Friday, 11 January 2013

Sexual assault and me. And so many others.

I'd just turned 17 when I had my first. It was my first day of work experience in London and I'd spent an age deciding on an outfit. The heavily fallen snow the night before didn't help. I was made to wear gloves, hat, and scarf by my parents so obviously they now had to match the rest of the outfit. And boots. I had to wear my boots. But that meant I couldn't wear my jeans because they went all crinkly at the bottom when I tucked them in. I went for shorts and tights in the end. AND TIGHTS. I WORE TIGHTS WITH THE SHORTS, STOP SHOUTING AT ME. 

"No, I'm not cold." I mumbled as mum dropped me at the station, my knees shaking so fast they went blurry. I'd be on a train soon anyway, then speed-walking to Shaftesbury Avenue to make sure I wasn't late. The trains were cancelled or delayed because of the snow and rammed. Rush hour on a Monday morning together with cancelled trains meant some serious invasion of personal space on the 8:21am to Liverpool Street, but with my earphones in and an effort to not make eye contact with the lady shouting down her phone centimetres in front of me, I was alone on that train. I was fine.

My first time started about ten minutes into the journey. I didn't even realise at first, I thought I was just standing funny. So I moved and it still felt weird, so I moved my bag thinking it was that. But it wasn't either of those things. And that's when I realised I was having my first time. Someone was touching me up behind me. 

He was rubbing my thigh. He started circling and moved his hand up my shorts. I didn't do anything. I turned my music up and let my first time just...happen. I mean it was bound to happen at some point, right? Why not now? Might as well leave him to it. It's obviously because I'm wearing shorts. Best not to cause a fuss on this packed train full of probably nice adults who might have told him to fuck off if I shouted out. No. Best not.

I was late to work that day.

It was a long break before my second time. November 2012, actually. Not long ago. I was on a train back to uni, to Bournemouth, and the train had emptied after a few stops. There was just me and a man left who slowly moved to the seat opposite. Then he had a wank in front of me. So, again, I turned up my music and stared at my reflection in the window. Best not cause a fuss. It was late, I'd be in bed soon.

I didn't sleep that night.

Not long until my third time though! Yay. In December I was on a packed train home from Cardiff and a man had his hand firmly grabbing my arse all the way back. I was going to say something this time and tap the shoulder of the lady in front. But she was in a suit and looked so tired, tutting at the group of drunk lads in front of her. Plus it was late again. Ah well, it's happened twice before, I'm used to it now. I'll be alright. 

I felt lower than low, actually. 

But wait for it...it happened again the DAY AFTER! Cor, twice in 24 hours. Aren't I the lucky one? Aren't I lucky to be chosen for a stranger's pleasure? I mean I clearly look hot if this is happening to me. I clearly look like I'd be totally okay with that. This time I was on a tube and a guy was actually trying to finger me from behind. I didn't turn up my music this time. I moved forward. But he moved with me and pushed his fingers in further. The tube pulled into the next station and the doors opened. I stared outside, at that gap a few metres away, and screamed at myself inside to move. So I did, I ran out. And I ran down the other end of the tube and jumped back on, grabbing the centre pole as the doors closed again. Then I turned up my music. Then I stared at one spot until I reached my station.

I was sick a few hours later.

I like to think I'm quite a confident and feisty person. I roll my eyes a lot and I'm very good at being sarcastic. I'll fight against most things my family say and I'll stand up for what I believe in. But I was, what, touched up? Just touched up? Molested? Sexually assaulted? What do you call it? A crime? 

Yes, yes you do call it a crime.

What did I do? Nothing. I froze. I let it happen and I didn't want to make a fuss. But what if it'd been worse? What if one of those men then followed me off the train that night and raped me? What if I was approached walking home one night and was still too scared stiff to stop it happening? 

I didn't deserve any of that. It wasn't how I was dressed and it wasn't how I was standing. Those men treated me as a faceless object of their satisfaction. Ironic, isn't it, when I never saw three of their faces. But it happened FOUR times to me. Three of those times were within weeks of each other. SURELY I must have been doing something wrong? There's not just one man, there are a lot of them. So it must be just me. I haven't heard stories of this happening to anyone else.

The thing is, it happens a lot. Every day, in fact. I ended up speaking to a group of ladies about what happened to me and it had happened to all of them, too. But I didn't know about this. I was never warned about this (I shouldn't HAVE to be, ffs) so I didn't know how to react. Neither did these ladies. Of course, the argument is that MEN should be taught not to touch women up. Not to rape, not to take advantage, and to just respect women. Women shouldn't be taught how to stop it happening to them. But in turn, women aren't taught how to react if it DOES happen to them. I didn't know to shout out, to build up my confidence, to face these men, to know that those on the train WILL support me, to talk to people afterwards, to know that I am worth so much more than these dirty men who think they can get away with this shit. Because they CAN'T. My god, they can't. They NEED to be shamed, and they NEED to be caught out. Otherwise they'll do it again, and again. And women's, mostly young women's, self-esteem will plummet and they'll bury what happened and it'll drive them crazy. And women are amazing. And as long this keeps happening, feminism will exist. 

I won't let it happen again. I'm speaking out now and I'll speak out for all the women who have and will endure this. People need to know that this happens a lot and it NEEDS to be talked about. Stories need to be shared and those men need to be shamed and caught. Shout out and grab his arm and demand respect and attention. Support a woman if she does shout out. Look out for it happening to those who are frozen. Look out for me. Make him cry and call the police. Make the biggest fuss you possibly can. 

Then turn up your music.

180 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. This is a great argument for a girls education that teaches them from a young age how to avoid this or to protect themselves. Imagine how susceptible the very young are to this. Imagine a world where a girl takes pride in blooding his nose or poking out an eye. Wouldn't they be disappointed in a victim turned mad woman.

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  2. I have discovered that pinching the inside of the offender's thigh works well. I've been in your situation whilst I was travelling and it's horrible.

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  3. What a well-written piece, thank you for sharing it so eloquently. And well done for understanding that the problem isn't you or what you wore, it's unacceptable behaviour and people need to make a fuss until it stops happening anywhere.

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  4. God. Never knew this kind of thing happened. I will make my 3 daughters read this and thank you for writing it. Father of 3

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    1. Make all your male friends read it instead. And just help your daughters know when to shout, run or ask for help.

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    2. serves you right. any congisent being wouldve said something.

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    3. Person above, you are clearly scum. Any cognisant being would see that.

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    4. anon, you are disgusting and are of less worth than a rotting worm.

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  5. You're right. Very right.

    People, anyone, even everyone need to realise this happens as often as it does.

    The more people who realise, then the sooner it will stop. (I hope)

    Well done for writing this.

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  6. Well written. Such a shame that horrible things like this still happen. That some people can believe the way someone dresses is an excuse for this kind of behaviour is beyond me.

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  7. that's awful - but know that if I am that tired looking woman on the train I'll back you to the hilt, cause a fuss and frogmarch his sorry butt to the nearest authority if I get the chance. This is not OK on any level.

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  8. Brilliant post. We all need to be more aware of things like this.

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  9. No it wasn't your fault and Im glad you finally realised that. No body has the right to touch you without your consent. It must have taken a lot of courage to finally speak out, but you did. I admire that you can now talk about this and write about it and give help to other young people who may get into the same situation. Good one you and thank you for speaking out

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  10. Thank you and so sorry you had to endure this..... thanks you for being so brave to share.

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  11. This is disgusting, I never knew this happened. Not on trains. Not in front of people. As a young guy I couldn't imagine myself ever doing this, never mind having the audacity to do it a young woman on a packed train.

    It makes you sad for the condition of men's morals are in.

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  12. This post really struck a chord with me. The only thing I can tell you is that the person who does this to you is very, very unwell. And although you will never pity them, understanding why they feel compelled to behave the way they did helps to give me closure. Keep talking, keep writing. Don't feel ashamed for being so shocked you took it. I still hate using the tube, but knowing that you aren't alone is so helpful. x

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    1. I dunno that that's true. The time that some bloke decided to stick his hand down my trousers at a party and I turned around and screamed at him, his friends took pains to explain to me that he was a lovely bloke readily.

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    2. I refuse to believe that anyone who would try and sexually humiliate a woman is anything other than royally messed up in the head. Sorry. I guess that's just my opinion based on my experiences.

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    3. My experience is that the men who'd do it if they thought they'd get away with it, or think it's a "normal" understandable thing to do if the girl's hot, or who wouldn't rebuke a mate for doing it, are pretty much all over the place.

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    4. I don't know if it's helpful to explain people who do this sort of thing as mentally ill. It's certainly wrong, there's no excuse for their conduct, but the base urge that underlies it is ordinary. I think the key here is that they feel they won't be rebuked because their victim will either not notice what they're doing or enjoy it, and they need to be relieved of that belief sharply and clearly.

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  13. Thank you for sharing this, it was very brave. I had absolutely no idea it was so common and I think you're right, this needs to be shouted about so that all women know how to react if this should happen to them. I'm so sorry this happened to you 4 times x

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  14. Thank you for being brave enough to share this post. I am so sorry this had to happen to you. This is the kind of thing that brings about change. Thank you. I don't have any more words or any words nearly as eloquent as yours but I needed to say something.

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  15. Thank you for writing this, it isn't acceptable.Happened to me on a bus, guy sitting next to me. I was reading a hard backed book so I rammed it down really hard and scraped it along his hand. He got up and got off at the next stop. Wish I'd yelled or drawn attention to the filthy perv.

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  16. You're amazingly brave to have shared such an ordeal. I hope people take notice and more is done to stop women being abused like this.

