Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Watch out, Sexual Abusers the Women Who Kept Quiet Are Finally Coming for You

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Watch out, Sexual Abusers the Women Who Kept Quiet Are Finally Coming for You

Article excerpt

Byline: Laura Weir

HERE'S a fun game we can play. Hands up if you've ever been "touched" when you didn't want to be? I would bet my house on the chances that there isn't a woman reading this column who hasn't been sexually abused, assaulted or harassed. So how do you define it? OK, I'll go first: three men sat in a van in a haze of roll-up smoke, drinking energy drinks you cross the road and they shout, calling you a slag. Is that harassment? Take the woman out of the equation and it would warrant a punch, so I'm saying yes. A troll on Instagram messages you to say that you're a liberal whore (me last week the whore, not the troll). Does that count as sexual harassment? Well I'm going to say 80 per cent yes because of the whore bit.

What about this: a 14-year-old takes a loo break and walks across a school playground by the maths huts. A boy follows her, puts his hand up her skirt, grabbing her vagina in an episode so psychotic he doesn't even acknowledge he's doing it yep, sexual assault and by the way, the girl was me. What about when, two years later, I was asked to walk up and down in front of the sleazy middle manager of a double-glazing firm to check that I was "fit for purpose" for a Saturday call-centre job in Hammersmith? Educated, well adjusted, emotionally supported. I'm not poor, I'm not vulnerable and, guess what? I haven't told anyone about those incidents until now. Not because I'm deeply damaged, or excruciatingly embarrassed (maybe a bit), but because those moments, incidents, crimes even, didn't register as being a big deal and looking back, I think they were.

As a girl growing up in the Nineties, by the time you'd grown the boobs, worried about having the boobs, found a bra to fit the boobs, having them grabbed was as much a part of life as lunch money, Walkmans and first fags. I was more embarrassed by my parents' rusty VW camper van than what boys did to me because boys did stuff to girls. …

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