I can’t believe I’ve never written about this before, it’s something that I feel very strongly about and yet I’ve never actually posted anything about it on here.
Sexual bullying is any bullying behaviour, whether physical or not that is based on someone’s sexuality or gender. It can be done behind their back, to their face or via technology. This can include groping, unwanted touching or being forced to perform sexual acts against your will.
In a survey of 273 young people aged 11-19 40 had experienced unwanted touching, 28 had been forced to do something sexual and 31 had watched it happen to someone else.
Most of this behaviour is performed by boys towards girls, but this is by no means a one way street.
I don’t think that sexual bullying is anything ‘new’, I just think that in the last few years we’ve started to recognise it. This is something that has been going on for years and years, it just hasn’t been talked about it before.
I was sexually bullied- well, there’s no point beating around the bush- they bullied me relentlessly for months, feeling me up underneath the desk, stroking me and using constant degrading sexual language around me. It all came to a head when they sent me a thong for ‘secret santa’ which left me humiliated in front of my classmates.
I was thirteen.
When I went to my head of year and my form tutor it was laughed off as ‘boys being boys’. After this I held myself together for another two weeks before reaching the point where I couldn’t take anymore and I attempted to take my own life.
I don’t think that people know how to deal with sexual bullying, it’s an odd mixture between bullying and sexual assault and seems to be most common amongst teenagers. These factors mean that most of the time no-one knows who or how it should all be dealt with. There are no clear guidelines or advice on how to tackle it, or even how to spot it.
I think that for a lot of people sexual bullying is something that they don’t want to think about. How would you feel if your son or daughter was accused of being sexually bullied? How would you feel if your child came home crying because someone- and not just anyone, not an adult, but another child- was touching them inappropriately?
We live in an increasingly more sexualised culture, and we seem to be proud of this- so why the hell aren’t we extending our openness around sex to being able to talk about and tackle sexual bullying?
I know that you don’t want to believe that this is happening, but it is, and it is ruining people’s lives.
Personally I think that ‘sexual bullying’ is a soft term, it’s a gentle approach being used so as not to scare parents and teachers- to my mind, if someone is touching you in a sexual manner or forcing you to perform sexual acts then that is assault.
This is disgusting and sickening. After what happened to me I then had to spend the next four years in the same building as those boys. Even during my last days at school I would run away from them if I saw them coming towards me.
As usual this kind of thing will only change if every single one of us educates ourselves and has the courage to stand up and point out this behaviour when we see it.
So go on, you’re the first of many.
’til next time,