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A sexual assault victim speaks after seeing the Report it to Stop it campaign

Read Sarah’s* account of what happened when she was sexually assaulted on her way home from work.

Sarah came forwarded and reported the assault to us after she came across the Report It To Stop It campaign. 

I was assaulted on the DLR on the way home from work on the day before my wedding party.

It was around 7:45pm and there was a handful of commuters around me. A young man sat down beside me, a little too close for comfort, and slowly slid his hand down against my hip and behind.

At first I couldn’t believe what was happening and so I wondered if he was even conscious that he did it. Luckily I wasn’t too far from my stop and I stood up to wait in the vestibule area away from him.

I then became conscious of a strange sensation against my skirt and I realised in horror that the man had followed me and was now rubbing his erect crotch area against me. I took a very deliberate step to the right to avoid him, but he simply followed me and repeated the activity.

It’s difficult to describe the fear, disgust and humiliation of having your body used for sexual gratification against your own will. The offender appeared to take pleasure in my lack of consent; worse, my fear appeared to arouse him further.

Aware that we were in the company of other commuters and in full view of the CCTV camera, I managed to confront him loudly. What happened next still defies belief: the offender simply walked off the train as we pulled into the station and boarded the next carriage up. He barely even flinched.

I had to decide whether to report the incident to the police. I was initially concerned that people I told might see the event as relatively trivial because I had not been physically harmed. I felt violated by what happened and the mental trauma, although not visible, is no less real or lasting.

However, I remembered seeing a British Transport Police campaign encouraging victims to report all assaults like this, regardless of the severity, in order to prevent offenders from repeating or escalating this behaviour. I was convinced that this man was going reoffend; sure enough, I later found out that he assaulted another woman within minutes of boarding the next carriage. Luckily she reported the offence as well.

My experience with the British Transport Police was fantastic. Far from trivialising the event, every officer I spoke with recognised that the assault had a huge impact on me. I was immediately referred to the Sexual Offences Unit who kept me regularly updated on their progress in finding the offender and provided constant support along every step of the journey. It does take some time to pursue an offender through the courts, but this man is now in jail and justice has been served.

My message to other victims is clear: it is absolutely worth reporting offences. You will be taken seriously and, with the help of the British Transport Police, we can help to bring an end to unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport.

*Name has been changed to protect identity. 

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