It was my first year, a few weeks of having come to University. I was feeling a bit lost and homesick and going out was an easy activity to feel better. It was a standard SU night with the flat, getting ready, borrowing each others’ clothes, putting on make up, all while sipping drinks. Naively happy with our new freedom and the amount we had, we took off to the SU and began our night; the singing on the bus and the shuffling in the queue till we made it to The Plug.
After meeting with more people once we arrived, drawing newly met people into the circle and having people fall away. I got talking with a guy, I mean as best as you can with the loud music. We headed over to the bar and he bought me double shots and moved back to the dance floor. I got introduced to his friends and he insisted on another double shot. I went to find my friends and he remained by my side as I moved across the dance floor. After another section of dancing, he bought me another around of double shots. We exchanged numbers and he suggested a date to which I provided some ambiguous answer. I wasn’t sure about what this was or where it was going, a lot can happen on a club night. We carried on dancing with our friends but it became clear the night was over for me and I wanted to head home. I headed for the bus only to be joined by him a couple of minutes later.
‘Strange’ I thought, why would he be coming back with me? A seemingly friendly guy, I pushed suspicion aside to account for my increasing waves of nausea and overwhelming drowsiness that I was desperately trying to fight off. Maybe it was the hill, the driving, the descent, or a combination of the three but I got out at the end of the hill and began walking home, desperately hoping that the cold air of the evening would provide me some relief. He also got out and began walking me home, holding me steady as I tottered about in my heels. As we made it back to my flat I threw up twice. This being my first time throwing up from alcohol in my life, I was unnerved. Clearly, I was in a bad way. I made my way to sort myself out and get myself ready for bed. By this time, I realise he had made himself very comfortable in my room sitting on my bed looking around and taking in the surroundings. After limited conversation and the demand to leave I was told that everything was fine and that it happens all the time as a fresher so I had better get used to it. Rather than any questions about my welfare, or indeed leaving, it was his turn to have a good time.
Image Credit: Olly Bailey and Victoria Duley
I was backed into a wall and forcibly kissed and felt up simultaneously. Caught off guard, I pushed back and tried to move away. Bad move. I was followed to the edge of my bed, knees buckling he lay on top me kissing me and feeling me up. I lay there, there was no movement as he made his way around my body. It seemed easier to lay there than it was to put up a proper fight. I reasoned that it would be over soon enough. No one was home to hear me yell, and I was focused on keeping awake. His hands moved lower and I pulled his hand away and squeezed my legs together tighter. But there was nothing that was going to prevent him from having his way. My fight was a weak defence to a man determined to have his way.
My trousers and underwear were pulled down and his cold fingers prodded me between my legs. I remember him asking if I liked what he was doing to me, if my squirming was me enjoying it. My nos didn’t seem sufficient in answering his incessant questions. My mind going blank and desperately trying to block out what was happening and then white, as I mustered everything I had to push away his hand. He looked up blankly and then grinned, as if to say, his work here was done. I took that split second to haul myself up and push him away. He didn’t seem concerned by his actions or possess any remote concern that what he had done to me. He got his stuff from the bedside and left with a casual, ‘see you around’. Shocked I was left to process what had happened to me.
As the door shut numbness took over. I stayed in the position till sunrise the next day going over the events in my head over and over again. For weeks, I moved through the motions of being a fresher. Hoping that I wouldn’t have to bump into him again. I moved quickly, my eyes darting everywhere to each and every face waking down the parade to make sure it wasn’t him. I didn’t sleep in my bed for a while and moved my bedding to the floor in order to get some sleep. My denial was the longest. I didn’t realise that I had been assaulted and refused to allow my mind to go there. As a result, I think that was one of the main reasons why I did not reach out for help, I didn’t realise what the magnitude of what had happened to me, apart from the fact that it just ‘wasn’t right.’
I am considered the strongest in my group of friends. Things like this are not supposed to happen to ‘girls like me’ it happens to the people you read about in the news. I could not bring myself to say the words. It has taken me the better half of three years to say the words, I was a victim of sexual assault. I felt weakness for the first time in my life because this was the first thing that was out of my control, it is something that conjured up frustration, anger, shame and endless amounts of crying.
Recently after close to the three years on campus, I saw him on campus and my body froze. I ended up backing up into a wall and crouching in the corner as my mind went numb. I desperately tried to figure out what my next move was and who to call. I realised I had no one, because I had not told anyone. Since the incident I have reached out and told a handful of people of what has happened to me. It infuriates me that power over my own body has been taken away from me and the mere sight of him can be that crippling. It has affected relationships with any significant other in my life. Intimacy is a big deal and takes extra long for me to feel comfortable. It requires me to confide about an experience that I would prefer to keep to myself, as well as a partner with tremendous patience and understanding, which I have tried my best to avoid. It is a source of great anger and frustration that a twenty-minute encounter has had such an impact on the way I live my life. I have come to realise that it is something that I will always carry with me. I am coming forward to write this in the hope that it helps other people like me and to prove that I have fight in me and I can overcome.
Everyone can be a victim. You are not alone. Please reach out and seek help.
Read Bath Time’s investigation into sexual harassment and assault here
If you, or your friend, have been harassed or assaulted, please contact: the SU Advice Centre, in the Student Centre. You can call them on 01225 386906 or email them using suadvice@ bath.ac.uk Or Student Services, 4 West. You can call them on 01225 383838 or email them firstname.lastname@example.org