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  17. Louise, thanks for sharing. I'm just sorry that there are men like that out there.

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  18. According to the police, men like this are 'prolific' on public transport, and get away with it because women don't want to cause a fuss or are embarrassed.

    Do what my friend did once when she felt the guy behind her trying to finger her...she shouted at the top of her voice WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING TRYING TO TOUCH ME UP?

    The train carriage fell to a deathly silence and all eyes were on the sheepish man stood next to her.

    He got off as quick as he could at the next stop, and I really, really hope that stopped him from trying it again. Never be afraid to speak up. Every decent man and woman will be right behind you.

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  19. It's incredible to me that this sort of thing goes on....but I know it does.
    It is something that should be raised, and spoken about and young people DO need to be warned about this.
    We've told our daughter that people like this exist and hopefully if it happened to her she would have the courage to scream in his face and show the creep up to the rest of the passengers for what he is....
    As a parent of girl it makes my flesh crawl...they deserve so much more than being shown up!

    Good for you - I really hope it never happens again but if it down I hope I'm on the train when you tell everyone!

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  20. Once on a train I had to walk through a stag do to get to the loo. On the way back one of them grabbed my ass. I turned around, slapped him in the face and said 'don't you dare touch me. You have no right to touch me' and went back to my seat.

    I lack empathy for anyone who doesn't react with the same integrity. Also how can someone expect to suddenly gain the confidence to be proactive after being 'frozen' for so long?it doesn't happen overnight.

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    1. You lack empathy, period. Not everyone is supposed to react like you did - people are different and deal with things that happen to them in their own way.

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    2. I once had my tit grabbed on the tube - I shouted the heck and most people watching looked at me like I was a freak. Next time was when a bloke touched my bum when I was at a station cashpoint. I returned the gesture with my boot. Do you think I lack empathy?

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    3. Dear 'Integrity',
      Errr... *cough* BULLSHIT! Let's face it - this never happened, did it. Now go back to Call Of Duty and don't forget the Clearasil before Mummy puts the light out.

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    4. It isn't integrity. Yes, they should be called out and shouldnt get away with it, but freezing doesnt mean you lack integrity just that you are understandably shocked and thrown by something that should not be happening. To suggest that reaction lacks integrity is blaming the victim and whether you literally boot them up the arse or not, blaming the victim is validating the pervs.

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    5. But to lack empathy is not to blame the victim. It is saying 'I can't understand that!' Reading this blog has made me understand a bit more why someone might freeze. Lack of confidence - not the same as lacking integrity, but similar in the ways it reduces your personal power. Unfortunately a lot of the bystanders on public transport, or wherever there is sexual violence and abuse, are not the supportive people who take the time to blog on the subject. Blaming the victim for being assaulted would be validating the pervs. Trying to encourage the community to be pro-active against abuse rather than passive is not.

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    6. Adam Levine's "healing the trauma" talks about this. some fight and some freeze in fear,

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  21. Sorry but someone was 'fingering' you on a TRAIN, A STRANGER and you did nothing? NOTHING? Like not even move further down the carriage? Or push him??? I've had a guy mid wank attempt to sit infront of me on a train. I put my foot on the seat and screamed 'you are not sitting infront of me.' This was in a foreign country - my instincts made me swear at him in English and i coudln't have given a fuck what the french on the train thought. And when he still thought he could sit down wanking opposite me - i kicked him in the knee. Yes i was petrified. I locked eyes with a man who saw everything and i asked him to escort me off as i was scared the guy would follow me. I just don't understand how your instinct wouldn't be to move seats, move away at best. let alone turn around and say fuck off??? Look out the WINDOW?

    If it happens again, which i hope it doesn't, at least WALK AWAY, MOVE not stand there thinking 'he's fingering me further'.

    No fucking wonder these men think it's ok to do it if when they do the girl stands there or stares out the window.

    FUMING.

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    1. Well said! You clearly have some issues that need addressing personally if you thought it was ok not to cause a fuss about this!!!

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    2. I think you're wrong. I think that Louise did what many of us would do - we're too confused and horrified to know what to do.

      Well done. You're brave and ballsy and you have the guts to do something.

      But she didn't, and nor did I, and you can't criticise us for that. You can't make us feel worse than we already do about the situations that we're in. I won't let you.

      This is me, calling you out, the way you're asking us to call them out.

      FUMING.

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    3. Victim blaming is NEVER OK. Never! Fuck off. We all react differently. The previous two commenters should be ashamed of themselves. Was it the original poster's fault four men felt it was OK to touch her up? NO. Was it her fault she froze? NO. Fuck off apologising for filthy scumbags. You disgust me as much as the pricks who thought it was OK to feel this girl up.

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    4. You're the exception, not the rule. When someone does something so completely and appallingly unacceptable, it's much more usual for the victim to freeze and have no idea how to react.

      Freezing is really a pretty rational reaction - if someone's so far outside the social norms that they'll sexually assault you, who's to say they won't react violently if you challenge them? Plus, yes, if you're an attractive middle-class young woman, then hopefully other people around you will react protectively, but if you deviate from that - you're overweight, you're butch, you're older, you're wearing a headscarf - you're running the fear that someone's going to say, "You? In your dreams!" and that you'll be humiliated as well as assaulted. It might not be likEly, but hey, until five minutes ago you'd have said it was unlikely that a random stranger would put his hand in your pants. Who knows how much worse it can get?

      Staying quiet is the most common reaction, and making people feel guilty for that is vile.

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    5. I wasn't talking about Part Time Vegan, just the two anonymous sexual assault apologists. PTV, you rock!

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    6. Bodies react to sexual assault in different ways, some people shut down as a means of survival, out of pure fear. We should not criticise the victim's handling of the situation and give her the respect she deserves for speaking out. I am pleased you felt able to handle your situation differently, but please understand that everyone is different.

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    7. I have to agree. I'm sorry it happened to her, but who just stands there and lets it happen? Of course people are going to do things like this if you let them!

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    8. You should read the other responses to that comment. If you succeed an apology with a "but", you aren't apologizing. As soon as I see that "but...", everything before it doesn't count.

      And she didn't "let" anyone do anything. The body has different reactions to such things - and freezing it is incredibly common.

      Never blame the victim. They are at no fault - the person taking advantage of them is.

      Assault doesn't happen because someone stands up to it. It happens because the assaulter is there, acting it.

      As someone who has been sexually assaulted, seeing these victim-shaming comments is incredibly ignorant and insensitive. I froze too. It was my immediate reaction. My brain went completely blank, and it took me AGES to move away.

      Rape culture = leaving the comment "of course people are going to do things like this if you let them" and not seeing anything wrong with it.

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    9. I totally agree with the supportive posts - every individual is different and no matter how personally confident you might be, intimacy is a very different thing and this kind of behaviour is tantamount to digital rape. Most victims shut down as a way to protect themselves, and for you to even suggest that anyone is encouraging or even to blame for this absolutely disgusting behaviour, then I am sorry but clearly YOU have issues.

      Well done Louise for writing this; I don't know you and this has never happened to me personally, but I can at least go some way to imagining just how difficult it is to finally open up about something so abhorrent and traumatic. I hope you know that you are worth so much more than these vile men give you cause to believe.

      I hope this never happens to anyone else, but as long as this hateful view on women as sexual objects remains alive, so does the chance of crimes like this. We should all spread the word - I know I will.

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    10. Dear FUMING,
      I've got an idea for you! Try directing your anger at the attacker, not the victim - you complete moron. The body is FAR more likely to respond by freezing when faced with an aggressive predator.
      Kindest regards etc..

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    11. In addition, I'd just like to make the point that as you have been victims of similar crimes, you more than anyone else should be able to undertand the personal humiliation that must ultimately go hand in hand with this kind of violation, let alone a public humiliation. Further rubbing salt into the already vast wound by suggesting she is to blame for her body's natural reaction to the shock and fear of the situation is utterly ridiculous and actually quite disgusting - No woman is a sexual object, and no man should treat her in such a way, no matter how "encouraging" she may be.

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    12. Nobody thinks that the victim is at fault -- all we see here is people who would've (or think they would've) reacted more forthrightly being /frustrated/ that they couldn't switch places with the victim and give their ideal reaction. /Please/ try not to jump straight to the maximally negative response to that frustration which is ultimately directed at the common enemy, it just produces a needless slanging match.

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    13. I would have had trouble understanding why anyone would freeze, but saw it with my own eyes. My sister went around the side of the house to take a cup of tea to a workman. She wasn't back directly, which made the rest of us (all girls, and there are a lot of us) go and look for her. Sure enough, the lone guy out there (no idea where the others were) had his hands all over her, and she was frozen in place - not even able to scream when she saw us. None of us had that trouble. One of my other sisters grabbed a broom, and we chased him out of the garden, the rest of us belabouring any part of him we could reach. We had to take my first sister in and feed her endless cups of tea with sugar before she was able to stop shaking and speak normally.

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    14. Nice one, blame the victim not the abuser...this is why people dont speak out, dont tell their stories, because people like the OP blame the wrong person!

      Louise you did nothing to make this happen and your reaction is also valid, how anyone reacts in this situation is impossible to predict.

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    15. Thanks to the poster at 1.19. You got my point. I am the person who wrote the 'fuming' post. In no way am i blaming the author. I am imploring her to move away (if she can) if it happens again so she doesn't have to take it, Yes, my reaction was different in a similar situation and appreciate everyone's bodies react differently.

