sam cleasby stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

He. 

It was 1995.  I was 14. I met him in Meadowhall, he called out to me and said I was beautiful.  I was flattered as he was older. If an older man thought I was attractive, then I must be pretty cool, right?

He caught my hand as I walked past him and his friends, pulling me towards him. I blushed and looked at the floor. He called me gorgeous and said all the things that men in movies say to women.

He asked for my number and I got flustered, I told him I was 14 and he couldn’t call my house as I’d get in bother with my mum and so he gave me his and told me to phone him.

I did phone him. That means I wanted it, doesn’t it? He said he was glad I called as he’d been thinking about me all day. I was flattered.

He asked me to his house, I asked if his mum would be in and he laughed and said he lived alone. He was 20, he said.  I told him again I was 14 and he laughed and said I was really mature. I felt proud.

I got dressed up. I wore a short skirt, a top and my denim jacket. I put on make up. I want to look pretty for my date.

I went to his house alone. I wasn’t dragged or threatened. I’m a stupid girl, aren’t I.  He had a room in a shared house and so we had to go to his bedroom. I thought we were going to talk.

He pushed me back on the bed, I panicked and tried to sit up.  He tells me that I’m gorgeous. He says I came for sex. I’ve never had sex before, I snogged a boy once.  I’m scared.  I try to act like a grown up in a film, I toss my hair over my shoulder and laugh. I say let’s take it slowly. Let’s go out.

He gets angry. He says I’ve led him on. What am I? A dick tease? He thought I was a proper woman, not a stupid little girl.  Why did I come there if it wasn’t for sex?

I’m scared. I start to cry and try to get off the bed but he pins me back. He says I’ll enjoy this. He is on top of me, pulling at his jeans as he pulls up my skirt. I freeze. I don’t fight.

Before anything else can happen, there’s a knock at his door, it opens and his housemate laughs and says he’s sorry to disturb us. I get up and run.

I run out of his room and down the stairs. I run out of the house and down the road. My chest hurts but I don’t stop running till I’m home.

I don’t tell anyone. I’m ashamed and blame myself.

I talked to a stranger. I phoned him. I wore a short skirt and lipstick. I went to his house. I went to his room. I didn’t fight.

I never knew I’d been sexually assaulted. Because I was taught that rape was a scary man in a mac who drags women off a street corner.  I always believed that I’d made a huge mistake, I blamed myself entirely.

It was only recently that I could actually accept that this man had deliberately used me as a young girl.  Isn’t that sad. I didn’t know.  I thought it was just a rubbish experience that I had put myself through.

I read about Adam Johnson and that he has been found guilty of sexual activity with a child and hear he will be imprisoned and I sigh, thankful that life is getting better.

Then I read the comments in the news and on social media.  That girl was asking for it. She got in his car because she wanted to. She was loving it. What was she wearing? What sort of girl is she? And I realise that we still live in a world where victims are blamed. Where children are used by adults yet we still look to the actions of the child.

Where thousands of girls in Rotherham were groomed and abused, brainwashed and hurt, yet society didn’t protect them because they weren’t women dragged off the street, screaming and fighting by a man in a dirty mac.

We need to open our eyes, see the many shades of assault, that it’s rarely black and white. That although no always means no, sometimes it’s too scary to utter that word because you’re frightened of what will happen.

For years, I carried this with me and always blamed myself for putting myself in that situation. I didn’t tell anyone as I was sure they’d say I was stupid.

Enough.  I wasn’t to blame. I was a child taken advantage of by an adult.

Let’s speak out and end the cycle.  Teach our children that they aren’t to blame and they can speak out.

No more silence.

 

If you need support, get in touch with The Survivors Trust.

28 replies
  1. Elsabe Pepler
    Elsabe Pepler says:

    Good for you! Now the heaing can come! The more we share our painful stories, the more others become empowered. I bet you were not the only victim of that pig. Love to you Sam.

    Reply
  2. Jem
    Jem says:

    Oh Sam. You are so bloody brave. Admitting to ourselves what “it” is , to me, is the hardest part and the bit that seems to be the catalyst for moving forward (for me anyway). It took almost 4 years for me to accept what happened to me was, essentially, rape. I’ve got a way to go but finally saying it, accepting it wasn’t my fault and dealing with the emotional fall out has been the biggest bit of progress.

