Trigger Warning: mentions of sexual harassment, sexual assault against a minor and rape.
Sources of support can be found at the bottom of this page.
Recently a member of the Her Campus Aberdeen community reached out to us asking for a platform to anonymusly share her experience of sexual harassment and assault. The author tells of her experiences both throughout her life and while at the University of Aberdeen in an endeavour to raise awareness for the issue and prevent it from happening to others. We at Her Campus Aberdeen believe every women should have the right to share her story and have her voice heard, and have therefore agreed to share her experience. If you have been affected by any of the themes discussed in the below article we have listed helplines/websites at the bottom of this page that can offer help and support. And to the author: We believe and support you.
This is Her story.
Many people ask me ‘Do you hate your parents for putting you into school young and opening you up to so many things for such a young age?’ and the answer is no, I don’t, I don’t think it’s my parents’ fault. I showed promise. I was a good student. I am a good student. I was tested, I showed progress well and when I went into school and through primary school it was fine. I did well. Then high school came and suddenly the age gap? Really, really hurt.
I remember going into high school and all these boys were being grotesque. I remember having a boyfriend and I was only about 10 or 11 and he was 13 or 14, and no teacher stepped in. Nobody. My parents tried but when you go to school you’re parents can’t control what you do, that’s why you’re supposed be protected, teachers are supposed to protect you for those seven hours and I was not. I remember going to a park with a boy and being about to kiss him and he made me touch his penis. He made me give him a hand job. I was 12.
Before this I also had a boyfriend who was very, very sexual at such a young age and his friends used to phone my house and say they are going to rape me and rape my mother. Who does that? Especially at such a young age and to a child?
My first kiss was recorded when I was 11 years old - he was 13. It was in public, and then another time I went to a party with people I thought were my friends - from when I was younger at least - and the guy who was supposed to be my friend and protect me? He coerced me into giving him a hand job. He got on top of me, trying to get my clothes off. I was 13. If my friend had not come down and found us? I don’t know what would have happened.
When I was 14 I had a boyfriend who was 17 - my parents didn’t like it so I lied about it - but the school knew. Everybody knew and nobody stepped in. Nobody stopped it. A 14-year-old with a 17-year-old boy. I lost my virginity to him. It was a long relationship in which he constantly manipulated me and my emotions. While I was in that relationship, I went to a Halloween party at who I thought was my best friends house and it got way out of hand. I tried to help a guy find a hat and I had boyfriend at the time. We were downstairs alone, and he grabbed me by the neck and by the face. He then kissed me as I tried to get away, but he tried to grab my arm.
I managed to get upstairs, and he got kicked out which was great, but no one ever brought it up again. Nobody. I was 16 and my boyfriend at the time bullied me into thinking I was the cause of it. That it was me that did something wrong and not the boy who attempted to assault me.
There have been multiple nights out where people touched me without my concent. It happens to girls all the time.. I remember distinctly being checked at the Atik queue by male bouncers, being touched in places I shouldn’t have been, and nobody said anything. I remember another time my friend got kicked out and the bouncers cared more about that than the guy who sexually assaulted me than they did myself.
Then we get to the worst night. I just love a’cappella I’d have done anything to get in with the a’cappella group in Aberdeen because they are the best - until they are not. Until they leave you in a club on your own. It was at an open mic night, I’d just turned 19 and was left alone with a 30-year-old man. That was the night that everything went wrong.
I don’t remember much of that night. I remember leaving the club and walking to his house, although Im not sure how I walked there. I vaguely remember speaking to somebody, and I remember being in the bedroom. I remember walking to the bathroom and at this point I only had my tights on. I do not remember anything after the bathroom toilet until I woke up with his chain necklace on my neck. I didn’t know where I was and I couldn’t find my clothes. But I didn’t think anything of it. I just thought oh well, that was a one-night stand, tick, done - until the symptoms came. A diagnosis came. And then everything fell apart. Uni went on hold. I had to go on home. Quit my job. Everything stopped because of that one day.
Just a few weeks I though,t but it wasn’t. It was years. Years have gone by and I still think about that night. I still can’t remember the parts where I blacked out - but I can remember the parts where people could have stepped in and could’ve helped me. But they didn’t, nobody did, nobody ever does.
He has given me an STD. And while I was trying to process that that I had also begun to realise that I was sexually assaulted - and that is a really hard thing to deal with. Especially when you are in the middle of a global pandemic and the country is in lockdown. There was nobody to speak to. Nowhere to go. And when you live at home with your parents, you close away. You don’t deal with it. And then you come back to university and it all goes downhill and then you see the person that messed you up.
But you decide you want to get back on the right track so you start seeing a therapist, you do on medication and things are looking up, you can breathe again… until another scumbag comes your way.
