Sexual harassment and assault happens everywhere, and TUXtra spoke to two Teesside women about their experiences in light of the horrific murder of Sarah Everard.
UN Women UK released statistics in 2021 saying that 97% of women have been subjected to sexual harassment at some time in their lives, with a further 96% not reporting it with the belief that it wouldn’t change anything.
Let’s do the maths here. There are 33.7 million women in the UK, meaning around 32 million women are sexually harassed in their lifetimes. That’s hardly a minority, and most women you know have probably experienced sexual harassment.
These statistics were released in the same month that Sarah Everard was killed.
Sarah, 33, was kidnapped, raped and strangled after being put under false arrest by Wayne Couzens in March 2021.
Couzens is now serving a whole life term for the horrific crime.
TUXtra spoke to two Teesside women to learn more about their own experiences of sexual harassment.
Both wanted to remain anonymous because of their experiences.
Kelly, 21, (not her real name) said: “I worked with a man who went from being nice and asking how my day was, to getting changed in front of me, touching my back, and asking about my sex life.”
“He also put his hand on my shoulder and would find excuses to touch my back and hands as I walked past.
“I also had a manager who told me that my “arse (was) just too big” to fit through a gap, asking if I was single, and when I walked past him he’d lean in and smell my neck and say “you smell unreal.”
Amy, also not her real name, had also experienced sexual harassment in her youth.
The 33-year-old said: “I went on holiday with my grandad and brother when I was about fifteen.”
“One of the bar staff at the hotel started to spend most days and evenings watching me.
“He sent me notes, smiled and winked at me, and gave me free drinks. I thought it was so fun!
“But one day he asked me to go for a walk with him. He led me up a steep hill at the back of the hotel and into a building site, where he tried to kiss me and grope me.
“I was petrified, so I pushed him off me and ran.
“I thought the hotel room was the safest place so I could lock the door.
“He chased me there and put his foot in the door so I couldn’t close it. I ended up screaming until he ran away.
“For the rest of the holiday he’d ring the hotel room when he knew my grandad and brother were out, and would threaten to punch me when I walked past.
“I always thought I’d led him on because I enjoyed the attention at first, but I was only 15! I know now that he was in the wrong, and I honestly think if I hadn’t screamed so loud he would’ve raped me.”
There are several apps that’ve been released in order to protect women in these situations.
One of these is Strutsafe, an app made by university students in Edinburgh which gives people someone to call on the phone while they walk home at night. The app was made following a vigil held at the Meadows for Sarah Everard.
More locally, there are multiple companies and charities set up to aid people post-assault.
Arch Teesside and SARC Teesside provide support counselling and support to victims of sexual assault in Teesside. Both are completely free, and you can learn more about them by clicking the links provided.
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