    You rock. If I can be half the woman you are when I grow up (because at 32 I’m not a grown up….) I’ll be pleased.

    Xx

    Reply
  3. Jenny warmington
    Jenny warmington says:

    You may not know how many people this post will touch Sam. Thank you for having the courage to lay yourself bare in this way and bring forward such a difficult subject.
    You truly are a warrior. X

    Reply
  4. Adrian Horne
    Adrian Horne says:

    I felt it right to write and agree with your experience Sam but to add that it’s not just women that suffer this, it includes males, and worse, children.
    I was abused by a male relative when I was about 12/13 – I can’t be specific as I tried hard to wipe the experience from my memory. As with many at the time (1970) it was quite clear noone intended to listen
    and that accepting cigarettes,money etc made me somehow ‘complicit’ on the act.
    Years later I was suspicious of paedophile activity by a teacher in the school where I taught, an infant/junior school with children 4 – 11. The appropriate bodies took it seriously, the headmaster was in agreement with the observations – and was also suspicious – so the police were involved. It was stated by the police that it was ‘classic grooming and paedophilia’ so the man was arrested.
    In the meanwhile the children that came forward were bullied by their peers for doing an ‘awful’ thing to such a lovely man that gave expensive presents, ‘loved them’ and made life bearable.
    Several families left the estate, as there was a witch hunt against the victims who were labelled liars by ‘friends’. Many victims became ill, we’re bullied or had to change the secondary schools they were going to so they could escape threats to them and their homes.
    In court the police kept myself and the head up to date (because I was helping the parents of the victims).
    It was all completely unchallenged then, out of the blue, the judge moved to aquit.
    We never found why, even the police were confused and inadequately advised, and although he never taught again the man involved was seen working locally with young children on his lap (and, I must advise, reported VERY quickly).
    The victims continued to be bullied and in many cases left the area. Many were schooled elsewhere and parents had run ins with the police for inexplicable fights with other parents.
    Despite their strength, their honesty and the support of their families the victims never got justice and regretted telling the truth. They lost their faith in the legal system completely, and their ability to rely on ‘friends’, and earlier this year – on FB – I saw they were still being abused and threatened. 1970 – 2016 and STILL not believed.
    I feel for you Sam, people don’t see what these activities eventually add up to. The word RESPECT is dead and many damaged people suffer alone.
    I’m sorry to go on but I felt you should know you are believed by some and those that doubt you are naive or malicious.
    Good Luck xx

    Reply
    • Simon
      Simon says:

      I can’t say I’ve ever been in a similar position, but I don’t think respect is dead as you say. Some people may not take this as seriously as it should, but there are still some of us that believe in honesty and trust.

      Reply
  5. Lucy
    Lucy says:

    So well said. I got myself into a similar situation at a similar age. When I said no, he told me I was a pricktease. I never told anyone what had happened.

    Reply
  6. Louise Stacey
    Louise Stacey says:

    Total admiration and respect for you. Thank you for your honesty let’s hope it helps to educate our girls about this disgusting crime. With love

    Reply
  7. Judith
    Judith says:

    Fantastic post, this is it. “No means no” sounds so simple, but that means you have to be brave enough to say no in the first place. To someone bigger, stronger, more forceful than you. Someone who does know what he wants, when perhaps you are not sure yet. And it is so strange but so true that even when you are frightened of someone, even when they want to do things with you that you don’t want, you still somehow want them to think well of you. You don’t want them to think you’re stuck up or a dick tease or frigid because that is not how you want to see yourself. And in a moment like that you don’t think clearly, and the reasonable part of your brain does not get through to tell you that HE is in the wrong, that HE is the one who deserves negative labels like ‘rapist’ and ‘groomer’ and ‘sex offender’.

    Reply
  8. Vicki
    Vicki says:

    Have been in pretty much identical circumstances. I still flip-flop from feeling at fault and not feeling at fault. Bravo on your blog post x

    Reply
  9. Simon
    Simon says:

    It’s a small gesture, and not one that really applies to people under 18, but if there’s anyone out in town at the weekend that feels threatened, go tell the staff at any nearby bar, no matter if they work on the door, behind the bar, or anywhere else.

