By Lucy Davies.
This morning was another glorious day dawned so I thought I’d kick start myself with another pre-work swim.
It was such a happy moment to get out of bed with hardly any pain, find my swimming costume, a cup of tea and head out through the sleepy streets with only my towel, water, some apricots and my phone.
Over the hill I spied the blue; a spontaneous grin spreading from my toes to my nose, I hurried on, keen to get into the water. As I neared the seafront, I saw a few towel-carrying folk; we smiled happily at each other, sharing the delight of our common pre-work swim idea.
I started down the steps from the road to the beach, and noticed a man halfway down, leaning to one side. He was white, with a shaven head, I estimate he was over 6 ft tall, and possibly around 40 years old.
I was not sure what, but something just felt wrong.
I kept my eyes down and casually moved to the other side of the steps, speeding up my pace. As the staircase wound around the corner, I found myself almost face to face with him. He suddenly was a lot nearer and, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed him undo his pants and start having a wank whilst following me… leering at me all the while.
It turned my stomach; it happened so quickly, and it was so disgusting, that I didn’t have time to register it properly. I just knew I had to get away from him as soon as possible. I jumped over the last couple of steps, and headed over to a group of people on the beach, trying to look like I was with them.
Furtively glancing back, I saw he’d stopped following. My heart was pounding out of my chest. I felt sick. My hands shook.
A few hundred meters further down the beach, I sat down and breathed. So much for my morning-relaxation-float-in-the-blue!
After thinking about it for a while, I decided to report it to the police. I was scared, and if he’d scared me, then who knows what he might do to someone else? I found the non-emergency police number (101) and called — and that is when the real saga started.
I have never reported something to the police like this before. I was stunned by how much the process reminded me of trying to speak to doctors. They seemed constrained by bureaucracy and paperwork, by the system so much that it felt like any common sense, care and basic compassion got thrown out the window.
It was a bemusing experience.
After a 20-minute game of pass-the-call-on, I was asked for the basic facts, yet no one asked how I was, if I was OK, physically or emotionally hurting… I was told that a patrol would come and check the area, and that they’d call me back.
So I waited, alone, scared and trying to block out the gross image racing around my mind.
Forty minutes later, I got a call saying they’d had to go elsewhere, but if I’d like to come to the police station, they would see me. I did not want to spend my time in a station and explain how some guy waggled his parts at me hours ago!
The police thanked me for doing my duty, which I found totally surreal and made to feel like I was working for them and not vice versa. I felt my report was not taken seriously. I was not offered any support, and I felt their thanks was misplaced and just weird.
What did they mean? Thank you for receiving abuse this morning? Thank you for giving us work?
All in all, it was a thoroughly depressing experience, both the event and my subsequent dealings with the police. I am grateful he didn’t touch me and my heart goes out to those who have been hurt far worse. Being in Brighton (UK), another dark thought occurred to me: I wondered how seriously the police would have taken my report if I were a man upset by this — perhaps even less seriously than they took mine.
That morning’s events have made me re-think, assess and decide to try and face even more of my truths.
If we talk about it all more, then perhaps things will change.
Lucy Davies loves elephants and tea. She is passionate about our planet, health, empowering women and creative education. She watches surfing instead of football, makes toys instead of buying them, and believes in magic -– because if you don’t, you’ll never find it! She has struggled with a variety of health issues, including epilepsy, chronic pain, panic attacks and neuralgia. These challenges have made her stronger, and she hopes to share her experiences with the world through the positive space of her blog, perhaps healing herself and others in the process.