Skip to main content

Sexplorations with AJ: No is a Full Sentence.

A big wintery hello to you all! I hope you all had a fantastically spooky but safe Halloween and have recovered from any November 1st hangovers. 

Just a bit or warning, this edition of Sexplorations will contain content that may trigger some readers. 


The content warnings are listed below and if any apply to you, please look after yourself and consider not reading. There are resources at the beginning of this entry too, please use them if you feel the need. 


I'll be back in December for a fun-filled, pleasure focused column entry so, until then, please do take care. 

Content warnings:


Sexual Assault (inc personal recounts)
Sexual harassment 
Depression 
Self blame

 

Helplines:

 

Rape Crisis England and Wales

0808 500 2222 or online live chat

 

The Mix

08088084994

 

The Survivors Trust

0808 801 0818 hotline

07860 022956 text


 ———

I think I first heard the phrase sexual assault when I was quite young. 

I have vague memories of hearing it in a Sex Ed class in Year 7, and it not being explained to me. 

It wasn't until I was in Year 9 when the topic was brought up in school again where I realised that, by age 14, I had already been both sexually harassed and assaulted. 

I remembered having my bum grabbed by a boy at a local youth club before I was even a teenager, and I also remembered a group of older boys putting their arms around my shoulders on the bus and asking me to 'give them a kiss' while I was still in my school uniform. 

I felt a flurry of anxiety every time I thought about it for several years until I buried the events deep down inside my brain and tried to just carry on with my GCSEs, A- Levels and eventually my degree. 

Over these years, I’ve heard an uncountable number of stories around harassment and assault. 

These recounts came from my friends and peers, with most of them brushing off the events as being pretty normal. 

I remember one friend laughing after telling me how they'd been groped and saying 'Let's just say I won't be drinking [branded spirit] again anytime soon'. But I also remember laughing with her. 

And it's so awful to look back on and think that I didn't say anything about how serious the thing that happened to her was but I honestly did not understand the seriousness of it until it happened to me.

The event that has caused me the most mental anguish happened in the summer of 2021. 

I was in a club, way too drunk, when I made eye contact with a man a few feet away from me. 

Next thing I knew, I was pushed up against the wall with this stranger pulling up my dress, feeling my chest and gnawing on my neck, putting his body weight onto the left side of my body. 

Although I only remember threads of the actual event because of how drunk I was, I do remember thinking ‘How did this happen so fast’ and ‘Why is this man on me’ but not being able to move from the wall. 

I remember feeling stuck, like I was frozen. I didn’t want to upset him because if he just came over and decided to do that to me without even talking to me, what else could he do?

I woke up the next morning with hickeys on my neck and jaw. I remember looking at them in the mirror and wanting to scrub them off. I felt so unclean.

What happened in summer 2021 had nothing to do with what I wore, what I did or what I drank. 

And nothing I could have done would have prevented or stopped it. 

After incidents like this it’s easy to look back on what changes could have been made, just like when you finally think of the perfect thing to say weeks after that awkward conversation happened. 

But not only is time travel something we don’t have the ability to do, it also won’t stop evil people from existing. 

If my recollection has hit home with you, I want you to remember this. Whatever happened, had absolutely nothing to do with the way you are and everything to do with them. It is them who deserves to feel shame. 

That night out has had such an intense impact on me and has followed me through every relationship I have had since. 

I did try to make jokes like I had heard from other survivors before when I told people about my experience; ‘Well, that’s my favourite club off the list then’, but I knew the humour wasn’t hiding how effected I was.

I first told a professional about my experience last summer and I have been slowly coping and getting to a point where I can process what happened. 

I will obviously never forget the incident, but I can gain back my confidence, autonomy and integrity that I lost. 

My friends and peers have been invaluable during these two years and I encourage anyone reading this to please, please reach out if you are struggling with the aftermath of sexual assault or harassment. 

You are not alone and you have people in your life who care about you and your wellbeing. If you feel able to, reporting the assault or harassment to the police or a body of authority is also a good idea.

I say ‘if’ because many victims do not feel comfortable talking to authority or police because of possible repercussions that may come from coming forward, i.e, informing your school or place of work. 

Thank you for reading this edition of Sexplorations, this was a hard one to write but I hope if anything, it has made you more aware of this topic or even made you feel less alone. I’ll leave this edition with these phrases that I find useful when I struggle: It was never your fault, my body is mine and mine alone. No is a full sentence.

Most Popular

‘Make Tattooing Safe Again’: Sheffield Based Tattoo Artist Exposed for Indecent Behaviour

 by Emily Fletcher TW: SA, Animal Abuse, Transphobia Photo Credit: @ meiko_akiz uki Recently, an  Instagram account  has been created to provide a  ‘space to safely give a voice to those who want to speak out about the behaviour of one, Sheffield based tattoo artist’. A  total of 40+ posts have been made by the above social media account regarding  one of Sheffield's most popular tattoo artists .  Thankfully, all posts are prefaced with a Content Warning prior to sharing screenshots of the messages that have been sent anonymously to the page. The majority of Content Warnings refer to sexual behaviour, abuse, and sexual assault. It is clear that there is a reoccurring theme within each submission, as many clients appear to have had the same experiences with the tattoo artist. Women, mostly, are being made to feel uncomfortable while being tattooed. One of the most vulnerable positions anyone can be in, tattoo artists should make their clients feel comfortable and safe during the pro

Fashion For a Cause: Brands That Stand with Palestine and the history of fashion as a form of Activism

by Oana-Maria Moldovan For over two months, there has been an ongoing genocide war in Gaza. To simplify a long and horrific issue, the situation that started, on a larger scale, around one hundred years ago, and has only become amplified since October 7th 2023. Taking place around the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Israel–Lebanon border, the armed conflict is between Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian militant groups.  The problem is about “stolen” land. Said land is seen as an important holy part of both religions involved. But really, how holy can we consider a land to be, if people kill other people for it? It’s important to remember that this genocide is about three things: forced occupation, zionism, and religion. It’s also important to remember what ethnic erasure is. This terrible expresion, also known as cultural or ethnic assimilation, refers to the process by which the distinct cultural or ethnic identity of a particular group is gradually diminished or erased, often due to ext

Now What? The Aftermath of the 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl'

by Susan Moore Here is a bit about me: I am an open, excitable, creative AFAB who is also moderately attractive. I have a unique sense of personal style and a personality that on the surface can only be described as “bubbly” and “quirky”. For this reason, dating is a nightmare. To be sure, I do not have a hard time finding dates or potential suitors. The problems arise when said dates spend some time with me and decide that I am a rare specimen, and the connection they feel with me is “unlike anything they have felt before”. Then, things go one of two ways.  Either a) they decide I am too high maintenance and no longer palatable, or  b) they choose to never look further than the surface and are content to date the idea of me rather than the real me. There is something rather interesting, perhaps funny, about my situation. It is in no way unique. I have met so many people who constantly dealt with the same problem. Even funnier still, is the fact that there is a trope that simultaneousl