    If anyone comes into my bar and says they feel threatened or harassed by someone, the people in question will not be allowed to stay in there, no matter what the situation. Just tell someone, no matter how daft you think it’ll sound. We’re always happy to help!

    Stay safe, and always let someone you trust know where you’re going and who with, even if they’re asleep.

    Reply
  10. Emma
    Emma says:

    I can so relate to your post. 1992 a very similar thing happened to me. I was older, 18 but a very young and innocent 18, I had only had one boyfriend and we just kissed, I was a lonely and ugly teenager. I went away on an archaeological dig, the summer before starting my archaeology degree. I had been there the previous summer and this guy was there that year too. He was 24. We had all been to the pub and been drinking. People saw us kissing. Instead of going back to our tents he took me further into the arboretum where the dig was. Said he wanted to be alone with me. I was flattered. At school I was constantly being bullied for my ugliness. We kissed some more, things progressed, I stopped him putting his hand down my pants, he asked why and I told him I was a virgin and i wasn’t ready. He told me I had gone passed the point of no return, even though we were both still dressed. He told me I was a tease, that I couldn’t back out now, that wasn’t how it worked and eyes full of excitement he started kissing me again. Of course I now realise the prospect of taking my virginty was a bonus not a deterrent. At the time I had no clue. I believed him that I had no choice. I lay lifeless while he had sex with me. Again, for years I didn’t know what to call it. In the 90s rape happened at gunpoint, at knifepoint you were meant to be in fear of your life from a stranger. Date rape wasn’t a concept. I didn’t scream. I didn’t run. I didn’t know what to think. Apart from to feel dirty and ashamed. When I came home I told my family. My parents didn’t know how to deal with it either. My sister said I was lying. I felt completely alone.
    Preying on someone else’s innocence and vulnerability is wrong. He was wrong. I don’t remember his name, but I can still see his face.
    Big hugs xx

    Reply
    • sam
      sam says:

      I am so sorry, thank you for sharing your story. You weren’t to blame and you sharing your story might just make a difference to others. Thank you for being brave xxx

      Reply
  11. Richie hodgson
    Richie hodgson says:

    You are a very brave and strong woman. No one deserves anything and you sure as hell didn’t deserve anything he did.
    I hope he hasn’t made you think that all men are like that.
    Some of us treat women with the respect that they deserve and care for and protect them and would do so with our last breath…
    You take good care of yourself Sam and keep showing them all you are one hell of a strong woman
    Xxx

    Reply
  12. suzie kennedy
    suzie kennedy says:

    This is what should have been written with headlines in the Dily mail , not that vile creature Katie Hopkins article . Young women must know that it is not their fault in situations like this .

    Reply
  13. koman
    koman says:

    you should not go to strangers houses and you should use your brains also. miniskirt and makeups for “date” in his bedroom, yea, well.

    Reply
    • metanoia
      metanoia says:

      Men should not rape. Men should take no for an answer. Noone should be coerced or manipulated into sex. People should not prey on children no matter what they are wearing. Your body belongs to you no one has the right to touch it without your permission, no matter what you are wearing. What are the causes of rape? The answer is rapists. That is it nothing else.

      Reply
  14. Zoe
    Zoe says:

    It was 1995 ish. I wasn’t I child neither was I a virgin. He invited me to ‘share’ his room as I did not have somewhere to stay.

    I went there voluntarily. I did not fight. I did not scream. I did say no. I froze. He ignored me.

    He raped me.

    Afterwards he bragged about it. He told my friends and work colleagues. Ridiculed me for being so passive. Acting ‘like a wet fish’. Told everyone I said no and he ignored me. They still found it funny.

    Reply
  15. Blanc
    Blanc says:

    Yes I understand this is awful but we can’t expect children not to be accountable. Children these days are far wiser and if we keep making excuses for them and no penalty. I foresee this happening again and again. I think both parties should be in trouble and adults should defo get prison but children should get somefin aswell, 6 months community work say…

    Reply
  16. front page
    front page says:

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    Reply

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