      As a woman and as a decent human being I'm FUMING that men are getting away with violating people like this (and that includes wanking infront of you)- Because we react differently. Which is why I am saying NO YOU DON'T. Neither do you need to scream and shout. But please do move away. change carriages anything. Because you have every right to do anything to protect yourself and sometimes that means moving seats, moving carriages and for other people that means screaming at them.

      All I'm saying is don't ever feel you have no right to do anything about it. As the author said, sometimes she wasn't sure anyone would have helped and my point is don't let that make you feel you have no choice.

      You do and do whatever you can to not tolerate this.
      (NO that does not mean I am saying she tolerated it!).

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  22. Is mace legal in your country? How about a cell phone. Next time, turn and take a picture of the sicko, and then call the police. Bumping happens. Fingering you is sexual assault and that freak needs to be in jail before he moves to full on rape. There is no excuse for this behavior. NONE.

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  23. You're damn right, and I think your closing paragraph contains exactly the same sentiments as my closing in my last blog. Mine was about bullying, but sexism, to me anyway, is bullying. People are too scared to be that one person who stands up in a crowd and says NO, THIS IS NOT OK, because they fear that no one will stand up next to them :( Hopefully, the more we talk openly about these things, the easier it will be to be the person who stands up, or the person who stands up with them. I hope you never find yourself in a situation like that again, but, sadly, someone will, I just hope they have someone like you standing next to them xx

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  24. I am broad minded and already believed that this kind of thing probably happened .. somewhere. But to read your story is quite shocking to me! Humankind disgusts me sometimes. Like Alison (above), if you called out, even silently with a look - I would back you up and protect you! I have 2 grown up girls who I still worry about and a baby son who will be taught about treating people well and respecting others. I hope you stop shaking soon.

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  25. For everyone 1 person who might find your situation trivial or acceptable, there are 10 who would sooner take a punch for you than let it continue.

    We live in a society where being sexually assaulted is tantamount to acceptable (it's not very English to talk about such things, is it?) where making a fuss is embarrassing and juvenile...

    The thing is, there are hundreds of thousands of men who don't feel that way. I think I speak for most men when I say: some things are worth making a fuss over, and as a victim, it is not you who should feel the burden of exposure - it is the culprit.

    So for all of you - male or female - who feel pressured to keep quiet: don't. I promise you that, myself included, you are surrounded by good people who would sooner take a punch for you than let it continue. If that stopped it, they'd be glad for it. It doesn't always require violence, and usually it won't, but just remember that for every culturally undernourished youth who thinks "you deserve it" for whatever reason, there are 10 guys who actually have a firm grasp on reality who won't stand for it.

    It doesn't always seem like it here in England, but no matter the age gap, or how we're dressed, we're your friends. We might not get on, and we might not like the same things, but we're willing to defend your rights to live undisturbed literally with our lives - because they're rights we cherish and share to.

    It's not always easy, but speak up - when it's happening - because this country is full of heroes.

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    1. I am so glad you wrote this.
      It seems so simple to speak up, but it is the hardest thing to do when you are reminded "you are Alone & Vulnerable & who would Believe you"
      So thank you for balancing that view.

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  26. It's NEVER okay EVER I was on a school bus when it used to happen to me... I loose count.

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  27. Thank you thank you thank you. This has happened to me on the tube as well and i did the same, just ignored. I still wish I'd had the bravery to tell someone who was on the packed tube with me

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  28. Michael above summed it up perfectly. Make a fuss, scream, shout for help. I for one would never stand by if a woman was being subjected to this.

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  29. Well said. It must be very difficult to make a fuss, and more so to write as you have. More women with such a courageous attitude would perhaps help to stop this kind of thing. But I realise that there is a lot of culture against doing so, quite apart from the difficulty. People who disrespect women, treat them as objects (actually people who treat anyone as objects) have to be stopped.

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  30. I once got on a train early evening and ended up surrounded by 4 men who tried to grope me. There were people in the carriage studiously ignoring what was happening and the train guard in the next carriage was aware. I managed to get away and sit down and they stopped. Off they went to boast about snorting coke in the toilets. I was also once on a bus in Italy and it was so packed if was difficult to move. However, the male next to me had no problem moving. Moving up and down against my back. I said nothing but kept jabbing my elbow into him. In the end I got off the bus rather than endure it any more. We need to start saying things and reporting it.

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    1. Had the exact same thing happen on a bus in Italy. It's so packed you can't even turn around to see who's doing it, let alone confront them. And they know that.

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  31. Next time, tap my shoulder, there are many like me. I'll smash their fucking face in.

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  32. This happened to me on two separate bus journeys. The first was the worst. A man sat next to me, touching me while he thought I slept, moving my head onto his shoulder so it looked like we were together. He kept telling me I had cuddled in to him when I asked him to stop, not knowing that I was awake the whole time. There were no other seats and it was an overnight bus. Eventually, I plucked up the courage to shout. I shouted "I don't know this man and he keeps touching me and won't stop". Everyone ignored me, except one woman who turned around and told me to shut up because her and her children were trying to sleep. So I cried quietly all night, and the next overnight bus journey I closed my eyes, cried and let it all happen again.

    I think the lesson EVERYBODY needs is how to recognise a cry for help. And how to be the help they need.

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  33. Hello my love,

    I wasn't sure if I was going to comment on this. But then I felt I 'needed' to. We'll come to why later...

    I saw the link shared on Twitter so I gave it a read and although I found it very sad to read, to hear the emotion of what you had written, it didn't surprise or shock me. Although I can say that no, this hasn't happened to me personally when travelling, it is also something which I think is almost accepted to happen in certain circumstances. I'm used to being touched up in clubs, having guys whistle at me and slur offensive terms at me thinking it will make me jump in to bed with them. I actually don't go out much anymore on nights out because I got so sick of it. But when someone does try something; touches my bum, tries to grab my boobs, says something inappropriate, golly gosh do I make them wish they hadn't. I can create quite a scene when need be and some people need that to be shamed into realising they were in the wrong.

    The blame certainly does not lie with you, or other women. I don't fully believe the blame lies with men though, either. I think the blame lies with society. With people to allow this to happen on a daily basis, dozens and hundreds of time, to women, and men, of all ages, in so many different circumstances. It's wrong, and I hope that people who read your story will maybe think twice about thinking they are justified in touching a woman/man just because they want to, or that in the same instance, people are more weary and aware that this happens.

    My reason for deciding to comment is due to the anon comment you received above, berating you for not moving (which you already stated in your story you did..)

    Do not let anyone make you feel bad for the situations you have been in. Some people are (with no offence meant) stronger than others in the sense that they can happily make a scene, shout, physically do something to stop someone doing something. Not everyone is comfortable doing that, or would even know to do that (like you highlighted) People can often be quick to forget one key thing in situations like this and worse; fear. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for things which have passed. Or someone who is quick to lay blame with you.

    Thank you for sharing this with us all. I'm so glad you feel you can talk about this, and that you feel more comfortable doing something in the future if this happens again (which I hope it doesn't). I've tweeted the link, hope that's OK! xo

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  34. This is written amazingly. I discovered it on twitter, and I'm a teenage girl, so it's good for me to know what's out there, and yes it scares me a lot and you don't think it would happen to you. But one day a man might turn round and abuse me, and after this post I know feel that I can help muself if I ever get into a situation like these. Thanks xxx
    Anna

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  35. It happened to me by my own Lil bro ...I just can't believe it was him...I think he actually started watching porn videos on YouTube. And then wanted to know how it feels like to touCh someone's ( girls ) bottom. I hate him and never confronted him .but after reading this I promise I will .
    Thanks a lot

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  36. Someone violating another individuals life in this way is reprehensible. That our society for any reason would tolerate this kind of violation is horrific. I have 2 or three months of training to go through. But at the end of this period, I will volunteer my time, for free, to teach women self defense. I'm going to make it my mission.

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  37. We were just having this discussion today at work. And you're advice is the best we can give women - make a fuss. Shame these degenerates that dare to call themselves "men" - make sure they are shamed in public and then report it.

    Most important is your advice about talking to someone afterwards.

    Well done for having the strength to write this and let women know support of their fellow women is out there.

    ~Owl
    http://owlandpandabear.blogspot.co.uk/

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  38. This has never happened to me before, and believe me, I have travelled on trains and the tubes all my life. But I promise you one thing, if someone spoke up on a train and said they were being assaulted, I would stand up for them. People shouldn't be afraid that 'making a fuss' would cause more trouble. And I hope that if I am willing to protect someone being assaulted, that someone on the train would be willing to help me.

    My sister was once verbally (and nearly physically) attached by a drunk man on a ferry - a complete stranger, walked up to her, put his arm around her and walked her to safety. It's one of the bravest things anyone could have done for her. We need more men like that, not those willing to take advantage of women.

    What worries me is that the men who attacked you weren't afraid of what they were doing - if they thought you'd kick up a fuss, than maybe the shame of being caught would have prevented them from doing it in the first place. The conclusion? They're used to not getting caught and women not speaking up. This culture has to change.

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  39. If I saw this the guy(s) would be picking up their teeth with broken arms...I shall keep my eyes peeled from now on...well done you

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  40. I've had a bloke sit and stroke my hair. Whilst I was with my kids and husband. Took me a while to believe it was happening, because it wasn't as blatant as previous incidents where I've shuffled off and even longer to pluck up courage to say something because I couldn't work out how to not upset everyone.

    In the end I stood and up asked(!) him to stop it as one of the kids had spotted. The bloke got massively aggressive, my husband punched him as he tried to grab me towards him, the kids were crying as it got more physical and two random blokes stood up for us as it just kept escalating. I got hurt as I was in the middle. The guard threw the bloke off next station with help of kind strangers one of who also got hurt. It was horrific. The kids are scared of train travel now, I'm twitchy about it and I wish I'd just let him carry on.

