THE BLOG

Sexual Assault: Society, Stop With the Slut Shaming

13/05/2015 17:13 BST | Updated 13/05/2016 10:59 BST

Something strange happened yesterday. The day started with no significant difference to any other. I woke up, had a little play on my phone and then jumped in the shower. It was only a little while after this moment that something felt different - but I couldn't quite put my finger on it for a while. It was a few hours after this that I realised what it was. I felt clean, I mean; I felt really clean for the first time in over a year.

Sexual assault is something that you hear about and feel utterly appalled that these things go on in the world - but you also feel that you are in the middle of a safe bubble that will protect you from it ever happening to you... wrong.

One day you might fall asleep in a spare room at a house party in Italy and wake up to a man doing whatever the hell he wants to you. It will take you a while to wake up properly and realise that no, you are not dreaming and that this man that you have given no indication that it's okay to touch you to is actually assaulting you. You will jolt upright and ask what the hell is going on, and he will tell you that you are crazy, that you should lie back down because you were both enjoying yourselves after all.

A little voice in the back of your mind will tell you that you need to remain calm; that you have to remain calm to get out of this situation. "Scream later" the voice will say. So you do stay calm - you calmly tell this man that you need to leave now and he will jump to block the door and bark back at you to stop being crazy.

"What the hell has he done to me?" Will run through your head as you notice his hands fumbling to do his trousers up. But you don't ask him that, you can't ask him that. It will take you nearly an hour of pleading and rationalising with him that he really needs to let you go. "I won't tell anyone... I don't even know what I would tell anyone" you will say, fighting with everything you have to keep those tears behind your eyes.

Eventually he will let you out and you will walk back round the corner to the place where you are staying. You will be numb; you will know that you are crying even if you can't feel it, because you won't be able to feel anything. Your friends will still be awake and it is only when they lay eyes on you that you truly break. You tell them everything and nothing all at the same time - because at this point you really don't know what to tell them.

They will take you to the police station where you will sit grasping an espresso like it's the most valuable thing you own. Even though you are wearing a floor length skirt and a long sleeved top, you will hear a group of policemen calling you a slut in Italian.

Time will blur.

An Italian lady will take pity on you and try and give you strength by holding you tightly and saying that she would want someone to do the same thing for her daughter who is about your age. Allowing your arms to fall loosely around her, you start thinking that you would do anything for that woman to be your mother. To hold you, to stroke your hair. To tell you that it's not your fault and that everything's going to be okay.

The police will question you. There will be a good cop and a bad cop. The good cop would do anything to help you and keeps grabbing your hand during questioning. The bad cop is so grateful it's not his daughter.

They will take you to the hospital where you will be sent to the gynaecologist. This will be your first visit to a gynaecologist where you will have several people loitering around you, none of which you understand. You will be crying, but you won't even realise this until the male gynaecologist offers to get a female for you... but this will take another hour before she can get there.

"No, it's okay" you will reply. "I'll be upset either way, it makes no difference".

You will be told that you haven't been raped - but other stuff has certainly happened to you. "You woke up just in time" they will tell you. You will throw up but also feel an overwhelming sense of relief.

Eventually you decide not to press charges. You are told that you will be in and out of court for the next six months and the likelihood is that it will be your story as an English tourist against an Italian boy's. You will think back to the group of police officers calling you a slut, and you already know what the outcome of the trial will be. You won't be able to go through that.

It will take you over a year of scrubbing your skin until it is red and sore every day in the shower before you will begin to feel clean again.

Currently, we live in a society full of slut shaming. Where women feel far too afraid to speak up about what has happened to them because they don't want to be branded a whore.

I am writing about this today hoping that if you are struggling with a similar thing then this might help you speak up. Tell your friends and your family and let them help you through what has happened to you. It was not your fault. You are not disgusting. You are beautiful and you are strong. Life will go on and you will begin to trust again.

When I first began writing this, I thought to myself that I wouldn't post it anywhere because I was scared of people I know seeing my face and name next to this story, but you know what - now I am proud of what I have written. After over a year of feeling unclean, numerous counselling sessions, wine with my friends and finally telling my Mum about what happened to me, I now know that what happened is nothing to be ashamed of.

So the next time you hear a story about someone who got attacked at a party I really hope you don't even think about muttering words like "she was asking for it to happen". Your daughter, sister, mother or best friend might have had a similar thing that has happened to them that they are too afraid to talk about and your words are only ever going to push them even further into a pit of silence and self-hatred.

No means no, being too drunk to say no means no, and being too asleep to say no means no.

It's time society cuts it's crap and stops putting onus on the girl who is too ashamed to cry for help.