Jamie's story Everything changed when Jamie was sexually assaulted at school

Boy's hands and kneesI was 15 when it happened. In the couple of weeks in the run up to the sexual assaults some boys in my year had started picking on people, bullying them and humiliating them in front of others. I tried to distance myself from these bullies but it wasn't long before they turned on me too. It was just words at first but things started to get more physical. I would try and ignore it but it left me feeling angry and alone, I hated them for it.

Like the bullying, the sexual assaults took place in front of others. The feelings of anger, shame and humiliation were so intense. It's difficult to describe them. I was just so angry. I'd never felt that so strongly before. After the first assault I sat in the toilets for about an hour not knowing what to do, trying to control myself. When I came out they were there waiting for me and they assaulted me again. It was like once they had done it they could do it again, anytime. I went to tell someone straight away. I knew then that things wouldn't be the same again.

"I went back in to sit my exams but I didn't ever feel safe. Nothing was done to make sure I didn't bump into the boys who had assaulted me."
Jamie


I couldn't go back to school after that, the thought of it made me feel so tense and wound up. The school made me feel like it was me that had done something wrong as they refused to exclude the boys. I went back in to sit my exams but I didn't ever feel safe. Nothing was done to make sure I didn't bump into the boys who had assaulted me.

I received no counseling or support at all from the school to help me come to terms with what had happened. The head master wanted me to sit down with the boys and asked me to shake their hands. It was a kick in the teeth that he thought all of it could be sorted out with a handshake.

He said it was like rugby locker room banter and that really trivialised what had happened to me. I was scared about what I would do to them too as I was so angry and I felt like I would just snap at them.

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I totally shut down after it happened. I didn't see my friends, I would hardly speak or eat. Nothing felt good. I just spent time alone in my room. I struggled to sleep at night and when I did I had really aggressive dreams and they really scared me. They were all about what I would do to the boys if I saw them again. I didn't feel in control. I got flashbacks too - it was like it was always going to be there inside my head like I was some kind of prisoner.

We'd reported it to the police but they didn't refer us for help. My mum took me to the doctors and a student doctor started to cry when they heard what had happened to me. They referred me to CAMHS. They denied the request without even seeing me and just said that my case wasn't severe enough. I just thought 'What on earth do I do now?'

"I was scared about what I would do to the boys if I saw them again. I didn't have anyone to talk to about it. "
Jamie

Because I didn't get any help straight away it was all weighing on me and I didn't know how to deal with it. I was just suppressing it for as long as I could but then it would come rushing out and I would go over and over it in my head. The anger was just bubbling up and little things would trigger it. I was scared about what I would do to the boys if I saw them again. I didn't have anyone to talk to about it. My mum was there for me but I didn't find it easy to talk to her, both because I was struggling to find the right words and I felt ashamed; like I'd let it happen to me.

I got help five months after we'd gone to the doctors and it felt like a long wait. I was still so angry that I found it hard to talk, but Sue* was really patient with me. Over time I found the more I opened up and spoke about my feelings, the better it felt.

" Talking really did help. It helped me find out who I was and that I wasn't going to let what happened define me. "
Jamie

If I had got help earlier it would have helped me to come to terms with the assault earlier and I could have started to get on with my life. I didn't have the normal stage of going out with my friends and going to parties. It would have stopped the anger bubbling away inside me, and have helped with the flashbacks and dreams, as talking to Sue allowed me to come to peace with the situation and they gradually subsided.

I think all young people who have been sexually assaulted should be able to access help as soon as they need it. I'm so much happier now and I am planning for the future. If you had told me that a year ago I wouldn't have believed you. Talking really did help. It helped me find out who I was and that I wasn't going to let what happened define me. I am far more confident with who I am now. My message to anyone who has experienced something similar is never give up, because life can get better. Mine has.

*DISCLAiMER

Names and identifying features have been changed to protect identity. Photographs have been posed by models.

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