Despite its title, this is – for once – something a little more serious. I started thinking about this after what happened on my last date (which I do not want to write about as I want to leave that part of my blog lighthearted). It’s the issue of consent. We have all seen the ‘would you like a cup of tea’ thing. It’s great. It really is. But when you realise that the reality is a lot more difficult than the theory, as a – I’d like to believe – strong and independent woman like me, you struggle a little. When a stranger jumps you, there are clear lines. When you know the other person to a degree, the lines get blurred.
Let me tell you in a nutshell what happened that night. I had a date, we went for a drink (no booze), we started kissing. I’m not going to lie, I like kissing so I do that quite quickly, you can judge if you wish, I’m just being honest. We went for a romantic stroll on a beach in the city (yes, London can have beaches). We started kissing again. So far so going well right? Then the guy gets a little grabby, I say no, he stops what he’s doing but then starts again slightly different. This doesn’t feel good anymore so I get myself out of it. But I’m still not walking away. For some reason, my brain just isn’t working the way I think it should. I think about it afterwards, right now, the space between my ears is empty and useless. He tries to get me to come home with him. I say no. He keeps asking, I say no. It takes forever to get to a station – and it goes a lot quicker after I say I stay at his. Not that I intended to but for some reason, I’m incapable of taking out my phone and find my own way back. At the station – we need the same line as well – I tell him I changed my mind and make a quick exit. Thank you, night tube. I get home at 3am. I go to bed. I go to sleep.
It’s only when I wake up the next morning after precious little sleep because I should work that morning, it does hit me. The what ifs and why didn’t I. I call my friend – we work together and she used to work for the police. She is fuming. With the guy mainly, but also a little bit with me. She uses the words ‘sexual assault’. That makes me feel even worse. I know everything I should have done different and still I didn’t. I’m not a timid little girl. I know how to stay safe in foreign cities. And I fail at the home front. The guy texts me later that day, totally oblivious that we had different perceptions of how the evening went. He thinks we had fun.
It takes a while for me to stop feeling like shit. I hope I learnt a few lessons. I’m glad I didn’t have a drink that night too. Am I going to be more careful – or should I say aware – in future? I hope so. The thing is, I know everything I have to do to stay safe. I don’t think I am irresponsible. Or careless. And still, I didn’t follow what I know.