Your stories #ItsRevolting

Your stories #ItsRevolting

Change Is Coming

We know we’ve been a little quiet lately, and we think we owe you an explanation. 

Hannah started Revolt Sexual Assault with the aim of raising awareness of the extent of sexual assault and harassment at university.

16 months later, we have achieved more than we ever expected. Sexual assault has been launched into the public conversation, partly thanks to our campaign, but also because of movements like #metoo and #timesup. 

A change of face

But we want to do more than raise awareness. We want to create lasting change. To do that, we’ve needed to take a step back, plan our next steps, and identify how we’re going to move forward. 

So what will this all look like? We’re currently undergoing a slight redesign, a new look to welcome in our new chapter. But it’s not just our face that’s changing.

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Our new website will be more comprehensive; we’re going to report on the progress, and set backs, surrounding sexual violence at universities in the UK, through news stories, in depth features,  and comment pieces from experts.

Behind the scenes, we will also be working to develop policies and advise universities about how to keep improving, to best support survivors of sexual violence. 

Join us

But we want you to be part of this. So if you have any ideas about what you think we should be covering, or issues you want to raise, please let us know. Likewise, if you’d like to get involved, please email sarah.newey@revoltsexualassault.com and let us know what your skills are and how you’d like to help.

That could be research, illustration, writing, editing, campaigning… 

And, as always, your stories will be our focus. Our aim has been to give survivors of sexual violence a voice, and that is definitely not going change. So if you’d like to share anything, please drop us an email and we will work  with you to tell your story in a way that suits you.

We’re so excited about the next few months, and all that’s coming afterwards. Thank you for being part of Revolt Sexual Assault, we hope you stick with us on the next part of our journey. 

#ChangeIsComing 

Assault, Rape

I never reported my rape because of the way victims are treated

This article, by our founder Hannah Price, was originally published here by Refinery29. 

I was raped and chose not to report it. “Why didn’t I go to the police?” is the question that gets thrown most at me. After recent high-profile rape trials, my response is: “Why would I go to the police?”

It’s been a hard few weeks to be a survivor, and a woman.

Ireland and Spain have recently seen high-profile sexual assault and rape trials. I’ve been sucked into every headline, hoping that one of the links will take me to some better world. When I read the outcome in Ireland [two rugby players were acquitted of raping a 19-year-old student] I felt sick to my stomach. I still do.

In Spain, an 18-year-old woman was attacked by five men during the bull-running festival in Pamplona in 2016. Despite filming nonconsensual sex with the teenager and bragging about the incident on a WhatsApp messaging group where they called themselves “la manada” or “the wolf pack”, last Thursday they were acquitted of gang rape, and convicted instead of the lesser “non-violent or intimidating” crime of “sexual abuse”.

lying

Protests at the verdict in Spain are ongoing, as thousands of people share my disgust at the way this young woman was treated.

The victim was found visibly distraught on a bench by passersby. She didn’t hesitate when they suggested she contact the police. As the victim of sexual assault, she did everything “right”.

While legally we must respect the verdict, we still need to talk about the way in which the woman at the centre of the trial was treated by the accused, lawyers and the system. The case’s focus was never on what happened that night, but whether she was lying or not.

This trial, unfortunately, fits the same depressing narrative as many rape cases. It’s not the men on trial; it’s the women.

When it comes to rape, what a woman wears and how she looks at someone affects the likelihood of consent. Her sexual history determines if she “wanted it”, while intimate garments from her sex life are hung out for the world to shame her with. Despite her academic, career and personal achievements, she is all too often considered a “silly little girl” who doesn’t know her own mind or what happened. She is presented as intoxicated. She must be “crying rape”.

I wonder how many mugging victims are instantly assumed to be lying. Or how many muggers don’t get convicted because the victim was wearing an expensive watch, or had been drinking?

Not being found guilty beyond reasonable doubt does not equate to innocence. And yet, if rape comes up at the dinner table, it isn’t long before the conversation moves on to the devastating effects on the lives of the falsely accused. The perception that these “life-ruining” events happen all the time overshadows the deplorable prevalence of sexual violence in our schools, workplaces and streets.

What is also frequently omitted is the real rate of false rape allegations. At just 3%, the numbers are no higher than for any other crime. Research even suggests that most false claims do not name an alleged perpetrator, and therefore have no reputational or life-altering consequences for the accused. In 2016/17, Rape Crisis received 202,666 phone calls. So where is the uproar for the ruined lives of all those victims, whose rights were stripped away when they were violated?

suspect

Everyone has an opinion on what they would do if someone attempted to rape them. When a woman is attacked in the movies, we often see her shout, run or fight. But when it happened to me, that’s not what happened. My instincts kicked in and told my body to freeze – a reaction that is often used in court to confirm “consent”.

Victim blaming has become weaponised to cast a shadow over the victim; they are a liar out to ruin a man’s life. And just like that, the victim becomes the suspect.

I’m not convinced that my account of being raped would hold up against days of intimate and humiliating attacks – not beyond a reasonable doubt anyway.

Years later, I am finally able to speak out about what happened to me, because I want to raise awareness of the issue and fight for support for other young women in my position. But even now if I am asked why I didn’t report it, I still reply: “Why would I report it?”

