Time to speak out
In my final year of University I was living in a shared house with some guy and girl friends that I had been close to since the start of my degree. Occasionally, a mutual friend of the guys' would come over to the house and come on nights out with us. During the day he seemed an ok guy, but as soon as he had a drink in him he was the loudest most obnoxious misogynist I had ever met.
After I had met him a few times, I started pulling him up on his vile comments, and got called the usual 'sensitive', 'boring' and 'its just banter' etc. So one night I decided I would just not go out, as I couldn't stand to be around him any more.
At about 3am I suddenly woke up, confused, I thought I felt someone in my bed. It was him. He was naked and he had one hand on my vagina (underneath pyjamas) and the other on my breast. Having just woken it took a few seconds for me to register what was happening. After a lot of swearing and shouting he picked up his clothes and left. I locked my bedroom door and sat on the floor shaking.
This ordeal was horrible for me, I felt dirty, I had never want his hands to touch my bare body but they had and there was nothing I could do about that. I also felt ashamed and like I had cheated on my long term boyfriend.
But that wasn't the worst part. Worse than those feelings was the realisation that my housemates (close friends for nearly 3 years) thought the incident was funny and if anything that I had provoked him by calling out his 'banter'. Apparently disagreeing with someone or having an argument is now grounds for sexual assault. They also said that I had flirted with him (true, the first few times I met him I thought he was good looking and I am a flirty person) and that it was just a harmless joke to get back at me for arguing with him.
When I told my 'friends' I was going to the police to report it, a lot of them said I was being ridiculous or overreacting and because he is such a 'nice guy' normally I must have got mixed up - he probably wasn't groping my vagina. To this day, those words hurt me more than the assault itself. People that I held dear, friends that I had been through 3 years of uni with didn't see the seriousness of what he had done, and decided that I had brought it upon myself.
I was lucky in that I did have some people around me who believed me, so I did report it to the police who were very supportive. But it took me a while to find and talk to those friends, since I had such a bad reaction from my house mates. I was so lonely and shamed into silence constantly thinking this can't be right. I don't want any other woman to have to go through this.
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We believe you. Perpetrators make choices about how they behave, and we should not have to change behaviour to avoid abuse.
Sending peaceful thoughts.
Thank you for being willing to share your experience. I believe you. What a brave and strong woman you are to have reported this assault to the police after such a horrific response from people you were close to. I’m so glad you felt supported by the police and that you were also able to talk to other friends; as you say it can be such a lonely and isolating experience on top of the assault. I wish you lot’s of love and wonderful friendships.
Take good care.