. Around 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year. That’s approximately 11 rapes per hour. Just adults. These are both penetration and attempts.
. 1 in 5 women aged 16 – 59 have experienced sexual assault of some sort.
. Conviction rates of rape are lower than any other crime with only 5.7% reported cases ending in a conviction.
Do these statistics shock you?
They don’t shock me.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it just sucks to be female, not because males aren’t targeted as well but because they are less likely to be victims, seen as less vulnerable and so on. Nor do I mean to sound insensitive towards men who experience sexual assault, I know there is more of a stigma attached to men that have gone through a traumatic sexual experience and so they’re less likely to speak about it but this post is written from a very personal point of view. Last night I had a nightmare tied to an experience that happened to me a while ago. Someone I trusted made me uncomfortable by saying inappropriate things, pulling my top out to look at my chest and then standing in the doorway when I wanted to leave. There are more details but those are the main points. Boohoo right? I was made uncomfortable by a man. A man that I couldn’t fight, a man that was stronger than me, that could have done anything he wanted to if he had pushed his luck. I was called a liar when I spoke about it, told I should have kept my mouth shut if I didn’t want so much trouble.
After my nightmare, something dawned on me; as a female, I’m hopeless. I can’t fight. I freeze up. I’m a target, consistently. Then I thought about other experiences. Like when I was in year 7, eleven years old, and a boy rode past on his bike and groped me. The night I went out with two male friends, they left me for two minutes and a car pulled up beside me with three men in, offering me a lift. Don’t get me wrong, they could have been nice. But they could also have been nasty. And I might not be here today if they hadn’t driven off. Another time, I was left alone at a crossing, one friend was across the road at a shop, the other was about ten meters away, outside a club.
But I appeared alone.
It took roughly thirty seconds for a man to come over, put his arm around my waist and ask if I needed help crossing the road. I was sober, I was eighteen years old. I very obviously did not need help crossing the road. And yet he touched me? This can seem harmless, but at the same time, who else is going to touch me without permission? And will they do it more aggressively? Seeing as they already think they can. I like my personal space so when drunk middle aged men that I don’t know put their hands on me, my skin crawls.
The other night, I was walking home from seeing my friend at work, it’s about a five minute walk from his work to my home. Right outside my flat was a huge group of boys, at least thirty, tops about fifty. And I’m on my own. I rang my mum and told her where I was as soon as she answered, no explanation as to why I told her where I was because someday, that might be all I have time to do. I’m so familiar with groups of boys now that it wasn’t a surprise when a handful of them waited until I was in front of them before one of them spoke to me. He just said I was beautiful and asked if I had a boyfriend, nothing dramatic or threatening. Then he asked if I was on the phone and it makes me question what would have happened if I hadn’t been on the phone. Because I couldn’t handle one, let alone all of them.
I had to get my flatmate to walk me to Tesco last week, a quick two minutes round the corner, because I live in fear of being outside when it’s dark.
Because it’s not safe. I know why my brother was allowed out later than me now and I know why my mum always wanted to know where I was when I went out.
There was a rape up the road from my flat last week, in a cemetery. I don’t think they’ve caught the guy yet either.
At half nine in the morning, I was walking to work and I had a guy come out of no where, run in front of me, stare at my chest and ask if I had a boyfriend. When I ignored him and carried on walking, he then followed me in his van where he proceeded to get out a little while later and shout abuse at me. I had to get my friend to come and get me to take me to work. I reported it and he was long gone when the police checked the estate.
If you’re a man and you wonder why girls always walk around with resting bitch face when they’re on their own, it’s usually because we’re hoping you won’t talk to us. Won’t cat call or make us feel uncomfortable because it does. It sucks to be a girl where you can’t leave your home without something like this happening. What starts as a harmless cat call can end in something nasty and girls know that and although a lot of it may be harmless, I can’t help but overthink considering the statistics. That’s why we don’t appreciate it when you playfully whistle or comment when we walk past. We’re just trying to get on with our day like everyone else, what I’m wearing, how my make up is done and whether I’m smiling or not should never decide whether you’re going to be polite and respectful or not.