Trigger Warning: This post contains reference to sexual harassment and violence, and rape.
A few weeks ago I was out at a nightclub with some friends. The club was one of our favourites as it's known for being a place where you can dress casual and people are known for being friendly and chatty. In fact the smoking area is one of the biggest I've seen and is always filled with people having a chat with anyone and everyone.
One of the reasons I love this club is because the people there are usually very respectful and friendly. I rarely experience any harassment unlike in other clubs where I'd expect it. However on this night the bouncers had obviously let in some pretty crappy people because I had two incidents occur that night.
The first one was similar to what Im used to on nights out. I was standing in the smoking area talking to my friends and I felt someone touch my bum, as this is something Im used to but do not appreciate, I immediately turned around and told the group of guys behind me, who had smug little smiles on their faces, "Don't f***king touch me", they then tried to deny they had done it, and I just told them to leave me alone and not to touch me again. I turned back around to my friends to carry on my conversation, when I once again felt someone pinch my bum. I turned around to find the same group of guys all laughing. At this point I was fuming, and the bouncer came over to check everything was alright as It was obvious I was not happy, I just told him to keep them away from me.
The second incident happened a bit later on. I was standing in the smoking area and two guys called me over to say hi. Starting conversations with strangers is very normal in this club, so I went over to say hello. The conversation was innocent enough and they seemed like alright guys, talking about the Scottish Independence vote (as they were Scottish) and things like that.
Then the conversation changed and one of the guys started to insult me, telling me I was uglier than the bottom of his shoe, that I was fat and some other mean things. I didn't really care what he thought of me so I just said okay Im going to leave now. At this point the other guy grabbed my hand and pulled me in and asked me why I didn't 'want' his friend. I obviously said he's said all this crap about me why would I want him? He then replied with...
"Well Scottish men like us are going to rape English girls like you"
Obviously I was immediately shocked and disgusted and attempted to pull away but he wouldn't let me go. I told him to leave me alone, but to get him to let go of my hand I had to dig in my nails. Once they had let me go I found my friends and told them I was leaving. I was shaken up and felt vulnerable and scared. I knew I was in a safe environment and that they couldn't do anything to me, but I just wanted to leave.
I've become used to having my bum touched and having sexually inappropriate things said to me by men on nights out, and although it is something that makes me angry and I hate that people feel they have a right to touch me without my consent, it isn't something that makes me feel vulnerable. However having someone basically threaten to rape me was something that really effected me and has now made me even more cautious and in all honesty, scared of being in an environment with drunk men.
I am a very independent women however for my own safety I have to rely on male friends to be able to feel safe when Im out at night, or around drunk men. I can't wear what I want without fear of men seeing it as me 'asking' for sexual attention. I can't walk places by myself, be in a nightclub without being touched inappropriately, or start a conversation with a male out of friendliness. I have to always be alert to what is going on and my surroundings. I have to always think the worst of people so as to protect myself.
I'm not saying all men are out to assault women, Im just saying that as women we sometimes have to assume they all are just to protect ourselves from the worst. It upsets me so much that I live in a world that isn't equal for women and men, that I don't have the same freedoms as men because I have to constantly fear men and what they may be capable of doing.
This post was something I felt like I needed to write, and I will probably touch on this subject again in a less personal way, however I wanted to write this to talk about my experience as it was something that really shook me up. This post is even just to show my male friends what women can experience and why we have to be so scared of men, especially if alcohol is involved.
If you need advice or to talk to someone about sexual violence, harassment or abuse I have included some links below. Also feel free to add a comment about your views or experiences or email me.
This Is Abuse - Government list of helplines