    And that is why we don't always say anything at the time. Imagine if my husband wasn't there and it was just me and kids. Thank you for writing this.

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  41. Well done for being so brave and writing about this. I was on a coach going home from Uni 10 years ago and whilst queuing to get on was approached by a guy saying he'd been robbed and needed £10 to get home (this happened on a weekly basis same guy, no money was handed over), I turned to the guy queuing behind me and said as much he smiled, I turned and got on the coach. I hadn't noticed he sat in the seat behind me, next thing I felt something strange on my lower back, he'd taken his shoes and socks off and was caressing my lower back with his foot, I felt sick but whilst I jammed my elbow into his foot and heard him gasp in pain I didn't do more, for 10 years i've been disgusted I didn't get him thrown off that coach. I felt like it was my fault, that because I spoke to him I had brought it upon myself- as a Mother now I want to teach my daughter that this behaviour is never appropriate, these men should have the spotlight shone on them, scream, shout make a fuss in the hope they never do it again! Thank you again for telling your story x

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  42. When I started working at 16 (sadly 24 years ago_, this used to happen a HELL of a lot. Luckily, in those days, stilletoes were in fashion.

    I found that stepping back sharply and then grinding your foot round from side to side did the trick, with a very loud, innocent, shocked face "Oh, I'm SO sorry!!"

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  43. You're so brave for writing this, I know a lot of women who have been victims of random mild sexual attacks and it is more common than you realise. A lot of women don't speak up because they might be ashamed and embarrassed.

    You're in the right mind to think that it's not your fault, it's those men who think they can and do those things, they're in the wrong. I don't understand what possesses them to think it's OK for them to do that. Disgusting behaviour.

    The scariest part is that it can happen anywhere at any time. Whether you're in a crowded train during rush hour or at night down a quiet street. As women we shouldn't have to live in fear that this might happen to us wherever we go but because these attacks are reality, we do and we have to be able to speak up and fight back!

    Thank you for writing this xx

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  44. Used to happen to me all the time when I was a teenager (20 years ago now). I had the exact same reaction when someone had a wank in front of me on a train, and I always thought about this when I heard about abuse or rape victims not speaking up. My immediate reaction was that I didn't want the other passengers to know what was happening as it would somehow reflect badly on me. If it happened now I would hope I'd make a big noise!

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  45. My daughter was 15 when I guy on the tube felt her bottom. She told him to stop. I won't go into more details other than that he persisted. At her station she reported what had happened to a transport policeman. They reviewed hours of CCTV footage. They got him. He is now in prison for 4 years having been found guilty of 14 charges of sexual assault. He has to sign the sex offenders register for the rest of his life. Never ever ever let guys like that get away with it because you do not know what they have done before or what they might do next. I am so proud of my daughter for saying No and for reporting him. Not a single person in her carriage supported her at the time.

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    1. Hi there, my name is Anisa and I am a reporter with the BBC. I am doing some research at the moment and would be interested in speaking to you. Could you please make contact with me at newsbeat@bbc.co.uk

      Delete
  46. This is horrific and I am so sorry to hear of the incidents that have happened to you.

    A friend of mine was raped Nov 2012, and like you with the ''turning up the volume'', she went into shock and just went with it! She didn't know what to do; it was late at night, the place was busy but full of drunk people, nobody would believe her even if she did scream out for help.

    I just find it all so sad that a select number of men in this world, feel it's acceptable to sexually assault women - absolutely awful.

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  47. Well done for being so brave, putting this out there, it really is a subject that so few of us know how to handle. It should be as simple as standing up and shaming them, but it's one thing thinking you'll do it and another when you're in that situation. There was a man sat on the back row of the bus with me and my mum and I caught sight of his hand firmly down his trousers, leering at me, right in front of my mum. But is that really sexual assault? He didn't do anything to me but make me feel uncomfortable, but we got off the bus at the next stop so it was short-lived, does that make it irrelevant? Women need to be clearer on this subject so thank you for speaking out, I really do hope this post makes others realise they're not alone. xx

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  48. Thank you for having the courage to post what happened to you. It's happened to many women I know, plus I was attacked twice in my late teens - both men were soundly thumped by me cos I was soooo angry with them. It's scary, it leaves a huge mark, and destroys your trust in people if you let it. Speak out, shout out, don't stand and suffer in silence, yell at the top of your voice, "what the hell do you think you are doing? get off me now!" and then report it to the police or the transport police. The more times women refuse the accept it, the more men come to understand that it's not ever acceptable. Thank you again. x

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  49. But yourself time to get away.

    Middle finger knuckled fist, try it. It would especially gurt On the point central but just underneath your bottom lip, in the eye, stamp the top of a foot if they're behind, kick a shin, elbow in ribs.... Pain may jar most fantasists as may scary or weird behaviour if they thing ur the mad one. Jabber, sing, pick your nose- action, not being passive is how u break their cycle. I hate that this happens, I hate that others witnessing don't sometimes do the decent thing- but it's fight or flight for them too- good luck for the future to all us ladies out on public transport xxx SA

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  50. I'm an obese girl with glasses and bad skin, and I've been molested multiple times in situations like this. In case anyone thinks it's because you're hot or the way you're dressed... it's not. I actually had a guy who was with a really hot blonde girl groping me at a very crowded concert. It was so crowded no one could see what he was doing with his hands. I didn't think anyone would possibly believe me if I said something, since he was obviously dancing with this much hotter woman. And I was surrounded mostly by guys who'd been drinking who didn't seem at all friendly to me. It was a bad scene (there was a fight right next to me later in the evening so it's not my imagination that they were unfriendly guys). I settled for elbowing him hard and repeatedly while "dancing" to the music. Didn't stop him...

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  51. I nearly freaked out reading this. Although I knew it was common, it's not something you think of a lot.
    In Japan they often have wagons (花電車, flower train) dedicated to women simply because this happens a lot and they need a place where they can get away with it.
    People need to be taught that this is not acceptable, and whilst something like flower trains would be a nice thing to incorporate simply as a safe-zone for all those people out there who want one, it shouldn't be a necessity. For fucks sake people should be able to walk outside without having to fear that some creepy perv would start to feel them up!

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  52. Thank you for writing this post. It's hard to know what to say in response to something like this, I think I'd find it easier had I not been through similar experiences and know how deeply traumatising they are. Ignore the people who've said you should have reacted a different way or done something about it, you did what you had to do to get through something that NOBODY should have to deal with. Not ever.

    Oh and Anonymous Cowards, guess what? Screaming your lungs off, pushing people away and swearing profusely doesn't always help, not even in a busy public place under the gaze of a CCTV camera. Trust me on this one, I know but if victim blaming makes you all feel better, then good for you. I only hope you never have to learn the hard way just how destructive that is.

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  53. sorry i made typos on my mobile, so eager was I to post- i meant *buy yourself time. and get em anywhere it would hurt with nerve endings for a short-sharp-shock.

    but please, to anyone reading this, get AWAY from the situation if at all possible. even if you have to dance/shimmy weirdly to do it, if noone on the train/bus cares enough to HELP you if they are aware of it, noone will care if you act like a mad person, but dont let fear take you over, just remember to allow yourself to feel indignant. to be assaulted eg TOUCHED WITHOUT PERMISSION IN ANY WAY, is not ok.. EVER. EVER EVER. How absolutely DARE THEY.

    all me love n hugs chick, so proud of you for your new found courage.- sa

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  54. Oh my goodness, I didn't know things like that even happened! You're so courageous for sharing though, and thank you for that. And I really hope you do believe that it isn't your fault. There are some really sick people in this world!

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  55. Well done for speaking. All this happened to me too. Need to encourage exactly the response you say and that community will help. Thankyou.

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  56. Wow- never had that happen to me and I'm so sorry that you had to go through that. Next time, you should look them straight in the eye to make them feel embarrassed for what they did. I'm sickened that people like that exist in the world.

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  57. My mum told me this when I told her what happened on the way home from work the other day. So did my sister. They were outraged. But I wasn't sure how I felt. I didn't know whether to feel sick, angry, scared... And honestly, what happened to me only happened once. And it's not as bad as yours.

    A man had sat behind me on the bus - a pretty normal thing for someone to do on a bus. But after about 5 minutes, I felt something strange on my waist. Every time I moved, thinking it was my jumper zip, it stopped. But then, inevitably, it started again. So I moved to the next seat along. But even there, it continued to happen. Turns out the man who sat behind me had his hand through the gap in the seat, and spent the whole hour of that bus journey stroking my side. Lifting my t-shirt up ever so slightly. Actually touching my skin.

    It made my skin crawl, but I just couldn't do anything. I don't know whether I froze, or whether I was just too socially awkward to move, or to make a fuss, or to say anything. Not that it would have mattered. The bus driver was busy driving the bus. And then it was only him and me on there. I felt like the safer option would be to stay in the bus with this man behind me, than to get out of the bus and stand alone at the bus stop in the middle of the night for 30 minutes waiting for the next bus.

    And for the past week, I've been yelling at myself, telling myself to stop thinking about it, telling myself I was stupid, that it was my fault - I didn't move. The whole bus was empty, it's not like there wasn't any other seats for me to sit in. And it's not like I was gagged or anything - I could have easily stood up and yelled. But I didn't. And that IS my fault. So no matter how much my skin has crawled every time I've gotten on a bus this week, all I've told myself is that it was my fault. No matter how many people disagree with me, I'll still feel like I had a sign stuck on my forehead telling him to do that...

