‘I can’t remember a night out when I haven’t been groped’: UoB students tell us their sexual harassment stories
We need to start talking about it
Over half of female students say they've been sexually assaulted, according to our 2017 Sexual Assault Survey. We also discovered in a recent article that Birmingham reported 2119 incidences of sexual assault and violence in 2017. The Guardian reported sexual harassment at "epidemic levels" in British universities. Sadly, this is still the case.
But the Guild of Students at UoB has taken a stand. It hosted a Sexual Assault Awareness Week on the 5th to the 9th of February which included Reclaim the Night- a march around campus to say no to sexual violence, street harassment and victim blaming.
Now women are coming forward and sharing their stories to raise more awareness against sexual harassment and assault. Here's what they told the Tab:
"A few years ago in first year when I tried Tinder for the first time, I matched with this Austrian guy and we went out once but it never took off. I saw him months later while drunk as fuck and got with him, and he invited me to an after-party. It turned out to be super awkward. Me and loads of people I didn’t know and him trying to be smooth and painfully failing. At one point he said “I can’t resist you”. I should have left then cos I was dying inside at this awkward uncomfortable remark but stayed because he asked me to.
We went up to his room and I rejected him (lol) and dozed off; I thought that was the end of it. I woke up a couple hours later and could distantly here my name being called. It clicked after a minute that he was saying it. I almost turned over but stopped because, he was masturbating right there next to me. I could see it in my peripheral vision. I was so hungover and embarrassed that I felt frozen and couldn’t move and waited til he was done then hastily left."
Rachel, English and History of Art
"First year freshers, I aimed to go out every single night and make the most of the uni experience. I went to a nightclub as everyone was raving about it. As I left my friends to go to the bathroom, I was squished between two guys, one of them grabbed my breasts whilst the other touched my bottom. I pulled myself away but the ass-grabber encircled my waist with his hands and pulled me around and kissed me. I managed to break his hold and ran back to my friends in tears.
I wanted the typical uni experience, and sadly, the real problem is, is that I got just that. Every single one of my friends has had this kind of thing happen to them which is why I attended Reclaim the Night at the University to raise awareness to make sure things like this don't happen again."
"I never really believed that sexual harassment was so commonplace. It was my first time living on my own without my family, and I was really shocked. Even my skin colour has been fetishized, I've had numerous guys come up to me in a club telling me they'd never been with "an exotic Indian girl" before. I'm a Londoner, how British can you get?"
"I was in a taxi alone on the way back home after a night out with the girls. We'd gone out in Brum, we were living the dream. I left at 2am to go home as I had a 9am the next day. The cab driver groped me, I pretended I was more drunk than I was to get him to let me out. It's made me far more weary about taking cabs ."
"I went on a night out in Liverpool with my friends. There were a couple of girls there that I had met before. After the first couple of drinks, I started feeling really unwell, I hardly made it to the bathroom before I vomited. One of my friends told me she would take me back to her house and look after me. At this point, completely unaware of my surroundings, I agreed, just wanting to get away from the humid atmosphere and the smell of alcohol. I passed out in the taxi.
All I remember afterwards was her kissing me, while I told her to stop as I had a girlfriend. I woke up with the light coming through some blinds that I had never seen before, a used condom next to the bed. She told me I had consented, but I know I hadn't. I told my girlfriend and she's been super supportive, couldn't ask for a better woman in my life."
"I went to a house party in freshers week with a girl from my course. There was one guy in the kitchen who started speaking to me, I felt kind of flattered that he would notice me. After the night progressed, I felt a bit sick and went into the garden for some fresh air. As I was leaning against the wall, he pressed his body against me and kissed me. I tried to move my head away but he persisted. I told him to stop but instead he grinned and said 'You'll like it, don't worry'. He put his hand up my dress; I couldn't believe it was happening to me. He only stopped when some people came out to have a smoke."
"Literally walking through Selly Oak, so many people in cars slow down and honk their horns and jeer slurs through their windows. Workmen wolf whistle, men follow you down the street in the middle of the night and you don't know if today is the day it will happen to you. I can't remember a night out when I haven't been groped."
"I kissed one of my male friends, who I thought was my friend, early in the night. I ended up blacking out and he carried me to my room, pretending that he was just looking after me. I only remember flashbacks of him pulling down my jeans. I have had sex with three people, but four people have had sex with me. I haven't told anyone, not even my mum."
All of these stories have one thing in common. None of them were reported. Sexual assault is more prevalent than people want to imagine and is a real issue for university students. We need to make a change now, and events like Reclaim the Night is one step closer to raising awareness.