Thursday, 25 June 2015

To The Stranger Who

I wrote this on the day it happened, and have been in two minds since whether to let it be seen or not. 


Partly because of how incredibly personal this is, but also in a concern as it may be taken as a call for pity - something I strictly neither want or need. But I've finally decided I'm going to post it because I'm not ashamed that this happened to me - angry, yes, but not ashamed - and I refuse to just absorb this as a part of me. 

I'm not going to carry this anymore, so this is me airing it to its death, and from here on out, it means nothing to me.

*


To the lecherous stranger who wanders the crowds alone, pushing absentmindedly through the plumes of colourful costumes and brightly-embellished characters. The stranger I do not know and I never will. 

To the entranced stranger, whose sordid stare is captivated by the dancing forms, the barely-clothed and painted bodies dancing in the parade, spirits soaring and arms twirling.The stranger who perhaps came here for only one reason.

To the hurried stranger, squeezed into a swathe of excited humans all craning for a glance. The stranger who finds himself ushered into a tightly packed crowd by the traffic wardens.

To the eager stranger who stands behind me, a little taller so he can see above the head of the girl who stands against the barrier in front of him. The stranger who gazes, aroused by the hypnotic bodies beyond, as many alike press against his in the mass.

To the fifty-something stranger who catches my eye as I turn on tiptoes, phone aloft, to try and spot the next float in the parade. The stranger who briefly catches the eye of the girl in front of him as she holds up her phone as a makeshift periscope above the heads of the dense crowd.

To the aroused stranger who then watches that girl as she turns away and bends down to awkwardly retrieve her bag from the floor carefully avoiding all the elbows and knees along the way, and notices she's wearing a short skirt.

To the stranger who then chooses to take that unnecessary step forward as she stands.

To the stranger that pins my body toward the barrier in the 'crush of the crowd'.

To the stranger that grunts against the skin of my neck and thrusts his groin into my behind, hands grappling at the bottom of my skirt.

To the stranger that - even when I suddenly become aware this is no accidental touch and attempt to move to one side, only to feel his unmistakable warm mass dislodge from between my buttcheeks - follows my motion as I try to move myself away. A crowd stampede through the crossing behind us. There's so many people, so many bodies.

To the repulsive stranger who then grabs my hip as he deliberately pushes his erect sweatpant-concealed penis repeatedly against my behind - an act completely invisible to anyone else under the flailing limbs and costumes of the crowd.

To the disgusting excuse of a man who then has the audacity to leer me in the eye - that clear, sickening evidence making his sweatpants taut - the moment I am able to break free and spin around in horror at the realisation of what has just happened to me, before he quickly disappears into the crowds of oblivious strangers.

To the stranger who purposefully violated me.

To the stranger who forcibly used my body to pleasure himself without my consent or knowledge.

To the stranger who sexually assaulted me in broad daylight at a public event, within my first fortnight of my solo adventure of a lifetime.

Fuck. 

You.

Fuck you to hell and back.

Fuck you for the sudden nausea and shivers which wracked my body, for the panic attack I had to suppress, the sickening violation which seeped from my skin like a cold sweat, on a day that should have been for laughter. For friends. For photo taking and dancing and drinking in the sunshine.

Fuck you because I couldn't react. Because I was with people I'd just met for the first time and despite them noticing at the last minute what had happened, I had to play it down like it didn't fuck me up. Like it didn't really matter. Like it was nothing. For when I managed to convince myself I was overreacting and really I should just get over it, yet every subsequent laugh later in the day was cut short by recalling the sickening sensation of your body against mine.

Fuck you for when I later burst into tears at the prospect of the 1 minute walk back from the bus stop by myself in the dark, and I had to convince a cab driver to just drop me round the corner. And fuck you for when the driver kindly agreed, and just before I stepped into his car his gaze flickered down to my skirt and I scrunched my fingers up in the terrified, fucked up idea that I shouldn't dress like this if I don't want to allude to men that I'm there for the taking. 

Fuck you for thinking a woman is a tool to be utilised. That a complete and innocent stranger, just by nature of their gender, is there for your service.

Fuck you for all the other girls and boys out there who have been harassed, assaulted and worse under the hands of disgusting, oppressive fucklords like you. 

So first and foremost FUCK YOU, and secondly, let me tell you a little something buddy.

I will proudly put on that skirt again tomorrow, because I want to, I choose to, and I can. I will not stop wearing the clothes I love out of fear of what others might to do me because of it.

I will not let you convince me that every man means to harm me, developing a panic-stricken anxiety that every stranger is a threat.

I will not be scared out of being independent, of taking chances and doing what I love, going out and having fun alone or with friends, without having to be haunted by the paranoia that I might be 'making myself a target.' 

And like FUCK will I let you ruin the optimism I have finally found in this crazy new life I have spent a hard time adjusting to, a happiness and comfort which I am finally at peace with.

So finally, a statement to the repugnant old man who laid his filthy body upon me - 

I will never let my experience here be scarred by the memory of your touch. Because this place, this life, the amazing people I have met, these adventures and goddamn it, I, refuse to be defined by having been touched by you. 

Go fuck yourself, shitbag. 

And next time, leave others out of it.