4 years ago today I was walking to my partners house near Clapham. I had just finished a phone call to tell him I was near, when I was suddenly attacked by a stranger.
This man violently dragged me along the pavement and sexually assaulted me. Two people, who heard my screams, intervened and rescued me. My attacker was sentenced for sexual assault and kidnap with the intent to commit a sexual offence. It was discovered via CCTV that this man had been following multiple women.
When the attack was initially reported in the news, one of the recurring headlines was ‘well dressed man attacks screaming woman’. These news stories have been circulating again, in what many websites refer to as a ‘topic trend’.
It still hurts me deeply that those were the words selected by the media to describe the attacker. Both the attacker and I had been wearing suit trousers, a shirt and a jacket. To refer to me as a ‘screaming woman’ minimises what I underwent, and to call this attacker a ‘well dressed man’ minimises the violence that he chose to enact upon a total stranger.
Although this was a terrible and incomprehensible event in my life, I am thankful for many things:
I am thankful and know how lucky I am that nothing worse happened.
I am thankful for the two strangers who bravely intervened. The man who protected me and then went directly to a police station to give crucial testimony. The woman who covered and held me to stop the shaking.
Somehow I managed to record a short voice note on my phone, my terror is clearly audible and the voice of my attacker seems calm. This voice note was crucial evidence.
I was supported throughout the process by a wonderful police team who located my attacker within the month. The women at the Haven, who made me feel safe.
I am also forever thankful for the countless loving and supportive people in my life who never made me feel like a helpless victim and shared in my recovery.
It has been a while since I have written anything here. The tragic event of Sarah Everard’s death has shocked and shaken everyone.
So many awful stories have emerged alongside harrowing statistics. Awareness is important.
However raising awareness must be done with sensitivity. Many people will find this story triggering for many different reasons.
With my family celebrating Easter and laughing about April fools I look back on last year’s very different events.
It’s very hard to know what happened and has been on my mind particularly after finding another article on the event.
Apparently two other women were followed but for some reason he chose me. That’s very hard to know and leaves me with questions.
But ultimately I just have to know that I’ve overcome it faster than I could have imagined.
Reading about his release shocked me and I’m devistated for the women that have been let down by the judicial system.
They deserve to feel safe. 8 years is not enough time for any form of rehabilitation for a man with issues so severe.
Thinking of these women and thanking everyone that made me feel secure and supported me.
My father was at a dinner party when Weinstein discussions arose.
The man next to my father, who he had known for years, shared his views. He believed that women referencing #metoo were making false claims for either attention or financial benefits.
The table just listened until my father calmly spoke up. He reminded his old friend that the woman he called a great friend, my mother, had been seriously affected when a stranger flashed her on the tube. He explained that the little girl he’d seen grow beyond the school gates, had been attacked by a man she didn’t even know. He reminded them that a male friend of theirs had endured a terrible experience at school. My father asked him whether he felt the same about these stories.
That man, his friend, was drunk and couldn’t be wrong. Instead he threatened to punch my father in the face and left.
The people at that party were hurt and upset, especially my father.
Everyone should have awareness of harassment from men and woman towards both genders. It’s something that happens and unfortunately to most people you know.
Things can only change if we are aware that they need changing.
Often on the way back from work I’ll read a paper or look at the news on my phone.
Sometimes I see stories that remind me of what happened in April.
For example today – reading about an attacker who has been harassing and assaulting women for months. Had he been caught already how many other women would have been saved from these feelings?
I’m proud that I came forward and helped to protect, despite the discomfort, self doubt and what the people around me experienced.
In light of Weinstein discoveries I want to remind women of the importance of coming forward. Eventually this person will be caught out. If not today then tomorrow or in years like Weinstein. They’ll always have some punishment eventually.
#metoo #sexualassault #survivor #sisters #assault #speak #report
I was very lucky with my school and they often did workshops to make us think about the wider world and the society we were a part of. I remember one of these workshops very well.
A man talked to us about hiding emotions and how the people around us might be dealing with more than they appear to be. He used ‘masks’ for the face he showed to the outside world but spoke about how he was truly feeling.
I’ve known for a while now that I find it far easier to smile and laugh than let other people know that I’m unhappy. Perhaps my mask.
I was thinking to myself what might my coping mechanisms be?
I find that I spend a lot of time online, on my phone and posting photos.
I find it very difficult to be alone, although I have tried to find time to practice being comfortable by myself. It’s difficult to sleep at night if my boyfriend or a friend isn’t in the same room.
I make jokes about everything and try to laugh at everything, which I feel helps but might not.
I also get quite anxious at parties or at social occasions, even with close friends, and sometimes I find that I drink too much if I feel uncomfortable.
I feel that I’ve overcome it all well but it’s also probably good to acknowledge the things I do that probably aren’t helping.
#anothergirl #coping #survivor #masks
Every year I go to the same place this time of year to relax and unwind with my family. Every year I think about everything that has happened between visits. This year seems like a huge one.
This time last year I had just graduated and was still on a high having gone straight in to an exciting job. I had a long-term boyfriend I trusted and had no health problems to think of.
The day after I left here it all changed. I received my diagnosis of an adenoma and a few days later my relationship had crumbled. I spent the next three months battling an aray of emotions I can’t even explain. It emerged that the man I trusted had been creuly cheating and sharing intimate details of my condition throughout the city I had once loved to share with him.
Thinking back to that time and the other things I’ve overcome this year is terrible.
But then i consider how much I’ve learnt about myself and how much I have now. I got through all of that, including the events of April, with a strength I didn’t even know I had.
A year on I am loved and fully supported by a man I adore, I have wonderful friends (some of which I’ve travelled the world with), I love my job and my health has already improved so much.
Ultimately in this last year I’ve had some terrible and difficult times but I’ve come out so much happier and stronger from the experiences.
Identity is a funny thing. Many things add to or change it. Lots of it you’re born to or develops through the choices you make. Other times it’s an event.
I feel that April 1st has done something to my identity. The other night I was out with friends, meeting people I’d never met, but they seemed to know me. Often I see a look in someone’s face when they realise how they’ve heard of me.
It’s not my choice or my actions but it has added something to me.
Since the sentencing I’ve been relieved. That’s the biggest feeling I’ve felt.
But occasionally I have moments of deeper thought.
In Australia people receive seven years for one punch.
So why does a man in the UK receive 5 years for pushing a defenceless woman to the ground and assault?
Five years is enough time to change a life but I find myself hoping it’s enough time for him.