HARVEY WEINSTEIN DIDN'T RAPE ME. BUT I WAS RAPED.

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I had had sex twice before. Both drunkenly. Both embarrassingly. Both publicly. Both consensually.

I was 16. I had a crush. He had a party. He was a little older and a lot cooler.

I wanted to sleep with him that night but I was on my period (a topic that was even more taboo than rape in 2008).

The night was spent attempting to flirt, getting second-hand updates on his relationship status and eventually browsing some dirty magazines together in a very un-sexy way - mostly laughing at all the tacky union jack g-strings and fake tits.

I was too young to go into town, so I hung around with the other after-party dregs at the house. I text him that I needed to crash in his bed that night. He replied that that was fine because he would be staying at his girlfriend's that night anyway. Damn.

Disappointed and a little drunk, I eventually climbed into his bed alone (with a fresh tampon in of course, so I wouldn’t leave a stain).

I woke up in his arms, glad that he’d came home, but a little embarrassed because in some cruel twist of fate, I was actually wearing a union jack g-string. Before you judge, no they weren’t very practical period pants, but I like to think it was more of an ironic decision and less of a sexy/tragic one. So I lift the covers to reveal my shame, asking him ‘do these look familiar?’, and as I turn my head to see his reaction two things happen. Firstly I realise my neck is stiff and sore in a way my 16 year old body has never been before.

And secondly, I realise that my crush did not come home that night.

Later that day, after multiple attempts and contortions, I painfully retrieve the tampon from deep deep inside my body. After scrubbing my skin to the bone I lay in the sun in the middle of my driveway and try to convince my friends to run me over with their car. My hair is wet and my body is bruised. I am so ashamed that I want to die. We compromise on McDonalds drive-thru breakfast instead.

We didn’t know what sexual consent was or what it meant. We were just sluts. And when one of my friends started dating my rapist soon after, it made me sick but I didn’t know why. I  just assumed I was jealous. A jealous slut.

 

RAPE ISN'T LIKE WHAT YOU SEE ON TV

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I was 13, he was 14. I was a virgin, he was a virgin. 

I wasn’t drugged, I wasn’t drunk, he wasn’t a stranger, he wasn’t an old man with round glasses, he was my boyfriend. 

It wasn’t dark, we weren’t in an alley, we weren’t in a field, we weren’t in a basement. I wasn’t scared, we were watching a film on the sofa. 

I was there, he was there, his friend was there.

Suddenly his hands were under the duvet. Then his hands were inside me. Then his dick was inside me. Then he got up and picked up objects from around the room. And then the objects were inside of me. 

He was laughing, his friend was laughing. His friend got involved. I didn’t scream, I didn’t cry, I didn’t struggle, I didn’t say no. I just lay on the sofa and thought, why do people do this? I thought sex was supposed to be fun? It hurt, it was uncomfortable, I felt awkward, I didn’t like it, but I was intrigued by it. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do .. do I get involved and get it over with quicker? Do I say I don’t like it and upset my boyfriend? Do I just pretend I like it until I get used to it one day? Whats with the household objects though? Is this us being kinky?

I was 2 years out of year 6 sex education.

They didn’t tell us how to deal with this.

Back then they still happily ignored that anyone under 16 was sexually active. They refused to acknowledge that 13-year-old girls and boys have sexual curiosities, and if that’s not properly informed it becomes dangerous. This day it became dangerous.

I didn’t understand what rape was, I didn’t know I was being raped, I didn’t know that I’d been raped for a very long time. 

The next day I got to school, everyone knew. He had absolutely no shame in letting everyone know what HE had done. Because he hadn’t done it, WE had done it. In everyone else’s minds, though WE hadn’t done anything, I had let it happen. Obviously my fault, I’m the girl, I should be more ladylike, I should conduct myself with more modesty. I was called a slut, a slag, a tramp. 

For the next week, the next month, and the rest of my school life I was a slut, a slag, a tramp. If you’re told that often enough, you believe it. So I acted accordingly.

That’s what was expected of me, that’s what I was, I didn’t know how to be anything else. I was proud of it. I continued to have sex with anyone, anywhere, in front of anyone, whether I wanted it or not. When anyone asked how I lost my virginity, I didn’t tell them about that time. I told them about the next time. Not because I was ashamed, but because I’d forgotten. 

2 years later, I’m 15. I call the police on my boyfriend. He’s cautioned for ABH, kidnap and harassment. He’s not cautioned for rape. 

4 years later, I’m 17. I’ve left school and I have finally found a nice boyfriend after a string of definitely not nice boyfriends. We’re talking about our sex lives; our likes, our dislikes, our experiences. This is the first time I’ve ever had a conversation with a boy about my likes and dislikes, it’s the first time anyone’s ever asked. For some reason, the experience popped up in my brain and I told him about it. I was laughing, I was joking ‘kids, eh!’ He gave me a look but said nothing. 

