‘It almost led me to drop out’: Lincoln students open up about sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is something women in Lincoln are experiencing far too often

TW: Sexual Harassment 

The ongoing case of Sarah Everard’s disappearance has sparked a wave of women across the country sharing their experiences of times they have felt uncomfortable when walking home, being stalked, and sexually harassed. In a recent article by the Guardian, they found 97% of young women, on average, have been sexually harassed.

Sarah Everard went missing on the 3rd of March whilst walking home down a main road in Clapham in London at 9:30 pm. However, Sarah didn’t make it home and by the next day, posts about her disappearance flooded the internet. The police then released what Sarah was wearing, including bright clothing and the phone she was using. A week later, the Met police announced a man had been arrested.

Women are told from a young age how to stay safe when walking alone, wear bright clothes, keep their locations on, try not to walk on their own, call someone. But despite all this, many women have experienced the scary reality of being harassed when walking alone.

Experiences of sexual harassment are all too common, scarily common for young women everywhere. We asked female Lincoln students about their own experiences.

I asked him to stop but he kept making sexually explicit comments

One time when I was in a club this guy kept groping me. When I asked him to stop he just made very sexually explicit and inappropriate comments. He was saying stuff like: “you know you want a ride on me.” So, my mate swapped places with me so he couldn’t reach to touch me. Then the guy began to have a go at my friend for swapping places with me purely because now he couldn’t touch me. This guy was middle-aged, probably in his early thirties.


I felt sick

When I was 17 I was working on a Sunday and I was cleaning a really low down shelf so I was on my knees to do so. A man old enough to be my grandad said “nothing I love more to see a young girl on her knees.” Safe to say I felt sick.


When I ask men to stop they never do

On multiple occasions, I’ve been out in a club or at a bar dancing when men have groped me or danced with me without asking for consent. When I asked them to stop they never do. They carry on until I speak to their friends to ask them to stop or find a man I am out with to ask him to stop.

Men who are in the street alone or in groups regularly stare or comment on my appearance and it is intimidating. When it’s challenged, our voices are silenced or diminished as being too sensitive, or that we should take it as a compliment. It is uncomfortable and upsetting.


The car circled the area three times

I was going home one night and my friends lived on the other side of Lincoln so I called a taxi and asked them to get me from Tesco Express on the high street. Whilst I was stood waiting for my taxi, a man in a car pulled up by me, he was asking questions about my name, why I was out, who I was waiting for. I kept it brief and didn’t really answer, this car circled the area three times.

The taxi never turned up, the final time the car passed he pulled over again and offered me a lift, I said my boyfriend (who did not exist) was meeting me and started to walk in the direction of my house. The car crawled a few metres behind me for a significant part of my journey, until I bumped into a group who had also been out and I knew one of the girls there, the car saw me join the group and drove off.


I assessed my surroundings to see what house I could pretend to live at

I decided to start running before work last winter even though I was scared of being outside in the dark. I came across a group of men with a dog at 5:30 am one morning so I turned off my music to make sure I was alert. I then heard them shouting at me so I began to run as fast as I could whilst looking behind me to check I wasn’t being followed.

And to assess my surroundings to see what house I could run to with a light on or a gate open so I could pretend I lived there. There are countless examples and it is important for people to know what we have to do to keep safe.


I just screamed at him

We were being harassed by this guy on a night out so my boyfriend told the bouncers what he was doing. The bouncers took him out but then they let him back in! So then he just came back and I just screamed at him to go away.


We hid behind a car to escape them

Me and some friends were walking back to our uni house at night and behind us were three middle-aged men. At first, I thought there’s no way they’ll follow us as one of my friends was a guy, and people always say “if you can get a guy friend to walk you home or a boyfriend then do so.” But these men still went after us.

They began to clap and cheer at us so we walked fast until my shoelace came undone so I stopped and tied it. One of my friends then said: “hurry up they’re walking faster now.” So we ran down our street and then we hid behind a car to escape them.


It almost led me to drop out

During my second week as a fresher I went out with all of my flatmates to a club and one of my male flatmates got quite drunk and wouldn’t leave me alone. He then pulled me away from the group and kept trying to kiss me even though I refused his advances.

When we got home he kept coming into my room and wouldn’t leave me alone. I probably should have reported it but I didn’t feel like it was much of a big deal because stuff like this happens so much and sexual harassment is almost normalised. It almost led me to drop out.


I got catcalled at least three times in one day

When I was walking around Lincoln with my friend I got catcalled at least three times in one day. Two men came out of a building and went past us commenting on my friend’s fishnets and making lewd comments (we shouted at them, I told him to mind his own business before I kicked him off his bike). Then another time there were guys in a white van who stopped at some traffic lights who shouted at us too.


I kept looking over my shoulder

I was going to the shops and there was a man walking behind me which I didn’t think much of. Then I started to notice that he was walking towards the same shop too but again thought nothing of it. Upon leaving the store I noticed the same man stood at the entrance. Just before I left the car park I stopped to put my trolley in the trolley bay and got my bags.

This is when I noticed him walking towards me. I started to feel a bit nervous. I had heavy bags so I couldn’t get my phone so I just started to walking quickly to get away from him.

He followed me all the way up to the entrance of my accommodation (I kept looking over my shoulder) where I went into the reception. Then the receptionist went out to check if he had gone and then walked me back to my flat.


It has to stop

I was on a night out with one of my friends and we were really drunk, we went to a club and I ended up dancing with this boy. We danced a bit more but then he started to touch me inappropriately and was getting really persistent and slightly aggressive. I finally managed to get him off me and found my friend.

The next day, I was in a lot of pain and was for the next few days too. I cried so much and I didn’t want to go to the club or anywhere else. I felt guilty for letting something like that happen to me. I haven’t really told that many people about this but it has to stop. We should not be going through this as women. We should be able to go to the nightclub with our friends without the fear of being inappropriately touched. Boys need to do better by checking themselves and their friends.


*All names have been changed for anonymity purposes

Featured image credit: Charley Litchfield on Unsplash

Related stories recommended by this writer:

As women we should be able to walk home safely, but these stories prove we can’t

Stop warning women against walking alone at night. We’re not the problem

Six women have been reported as killed by men since Sarah Everard’s disappearance, says MP