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    1. I'm so sorry you feel like that. Unfortunately, that is how lots of people react to assaults like that - it's just so damn weird that your brain can't make sense of it, and half your brain is thinking, "What seriously? This can't be happening!" I totally froze too when some guy started feeling me up as a teenager, and it was only in my mid-twenties when half a dozen guys had done it to me that I started having control over my reactions to be able to move away. And the only time I've ever had the confidence to really shoit and be angry was at a party where I knew half the people in the room and was friends with most of them.

      I hope you manage to get your head around the fact that it wasn't your fault and that freezing up is normal. Best of luck.

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  58. Thank you for posting this. It made me feel sick to my stomach reading it, but it needs to be said. Hell, it needs to be shouted from the rooftops that this kind of behaviour is never okay. I have been fortunate enough to have never had an experience like these, but I know if I did I would probably just freeze up the way you did.

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  59. It's naive to think this only happens to women.

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    1. I didn't see the part where she said this only happens to women. Is it more likely to happen to a woman? Yes. The person writing this is a woman - she is sharing her experience AS A WOMAN. She's not saying "Men are so lucky they don't have to put up with this!" - she's sharing her experience.

      It's not only naive, but it's incredibly ignorant to leave comment attempting to diminish hers, and many others terror by saying it doesn't ONLY happen to her sex. Don't trivialize abuse against women.

      Leave the MRA-esque comments at the door, please.

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  60. This is a really good piece, well done for getting this out!. It's happened to me a lot (I've been told I have a victim's face FFS) and I always wish I'd done more. Worried I'd look like a freak if I "make a scene". Why are we the ones feeling ashamed over someone else's behaviour. Hope you can get past these and this doesn't carry on happening to you. I'm now so over-suspicious and assume the worst at all times....

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  61. A very compelling post and I'm so sorry that this has happened to you because I've been in your shoes. I don't want to feel vulnerable every time I go outside, scared of what might happen if I do normal daily things like get on the train or bus. If this ever happens to me again (and I pray it doesn't) I will stand my ground and show that person that they cannot get away with it. And I will always, always stand up for anyone else I see in trouble and I would hope everyone would do the same.

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  62. A crowd is such a perfect cover up. I've found myself shouting "fuck off" all too often, then when everyone is looking and listening following up with, "sorry, someone was taking advantage of this lovely situation."

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  63. I once became aware of a similar incident happening to a young woman going down an escalator on the tube. She very loudly and very firmly said "Are you trying to molest me you f***ing pervert?" He tried very hard to bluff it and claim accident but everyone had turned to look by then. Clearly NOT accidental!! The women and many of the men jeered and rounded on the man who ran off as soon as he got the bottom of the escalator. Don't be afraid to make a scene!

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  64. Well done for speaking out,anyone saying why didnt you run away. We are all different and frankly if I was in that situation I would not know how I would react. Uts intimidating and scary. I was groped in a pub frontally by a bloke....his mates all giggled like it was normal? He got a swift boot in the nads and went down like a sack of spuds. He then asked me why I assulted him. I explained I was just returning the favour seeing as thats what hed done to me. Oddly hecould not seehis wrong doing. Men need to learn to respect females we are not objects. Granted its the minority not all men are this way. But it needs to stop and men like this needs to realise its a crimenot normal and they cant get away with it. My heart goes out to you and you are an inspiration.

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  65. The first time it happened to me I was 12. And he was relatively average looking, in his 30s. Standing in the queue in Maddame Tussaudes.

    This also happens to me on roughly a weekly basis, so for Louise to expose this behaviour to people otherwise unaware is so brave, and is exactly what this needs. I have also had the same reaction to Louise countless times, completely unaware of HOW to react. In order to not make a fuss, as that would be embarrassing, moved away (if I could), and avoided the culprit's eyes, as if I hadn't even noticed.

    This was most prolific through school, where being 'felt up' was entirely normal, and something you were expected to laugh off.

    My worst public transport incident was recently. Also a man wanking, though I didn't realise this at first, on the top deck of London bus one night. I thought he was just staring at me as I was applying my mascara. Avoided his gaze for roughly 5 minutes when I realised he was full blown wanking, and clearly attempting to display it to me.

    This time I shouted about it. Unfortunately not to the people upstairs, though this was because I felt too sick to speak... but went and told the bus driver, who also had no idea what to do, so just carried on driving. Though some people downstairs got angry on hearing it and one man was clearly contemplating going up to sort him out. I stood back till the next stop, when the man came down and got off. I don't know whether he was following me, assuming I got off.. I don't like to think about it. But the guy who got angry jumped off after him, when I pointed him out, so I like to think he got what he deserved.

    I feel silly saying it, though I know I shouldn't... it still pops up in my dreams.

    Thank you Louise. For doing what we all wish we could in those times of absolute violation, and shouting about it.

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    1. Allow me to add, when I was 12, it wasn't my behind this man decided to help himself to. He took it upon himself to feel what he could of a clearly adolescent girls vagina as he walked slowly past. I froze, did nothing, because what could I do? In primary school 'how to react when groped' isn't one of the things they teach you. Fuck you, to all those saying Louise should have done something. Sometimes, pure shock and disbelief doesn't allow you to.

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  66. You know what, because of this article some girl someday is going to know to kick up a big fuss. It could be anyone. So thank you, you are very brave.

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  67. I had this happen to me, in the school showers. It was horrific, I was assaulted by a group of them, and left on the floor of the changing rooms in tears. It's something that has haunted my dreams on and off for most of my life - I'm now in my late 30's.

    Reading what you have said, and many of the comments brings me to tears. I don't understand how people can be that cruel and heartless. I'm posing anonymously because I still feel ashamed that it happened and I didn't speak out. That's one aspect of it I guess might even be harder for me than you... people like me are expected to be able to stand up for ourselves, and stereotypically viewed as the instigator, not the victim, in such events. You see, I'm a man, and the people that abused me were a group of girls.

    All I can say is, please don't lose your faith in all of humanity. There shouldn't be any people that behave that way, but there are. THEY are the ones in the wrong. It should be THEM that are made to feel bad and NOT US.

    Thank you for sharing and speaking out. You are far more brave than I am. I hope somebody buys you that big bag of skittles... as I said, we're not all bad people.

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  68. This was a horrid thing to happen to you and WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. No-one can ever know how they will react when this happens to them, and no-one should judge you for how you reacted. Anyone who wants to victim bash is just plain wrong, it's the perpetrators we should be attacking.
    In my imagination I believe I would shout and scream and make a fuss, but I don't know if I would be able to. Proud of you for talking about it.

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  69. It was very brave of you to post this. I am 15 years old, attending high school and a few months ago I was molested in the corridor as I was walking to class. The boy was with friends and I had a friend with me too. They were whispering about us and kept flicking us, just casual annoying things. Then one of the boys groped my bum and it felt like he was trying to finger me from behind. He then slammed me in to a wall. I turned around and shouted "Put your fingers up your own arse, you fucking twat" (whoops!) and then thumped him on the head. He laughed it off but he's never touched me or spoken to me since.

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  70. You are so, so brave and strong writing about this, DO NOT for one second feel bad for not saying/doing anything straight away. Loads of girls consider themselves feisty and confident but when something like that happens the bravest of girls will tense up and become paralyzed with fear. I absolutely agree with the point you made about how men need to be taught to respect women. Too much blame is based on what the woman is wearing and weather she is deemed "slutty". I use public transport more than ever since starting uni, I'm definitely going to be keeping a closer eye on not only myself but other women traveling. Men need to be taught this behavior is NEVER acceptable

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  71. Good on you for writing this, hope it made you feel a bit better about the grim situations you mention. And to those who criticised; either well done for some top trolling or, if you're serious, how does blaming the victim for the way they reacted to an extreme and shitty situation move things forward?

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  72. Thank you for sharing this.
    It's incredible that you've been through all of this and yet are strong and brave enough to speak up.

    I hate to think that so many women blame themselves. You are NEVER to blame if someone does something to you that you didn't ask for. And no one should ever be ashamed to stand up for themselves.

    And even if you are too shocked to tell them to stop, walk away. Try to take a picture of the person and show that to police. Because if they do it once and get away with it, they probably will do it again.

    I find it shocking to read all of the comments by women who have been assaulted. I'm in crowded subways everyday (about as crowded as Japan's subways) and the possibility of a woman near me being assaulted just makes me sick. You always - really, always! - need to speak up! Because in a crowded place, there IS going to be someone willing to help you.

    I hope this never happens to you again and that someday everyone will understand that it is not okay that things like this happen.

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  73. I feel ill after reading your post. I'm really sorry for what has happened to you and I can only suggest that equip yourself to defend yourself in such a way that these fuckers who commit these crimes learn a valuable lesson. This bullshit should not be happening in this day and age in any civilised society. I dunno, scream if this ever happens to you again, shout out, fuck that making a fuss crap. The more this is reported, the more will be done about it,

    be good and take care

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  74. Thank you for sharing, this needed to be brought to people's attention.

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  75. This ia beautifuly honest and i know it will help maybe women.

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  76. Had my boob touched on a packed train by a guy who was pretending to be asleep... but who 'accidentally' slid back into position twice when I moved away twice. Too stunned with disbelief and anger to do anything.

    Also got groped under my shirt one night when I had been drinking too much, by a guy who made like he was helping me to sit down because I was obviously passing out. That time I managed to shove him aside and hustle out of the place. But when I got the courage to tell my boyfriend about it (a week later) he demanded I report the guy to the police, I think in order to protect his own honour and prove I wasn't just cheating on him. When I did make a scene over it, a week too late, my friends and my own sister sided against me for being stupid enough to be in that situation to begin with. Although going to the police was a horribly embarrassing experience -- it was a reaction under pressure and I'm not sure it was any less stupid than getting drunk in public in the first place (which I have never done since) -- it came out as a result that I was not the first woman he took advantage of, and this was the first his wife had heard of his behaviour.