You go to a poker night, it will be chill, your friend is going so what could be the problem? It is at your old house so you know everything about it. Your only worry is the police coming because of Covid rules. You could never possibly imagine that you will be sexually assaulted in your own bedroom. Your own home. But that’s what happened and it has taken every single good memory I have from that house and painted it with black.
I can now see no room without it being tainted. Everything is tainted. The library is tainted. My street is tainted. Anywhere he is I do not want to be there but even then, I have to go back to campus. I have to go to the library. I have to go to the hub. I have to go and sit in those labs where I was when I was going through so much pain, where there are constant reminders. I must sit there and act like I’m happy to be there, like it’s a privilege to be there. When the reality is that every moment that I’m there, I want to get out. I want to leave.
I hate it now. I hate how I cannot wear certain things because they remind me of how I’ll I was. I look at pictures of myself and I just think that was such a wrong person, she was so messed up. Her head was so damaged. And it is so sad because she was such a pretty person on the inside. She had a few flaws but she learned from everything that happened to her. She regretted some things, but she is happy she did them. But it just seems that this new person has been through so much pain. So much so that it is going to be hard for anything else to hurt them. No one will ever get close enough to break me and hurt me like that again. I will not break again. It will never ever happen because I am so strong now.
I am going to graduate from university and get a great job. I just want to do everything I have ever wanted. I will see the world and just do everything I have ever wanted. I will think of this time as a fleeting memory when I got through the hardest thing ever in my life and survived. Some people say you should write them a letter and you can send it, or you could just burn it, or keep it for you. Do with it whatever you want to. But I do not want them to know how much they hurt me and how much they messed up my life.
I have used this to raise awareness for other people so no one else can get hurt the way that I have been hurt, so other’s can be supported and protected in ways that I wasn’t, in ways that I should’ve been. I don’t want anyone to have to feel the way I feel. I am so strong and everyone I know is so strong and so supportive.
So no they do not deserve a letter; they do not deserve anything. For me, burning my skirt was the best thing I ever did. I got rid of every bad reminder that possibly that came from it. But the videos of that night – the ones I watch no matter how much I want not to – they’re still there, reminding me of that night. I can’t see even a picture of my old house without remembering that night. Remembering him. Remembering his face. I can’t even think of my university library without remembering it. It’s all tainted.
Even my university is tainted.
How dare you do that to me. How dare you do that to this establishment. Did you think that would be the end of the story? Unfortunately all women know that for us, for those you hurt, it is never the end. I am only 20 so there are likely plenty more years of harassment, abuse, discrimination. Anything. Everything. It is coming my way. It is coming towards every single female because women are born into a society that tells us that we are less than. But ladies remember you need to push those boundaries and you need to excel because they are going to push you down and make you think you are less than you are. That they can have you as a possession. That you are owed to them. But you cannot be owned. You do not have a price and your voice is yours to use as you wish. You will succeed no matter what they do to you so do not let them break you down. We are stronger than them because they are weak. They are weak people.
Not all men. That is the hashtag they use - not all men. Yeah, not all bad? Maybe not, but how are we supposed to know which man is and which isn’t? You say my friend wouldn’t assault me, but he did. He did do it. He knows he did it. She knows he did it. We cannot know who will hurt us and who will not. I have many male friends who I adore. Who are lovely people but still they still hold the same internal values as every other man on this planet. They were born into it the same as we were. It is just generations and generations of patriarchy and oppression. But they do not realise how much they have lucked out by being born into that gender. As a cis man you have nothing to worry about. You aren’t oppressed. As a cis-gender, heterosexual, white man you are priceless. You live the best life - but that is why you believe every other one of your friends. You think that they will not do it because you would not hurt another person. But they did. And you need to realise for we as a society to progress, for things to improve, you need to see the problem and help us to fix it. Stop making us think we are wrong for protecting ourselves.
Not all men, but enough of them. 97% of women aged 18-25. And I am in that 97%. Do not tell me not all men when it has happened not once but twice, in fact, many times. It's happened enough times with enough men that I now feel the need to protect myself against all men. I have been made a victim to sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual assault since I was in my first year of high school. So, do not tell me I am wrong to be upset. I was 11 years old the first time. How old will I be when it’s the last?
If you have been affected by any of the themes discussed in this article, listed below are some helplines/ websites that can offer support.
@Abdnsurvivors on Instagram offers a safe space for victims of rape and sexual assault.
Rape Crisis Scotland: 08088 01 03 02 / https://www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk/
Black women’s Rape Action Project & Women Against Rape: https://womenagainstrape.net/
Victim Support Scotland: 0800 160 1985 / https://victimsupport.scot/
Scottish Women’s Aid: 0800 027 1234 / https://womensaid.scot/