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This article contains themes of sexual assault. If you are affected by anything in this story please follow the links for support.
*Disclosure: Whilst the survivor has chosen to talk about alcohol consumption, we would like to remind people that no always means no. There is never any excuse for predatory behaviour and we will take action against all perpetrators.*
A woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, and rape survivor has shared her experience, as she hopes it encourages other women to speak out, as well as to make people be aware of what is happening around them.
Usually when universities go back, I am reminded of the rape I endured and how it tarnished my university experience.
However, I wanted to share my experiences in the hope of helping others.
Firstly, it is always so important that rape survivors are reminded that those who are to blame are the rapists who commit the crimes. But I want to share my experience to spread the message for everyone to try and help those around them where possible, and to speak up if someone appears to be in difficulty.
I went out celebrating before classes started back at university. I was excited, happy and with my friends. We went to a house party and enjoyed catching up with everyone who I hadn't seen all summer.
On this occasion, I drank more than I usually would and before I knew it, we had all gone out to a nightclub in the town. I was with my three best friends but as the night went on, I was separated from them. I was now drunk and alone.
The next memory I have was being at my flat door with a man I didn't know.
I panicked and was ringing and ringing my flat door buzzer in the hope a flatmate would answer.
I had my keys but didn't want to go inside in case the man tried to follow me in. But he became aggressive and frustrated, he got my keys from me and dragged me into the flat, which is when I was raped.
I reported it and the police carried out an investigation.
After the court trial I was provided with some of the missing pieces to that horrific evening.
Eventually, I was made aware of who this man was.
My rapist was a man who had visited the area and gone out to the same club as my friends and me. He was later removed from the club after causing an altercation and stood waiting at the club exit.
He was described in court as a predator waiting, as he stood for a considerable amount of time before spotting a drunk female leaving alone.
That female was me.
He followed me home. What unfolded inside my flat is something I will never forget; however it is something I have processed thanks to support from my family and professionals.
What shocked me was that throughout the court case, witnesses were called to give evidence. These people were members of the public who saw me on this evening.
A bouncer stated that he remembered me as I was throwing my ID cards around at the entrance and he would only let me into the club if my friends didn't let me drink anymore.
A member of the public said that I struggled to walk when leaving the club and could hardly stand up.
I am very clear that the blame lies at the feet of the man who raped me. But as I share my story, I ask that if you see someone who doesn't look safe, that you ask if they are okay and if you are concerned, call the police.
Sometime after my attack I saw a girl who was worse for wear and alone. I asked if she was okay and helped contact her family members who were able to come and pick her up. Together we can help each other. There is never any harm in asking if someone is okay.
In this day and age, it's easy to see something and think it's none of my business. The police will always listen to your concerns, and no report will be a waste of time. If something doesn’t sit right, let’s start challenging it.
Make sure that ‘I'm sure they’re okay’ becomes ‘I know they’re okay’. Be an upstander, not a bystander.
If you were affected by this blog, remember there is support available.
Project Firefly is our response to making women and girls feel safe in the night-time economy. Through improved training to officers and licensing staff, increased patrols and partnership working, the force is pursuing perpetrators and improving safety.
Victims of rape and sexual assault can receive support and guidance from us and our partner agencies, including the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), as well as support through the criminal investigation process.
Reports of sexual assault, even if non-recent, can be made to the police by calling 101 or online.
Always call 999 in an emergency or if you are in immediate danger.
You can also contact Bedfordshire’s SARC by visiting the Emerald Centre, emailing [email protected] or alternatively calling 01234 842750.
If you have been affected by crime, Bedfordshire Victim Care Services offers free and confidential support to victims in Bedfordshire, whether or not the crime has been reported to police, and irrespective of where and when it occurred.
Contact 0800 0282 887 or visit the website for further information.