Later I remembered that look, and there it was. I was raped. I had been raped 4 years ago and I’d only just realised it. I was raped out of my virginity and didn’t know about it until then. Why had I believed my own lie all this time? Why had I allowed people to walk past me every day of my life and call me a slut? Why hadn’t I defended myself? I felt stupid, ashamed, confused; I was questioning everything. 4 years later. Every sexual experience I’d had since then had been a product of my rape. I was submissive, I was an exhibitionist, I didn’t care what happened to me. For 4 years I genuinely believed I was just more sexually liberated than most girls, when in fact I was a product of an incredibly suppressive situation. Everything changed, nothing made sense. 

I didn’t just have one rape to come to terms with, I had 4 years of sexual experiences to untangle. If I’d have known, if I’d have read a blog like this, I wouldn’t have lost those 4 years. I might have been able to live my life my way. I might have been in control of my body. I might have cared about myself. 

11 years later, I’m writing this. I’ve accepted my circumstance and I’m so incredibly grateful that I realised when I did. Now I have sex with anyone I want to, anywhere I want to, in front of anyone I want to. Without shame or regret. I still feel sexually liberated and explorative, but now it’s because I want to be. Not because I’m playing a character created by my abuser. 

My rape didn’t look like the ones you see on the TV.

Please, if you’ve read this and it’s made you question something, or it’s resonated with you in any way, speak about it. As women, it doesn’t serve us well to live up to societies expectations of ‘ladlylike’ and keep our sex lives quiet. Fuck ladylike. Talk to a friend, a family member, a counsellor or a helpline. 

Email hello@theuglygirls.com if you want a girl to chat to or have any questions about what has been spoken about in this blog. Or follow some of the resources below:

Rape Crisis
0808 802 9999
rapecrisis.org.uk

Victim Support
0808 168 9111
https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/crime-info/types-crime/rape-and-sexual-assault

RASAC (Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre)
0808 802 9999
rasasc.org.uk

Women Against Rape
womenagainstrape.net

The Survivors Trust
0808 801 0818
thesurvivorstrust.org

Women’s Aid Federation
0808 2000 247
womensaid.org.uk

THE LEVERTON LEGACY

I’ve known my mum for 24 years:

12 years alive. 2 years ill. 10 years dead. 10 years today, infact.

July 6th 2007 at somewhere around 2pm - I was sat on a bench eating pick and mix with my cousin, and my mother-daughter relationship changed again, forever. 

There’s a lot of things I don’t know about my mum. There’s a lot of things I can’t know. 10 years is a long time to stay exactly the same, maybe she’d have changed? We’d definitely have changed, I’m not a raging force of hormones anymore. I’d hazard a guess that our relationship would be easier now. 

Here’s what I do know about my mum - I always wanted to be her, I still want to be her, but I could never work out how. My mum was calm, kind, content and introverted. I’m loud, opinionated and an introvert living a pretty extroverted existence that’s been masking a lot of pain. That’s all changed - I’ve worked out how. 

I never saw a place in the world for feminism, because of my mum. She commanded her space and no one could argue with that, especially not men. I now realise there’s a world outside of my mum, I’ve been living it for 10 years. But still for a long time I couldn’t really align my thoughts to a feminist movement. In my childhood I’d never experienced male dominance, so I grew up not considering it to be an issue in my environment - that actually lead me into some pretty dangerous situations, but that’s another blog.

My mum only wore makeup if she wanted to, only shaved if she wanted to, only dressed up if she wanted to, only smiled if she wanted to. Most of the time she didn’t want to - except the smiling, she had a lot to smile about - and that was okay.

It didn’t matter. Not to her, not to me, not to my dad, not to anyone else. Imagine just being yourself and that’s okay? Turns out, it’s a thing! She had her insecurities, but I only discovered this from a diary entry in 1985 that said ‘I feel fat today’. The next day - she’d smashed a job interview. The day after - she was excited because she’d painted the lounge. And she didn’t feel fat enough again in 1985 to diarise it. 

Aside from all of this, she took my ridiculous teenage, life defining insecurities in her stride. She let me wear makeup, shave, dress up and all the rest of it. She didn’t make a big fuss of it, it was okay to be me. She knew that wouldn’t be forever, and I know she wished that she’d get to see that weight lift from me as I got older. She didn’t get to see that. But she’s the sole reason that I can sit here now, 10 years on, and say that I’ve achieved what I always wanted. I feel more my mum now than I’ve ever felt.

My mum left a mark on me that I never even realised until a year ago, she was an ugly girl. Being an ugly girl is one of the most important and definitive things about me. 

When Hillary came to me a year ago with our manifesto, everything clicked. This is how the feminist movement represents me. This is where I see inequality in our society, this is the solution that I want to bring to the table. When we talk about my mum we very rarely comment on her appearance. Beauty is a given, but she brought so much more than that to the world. Yes, we may only cover a very small part of what it is to be a female. But it’s allowed me to reconnect with a woman I was scared to lose, and allowed me to connect with women I’d never have met. I feel empowered. This is exactly why feminism is important, I haven’t felt alone since we started. 

Equality for EVERYONE starts from within and radiates outwards. Alyson Barbara Leverton left the greatest of legacies. Command Your Space. 

 

Alice Leverton