep up with his insatiable, kinky appetite.
He didn’t work me in gently that night, though. There was nothing gentle about it. He decided upon anal, without my knowledge or consent … and without any prior preparation. There was no lubricant. He didn’t even bother spitting on me. He didn’t touch that part of me sensually at all. No feeling around to see if I was wet, no sense to use some of that wetness and spread it around my ass.
He just went in.
The second I felt him nudge against my hole, I said no. I cried out no. I even tried to get away from him, but I didn’t stand much of a chance. He had me well and truly caged me in place, forced into a corner, an arm on either side of me.
I cried and flailed but he didn’t stop. He just carried on, all the way in, over and over and over again until he violently emptied himself into me. There was blood on the tissue for days afterward. It was agonising, and I avoided all anal play for many, many years after that. I still don’t really enjoy anal play to this day. He ruined that for me. He completely and utterly ruined it — a whole chunk of sex that it feels like I missed out on.
I said no.
Before he penetrated.
We’d never even discussed anal.
– 2 –
When I was 17 years old, I cheated on my boyfriend of 10 months and he found out by reading my journal. We had a big fight, as you would expect, resulting in all of my stuff being thrown out into the street. Underwear I’d left there, toothbrush, hair bands, and brushes, makeup remover wipes, tampons, razors, a few clothes — all discarded with a flick of the wrist out of his front door. All very dramatically.
A few nights later, he turned up at my house in the middle of the night. Well, my Nan’s house; that’s where I lived at the time. He made such a racket outside, calling my mobile phone over and over again, begging me to let him in, threatening to ring the house phone too. He was blind drunk. Stupidly and naively, I let him in.
Taking him by the hand, I quietly tried to lead him up to my room, making him promise to go as silently as possible and not wake my Nan. I wasn’t allowed boys at my house; she would kill me if she ever found out. We managed to avoid the two really creaky steps on the way up, and then that one noisy floorboard on the landing, and upon entering my bedroom I motioned for him to get into one of the two single beds. I would get in the other.
“Nope. I’m getting in your bed with you.”
He climbed in beside me and pushed up close, spooning me, arms tightly gripped around me. I had nowhere to go. Once again, I had found myself forced against a cold wall with no way to escape. He kissed the back of my head as he stroked my hair, crying and mumbling drunken expletives. I was crying too. I was sorry, so sorry, and I whispered it through my tears repeatedly. I was stupid for cheating on him. I wanted another chance. I was young and dumb and wished more than anything that I could take back my infidelity. In response, he released one of his arms to try and pull my pyjama bottoms off. I managed to keep his hands at bay at first, but they were everywhere, tugging, pulling, sliding into places I didn’t want them to go.
“Please don’t. Come on, let’s talk.”
I pleaded with him to stop, but he wouldn’t. He kept going, managing to tug my pyjama pants down a bit and using his feet to shove them the rest of the way off. I pleaded with him, louder this time.
“Please, just stop.”
“Be quiet or your Nan will hear.”
He told me he’d be quiet and forgive me if let him do it, so I just gave up fighting. I didn’t want to explain to my Nan why there was a boy in my bed in the middle of the night, or why we were crying, or why we were making so much noise. As he moved his attention to my top, I just let him slide it over my arms, even going as far as to arch my body and make it easier for him to remove.
He climbed on top and thrust into me, harder than he’d ever done before. He was enormously well-endowed, something that had hindered our sexual progress on so many nights before that one. So well-endowed that we rarely managed full, penetrative sex without leaving me in pain, but he spared no thought to that. Not this time.
I cried out, genuinely fearing he would split me in half, but he silenced my noises by putting his hand over my mouth. Then, he slammed into me over and over and over again, calling me a slut and a whore and a slag and every other word he could think of, for what seemed like forever. Half an hour? Maybe even an hour? It felt as though I was being fucked with a baseball bat, and it carried on through into the next day. I was in so much pain the morning after that I couldn’t even go to work. I even think he tore me a little; there were pinky-red patches of blood on the tissue when I wiped for a couple of days afterward.
When he was done — emptied and satiated — he wiped his dick on my duvet cover and just left, slamming the front door behind him.
I said no.
I pleaded with him to stop.
I even cried out for him to stop.
– 3 –
When I was 18 years old, I worked in a petrol station. During the shift handover one day, something happened. I’d signed out of the till, removed my float, and taken it out the back, returning back to the store to wait for the last customers to leave to lock the door. The nightshift always meant closing and locking the door, only serving customers through the little window hatch.
