By Amy Firth
As April draws to a close, I thought I would express its significance within the 12 months of the year. April is in fact Sexual Assault Awareness Month, something which has unfortunately happened to near enough all of us – and I stress ALL, whilst girls are not afraid to talk about their experiences, a stigma is evolved around the male experience. At the end of March 2017, the Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated that around 20% of women and 4% of men have experienced some type of sexual assault since the age of 16 (3.4 million females and 631,000 male victims). Figures do not really mean everything, when we are told to silence our opinions on this sensitive taboo subject. Being told ‘we were asking for it’ if we showed confidence or even slightly too much skin. But here I aim to address the problem at gigs and concerts specifically, talking to a few about the problems they have experienced. As we all know nightclubs and bars often see it every night they open, which I express is NOT okay to be the norm, I look into the abundance of the music-loving scene and see how the problem is just as bad.
Unfortunately, every person I talked to said yes to have experiencing some kind of sexual assault at a gig and each individual said they now expected it. This has unfortunately become a social norm, to expect it and to shrug it off. Or, even worse, if you confront them you are seen as being dramatic and making a scene. A setting which should present a happy memory now too often or not sees that time somebody pulled your top down, groped your bum, or felt up your skirt. And must I say those are in retrospect of multiple people’s experiences in the crowd at a gig. As you are moving forward in a sweaty crowd trying to get to the front, you are made to feel uncomfortable in some sort of way. Intoxication is the excuse, which is why awareness should be made of this cause as there is no excuse. “If you’re moving through the crowd or in a lively part then it’s almost part of it really which is so wrong.” It shouldn’t be part of the gig-goer experience, we are all there for the love of music, so let’s make sure everybody leaves without that unpleasant memory. Whether it is big or small, being made to feel uncomfortable in any place, shape or form is not okay. We must rise to it.
“It’s worse than being in town.” Where most of us have found a safe space to enjoy in a nightclub, where you can easily get away from ‘danger,’ the standing area at a concert, especially in the centre of the crowd, has little space to move out and away from it. I specifically remember at Leeds Festival 2017, an advert for Sexual Assault awareness was played and stupidly enough many booed, failing to listen to the message it had to say with impatience to see the next act. Even then, there was a push for awareness, but people failed to listen. I hope that changes in the near future. And, must I say, it is okay to talk.
Here are some non-profit organisations if you are affected by this on the whole.
NOTE FROM NAT:
Corona virus is impacting thousands of survivors of sexual assault/violence. Please remember that awareness month may be over but help is always available to you – especially in these times.