My friends have heard me joke about it before. The night I gave a guy in a club a black eye. It’s a story that gets brought up a lot on nights out. But the truth is the event that led me to give the guy a black eye scares me. The reason I felt I had to defend my self, not once but twice says a lot about our society and it terrifies me.
But let’s go back so I can explain. In 2014 I moved away from home and up to Liverpool for university. It was the first time I had been away from home and the first time I had lived in a big city. I’m not really a clubbing person, my social anxiety makes it hard for me to relax on nights out, but on this occasion, I was actually enjoying myself. I had a friend up from back home and we were having a lot of fun.
Because my friend was there, I had made a bit more of an effort than just my jeans, nice top and boots. I was wearing a black leather effect dress with a lace bodice and high wedges. I felt really good about my outfit going out. I thought I looked pretty.
We were on the dance floor, it was around 3 am and as I said, for once I was really relaxed and enjoying myself. That is until a guy grabbed me from behind. In seconds his hand was up my skirt and his fingernails were ripping at my tights, tearing them. I tried to pull away but he held on tight. For a moment I was in shock, this was happening. Some guy honestly thought he had a right to touch me. I am shaking as I type this, I was so angry.
Before university, I had had a relationship with a soldier. Our relationship didn’t end well, but the one thing he did leave me with was some basic self-defence knowledge. I threw my elbow back into this guys ribs as hard as I could before swinging my other arm around and punching this guy right in the face. He released me and stumbled back which was when I pointed my finger at him and yelled ‘NO!’ as loud as I could.
People had noticed the scuffle and the bouncer was on his way over. Great, I thought, this guy is going to get what’s coming to him! Oh, how wrong I was. I was asked to leave the bar because apparently, I was causing a scene. I explained that I had been defending myself, that the guy (still clutching his eye and side) had sexually assaulted me. The bouncer waved me away. Apparently, the fact this kid had had too much to drink and I was wearing a short dress gave the guy a free pass, while I had to leave.
I went home after that and threw away the dress. I had never felt so humiliated in my life. I told my housemates a version of what happened that night. I told them I had punched a guy in the face but I didn’t say what the bouncer had said to me. I made light of the situation, making it into a funny story about how I punched a guy. I was afraid if I told them the truth, they too would judge me the way the bouncer had.
Four years later and I still can’t get over the fact that a man not only felt he was perfectly within his rights to touch me but also got away with it after he was caught. I can’t get over the fact I was punished for defending myself against a man who literally ripped my clothes to get at my vagina. I can’t believe I was told it was ok because the outfit I was wearing was asking for it.
Whenever I saw articles of people being told they were asking for it, a part of me didn’t believe that actually happened. But it does! Women are told they deserve to be sexually assaulted because they wear things that make them feel good, beautiful, confident.
We need to teach our children about consent and about respect. That way they can grow up decent human beings. I don’t know what happened to that guy after that night. But I hope someone asked him how he got his black eye. He would probably lie and say some bloke hit him, but deep down he’ll know the girl he sexually assaulted fought back and won. That’s the thought that helped me through.
We shouldn’t feel ashamed for something that wasn’t our fault! It’s time the world knew our stories. We are warriors, we are strong and we will not allow this to remain an acceptable part of society.