It was some time during January 2010. I was going to see a Depeche Mode concert with some of my friends. It was a cold winter day and we had to wait in line outside, jumping and rubbing our hands togheter to keep warm. We all looked and felt fantastic, apart from the cold. We had party clothes on, mine being a black silk blouse and a below-the-knee high waisted white pencil skirt. I had put my hair into a complicated 20's-inspired updo with a single curl on one side and I wore my favourite hat at the time. We all had red lipstick shining like bright wounds on our faces, but not much other makeup. We were happy and going to see a band we really liked. It had all the prerequisites to be a fantastic evening.
It wasn't. It became one of the worst evenings of my life.
When we reached the entrance after a very cold hour of waiting they looked through our bags. I remembered I had my defense-spray with me(a legal spray that irritates badly and colours skin red for a week or so, you're meant to spray it on someone if they physically assults you). I asked the people at the entrance if I could bring it. They said I couldn't, and I would either have to drop it of at the lockers in another building and wait in line again or throw it. I threw it away, of course.
This is all very ironic. If I had kept on forgetting about having it(entirely possible, as my bag is always full of stuff) and they hadn't looked through our bags, the evening might have had a quite different turn.
We got inside. The place was crowded. I'm not sure exactlly what happened, but suddenly my two friends had tickets to the standing spot instead of the seats. If thibk they traded with two people who's legs hurt(possibly from standing in line in the cold for hours) so they had to sit or something. There was no "seat numbering" at the standing spot. If my friends pushed enough, they could get right in front of the stage. We were all placed far away from eachothers anyhow, and would not be able to socialise no matter what.
"Is is okay that we go?" they asked.
How could I say no?
So I took a seat by my self, my friends standing about 300 meters away from me in the crowed. They had pushed enough, and managed to get really close to the stage. I was happy for them. Next to me sat an older man and his 20-something son. They kept to themselves. That was fine by me. I'm a very introverted person. A group of drunk men in their 30's walked past. They were yelling and lauging and going "party!!" and one of them tried to high five me and the men next to me. I held up my hand for the high five so the men would stop bothering us and we all smiled patiently at them. They sat down in front of us.
After a while one of the men turned around and smiled drunkenly at me. Trying to touch my leg he said: "Why wont you talk to your friends?"
I moved my leg and pretended not to hear nor understand him. He tried to poke the men next to me. "Talk to her, talk to your friend."
They looked visibly annoyed. He left me alone for a while, and Depeche went on stage. They played and it was great. Dave Gahan danced funnily. I tried to have fun and I took some pictures of the band and the stage decorations. The music drowned my ears. Then, after 40 minutes or so, I felt a hand on my inner thigh. It belonged to the man in front of me.
"Don't touch me", I said. For some reason, I said it in english. I often think in english, especially about music since most music I listen to is english, and if I'm stressed I have trouble switching back to swedish. The man stared blankly at me.
"I mean... Rör mig inte. Sluta." (Don't touch me. Stop.)
He smiled at me in a really creepy way, the turned around. He left me alone for ten minutes or so. Then he touch my inner thigh again, more firmly this time.
He stopped temporarily and looked at me. His friends had started noticing what he was doing. I thought they would tell him to knock it off, but instead they smiled at me, just as creepy and just as drunk as the man. The man now put his hand on my again, caressed my thigh repeatedly. I tried to get away, but he grabbed a hold of my thigh with all of his hand. I felt truly frightend then. I almost never had before. My body froze and I couldn't move.
"Sluta." I told him to stop several times, with a broken voice. He didn't until Depeche started playing "Personal Jesus" and everybody stood up. Execept for me, because my body was frozen. I felt more powerless than I had ever felt before in my life.
When the song ended the men turned back at me. He started to repeatedly poke my knee as if to provocate me. His friends laughed. I looked at the man and his son next to me. They looked at me with blank faces and said nothing. The men turned back to the stage when some other song started playing. I think it was "People are people", but my memory from that point on isn't entirely clear. I just remeber that ever ten minutes the man turned around to grab another part of my body. My calf, my arm, the area just below my breast(I guess he missed my breast by being too drunk?). When I wasn't looking I tried to signal to the sceurity guard to come over. he looked at me as if he couldn't make out what I could want from him for the sake of his life.
