What is sexual assault, some of you may ask? Well, if someone purposefully grabs or touches you in a sexual way that you don’t like, or you’re forced to do something sexual against your will, that’s sexual assault. Basically, anything sexual without consent is sexual assault.
It has been four years since I was sexually assaulted by a stranger, during a night out at university.
Since the night of the incident, nothing has been quite the same.
I was inebriated, as most people are on a Friday night. Leaving the club alone to get some fresh air led to being taken by a stranger, sexually assaulted and left on a random bench to eventually find my way back to safety.
Making my statement with the police and going through a long process of health checks, I was finally let free at midday the next day. Exhausted and emotionally drained, I went home and straight to sleep. After this, I just wanted everything to go back to normal and forget about the whole thing. However, things just aren’t that simple.
I became more and more paranoid, ‘Why is everyone looking at me?’, ‘Do they know what happened?’, ‘Are people talking about it?’. I felt uncomfortable with the way I dressed and looked, judging myself; ‘Do I look slutty?’, ‘Is this dress too revealing?’, ‘Am I wearing too much makeup?’, the list goes on and on. All of these thoughts whizzing through my brain constantly giving me stress and anxiety. Feeling as though it wasn’t safe to leave the house, or show my face because I felt disgusted in myself and worthless. Feeling terrified of being outside at night or going on nights out. I became a social recluse and a completely different person to who I was prior to the event. Self-blame is also true to most victims because if I hadn’t drunk so much, or if I hadn’t gone out that night etc. maybe it wouldn’t have happened.
Common issues that arise in Sexual Assault victims:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Personality disruptions
I can assume that like myself, most victims go through all of them.
Fast-forward four years and I still go through many of the same things that I did just days after it happened. I have gotten a lot stronger and overcome many of battles with myself too, but the feeling of depression and anxiety hasn’t completely gone away.
Fortunately, I have great deal of support from the people closest to me and would not be here today if it wasn’t for them. Surrounding yourself with positivity and support is essential to the whole healing process. I cannot stress the importance of talking to people about how you’re feeling, whether it is randomly on online support groups or with friends or family, it can bring you out of that vortex of negativity spiralling in your mind.
There are many experiences that people go through in life. Sexual assault should not be one of them.