There was a pub just across the road from the petrol station, although there weren’t usually many problems. We’d have the occasional drunken dickhead shouting a bit louder than he should, but for the most part, they tended to be more fall-over-friendly and thankful for a Ginsters pasty than on the hunt for a fight.
One guy wasn’t like the rest. He was blind drunk. Angry drunk. Staggering around with a grimace on his face. Not really doing anything wrong but giving us all bad vibes anyway. As we watched him move around the shop, he grabbed a chunk of cheese from the dairy fridge and shoved it down the front of his trousers.
“Excuse me, you can’t do that!”
I figured I’d let him keep the cheese, because … well, ew, it had been down his pants. I just wanted to get him out of the shop and stop him from shoving any more strange items down there. Why would anyone randomly shove a block of cheese down their trousers, anyway?
I asked him to leave and it looked as though he was going to, but as he passed me on his way to the door, he grabbed me. It was only a brief tussle, first barging us both into the candy counter in the middle of the floor, before then spinning me around so I was facing away from him. It was at that point it happened.
He grabbed the back of my trousers, just below the butt, and he tugged hard. Right there in my place of work, on the shop floor, in front of colleagues and customers alike, he exposed me. He somehow managed to pull down my trousers and my underwear all at once.
As I frantically tried to cover myself back up again, face flushed bright red with embarrassment, he laughed at me, said: “I’ll see you soon”, and left. Not in a hurry, worried about the repercussions of his actions; at a steady pace, as though he was simply pottering around. For a while, he waited in the car wash to the side of the building, but by the time the police arrived, half an hour or so later, he was nowhere to be found. My [female] colleague and I had been watching the CCTV monitors to make sure he was still hiding away in there, but somehow — and we didn’t know how — he managed to disappear into the night.
After watching the CCTV the police urged me to make a complaint — sexual assault. I gave them all of the details they requested, handed over the CCTV recordings, and never heard from them again. I did become a laughing stock at work, though. My male colleagues nicknamed me “Pants Down” for a while, and I tried to have a laugh and banter along, but it had genuinely frightened the life out of me. I usually walked home by myself after the late shift, at 10/11 o’clock at night, without a second thought. After that night, I was genuinely fearful he would wait for me again … that he might actually get his hands on me and rape me one day.
I didn’t feel safe walking to and from work alone, at any time of day, for months.
I was expected to attend work the next day, same shift hours, as though nothing had happened.
– 4 –
When I was in my early twenties, I found myself in the bedroom of a soldier. Weekend nights always went the same way when you were an army wife: the men would go to the squadron bar around 2/3pm on a Friday, come home around 7 or 8, get showered and changed, perhaps pick up a wife or girlfriend, and then head back to the squadron bar again. The drinks were a euro apiece, and there was always a bottle of port doing the rounds to take shots from.
At around 10/11pm, the bar would begin to shut down. It didn’t mean the night wasn’t over, though; not in Deutschland. There wasn’t a time of day you couldn’t get drunk over there. From around 11 pm onwards, there was one particular club in town that all of the soldiers and their wives frequented. When that closed, usually around 2 or 3 am, everyone would head to another bar — fondly known as the breakfast bar — to carry on drinking until the sun came up. We wouldn’t be kicked out of there until at least 6 am and by that point, we’d all be sufficiently drunk enough to go home and pass out. If you weren’t ready to hang up your dancing shoes, you could always hop on a train to the next big city, around 45 minutes away, where there were plenty of places to carry on drinking.
It was during one of those earlier drunken nights that I slept with the soldier that wasn’t my husband, but I was aware of the huge mistake I made the very next morning, my hangover in full force.
“It’s never going to happen again. It shouldn’t have happened. I’m sorry, and I’ll tell him if you want me to, but it was a mistake.”
He told me not to say anything, we’d keep it as our little secret, and I thought I’d gotten away with it.
Until that night. Another one of those drinking nights.
We weren’t originally in the room alone, but everyone else had gone down to the bar. I was just about to leave myself when he blocked the door with his body. The soldier that wasn’t my husband. It was a move he’d played the last time too. I didn’t remember much from that night, but I did remember that — flitting from one side of him to the other and trying to reach for the door handle.
“You did it last time, come on.”
