ALL OF THE SEXUAL ASSAULTS AND HARRASSMENT I HAVE EXPERIENCED, BETWEEN THE AGES OF 15 AND 35.
Aged 15, kissing a boy I met through some school friends. He grabbed my head, pushed me down his body, and forced his cock into my mouth. I struggled against him, but he held my head so tightly, and thrusted with such force, that when he ejaculated into my mouth moments later, it made me vomit. That was my first ever blow job. It put me off oral sex for almost a decade.
Aged 16, I worked a Saturday job at the local delicatessen. The other girls who worked there warned me that the husband of the owner was to be avoided. He kept trying to corner me in the back room on my own, and after he grabbed my waist as I walked past him, and pressed his erection into my hips, I quit the job.
Aged 17, a guy I knew through the club scene, and who I’d had a crush on for a while, invited me back to his for a smoke. The smoke soon turned into rape, and I was called a slut and a whore as he penetrated my vagina and mouth, whilst I kept telling him no, I didn’t want to do that, begging him to stop. I felt trapped, scared to travel home on my own late at night, and I had no money for a taxi. So I stayed, even though he continued to violate me as I tried to sleep. At first light, after putting toilet paper in my pants to mop up the blood from my torn vagina, I left. It took me four buses to get home, and three hours later I sat in my parents’ shower crying, feeling dirty and stupid and full of self-hatred. I wanted to die; I blamed myself for going to his place. It took me five years to realise I had been raped and that it wasn’t my fault; it took me over a decade to pluck up the courage to get an HIV test. (It was negative, thankfully.) I still have PTSD from this, and that’s often triggered by certain sexual positions, so there are things, even now, I must avoid when I have sex.
Aged 18, working at a music magazine. One of the columnists, over twice my age, made a pass at me at the Christmas party. I was complimented by his attention and agreed to meet him for drinks one night. I thought we might kiss, maybe we would go on a few dates, but he insisted we went back to his friend’s house — a famous singer — and I was wooed by his celebrity connections. His friend offered up a room, then left us alone, and I spent the rest of the evening fighting him as he tried to force his cock into my arse. I kept saying no and asking that we stop, but eventually I was too exhausted to prevent him sticking his penis into my vagina. It was awful, and hurt so much, and luckily he didn’t last long. The next day we travelled to the office separately, on his insistence, and he never spoke to me again. I never told anyone I worked with what happened.
Aged 20, travelling through the Greek islands with a female friend. We needed to earn some cash for boarding and food and waitressed for the local taverna. Then the guy running the beach loungers made us an offer: he would pay us to massage him. We didn’t want to, but needed the money. The first time was 20 minutes of rubbing his back. The second time, he kept moving my hands down towards his cock. The third time, he demanded he massaged me instead, and he put his hand between my legs and grabbed my vulva, so I ran out of there. He had done the exact same with my friend, but we were both too ashamed to say.
Aged 21, at the Notting Hill Carnival. I was caught in a crush, a street so packed with people, that everyone’s bodies were pressed up like sardines in a tin. A man shifted so that his erection was across my crotch and rubbed himself against me. I couldn’t move; I was forced to see his smile widen as he watched my discomfort and horror of him using my body to stimulate himself.
Aged 26, on the Northern Line tube on my way to work. The carriage emptied and a man got on and sat opposite me. A moment later, he pulled down his trousers to expose his erection and masturbated, staring at me. I was terrified and felt unable to move, and he seemed to become more aroused by my fear. I eventually found the courage to move to another carriage.
Aged 29, my very first day on a multi-million dollar film. I was carrying crates of water to the artistes on set, and a rigger stopped me, made a joke and then grabbed my breasts. I had 24 bottles of water in my arms and couldn’t fight him off. All the male crew laughed.
Aged 30, alone in an elevator with a Hollywood actor who grabbed me by the waist and suggested I spend some time with him. I was caught off-guard and didn’t know how to respond, so I just tried to laugh it off and politely decline. Luckily for me he did not pursue me further, but I later learned another runner had spontaneously been fired after meeting him after-hours.
Aged 31, carrying some heavy gear to the top of the film set, a stuntman came up behind me, grabbed my arse, and said “Need some help with that?” as he pushed me up the steps. He pursued me all the way through the shoot, and I constantly had to refuse his advances.
Ages 25–34, numerous experiences of having to deflect flirtation, explicit innuendo, graphic sexual descriptions, talk about my body, questions about my likes and dislikes in sex, unwanted physical touch, invasion of my personal space, and approaches for sex, by men (crew and cast) at my work in the film industry.
Ages 15–35, countless experiences of having my arse grabbed, fingers and hands slipped between my legs, my breasts groped, in: London buses; London underground tube carriages; London bars and pubs; London nightclubs.