I have briefly mentioned this date in one of my last posts about dating in general and I debated for quite some time if I should write about it at all. But I think it would be wrong to pretend it’s always entertaining and easy going when it comes to meeting a complete stranger – and let’s be real this is exactly what it is after all – so if things turn unpleasant or even terrifying, we shouldn’t pretend nothing has happened and carry on as normal. Because it is not and no woman should have to be treated like this.
I met this guy after a visit to the National Theatre, on nice balmy night in the middle of summer, right in the heart of London. He was a few years younger than me and not really the butterflies in your stomach type but nice enough, hence me making the most of my trip into the city. It was already late when we met up, so we found a chilled bar, ordered some drinks and did have a good conversation going. He put his arm around me quite quickly and admittedly, it didn’t feel completely right but not wrong enough to throw him off completely and when he suggested a walk to the river after a while to see the beach – yes, London has a beach when the tide is out and it is actually really pretty – I didn’t think much of it. We had to climb over a barrier – like quite a few other people and I took my shoes off because sand and heels are not friends.
It wasn’t really a secluded spot, so we walked a good hundred metres along and all of a sudden he turned around and started to kiss me. Still, not too bad so I was happy enough to see how this would turn out. But then – poof – things turned bad. He tried to get in my trousers and quite aggressively at that. Unfortunately for him I was wearing a jumpsuit so his attempts were unsuccessful but he didn’t find that too distracting so just proceeded to grab my breasts instead. At which point I gave him a push and told him I was not particularly happy about his behaviour and started to walk off. He seemed surprised but quickly followed me, kind of apologised and offered to take me for a last drink. My next tube would be a while so I agreed being slightly appeased and we disappeared into a seemingly endless labyrinth of small roads with me quickly lost my bearing. I was feeling really uncomfortable at that point, but as I knew we had to take the same tube back, albeit in different directions so my plan was to down my drink and then ask to go.
The evening had quite obviously turned sour by this point and despite his previous apology he didn’t help smoothing things out. He decided it would be a great idea if I stayed at his overnight as he was only two stops down the line as supposed to my dirty dozen and relentlessly pursued this line of conversation now, starting to get explicit and simply unpleasant. Completely ignoring me and my very obvious unwillingness to participate in any of it. I didn’t even finish my drink, but asked him to walk to the station instead, which we did. However the way back seemed a lot longer and just as unknown as before, with him continuing his agenda of trying to persuade me to stay the night. My brain was in a mix of panic and anger by now with my first thought being to hail a cab, but there was none in sight. The next most obvious thing of checking on my phone where to go didn’t even cross my mind at that point, I think my head was just too deep in the sand.
But my grey cells came up with another idea instead which seemed bizarre. I just gave in. He was delighted and strangely enough, within a couple of minutes we got to the station. I was nearly in tears at that point and had planned to go to one of the station workers and ask them to help me but by sheer luck, my tube was on its platform and without thinking too much I just made a run for it, got on and the doors closing behind me just seconds later. I didn’t look back, I didn’t check my phone the entire journey, I just kept my head down and concentrated on getting home. It was nearly 3am by the time I crawled into bed and I felt absolutely awful.
I was supposed to work the next day but I called in sick and had a cry. Made worse by checking my phone and reading a message from this guy telling me what a great evening he had had but what I shame I couldn’t have stayed.
Needless to say, this is not how you behave on a date. A friend of mine working for the police called it sexual assault later and actually asked me to report it, which I have to admit I did not. Considering how outspoken I am normally with these things, I can’t even tell you what stopped me. A strange mixture of shame, not being taken seriously, not enough having happened. None of it how I should feel. The lesson I have now ingrained in my head is this: remove yourself as soon as you feel uncomfortable in the slightest and if you can’t, call a friend or ask for help. Anyone. Even if it is another guy. I would like to believe there are plenty of decent people out there who will help you if you tell them you that you feel uneasy in the presence of your date.