He spun me around as he planted his lips on my face, missing mine completely and hitting my nose, and he placed one palm either side of my shoulders on the door behind me. I was caged in again, wedged between a man and a door. It was starting to feel like a familiar nightmare, but I wasn’t as drunk this time. Nor did I want to fuck him. I did not consent. I managed to duck out from under his arms and asked him once again to move. Instead, he turned the lock on the door.
“I’m not interested, please move. Just let me out.”
One more time he came towards me, hands grabbing for my breasts and moving his legs to try and spread mine. I could feel his warm breath, and smell the alcohol on it. It made me cringe, and I couldn’t remember how or why I’d found him so appealing the time before.
I tried to push the last-time memories from my head as he kept pushing to kiss me, touch me, grope me all over. He grabbed my arms and left little fingertip-shaped bruises that I blamed on a girlfriend when my husband asked me about them the next day. It was only when we heard a few of the lads outside the door that he agreed to let me out. I threatened to scream for help otherwise.
I want to say that’s how it ended, but it’s not. He tried again, a couple more times; although, thankfully, with less force and persistence. For a few weeks he actually hounded me, threatening to tell my husband that we’d slept together and even putting some close-to-the-bone statuses on Facebook. Luckily, the vague-but-not descriptions he’d given could have fitted any one of a number of cheating wives.
It took a while, and I avoided camp and the bar for months, but he finally got the picture and left me alone. I heard he’d moved on to someone else after that. I also heard that he eventually told my husband what we’d done, but I’d already left at that point.
– 5 –
When I was 28, I was followed to work by a man. He attempted to talk to me [I had headphones in] as I waited to cross the road. When I acted as though I hadn’t heard him, he followed me for about ten or fifteen minutes until I discreetly took a photo of him, because I take photos of EVERYTHING out of the ordinary, and also called Bestie. I genuinely didn’t know what else to do. It didn’t seem to be a serious enough offence to call 999, but I had definitely been unnerved. There was no emergency, though. I just had the creeps from some guy that looked like he was following me and had been a bit too familiar as we waited to cross the road.
When I got home that night, Bestie urged me to report it.
“It was weird. You sounded so scared when you called me. I really do think you should report it.”
So, I did. I called and reported it. I emailed them the photo I took, gave them all the information I had, and then gave them the same information again — many months after — when a policeman turned up at my house out of the blue.
It wasn’t until I read a story in the local newspaper a few months after that, about a man who was sent to prison for a series of serious sexual assaults on women, when I realised something: it was the same guy.
The same fucking guy.
Same bicycle. Same sweater. Same haircut. Same face.
Calling Bestie for help and taking that photo in that moment was the smartest thing I’d ever done. Maybe it had scared him away?
But imagine if I hadn’t done that. Imagine if I’d just pushed my concerns aside, put my head down, and just carried on walking to work. I would have been alone on a field, at 8 in the morning, with a man who was later jailed for serious sexual offences. Multiple serious sexual offences.
– 6 –
When I was 29, I found myself in my boyfriend’s kitchen. We’d been fighting. He said something that tugged at my heartstrings and I stopped the fight to kiss him, not wanting to argue any longer. In seconds, I’d been pushed up into the corner of where two kitchen countertops meet, with nowhere to go. I told him that I was angry with him and that I didn’t want to, but he didn’t listen. He managed to get my jeans down because he was a lot stronger and taller than I was, and he bent me over the counter, fucking me from behind, lifting my feet off the ground a little so that I couldn’t move away.
When he pulled his trousers up afterward, he apologised.
He apologised because he knew it had felt a little rapey.
He even used the word “rapey”.
He knew I didn’t want to. He even admitted that. His excuse? I was wet. I felt wet when he forced his hands inside my underwear, and that’s what gave him the go ahead. Despite me saying no. Despite me really trying hard to fight his hands off.
I definitely said no. I told him I didn’t want to.
He carried right on.
I’ve been called a “frigid bitch” because I didn’t want to sleep with a man.
And a “savage, wild dog” because I didn’t want a second date after I slept with a man on the first.
I’ve had my drink spiked. I was 14 years old at the time.
I’ve been sent videos of random men whacking themselves off. Men I’ve never even spoken to, ever.
My dating history includes a string of men who’d sent me dick pics before we’d even met. Dick pics that I didn’t ask for. Dick pics that I definitely didn’t want. I class an unwarranted dick pic as sexual assault on the eyes, therefore, sexual assault.
I DO NOT WANT TO SEE YOUR DICK.
I’ve been called a “dirty whore” because I didn’t message a guy back on a dating site.
