It had come up on one of my social media feeds that the week beginning 3rd February as well as being Children’s Mental Health Week it is also Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness week.
I thought, well that’s never happened to me, so I don’t know a whole lot about it. Then I remembered an incident at school about 35 years ago. I was standing waiting for my bus and a boy that I thought was a friend called me to the side of one of the buildings. He pushed me against the wall and tried to put his hand up my skirt and in my blouse. From around the other side of the building a couple more boys appeared and thought I would be up for sex with all of them.
I swiftly kneed the one boy where it hurts and ran. I was so upset that instead of going straight home I went to a friend’s house as she was closer. Once I had stopped crying and explained what had happened, she insisted I tell a teacher the next day. I did, I told the deputy head. How was the boy punished? He wasn’t, he was told to stay away from me. He denied everything, and the other 2 boys insisted they had seen nothing, so it was my word against theirs.
I had a lot of friends that were boys and one who was particularly large “had words” with the boy who had assaulted me, and he never came near me again.
That was the one time I was sexually assaulted.
Sexual assault, according to the NHS is any sexual act that a person did not consent to or is forced into against their will. It is a form of sexual violence and includes rape (an assault involving penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth), or other sexual offences, such as groping, forced kissing, child sexual abuse or the torture of a person in a sexual manner.
Sexual abuse happens to children and adults and it does not discriminate. People of all genders, religions, race, sexualities are all abused or violated and it’s something I find difficult to fathom.
This week, from 3rd to 7th February is about raising awareness and campaigning against sexual violence.
Why are people sexually abusive towards others? Is it a type of control they are after, do they think this is acceptable behaviour? Do they have distorted feelings of how a relationship should be? Why are paedophiles attracted to children? Why does a father rape his daughter? Why does a husband violate his wife? What does a woman run a brothel and traffic other young women? Why are so many of the LGBTQ+ community sexually assaulted? These are all examples of sexual violence that have been in newspapers recently. I don’t know why people behave this way.
I do know that a lot of people still don’t report sexual violence. They don’t report for a number of reasons, fear of not being believed, fear of having to face the accused, shame, embarrassment, and the list goes on. I can understand some of those emotions, and I accept it may be such a traumatic experience people may not want to relive it by talking about it again and again as they go through the legal process.
I encourage people to report any sexual abuse or violence. I encourage them to get tested for STIs, and I encourage them to talk to someone about what’s happened.
This is one of the areas I will be covering during my next two years of studies. I do feel that this will be challenging for me. Challenging because I don’t understand it, and maybe I am reluctant to try and understand it.
Please help support this by raising awareness and showing support for the survivors of sexual violence.
If you need help, please reach out
- the free, 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247
- the Rape Crisis national freephone helpline on 0808 802 9999 (12-2.30pm and 7-9.30pm every day of the year)
- a doctor or practice nurse at your GP surgery
- a voluntary organisation, such as Women’s Aid, Victim Support, The Survivors Trust or Survivors UK (for male victims of sexual assault)
- NHS 111 or Police Emergency 999