This article has been submitted by a writer who would prefer to remain anonymous.
Last week a man was convicted of indecent assault. He had consensual sex with a woman he had met on Tinder and grabbed her breasts with “excessive force” despite her telling him to stop doing so.
I was walking home from a party with someone I thought was my friend. We got back to mine and, after I tried to say goodbye to him, we stood outside my house arguing for around 5 minutes before I gave in and let him in.
I didn’t want to have sex with him but I felt pressured into going along with it. Once we began taking off our clothes, I tried to make myself want it but I just couldn’t. He could tell I wasn’t enthusiastic and kept telling me to ‘relax and have fun’.
He began fingering me. I told him to stop doing it so forcefully but he laughed and carried on. I was so drunk that I didn’t have the energy to tell him to stop and so all I could do was hold his hand as he did it, trying to disrupt some of the force he was using. I eventually passed out, for how long I’m not sure, and woke up again to find him still on top of me.
I don’t want to go into what happened next. It’s very difficult for me to talk about it, and, a year on, I still think about it everyday.
For around a week afterwards, I couldn’t walk properly. I had bite marks on one of my breasts and on my inner thighs. I found it difficult to sit. I felt dirty. I felt violated.
And for a long time, I told myself I was overreacting. And for a long time after that, I told myself off for being a bad feminist, which only added to my growing self-hatred.
He was the president of one of the societies I was involved in. Again, for safety purposes (I literally couldn’t care less about people knowing who he is and I’m not one for staying silent but I fear for my safety should he see this and his name mentioned), I will not disclose which society it was at my university.
He was in a position of power. And he is not the first powerful man to sexually assault someone.
Reading about the allegations against Harvey Weinstein struck a chord with me. Sexual assault happens at every level, in every institution, whether it is as large as the film industry, or as small as a university society.
And the pressure that we feel as victims, regardless of gender, is a symptom of the society we live in.
A society that blames victims, that shames us and keeps us silent. A society that tells us that our experiences are not worth sharing or reporting, and that it is better to move on and forget about what happened to us.
When your attacker or abuser is in a position of power, it makes reporting your experience all the more daunting. You fear a backlash, you fear for your safety, you fear for the bureaucracy you will inevitably have to face.
And worst of all, you fear that you will not be taken seriously or believed.
I have never reported what happened to me. And I don’t know if I ever will.
We must foster a society that allows victims to feel comfortable enough to come forward, and a society that ensures that perpetrators are held accountable.