I don't remember being taught about consent at school, other than "No means no". What I do remember is being told not to walk home on my own, or I'd risk being raped by a stranger in a dark alley. But when I was raped it was not in the street, but in my own student house, and I had taken the precaution of being walked home by someone I knew.
It was the first social event of that academic year at the university of Bristol and it had been a fun night. It was everyone's favourite time of term lectures had not properly begun and deadlines were still far from our minds. I drank, laughed and danced until I was ready to sleep. As I was leaving the club, a guy also at the social said he lived near me and offered to walk me home. Walking home alone, late at night, in the dark was something I actively tried to avoid, so I gladly accepted his offer. We'd only met a few weeks before, so conversation was light - we chatted about the night and what to expect in the new term. When we got to the steps that led up to my house, he politely ask if he could pop inside a glass of water because he was feeling unwell. Maybe this is when I should have heard alarm bells, but even as I was pouring the drink in my kitchen nothing struck me as amiss. Not until after he'd finished the water, and the pretence was over.
I lost count of how many times I said "No" and then suddenly there was someone physically stronger than me, refusing to leave until he got what he wanted. With his first demand to go to my room, came my first rebuff - my first spoken "No". To this day, it still strikes me how a charming disguise can so quickly disperse, and turn into aggression. Despite my refusal to go to my bedroom, and my repeated attempts to get him to leave, he was relentless“WHY WOULD YOU LET ME IN IF YOU DON'T WANT SOMETHING TO HAPPEN?"
The more I said I wasn't interested, the more forceful he became. I lost count of how many times I said No". And then suddenly there was someone physically stronger than me, refusing to leave until he get what he wanted. His hand grabbed my arm so fiercely that it became instantly clear that his intentions had never been to get me home safely. It is a strange feeling, being so paralysed by fear in your own living room. In that moment, I realised saying "No" wasn't going to be enough. He took off my tights. When he was done he finally left. The next day I locked myself in my room, only leaving to shower away reminders of the night before. I lay there overwhelmed with disgust, self pity and guilt. i never reported what happened to anyone in authority. Who would believe me if I did? I had been drinking. I let him into my house. I didn't physically try to fight him off -fear took over me. Surely that meant it was my fault? What happened didn't fit any label that I recognised. He wasn't a stranger, there was no dark alley. I knew I would have to see him again. I was in a student bubble, studying and socialising with my peers - even at an institution as big as my university was, bumping into someone is inevitable. And because of his charismatic public personal and popularity institutions seemed easier, and less traumatic, to suppress what had happened, than face up to institutions. The university's policy stated that institute you were reporting what was a criminal offence they couldn't and wouldn't do anything until it had been dealt with by the police.
This was my first time living independently. There was no one I felt I could turn to at the university,. I worried that what happened wasn't "serious enough" to be believed or taken seriously. But I was wary of going to the police . The year before, I had reported another student to the police for attacking me in a nightclub. There were witnesses and CCTV evidence - nevertheless, the fallout was hugely stressful. I was alienation from some of my friends. I had to deal with the anxiety about running into that student on a daily basis - my mental and physical health quickly declined. The process for sexual assault can take ages. How would my studies be affected by a serious criminal investigation and trial? The likelihood of bumping into my perpetrator wouldn't reduce over that time , so would I even be safe? There would also be the embarrassment and fear of being shamed and the added doubt that our mutual friends might not even believe me, and accuse me of ruining someone's life. So i told no one , I saw him all the time and forced myself to pretend that it was nothing. But every now accused then there would be til glimpse to remind me of what happened -moments where he would stand a little close or persistently message me late at night.
That night was over three years ago. Yet, it wasn't until, this summer, when it was done with my degree and had left the university that i was able to acknowledge to myself, and others that it was raped. I've now heard countless stories of sexual violet from brave.
Source: Morenikeji Phunmilayo Oshisami