There has been a viral campaign sweeping the internet using the hashtag #metoo it’s a campaign to raise awareness of the number of women and men who have been victims of some form of sexual harassment or assault.
The hope is that “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of magnitude of the problem.”
I am normally one of the first to join in with campaigns like this but I struggled with this one. It took me a while to realise why I couldn’t join in and that reason was shame.
I was ashamed that I was a victim.
I was ashamed it happened to me.
Sitting here writing this I cannot express how angry this has made me feel and how it is ,that it’s this shame and the fear of not being believed or supported that leads to so many not reporting their assault orharassment.
I was about eight years old when I first faced harassment. I was out playing on my bike when a local lad a few years older than me stopped me and held on to my bike. He then informed me and my friend in graphic detail what he was going to do to me. It was a horrific and violent account which left me frozen and in shock and thankfully as he was only holding my bike my friend rode off on hers to her parents and the police were later involved. I can remember the feeling of fear as if was yesterday, the violation of his words and I also remember wondering why me and what had I done wrong? I came across him later in life and found myself physically shaking in the aisle of a supermarket still frozen from the memories.
The second time I faced harassment and assault was very different. A man I thought I loved and who loved me betrayed me in a way that I never could of imagined. A quiet unassuming man turned into my worst nightmare. Broken fingers and too many bruises later I finally escaped the situation. Again ashamed and embarrassed at what I perceived as my weakness I didn’t press charges or seek support. Somehow I felt I should have known better. Or in his words “shouldn’t have pushed him to this”.
I look back at these times in my life and i’m so frustrated at the woman I was, but the truth is only 24 hours ago I didn’t wish to join a campaign that challenged this, so have I really come any further in my development?
As a mom I hate the concept of any one hurting my children and I know very well I would launch straight into mama bear mode, so why didn’t, why don’t I give myself the same consideration?
Here is some harrowing statistics….
Rape Crisis England & Wales headline statistics 2016-17:
•Rape Crisis Centres across our network responded to their highest ever number of helpline calls during the year – 202,666 in total, or nearly 4,000 a week.
•Rape Crisis specialist services were accessed by 67,059 individuals, an increase of 16% from 2015-16.
•Rape Crisis Centres provided in excess of 450,000 sessions of specialist support, including advocacy, emotional support and counselling, an increase of 29% since 2015-16.
•Three-quarters of all adult service users contacted Rape Crisis Centres about sexual violence that took place at least 12 months earlier; 42% were adult survivors of child sexual abuse.
•The largest group that contact Rape Crisis Centres, now over half of service users (51%), is those who prefer to self-refer. This pattern has remained consistent over the past six years and continues to demonstrate the necessity for funded independent services.
•93 per cent of service users were female.
•Where age is known, 2,651 were aged 15 or under, an increase of 55% on last year; those aged under 25 represented 36% of service users. Over 30 times more children reported multiple assaults than last year – 904 compared with 29 in 2015-16.
•Where ethnicity is known, 20% of service users identified as Black or Minority Ethnic.
•25% of all service users identified as Disabled.
•The Rape Crisis England & Wales website received nearly 9 million hits during the year and an average of 32,765 unique visitors per month.
Here are some other key statistics about sexual violence:
•Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year; that’s roughly 11 rapes (of adults alone) every hour. These figures include assaults by penetration and attempts.
•Nearly half a million adults are sexually assaulted in England and Wales each year
•1 in 5 women aged 16 – 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16
•Only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report to the police
•Approximately 90% of those who are raped know the perpetrator prior to the offence
These figures come from An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales, the first ever joint official statistics bulletin on sexual violence released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Home Office in January 2013.
Only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report it to the police. This statistic makes me want to cry. Yet I know I am one of the 85% who didn’t report it and who in all honesty just wished it away.
Whilst the internet is now blowing up with articles on this new campaign, some supporting it, others saying its reducing the impact of the crime, I personally want to say thank you.
Thank you to women who have gotten involved, seeing the #Metoo statuses on the social media of woman I class as strong, incredible, independent people has hit home that it can happen to anyone and that its not about weakness or that I some how caused it and also that I am not alone.
I do hope this campaign encourages people to speak out. I want it to educate others like myself that it was not our fault,. I also want to see changes in the way sexual assault and harassment is dealt with. No woman, no one asks for it and no ones job, livelihood or reputation should ever be at risk from reporting a crime that was committed against them.
The criminal is not the victim it is the perpetrator and this is the one who should pay the price.