Sexual ASS-ault

On Saturday, as I was stood drawing out cash on High Street, Newport, a group of men walked past and one of them slapped me so hard on my ass. I guess on the ‘spank-o-meter’ it was probably a whopping 9 (the spank, not my ass). It wasn’t a little pat on the bum, it was a full on big slap that left me with a stinging butt cheek for a good 30 minutes afterwards and a nice red mark of ownership in the morning.

Luckily I have a really understanding group of female and male friends, who I can proudly say are not stuck in a totally different era when it comes to sexual harassment. We didn’t let ass-slapper off lightly, and thanks to our alcohol-induced confidence, shouted a few profanities at him. Had I not have had this dutch courage, and if this had happened in the day when I was alone, I know that I would have been silent, partially because of embarrassment and also to avoid potential danger.

I consider myself a fairly pro-active person when it comes to standing up for women and myself, with cat calling happening to me sometimes on a weekly basis. However, still find myself not wearing certain clothes, walking a different route to avoid a scenario happening or even covering my bum with my bag if I see a man gawking at it. But in this instance I can’t say I feel 100% confident and sure of how to handle the situation. Looking back now there are so many things I wish I’d done. I should’ve followed him, taken a picture, but I didn’t. It’s hard to react to something unexpected when you’re shocked and it’s such a humiliating thing to happen and makes you feel powerless.

It played on my mind the next morning and I Googled a lot, something which never brings back positive results! I found many similar stories out there from both females and males, but a lot of the comments on the forums made a joke about these types of sexual assault and almost deterred me from doing anything. Thankfully, my bad-ass lawyer friend Abbie messaged me with advice, and helped me piece together some kind of description.

After the support received, I decided to ring 101, and after a long wait on the phone I was questioning whether this was the right thing to do. I started the conversation unconfidently with something like “I um, just want to get some advice on something that happened — — It might be stupid — — I might not even be able to do anything.”. I was very negative, because somewhere even in my feminist brain, in my 23 years of living I have been conditioned to think that this is something that women should put up with. Sadly, in this instance I can’t say that the phone call with the police filled me with the confidence to take this further. I felt like I had to explain myself more because it was a night out and there didn’t seem to be a very easy and quick way to just report this without going and giving a statement which could be a drawn out, intimidating process. I ended the phone call very apologetically feeling disappointed and cried because I felt stupid.

I’ve always sympathised with people who have to give statements after they’ve been raped or sexually assaulted, it takes heaps of courage. Now I’m a victim struggling to report this because 70% of the population would probably laugh about the subject or think it’s acceptable behaviour. There’s such a stigma around being a feminist and very ambiguous rules around what does and doesn’t classify as sexual assault.

If I had been slapped in the face instead with the same impact, the story would be different. There are drunken brawls on the streets in Newport that are dealt with very quickly. But why is this any more complex?

What plays on my mind is what this man could do to females in the future. He did this proudly on the street in front of people and door security, as if he was an animal marking his territory in front of the ‘lads’. Who knows how this would end up in a club situation or in the future? Would he push the boundaries even more?

I would like to point out, despite the negativity of this post, that there are decent men in the world, one of them being the man who was in this group that came to apologise for his friend’s actions afterwards. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t share the name of his friend with us, and in this case I feel like he needs to find better company.

The amount of support I had from posts I made on social media and from my friends that are both male and female, filled me with positivity and faith that one day, there will be a lot more people in the world that respect women and keep their hands to themselves. But I know, that if something like this was posted in a news article, the comments section would fill me with sadness.

If you think this kind of thing is acceptable behaviour, stop laughing this off and think about the people in your life you love the most. Would you be happy if their bodies were treated this way? How would you feel if this happened to you?