    Anyway, what is my point? Like all kids, I was taught that nobody has the right to touch me. But nothing prepares you for it actually happening. Naive? Sure. But if we don't teach kids a) the lengths assholes will go to to take advantage of naive people, and b) how to react under surprise (I don't know how you teach that..?) then the naive among us will have to keep learning the lesson the hard way. I understand why people don't like education directed at the victims, but come on, I don't think educating the perpetrators will help. These jerks KNOW what they are doing is wrong; they just think they can get away with it. Maybe if those of us who have wisened up set enough of an example of reacting fast and loud, the message will trickle down.

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  77. ...Did I say "shove him aside"? That was wishful reimagining. What I really did was apologize, excuse myself, and dash for the door. I felt guilty for misleading him into thinking he could grope me. By passing out in his presence. Blech.

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  78. the sick thing is something similar happened to me, and he accused me of playing "hard to get". "no" means "no," not "try harder."

    god bless you for sharing and raising awareness. I know it doesn't remove the wrong & hurt they caused, but I am so sorry this happened to you, louise.

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  79. Reading comments above, I think a lot of guys might find it difficult to understand why a women wouldn't act against this kind of sick behaviour. Not because they condone it, but because males are naturally prone to fight against threats.
    For the record it's incredibly admirable and brave that you shared these experiences with everybody. It's made me see a completely different perspective on how women might react to these situations, but I'd be lying if I said that I completely understood why you didn't lash out against these degenerates. It's true it shouldn't be the women's responsibility to discipline men, but men's responsibility to not act like they (some) do, but unfortunately the former is the more likely way for the mass to get the message...

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  80. I really don't understand why you didn't cry out for help???Confused!!!

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    1. Read back, there are many explanations - freezing with shock, horror, disbelief. Not everyone reacts in the same way.

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    2. Cos it's normal not to.

      I think you might have been watching too many films where the "feisty" heroine fights back and successfully humiliates the guy? That's wish-fulfillment - it's not actually an accurate reflection of how most victims of assault or rape react.

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  81. Awful experiences. I feel awful as a man that women have to put up with us.

    Surely now we have to start thinking how we can put a stop to this.

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  82. Speak out. The world is not full of creepy perverts and you'd perhaps be surprised to realise that your fellow travellers would support you. We have daughters or friends with daughters and will not let you suffer at the hands of these people but you need to speak out!

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  83. Stunned. Thought this was a story from decades ago. How can any "man" think this is acceptable behaviour?! They need spraying with paint or stink and then alert the authorities (some kind of anti-rape spray that the authorities recognise?). This behaviour needs to be stamped out!

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  84. Hello Louise thank you for the bravery in writing this. I work with a lot of young people and unfortunately your story is not rare. I know a lot of women and young girls this happened to.

    This year I have started an education and advocacy programme about inappropriate behaviour and violence towards women. I am saving this article so that both young men and young ladies can read it and understand that this happens.

    It is scary what happens when you are on your own and I always advice young people that if on a train on their own to move if people come near them. I understand always easier said than done. I also advise that even in a packed train to shout out "excuse me do you mind" sends a strong message. Of course it is a lot more complex than that but often those offenders need to be shocked into knowing what's inappropriate and that they overstepped your boundaries.

    As a father of daughters it sickens me that this happened. Probably why I have enrolled them both for karate classes as well as some incredibly sarcastic comebacks for situations like this. I just hope and pray it never happens to you again.

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  85. When I was in school years ago, I asked a female classmate what she thought of my touching her, and she said "I don't want you to." I never did it again, and to this day I don't even like feeling passengers on buses or trains even by accident.

    To all men (and, in fairness, women - although let's face it, the perpetrators are nearly all male) who think having a feel-up or whatever is harmless, just ask yourself if you'd like it if it happened to you. You wouldn't, would you?

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  86. It's easy to say, tell him to fuck off and move...i'd like to think i would. But as a woman, i'd still worry about being followed, or being violently attacked

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  87. Victims would probably react differently if they could be confident that others around them would care and offer support. How many people witness this and do nothing? It seems to me that part of Western culture encourages men to have zero respect for women and to see all social occasions as little more than pretenses to fucking as many women as possible - women who they view with contempt.

    Boys need to grow up in a different culture and everyone needs to grow up realising that everyone deserves the same respect.

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  88. Knee-bollocks! Fist-face! I'm no advocate of violence but in this instance(s) I am.

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  89. Thank you for sharing this, take solace in that if I had seen this, I'd have broken his fingers and paid for your taxi. We're not all monsters.

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  90. Things haven't changed on the tube in the last 50 years then. I froze too - every time- the embarrassment is too great to do anything else.

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  91. Great post. So wrong that you needed to write it and so wrong that I know exactly what it feels like to have this kind of thing happen.

    We do need to find our voices and shout up about these men whilst they're actually doing it, but as so many people have said, sometimes it feels impossible to do - whether fear, confusion, self-blame or just your body refusing to respond to you. They're all real reactions and they all stop you doing what you "should" do.

    Hopefully if enough people keep sharing their stories like this, it might get easier to speak up in the moment and the more men and women realise this goes on, the more people will know to help.

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  92. I don't understand why women don't immediately say something, especially when there are many people around. You said it happened when you were a teenager. I guess that is why, you didn't know.

    But it is not your fault, it is not your shame, it's their's! I am pretty sure most people will help! Especially, if this happens so often, there MUST be security personal placed in those trains. The society must know! Tell everybody, not just some other girls. Tell your male friends and family members.

    I was once told how a female friend of mine was touched on a bus by a grown man when she was just a teenager. I was angry for days! People need to be made aware and angry for things to change.

    So, thank you for telling us.

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  93. As a man I've not been on the receiving end of this, but I have witnessed two interesting incidents:

    The first time there was a girl of about 15 or so who was boxed in at a train table by 3 heavy guys wearing leather jackets. The one next to her was getting a bit too familiar when a kid across the aisle who couldn't himself have been more than 15 asked her how old she was and if she was ok with what was going on. In the end they had the girl switch seats with one of their own group, but for the rest of the journey the heavy guy stood in the aisle and gave the kid a hard time for calling him out. I was trying to figure out what the hell I'd do if it came to violence but thankfully it never did. My point here is that often intervening is *hard*, and it was clear a lot of people on the train were aware but also scared of challenging the heavy guys. It was a big risk from the kid who called them out; we really needed the transport police there. There's a happy ending though: after this had gone on for a while they caught the attention of some even heavier biker guys, who went and sat with the original heavies as sort of guards.

    Secondly a more positive story: a girl at a concert was being manhandled by the guy to her left, but rather than shout and scream she tapped me on the shoulder (to her right) and quietly said "this guy keeps touching me, could we switch places?" I did, figuring what's he going to do, say "excuse me, you've interrupted my uninviting groping, do you mind?" And indeed he didn't respond, figuring the game was up but he hadn't lost face. It's not ideal, but it got her out of trouble with a minimum of fuss. Perhaps a scheme like this could work on a crowded train? If she'd screamed I might've been more worried about getting into a fight with the guy (I can't fight, at all), but since her request for help was (a) quiet and (b) addressed directly to me, I found it easier to respond without causing a confrontation I was in no position to pursue.

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  94. I was at London Liverpool Street last month, and this chap sat next to me. I thought nothing of it as the seat next to me was free. However he started moving closer and then placed HIS hand on MY leg (then proceeded to move it up), and it was at this point that I jumped up and yelled for him to not touch me. He then said (more to the people around us) that he'd done nothing and immediately a WOMEN told me to not make a scene. Sometimes I really wonder about our society.

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    1. oh my god, some people are awful.

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  95. If someone puts their hands on you without your consent, dig your thumbnail into the fleshy area between their thumb and pointer finger and then SQUEEZE. There's a nerve there that doesn't require much pressure at all to really, REALLY hurt. They will let go of you. They won't have a choice, their reflexes will kick in to get away from the source of the pain.

    I'm so sorry that this keeps happening to you. Some people are awful.

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  96. Having been in similar situations I find that the best reaction isn't to shout or grab but simply in a loud and clear voice "Whoever is touching me on XYZ should stop or I call the police" then turn and stare pointedly at which point the gaze of others will likewise be drawn. 9 times out of 10 the sheer embarassment will stop the act and will go a long way towards stopping that person's repetitive behaviour.

    I don't believe speaking out and shaming these people works - they don't read this stuff. But affecting them at the time is a different matter. It's exactly the same as dealing with bullies in the playground - the bullies are often the biggest cowards, call them on it!

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  97. Thank you for being so brave and posting this. You are not alone. I freeze up too. It's hard not to feel as though it is your fault even if you know rationally that it's not. Stay strong X

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  98. Massive respect to you for posting this, though I was tense the whole way through reading it. I had no idea that this kind of thing really happens that often.

    Try not to take the preachy or angry responses too much to heart - some of its obviously trolling but the rest is just frustration (not at you). That paralysis happens to most of us in all kinds of difficult (and not so difficult) situations and we all replay the events later and wonder why we didn't do what our brain was screaming at us to do. Reading about it evokes a lot of uncomfortable empathy, and it's easy to try and overcome that discomfort by describing ourselves in your role but somehow unencumbered by social fears.

    In real life I'm pretty sure I would react exactly the same way that you did, each time, and then beat myself up about it afterwards. But I doubt I would have been brave enough to write about it on the internet.