Another chap told me that I must be shit at my job because I didn’t message him back. What that had to do with anything, I don’t know.
My husband shoved his thumb up my ass when I specifically asked him not to, multiple times. He recorded me at times I asked him not to, and he showed his friends the videos we’d recorded, even though I begged him not to.
And that’s before we get into the REALLY persistent fuckers, plus my own personal favourite:
“Well, you must be up your own ass if you don’t message back. You don’t know what you just missed out on, bitch!”
Men driving by in their cars have wolf-whistled at me, shouting at me to get my tits out. It was on a busy road, people saw and heard, I was mortified.
On one occasion, I waited for Bestie outside his home and a man pulled up in his car to ask how much I charged. He assumed I was a prostitute. I have no idea why he thought that. I was wearing a black, long-sleeved sweater dress, to the knees, with black tights, black knee-high boots (flat), and a black jacket. I finished everything off with a scarf. I had barely any makeup on, and no accessories or jewellery.
** I’m not saying that sex workers look a certain way, but I wasn’t wearing anything revealing AT ALL. It kinda fights back at an argument I hear so often:
“Well if you go out looking like that, you’re just hunting out trouble!”
Looking like what? Dressed from head to toe in black with no skin on show apart from my hands and face?
I do not feel good when you catcall me in the street. I am not a fucking statue. I do not need to be admired. I don’t want you to admire me. When I get dressed in the morning, I do so to impress other girls, not other men. I read a funny meme thing one time that said along the lines of: “If women dressed to impress a man, they wouldn’t bother getting dressed at all.”
I firmly agree.
#NotAllMen are like this, I know, but the fact that me and almost every woman I’ve ever spoken to, has at least one situation just like I’ve described today, proves a point. Harvey Weinstein is just the tip of a very big, very dirty, and very sordid iceberg. These are genuine tales — these things genuinely happened to me. They happened to me when I was a UK size 8-10, and when I was a UK size 16-18. They happened to me as a blonde and a brunette, with black hair, blue hair, pink hair, red hair, rainbow hair, long hair, and short hair. I’ve been both half-naked and entirely covered up.
I’ve been treated this way by both complete strangers, and people I know. Men that have catcalled me have been aged from teens right through to the elderly. I’ve had my butt groped by 70-odd-year-old men in shops I’ve worked in. My Design & Technology teacher at school got sacked for touching up the breasts of girls in his classes. I was one of the group of girls that complained to the headmaster because the teacher had made us feel so uncomfortable we didn’t even want to go to class. Then, he disappeared from the school and no one ever heard from him again.
I asked Bear if he’d ever felt like he’d been a victim of sexual assault. He said yes, once. By a woman. A persistent, overly-grabby woman in a bar. So, really, it’s not all men … or just men.
These people, monsters, men AND women, people with absolutely no social etiquette or moral intelligence; they’re everywhere. And what happens when they are reported? Nothing.
Nothing ever happened as a result of some drunk guy pulling down my trousers and exposing me in the place I worked.
I could’ve done nothing about the guy I cheated on my husband with. I’d already slept with him once. If I’d reported that guy’s harassment, I would likely have faced a cry of:
“She’s lying. She cheated on her husband, got caught out, and then accused him of rape.”
Do you know how I know this? Because another girl reported harassment from a different group of lads and absolutely nobody believed her. They all assumed she’d cheated on her husband, got caught in the act, and used the R-word as a way to get out of it. I heard the rumours. Was she harassed? No one knows. The gossip mill went into overdrive for a while, and then the entire story disappeared.
We seem to have found ourselves in this position where people are so judgemental, myself included, sometimes, that sexual crimes can’t be reported. The police don’t have time to deal with it. Women are often not believed. Not enough evidence can be pulled together, or someone’s sexual history is brought into consideration, such as the case with Ched Evans.
And then we have the problem of a President who believes it is okay to grab women by the pussy, or at least to say it is.
Locker room bantz?
Nah, mate, that’s sexual assault.
And, apparently, we’ve all been there.
Some people have suggested the hashtag is an attention-seeking one, designed for women to get their five minutes of sympathy. I actually read that online, and I wish I’d screenshotted it now. Well, fuck that person. I hope they open their eyes to the gritty, grimy, non-consensual world we live in one day. And the men (and women) who think they’re entitled to grab what the fuck they like, say what the fuck they look and do what the fuck they like …
Well, they can all get in the bin.