A WOMAN has broken her silence years after she was abducted from Oxford’s High Street and sexually assaulted by a stranger - at the age of just 15.

The woman, who is now 45 and wishes to remain anonymous, decided to tell her story in the wake of the tragic Sarah Everard case.

Her attack happened in September of 1990, when the woman, who still lives in Oxfordshire, was walking home alone from a nightclub.

Along the High Street, the woman was grabbed and taken to St Mary’s Passage.

Read here: Domestic abuse increased during lockdown in Oxfordshire

Recounting to the Oxford Mail she said: “What I can recall is I was walking along the High Street and a hand grabbed me from behind, put his hand over my mouth so could not scream, and with his other hand immobilised me while he dragged me down a little alleyway.

“He pinned me to the buttresses and made me promise not to scream if he released his hand from my mouth.

“Naturally when he did, I let out the biggest scream I possibly could.”

The attacker forced her to engage in sexual activity, and tried to rape her, however, the woman said there were two reason why he was unable to.

Firstly, because she was wearing a tight swimming costume underneath her which acted like a bodysuit, which she said he would have needed a knife to remove.

Oxford Mail: File picture of woman walking aloneFile picture of woman walking alone

Secondly, in order to distract him from causing more harm, she asked him questions including ‘are you not going to kiss me first?’

She said: “What I did was very carefully calculated – I asked him a number of questions, so I could have control, because my screaming and my saying no was not working.”

“He was trying to take my clothes off me and he was in a rage.

"The only way I can describe it, which I expect the very few people who are unfortunate enough to have experienced this kind of thing will know, is that it’s like you taking a toy away from a toddler.

“The toddler screams, thumps, and hits out and it’s just the same as somebody in that frame of mind – it was not about me, it was about robbing me, he wanted to take and have.

“It’s got very little to do with sex – it was about him getting his way.”

Read here: Domestic abuse charges fell over lockdown

She believes her effort to humanise her attacker is what saved her.

The next day the woman phoned the police to report the incident, but they asked for a ‘graphic statement’, in which she was too traumatised to repeat, therefore the police said they could not do anything else as there was no film footage or DNA evidence.

The woman said it would be useful if the police could handle sexual assault in a similar way to victims of child abuse – by giving them a tick sheet with various options to say what has happened to them.

She added: “It is hard for me to think of the words to describe what happened to me.”

Two years after, however, it was reported on the news that a man, with a similar description to the woman’s attacker, had raped two women.

The woman went forward and gave her statement about the incident that had happened two years prior.

This case, however, was never taken to court – the woman was not given a specific justification for this, but believes it is because of the question she asked her attacker and the fact there was no DNA evidence or photographic evidence of the event.

She said: “I fear this is the way for nine out of ten cases of sexual assault – unless there is DNA or it is caught on camera, it has to be so water-tight for the police or prosecution service to take a case to court.”

“To anyone who has had any form of sexual assault themselves and think they can’t go on or the memory keeps haunting them, I want to tell them time does heal all wounds and the sooner you can fill your head with happy memories the better.”

The woman also said she does not believe discussing one’s sexual assault constantly with councillors can always be helpful.

She added: “I could have done with a holiday to a yoga retreat where I did not have to talk to about it.”

With regards to the Everard case, she said: “I do not watch the news a lot, but this is the first time in my recollection that we have had a situation where we were told a woman has gone missing, and the police were asking for help to find her.

“And then like the rest of the nation when they said a police officer might be involved, my heckles rose.

“These are the people you should be able to trust – these are the people who we should be able to go to and tell our statements too.

“The polices stance on this has been abhorrent.”

Read here: Sexual assault reports dropped over lockdown

She added: “All the people at Clapham Common who were showing their anger for poor Sarah Everard, who was unfortunately a victim, makes perfect sense – how many times do you hear as a young female do not go out at night it’s not safe.

“But I walked out in the dark then and I will now. The only thing that will stop me is if there is not enough light to see if I will fall over.”

The woman said, however, that she is not a victim, but a survivor, and she is not afraid to walk alone on the streets - she believes no other woman should live in fear either.

“This did not stop me walking at night and it should not stop anyone else,” she said.

“The streets are ours; they have always been ours and I feel so strongly about that.

“I am Oxford-born and bred, this is my town, this is my High Street, and I will walk up and down it, or anywhere in Oxford, any time, any place.”

For women who have suffered sexual assault, she says that time will help heal.

She said: “It has taken me many years to process and perhaps somewhat intellectualise the experience I had.

“I was a very unconfident person for a very long time – but this experience hasn’t defined me because I have survived.

“I am happily married with children and have a wonderful life.”

You can see here how to report sexual assault to the police.

You can also contact Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre

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