Since I set up Revolt Sexual Assault and began campaigning, I’ve been accused of jumping on the bandwagon. I’ve been called a slut who just woke up with regrets about sleeping with someone. I’ve been called an attention-seeker, out for fame and monetary gain (no sign of it yet). I get called a liar because I didn’t report being raped to the police. But if I had reported it, I’d have ended up being called a liar too. And we wonder why survivors don’t always report rape straightaway, or ever.

Some days, telling my story is empowering; other days, I cry myself to sleep. Helping survivors is the only “gain” I’ve found from campaigning, and even that comes with a cost. Reliving what happened to me, and others like me, is not easy – it has the power to drain me of energy for days, sometimes weeks.

The idea that rape survivors lead a glamorous existence after speaking out is so far from the truth. Those that do have the courage to go to trial spend years with the investigation and court date hanging over them. They have to repeatedly relive the trauma, knowing that when they get to court they will be humiliated on the stand in front of family, friends and their country.

Not being believed is every woman’s worst nightmare; I think that’s why it fuelled such a fierce reaction, and the trending of #IBelieveHer in Ireland and #Cuéntalo (“Tell your story”) in Spain.

The severity of the current climate for women reporting sexual violence was made all the more real by a message that I recently received, through Revolt Sexual Assault.

trial

Georgia* was raped in her student house by her housemate’s boyfriend. After dropping out of university and trying to end her own life, the hospital persuaded her to report the rape to the police. As she told me the details of what she endured in court, the gruesome reality of how traumatising the current trial process can be for survivors was shockingly evident.

Georgia’s chilling account of her stomach turning behind the screen in the courtroom, hearing the sound of every movement her perpetrator made, left me with the most disgusting feeling. She recalls how she was questioned on the stand:

“I was so scared I almost wet myself. The defence barrister kept repeating questions, no matter how psychologically harmful they were. I ended up sat on the floor in the corridor begging for my mum and begging them to stop. After five hours of questioning over two days, I said I couldn’t take the torment any more. I was screaming and crying and I didn’t eat for three days.”

As a result, the trial collapsed. And so did her belief in the system.

We wonder why rape is the only crime where the victim is on trial too, but while sexism and sexual violence are normalised, this is unlikely to change. Rape victims won’t come forward and juries will acquit more than they convict.

Let’s put rapists on trial, not women.

If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999. 

*Name has been changed

Assault, Harassment, Sexism

Consent – The Constant Issue

Queen Mary Netball Team have created this powerful video, in which ten sports club members explore attitudes towards consent. Katie Kohn explains why it was such an important project. 
University is a confusing environment. For many students, this is the first time where you live independently of familial environments, and there is a new-found freedom of independence. Often students are surrounded by issues to do with drinking and other substances, and this means a wrong decision can rapidly descend into crisis.

Continue reading “Consent – The Constant Issue”

Assault, Harassment

ProtectED Guest blog: Before there was #MeToo, there was #ItsRevolting

Our founder, Hannah Price, wrote the following for ProtectED, a Code of Practice and accreditation scheme for higher education institutions in relation to the the safety, security and wellbeing of their students. 

If the latest media attention has shown you anything, it’s that sexual assault and harassment is happening, everywhere. At university it has happened to me, it has happened to my friends and it’s happening at every higher education institution in the UK. 

So why are report rates so low? One university’s response to our Freedom of Information Request revealed that they had just one incident of sexual assault on record in five years. University management, some of the country’s most intelligent and highly educated people, must be able to see that this is misrepresentative of reality.

happening

Continue reading “ProtectED Guest blog: Before there was #MeToo, there was #ItsRevolting”

its revolting
Groping

“Being drunk is no excuse for sexual violence”

A guy walked into the bar who I immediately was aware of because he’d previously sexually assaulted me and had to be removed from the bar.

My friends were aware of the fact that I was uncomfortable being anywhere near him and we kept a good distance from him for as long as possible.

Continue reading ““Being drunk is no excuse for sexual violence””

Feminism, Your stories #ItsRevolting

Vote 100 – our inspirations

100 years ago, the first women in the UK were enfranchised when Parliament passed the Representation of the People Act.  Although it took another 10 years for all women to have the right to vote, it was a landmark moment for equality and feminism.

To celebrate the centenary, and the incredible dedication of the suffragettes who fought for change, we’re sharing just some of the women who have inspired us at Revolt Sexual Assault.

insp2

Continue reading “Vote 100 – our inspirations”

Emoji with a tear
Assault, Harassment

‘A sexual video of me went around school… I was horrified’

When I was 15 a sexual video of me went around my school.

It was back in the days when my friends and I would go and hold field parties. Telling our parents we were going to sleepovers at each other’s houses, we would collect in a green part of town, and drink.

I was horrified, it was invasive

I remember the evening when it happened, very clearly. It was the Friday after the first week back to school in Year 11. I had been drinking gin, straight – I obviously knew nothing about alcohol.

Continue reading “‘A sexual video of me went around school… I was horrified’”

Assault, Rape

I didn’t tell anyone I was raped at university. I’m not alone – Hannah’s Editorial

Too many sexual assaults go unreported on campus. I set up my campaign #RevoltSexualAssault to give survivors a voice

 

When I was a student, I was pressured into having sex. Like many others, when it happened I believed the entire experience was my fault and wasn’t serious enough to share. I said no to him multiple times, but I still felt responsible. I was left feeling dirty, violated and ashamed.

Continue reading “I didn’t tell anyone I was raped at university. I’m not alone – Hannah’s Editorial”