Then the concert ended. The men got up. They stood next to me. The man and now another man tried toughing my thigh again. This time the man who started it all touched me almost all the way up to my cunt. The man and his son next to me saw exactly what happened. The group of friends smiled and giggled and hooted. Then they left. Then the men next to me left. Everybody left, exept for me. I was still frozen. After 10 minutes I regained my full self. I walked out. I met my friends when getting my coat.
"Where were you?" they asked. "Were there a lot of people, was it hard to get out? It was so much fun anyhow. Haven't been to a concert this good in years. And, OMG, we were so close to the stage!"
I smiled at them.
"Is something wrong?" one of them asked.
I told her about the men. I played it down. I just said that a man touched me several times even though I told him to stop.
"What a fucking asshole!" my friend yelled. "Ruining people's concert experiences like that. He's a grown man, he should know better."
Yes. He should indeed know better.
I didn't start crying until I told my family what happened. And then I couldn't stop. I cried all night, with only small pauses.
My friends say it was one of the best concerts they've been to during their teens to this day still. It could have been one of my best too. But it isn't. It is a memory that fills me with disgust. It makes me feel vunerable and sad. I remeber feeling tainted for days afterwards. I remeber crying in the shower and trying to wash away his touch and my memories until my skin went red.
My parents asked me why I didn't simply get up and walk away. I couldn't be that hard? I told them I was to scared to. Then said I shouldn't have responded in english, because maybe he didn't understand. I told them I reponded in swedish afterwards, and that I can't really control these things. They wondered if perhaps it wasn't that serious. But it was.
It wasn't rape. But I still felt violated. Things like this had happened to me before, as to most women who leave their house, ever. But this felt especially horrible because I've never felt so out of control before. Because I felt like i was something that existed for the amusement of others and not as a real individual.
I don't like it when people touch me in most situations, even people I care about. I dislike the feeling of skin against skin, unless it's the skin of someone I'm attracted to. I hate losing control over my body.
I don't know how many times I've been sexually harrased. I stopped counting at eight.
Having this happen to me has not changed me, not really. It hasen't made me scared of men or changed my views on sex or made me go out less. Other things make me go out less these days, but I refuse to be scared. I hate being scared. I dont let it dissuade me and I do what I want to. Sometimes my mother get scared when I ride the train alone at 21.00 to get to my sweetheart, who lives a few stations away. I'm twenty. She says she'll pay for my taxi so I won't take the train. I'm more afraid of taxis that early on in the evening. At 24.00 it's about the same and after that the taxi feels like the better option.
I do what I feel like because it just seems like if you're alive at all there's a huge chance you'll get raped. I go places I want to go wearing my normal clothes at whatever time the clock happens to be. But other people fear for me. And it shouldn't have to be like that.
Last year some relatives made fun of my mom for wanting me to take the taxi home. They said I was so spoiled and that it was ridicoulous. She said that if I take the train I might get harassed, assulted or raped. They said that things like that pretty much never happen and that if you walk with confidence no one will mess with you.
I told them that wasn't true. I told them a little about that night and other nights. They tried to joke about it, saying that only weird people and drunk tourists are the one who do shit like that. Saying that I should learn karate. Saying "perhaps they don't really mean to touch you?".
I don't like it when people joke about horrible things that have happend to me.
I haven't been harrassed in a year or so now. People have been creepy towards me, grabbed me in non-sexual ways and hit on me in stalkey/weird ways, sure. But no sexually meant touch, at least. But then again, I've stopped going to most nightclubs, and being a university student I spent most of my time at home writing essays so I don't hang around town that often. When I don't go out, nothing happens. People say shit like this happens if you're out late at night or dress weird/sexily or you're drunk. Bullshit. It can happen at a nightclub, at a concert at 20.00, at the train 9.00 or when walking around town at 14.00. I'm never drunk. And the less "weird" or "sexily" I dress, the more it happens. It's not my fucking fault. It's the fault of people who do it. The only way to prevent it entirely is to be so buried in work or school that you have no socal life. So stop being ridicoulous.
Things like this shouldn't happen. They just shouldn't. But they do.