I don't know if these things happen to all women. Perhaps so, and people just don't talk about it. I certainly don't tell people, they might think I'm weird...Why would I be seen as the wrongdoer? I don't know, that's just the way I think I'd come across. My gut instinct is to keep these sort of things to myself in case I come across as strange.
There have been loads of incidents in my young adult life when I have been touched inappropriately. The first one was my driving instructor. Then a young man in an underpass, some faceless person at a gig, on two occasions by colleagues when I worked in a hospital. And numerous occasions in nightclubs, but I don't even count that. That seems like a lot of unwanted touching to me.
None of these incidents involved violence of any sort. These men just caught me unaware.
I have been more surprised by my reaction to sexual assault than the assault itself. I felt so silly. Like it was all my fault. My natural response was embarrassment. I shouldn't have let my guard down and now I can't report it because others will judge me.
When my driving instructor put his hands on me and told me I could have free lessons if I let him sleep in my bed (I was 17 at the time), I went straight to my mother and told her what had happened. She told me not to be so silly. I wish I'd argued with her then. I wish I could go back in time and phone the police. That guy must have been pulling this slimy trick all over town. But I didn't do anything but feel foolish.
When a consultant in the hospital I worked in at the time (who are considered Gods) grabbed my backside with both hands, there were many witnesses. I was junior staff, at the bottom of the hierarchy (no pun intended) I was looking through the window of the anaesthetic room where our patient had arrested on the table. The aforementioned consultant was on his way in to resuscitate the poor man and copped a feel on the way past. None of the witnesses did or said anything. I reported it to my boss, he said he would have a word. He didn't bother.
Is this type of behaviour reasonable? No it's not. If my daughter told me anything like this had happened to her, heads would roll. Then why did I feel like it was all my fault? Why couldn't I do anything about it? It might have something to do with the reaction I got from the people I did tell. People who were senior to me and should have been looking out for me. If they weren't interested, then who would be?
I think it's everyone's job to support victims. If you hear that anyone you know has been assaulted like I was, support them with sympathy. Have their back. You might have been the only person that victim confided in.
Published by Nia Patten