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  99. This is a terrible and sadly all too common story.

    Not long ago, a male friend of mine fell asleep on a bus and when he woke up, the guy next to him had put his hand inside my friend's jeans and was groping him. My friend just jumped off the bus.

    I'm ashamed to say we all (my friend included) had a bit of a giggle about it at the time, but it's really not funny at all. I would never ever ever laugh if that story was told by a female friend. So there you go, a bit of unconscious sexism for you. I guess the convoluted moral of the story is that men shouldn't feel protected from assualt by virtue of their gender. We all need to call these creeps out whenever we see them.

    Well done to you Louise for posting, and never feel ashamed of your reactions. My male friend is a confident guy and could probably hold his own in a fight but faced with the sudden shock of sexual assault he froze up just like you did. There is no wrong way to react to these horrible situations.

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  100. When I was 17 I was assaulted on a bus almost every evening for a year by the same man and not once did I make a fuss or a scene - I just took it because my body just didn't want to move or scream or shout. (It turns out the girl who regularly sat in front of me - she wasn't what I'd consider a friend but we were well enough acquainted to hold conversations on the morning bus - knew this was going on the whole time and never once tried to stop it, or even turn around to start a conversation in case he was deterred by other people being able to see what he was doing.)

    Anyway, well done for posting this - I know it's hard for me to even tell close friends or family about what happened to me, much less the whole internet!

    Also, to those getting angry that you didn't "do" anything about what happened to you, people have different ways of coping when assault takes place and it's actually very common that people will just shut down, turn their music up and stare out of the window, which is exactly what I did.

    And finally, I just wanted to say that I'm sorry this happened to you; it's truly awful that people think this is okay to do. I hope it doesn't/hasn't had any long-term affect on your health.

    Best wishes x

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  101. I don't know if the men who do this are necessarily mentally ill, so much as symptoms of a societal and cultural mental illness that has branded women as second class beings, apparently there mostly to be objects of attention or prizes for men. This is sadly not confined to the skewed values of a few insensitive men. Let me add my voice to the chorus praising you for your courage, eloquence and honesty.

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  102. I am so sorry that you have been through this. I was assaulted once, too, by a total nutcase who was on his own at the end of the tube carriage (everyone else had subtly moved to the other end). When we pulled into Hammersmith I got off with everyone else. I was in a crowd of people. The next thing I knew was that a hand was clamped between my legs from behind me. My reaction was different from yours, but I sometimes wish I'd done what you did and kept quiet, but I didn't, I spun round and screamed at him to get off me, that he was a fucking perv. Then I turned back and walked on with the crowd. Then I was pushed from behind by him, slammed onto the floor and sliding head first towards the ticket barriers. He leapt over the barriers and disappeared. I was 27 at the time. I am now 41. It takes a long time to get past things like this. You are incredibly brave for sharing your experiences because it's only when people understand that this sort of thing does happen, a lot, that we'll find a way to stop it. To everyone who has experienced something like this, speak up, keep quiet, deal with it the way that makes you most comfortable, but never EVER think that it's your fault.
    And to Michael Cromwell ^^^, thank you.

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  103. Right there with you; I've experienced a minor incident where I just sat and did nothing, my overall feeling at the time was shame and embarrassment. It's not so easy for some people to make a fuss but I have swore to myself that if anything happens ever again I'm not going to sit quietly.

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  104. Thank you, Louise. Seventeen when it first happened to me, too. Can't count the times it's happened since: an evening reception; a bowling alley; a main road; a country park... it goes on. Wearing anything from a duffle coat to joggers and hoodie. And my reactions have probably been as various as the places it has happened, from freezing in terror (what else will he do to me if I thump him?) to pushing away and shouting.

    One instance, in broad daylight when I was out for a run, the perpetrator was away on his bike, with his laughing friends, quicker than I could scream after them. I wanted to throw up because of how it made me feel. I wasn't in a position to fight back (other than yelling some hefty Anglo-Saxon after them). And it didn't alter the fact that it had happened in the first place.

    I never count on others coming to help either. On one occasion, I was getting some nasty sexist verbal from a complete stranger (rather than physical assault) in a very busy shopping area. I was utterly humiliated, but I stood up for myself anyway. Not one of the many people standing around did ANYTHING to defend me, even though I was clearly upset. He, meanwhile, was egged on by his mates.

    I try to think the best of people, and would hope that I would always stand up for anyone who was going through this, but I get pretty disillusioned about it all, given the apathy from some in my experience.

    Until writing this, the only other time I've mentioned the incident with the lads on the bikes, was talking to a friend about it, a couple of weeks afterwards. Her fiance, for whom I had had a lot of time and respect, laughed. Time was when I would have had him down as 'one of those people who'll stick up for you'. But, no; he found it funny.

    Terrifying.

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  105. I was too embarrassed to go to the police when some guy decided to continuously get himself off by rubbing up against me on a packed train. At first I thought I was imagining it, and told myself not to be so silly. I kept pushing my elbow into his chest in a weak attempt to get him to move away - difficult when there's no room. Anyway i eventually realised he was holding himself in a way which was not natural, furthermore he was fully erect. I shoved him even harder. I then ran when it got to my stop. Again convincing myself I was imagining it. I then bumped into him on the street where he stepped in front of me and said 'excuse me, sorry.' So he knew what he was doing was wrong.

    Anyway, I was too embarrassed to tell the police, feeling like a stupid child. However I did speak to TFL. They offered to send Transport Police to do the journey with me and apprehend the guy. Unfortunately, I had been too frightened, and it had been too busy for me to get a good look at him, and by the time I'd plucked up the courage the CCTV had been deleted.

    So please, if this happens, contact TFL or your local transport regulator. Get the CCTV and meet the bastard surrounded by police officers. I only wish I'd been brave enough to do the same.

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  106. I bought my sister a book "Every Woman's Guide to Self Defence" once (in about 1975). It was full of ways you could discretely hurt somebody doing this kind of thing to you. I doubt that book is still in print, but the ideas seem good, and I'm sure they're still available. And the thought that you could do it may, I hope be empowering.

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  107. Brilliantly written piece. I had an unpleasant experience just before Xmas of a similar kind. Also had an encounter with a "gentleman" who would not take no for an answer that got very out of hand. It's reassuring that so many commenters are lamenting the "what you wear has nothing to do with it" point-how you dress should not create an invitiation for ANYTHING. How a woman dresses should be soley about her celebrating herself and being comfortable with who she is. x

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  108. I want to thank you for having the strength to write this. I can't begin to express how much I relate to it. The doing nothing. Being frozen. The shame and guilt of not reacting. People don't realize the shock of it all. The inability to move in that moment. It is still difficult for me to shake that shame. I know logically, I am not to blame. Emotionally, I often feel responsible. It is important that people speak out about this. I don't wish for it to happen to anyone, but I feel relief that I am not alone.

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  109. Thanks for being so honest and raising awareness about this. I think schools need to educate young women on how to deal with this despicable behaviour by certain men.

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  110. Like a lot of other people who've commented here I can relate to the 'freezing' and not speaking up, even when in a crowd of people. Once a man followed me and then squeezed my bottom. I turned around to look at him but said nothing, I just turned back around and walked faster so I'd get lost in the crowd. Another time I was in the audience of a concert and the man behind me kept touching my hair, so I turned around to glare at him. He laughed and said something dismissive like 'don't take things so seriously' so I thought I'd just ignore him, but shortly after this he started rubbing his crotch on me from behind. After I realised what he was doing I said nothing, I just moved somewhere else. I didn't want any fuss and I don't think anything good would have come out of me confronting him. I think the reason he rubbed himself on me was just to prove that he could do what he liked and get away with it, because he was pissed off that I'd tried to confront him and imply that he couldn't touch my hair. If I'd confronted him he would have been even more pissed off. It's like when someone catcalls or makes lewd comments to you, if you tell them to fuck off they'll get even more abusive because they don't like being told they can't do whatever they like.

    I'd like to think I'd confront the person if it happened again and there were people around, and that the people would back me up. I hope I don't have an opportunity to find out!

    Also, I really respect you for having written this. I hope a lot more people read it, especially men.

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  111. Horrible to hear things haven't changed. Happened to me about 20 years ago when I was 17. Like you I was doing work experience in London and heading home for the first time, nicely dressed in my 'work' outfit. Felt very grown up.
    On the escalators at Liverpool Street the man behind me put his hand up my skirt. Like you I turned my music up (Sony Walkman which dates the story and me!) but the difference between our stories is that I took my lovely smart briefcase and, as hard as I could, swung it back so it collided with his balls. Even through the music I could hear him groaning. It wasn't ideal - I should have reported him - but I didn't feel so much like a victim after that.

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  112. I am sure every one knows about ‘flight and fight’, another natural response linked to this is ‘freeze’, it is a natural bodily response, the same as sweating, feeling sick, surges of energy we experience when in danger, we have no control over this it is an autonomic bodily response. Even suggesting that this brave young woman should have responded differently is little short of slapping her round the face and telling her to belt up!!! If all those who have dared to advise on what she should have done in these situations believe they are showing empathy they are as deluded as the dirty perverts that think behaviour like this is acceptable, and contribute to the massive on going problems we have in this country (and worldwide) with sexual crime in all its hideous forms.

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  113. I'll give you my experiences.

    I was about 4 years old when it all began. My father was seeking every opportunity to assault me whilst my mother was at work.

