I was sexually assaulted in halls. It took me two years to talk about it
When I told a friend she said: ‘Well, that was bound to happen’
According to Government statistics sexual assault is the most common type of sexual crime. In 2015 it accounted for 39 per cent of sexual offences, an increase of over 10 per cent in the past decade. I never expected I would be part of those statistics.
Almost two years ago, I was sexually assaulted by a man in my university halls. I didn’t have any reason to be suspicious of him. When he introduced himself he seemed genuine. I was in a long-term relationship at the time so had no intention of being more than friends. I even remember telling my friends from home about him; he was the first person I had talked to since I moved away that I really connected with.
Instantly, they told me that he probably fancied me and that I shouldn’t talk to him, but I ignored them. We met up again after that. We explored the city, we spent time together. There was nothing untoward or suspicious about his behaviour, absolutely nothing that set alarm bells off. He was making jokes, he was asking me questions about myself, genuinely trying to get to know me. He offered to help me study and was even inviting me on trips that he and his friends were going on. I considered him a friend. I trusted him.
One night, he messaged me on Facebook and invited me over for coffee. I remember telling my boyfriend at the time about this and he was a little annoyed, but I went anyway. I was in my pyjamas at the time so just changed into a hoodie and some jeans and went to his flat. Everything was fine for the first hour, we were talking and laughing. He already knew that I had a boyfriend and I wasn’t doing anything flirty or suggestive.
One moment we were laughing and the next he had moved my hair away from my face and was leaning in to kiss my neck. I pushed him off of me, said no, asked him what he was doing. He just laughed. He started to move closer to me on the couch, blocking me into the corner. He did the same again, but this time, he forced some of his body weight on top of me. I couldn’t move. I tried to push him off of me but I wasn’t physically strong enough. I froze.
I couldn’t muster up enough strength to push him off of me. I had gone mute; I couldn’t even find any words to shout at him. I mean I’ve had my fair share of creepy guys in clubs who can’t take no for an answer but never have I been scared that they were going to do anything to me. I can handle myself – but nothing you are taught in life helps you to prepare for or overcome the state of paralysis and numbness that I found myself in that night. He started to take my clothes off and touch me inappropriately, pressing more of his weight on top of me. His lips moved away from my neck and to other parts of my body.
I have no idea how but I managed to get out from under him and try to leave. As I got to the door, he grabbed my hand and wouldn’t let go. He pulled me closer to him and tried to kiss me. A sudden burst of adrenaline must have hit my body and I broke free. I ran up to my room and cried the whole night.
I messaged my boyfriend when I got to my room and told him what had happened. His reaction was surprising as he was just annoyed that the “bro code” had been broken. Basically was just pissed off that someone other than him got to touch me. I was furious. He didn’t ask me if I was OK or think about how upset I would be over it.
The next day I had met up with a friend and told her about it, but she was unsurprised. “Well that was bound to happen”, she said. She explained that even the fact that I had talked to him and went to his flat for coffee was leading him on. I also told my parents but they just replied with “that’s what guys are like”. Nobody asked if I was alright. Nobody considered the fact that what he did shouldn’t have happened because I hadn’t brought it on myself.
Why did I have to mention to the guy that I had a boyfriend? Even as I was writing this, I felt the need to make clear what I was wearing, in case anybody would think that I may have been wearing anything too revealing. I had to mention my behaviour, to show that I wasn’t doing anything to bring this on myself. But why did I feel the need to do this? Why, afterwards, was I made to feel like I wasn’t allowed to be upset, that it was my fault and that I was asking for it based on the fact that I took up his offer for coffee?
The experience itself was bad enough but people’s reactions were just unforgivable. If I wanted to have sex with this guy then I would go about it in the normal way. I would have been single and would have made sure that he consented. Not just because that’s the law, but because that’s what any person with any kind of moral integrity would do.
Afterwards he kept talking to me, asking me to meet up with him like nothing happened. He told me he wished I was single, that he wanted to date me. He had no idea what he did was wrong, and for so long, because I felt the same, I didn’t report it.
I wrote about this as soon as it happened but I deleted it after people’s reactions. I wrote about it again a few months ago but only showed it to my boyfriend because I was too scared to publish it. And now, two years after it happened, I have finally come to terms with the fact that it was not my fault. Nobody is ever “asking for it”. The fact that I had gone to his flat was not consent to sex, it was consent to a cup of coffee.