    While this was going on at home I experienced 3 further assaults. About 5 or 6 years old a neighbour I knew as Jack took me to his house offering me a doll. After taking me upstairs to his house he assaulted me on his bed before giving me a knitted rag doll and sending me home. My father was circling the street in his car searching for me, and when I told him where I was and what the man did to me he phoned the police.

    The second assault happened during a caravan club when I was about 7 or 8. A teen followed me into a nearby forest where I was collecting conkers whilst my parents set up the caravan. He asked me to sit down with him on a tree stump and began fondling me, asking me "is that nice?" I froze and couldn't answer. He made me promise to meet him the next day, but when I got back my parents were already packing up. According to them my mother was ill. To me I was breaking a promise, and I had been taught to never break a promise, so I spent 2 hours of the journey home crying.

    The third assault also happened during a caravan club, some time when I was about 9. My parents let me go down the road to feed some ducks. An old man approached me and told me to follow him. I was afraid that if I didn't follow him I'd be in even more danger. He took me to some woods and turned me away from him. He then pulled on of my hands behind my back and had me jacking him off. He then left and I raced back to the caravan as fast as I could, calling for my mother. She wrapped my hands in freezer bags and called the police. I don't know if they caught him or not.

    When I was 12 my mother approached me in the night in my room, she asked me was my father doing something to me. I started to cry realising he was in big trouble and slowly nodded. My father came into the room and my mother attacked him. Next morning my mother asked me if she wanted me to send him away or not. I still loved him as he was my father, so I said to stay. She made him swear on the bible to never touch me again, but a year later it started again despite my protests. She asked me if my dad was still touching me. I looked down and nodded. My dad burst into the room and I started to sob and asked him "daddy, why do you do this to me?" My mother went livid and attacked him until he left the house, the next morning she phoned the police and I never saw him again.

    A year later I was at a friends' house and we were playing computer games in his bedroom. He tried touching my breasts but I slapped his hand away. After 2 attempts he got rough and forced me onto his bed and began unbuttoning my blouse. His older brother burst into the room, pointed at me shouting "you, out now!" and to his younger brother he said "I could hear you two from downstairs." As I was running out buttoning up my blouse he shouted after me "you better not tell anyone he tried to rape you!" I didn't, a few days later my best friend said he tried to do the same to her.

    When I was about 23 I went to a night club with a friend. It was a fairly quiet one, we were the only people there except for an old man. After a couple of drinks I decided to dance on the floor. Whilst dancing I felt someone grab me at the hips and trying to do dirty dancing with me. I didn't feel comfy with it, but I tried to play along. He was breathing heavily down the back of my neck, and then he started rapidly thrusting his pelvis against my backside. I pushed him off me and walked back to the table angry and upset. I told my friend what he just did so we called a taxi and went back home.

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    1. I'm so sorry you had to experience that :(

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  114. I'm starting uni, possibly living in London next year so will be using the tube frequently. I already have a fear of men when walking alone and I've never experienced any sexual or physical violence and to be honest I'm completely terrified :/

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    1. I'm afraid too. I will do whatever necessary to not travel on public transport or to not be alone out in public because the thought of being sexually assaulted makes me really terrified.

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  115. Thanks, love the honesty. Honesty like this and that you where shaking when you wrote it (scared) shows that you are brave.

    Hope you feel brave enough next time, to move away, shout or/and kick him in the nuts.

    Also if feel you are in a threatening situation, then take the headphones off, look around be aware of your environment, make eye contact.

    Also most people are good (man and women), well maybe no angles but not bad either.

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  116. That so many women are unsure of how to react or indeed say something is incredibly sad and in itself speaks volumes. I have to admit that although I'd like to say I would scream blue murder I would have been unsure what to do or say at 17. I would ask myself ' What if he denies it or he says it was an accident?' The sad fact is that if he/they got away with this on those occasions are they doing the same thing to other young women every day?
    I would implore anyone reading this to tell female friends, to share this blog and tell anyone that suffers this kind of indignity and lets face it sexual assault to SHOUT out loudly as pushing them away will only push them onto someone else. If you can turn around with your mobile and take their picture as long as you are sure they are the pervert!

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  117. Louise's blog highlights how intimidating a sexual assault can be, and on board a train it can feel particularly difficult to speak up about it.

    It's not something we want to see happen, either.

    If it happens to you on board a train, or you can see a passenger who needs your help, let us know. Find one of our officers or a member of rail staff; both there to help you. Call us on 0800 40 50 40, or in an emergency dial 999. Anything reported to us will always be handled in complete confidence and taken extremely seriously.

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  118. As a father of three gorgeous girls and a lovely wife, I can empathise. My eldest who is 17 and my wife, whom regularly go into town centres shopping often are at the wrong end of appalling comments and sexual suggestiveness, which, no suprise, stops when Im with them.

    I would suggest that any female who is being treated like this should be vocal as I am sure that there would be an army of people nearby whom would speak up and support the victim.

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  119. Thanks for sharing Louise. In India we are currently going through a phase where more and more men are realizing that this doesn't happen only to "immoral women" who "asked for it". Its a deep seated issue and I hope you have the strength to speak out and shame anyone who tries to sexually assault you again. and Yes it is sexual assault.

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  121. It's appalling that this should happen to you once. That it has happened several times is beyond my comprehension. You have my deepest sympathy. Not an easy thing to get over. I'm a father of three girls so it made me a little uneasy. I just cannot imagine what the brains of these unpleasant reptiles look like

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  122. Well written piece. I'm sorry this happened to you and I'm sorry it happens at all. And no, not your fault in any way, shape or form. No matter what you'd been wearing, it is not an invitation. But thank you, for writing so honestly about this.

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  123. Yes, it's sadly very true. I've experienced assaults too. I reported it to London Underground on one occasion but they said they couldn't find any cctv evidence even though I gave a pretty accurate report of when it happened. It would be great if we could start speaking out about this more whether to the authorities or to each other.

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  124. I cannot comprehend how difficult it was for you to write this and dredge up up all these assaults, I cannot come to terms that this happens on public transport and is unreported .
    I have read this twice and it upsets me and makes me angry that you were exposed to this , I hope you carry on getting stronger to stand up and destroy this scum .
    Good Luck to you and all the best for the future.

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  125. Just no excuse for such behaviour.A beautiful girl I once knew not surprisingly had many suitors,some of whom who were hopelessly out her league,and who went too far.One seedy type indecently assaulted her,made lewd remarks and even tried to kidnap her,but she misguidedly didn't report these ugly incidents to the police.If I'd have seen him,I would've battered him and called the police myself on her behalf.She never deserved such treatment.Contact has been less frequent recently,but we still occasionally send friendly messages to each other.

    A year or so back,I saw another unsavoury incident where a young woman was harassed by a man on a bus late at night;she was clearly upset and I nearly took action,but she walked to another seat and thankfully nothing else happened.All I can say to any female if they are victims of any sexual assault,just report it to the police without hesitation.

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  126. I've had this happen only once to me, and I always imagined myself turning around and slapping the guy square in the face but I didn't. I just froze for a second and moved away as far as I could. I know a girl who was alone on a tram at night and some guy started assaulting her and she just couldn't move. She was 13. It's absolutely disgusting.

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  127. Nice post and information.Thank you for taking the time to publish this information very useful.

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  128. Such a great post. I feel disgusted on your behalf and on behalf of anyone ever affected by something as vile as this.
    Physical sexual assault never happened to me before but it's terrifying and frustrating to think about. We shouldn't have to worry about these things happening - ever.

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  129. I think bending their fingers back would be a good one.

    I had to laugh at the woman who commented on Jan 11th that she believes these men to be mentally ill! Even rapists are not often diagnosed with a mental illness. Unless you can count 'getting sexual pleasure by abusing strangers' as a mental illness the vast majority of these men are NOT mentally ill!

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  130. 17 was absolutely the worst age for me for this. I remember one day in the summer coming home and saying to my mother 'I feel that if it happens one more time I will punch the man in the face'. I never did though, which I deeply regret.

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  131. I googled train related sexual violation tonight because it just happened to me today for the first time.
    Packed trains, me thinking it was peoples bags pushing into me, riding my jacket up.
    only to eventually realise there was a dirty fucking indian pushed up right behind me pushing his boner into my ass against my jeans while feeling my ass up. & actually LIFTING MY JACKET OUT OF THE WAY.
    I've never felt so revolted or filled with rage in my life.
    I'm standing on the train. Packed to the brim, forced against people & this guy thinks he can just shove his disgusting junk (in every sense of the word) against me!?
    He better hope I don't see him on the train tomorrow.

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    1. me again. But I think it's worth pointing out that I wasn't even wearing anything 'slutty'. (jeans, tshirt with the anorak/jacket over the top)
      Some people are just animals. Full stop. I just can't even believe people DO THAT especially on PACKED TRAINS.
      Women have to put up with the most disrespectful shit.

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  132. This is so inspirational! You are such a strong young woman well done xxx

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  134. I am 16 years old and live in the US.
    The only sexual assault I have experienced was when I was in 8th grade and a boy who I was flirting with pushed me up against the lockers and groped me. When it was happening, I felt scared stiff; unable to move or make a sound. Afterwards, he pretended like nothing happened, so I did too. I didn't know what to think of it, I was ashamed and embarrassed. I blamed myself for flirting with him and felt dirty and gross. I never told anyone.
    Before 9th grade, I had never heard of sexual assault. I wish someone had told me that what I experienced was not okay and in no way my fault. I think my feeling of embarrassment and shame is common, and even encouraged in society. That is probably why people don't talk about it. We need to start talking.
    Thank you for this blog post, it is so brave! I know it has inspired me and others to speak out.

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  135. thank you so much for this post! it really shed some light on sexual assault for me

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