Everyone’s passion for a cause comes from somewhere. This is the origin of ours.
*TRIGGER WARNING– talk of sexual assault and harassment.*
The Gemini Project’s initial aim is for all schools in the UK to provide mandatory education on consent.
At The Gemini Project we believe that if consent and relationship education can help even one person then it is worth implementing nationally. We feel that this form of education cannot be anything but helpful. Relationships and sex happen earlier than a lot of people would like to realise. But the reality is it does happen. Children and teenagers are too often seen as ignorant and information is often kept from them to protect them. However, we are proof that this approach doesn’t work. We are not protected, instead we are kept in the dark without the necessary tools to process the trauma inflicted upon us. Knowledge is power, and that power ought to be given to every human being at the earliest possible stage. That is how we protect them.
I truly believe that my perpetrator wasn’t aware that what he was doing constituted sexual assault and that because of his frequent consumption of internet pornography that he thought this was normal for a relationship. If we had, had mandatory education on consent this could have been prevented.
Growing up as a woman you quickly become accustomed to the daily acts of sexual harassment. Builder’s cat calling you in your school uniform, random men honking their horn to get your attention, boys in school groping you and messing with your bra, constant unwanted advances. You begin to accept this as the norm, especially when you’ve been experiencing this and worse before you have even had a single sex education lesson. We learn about STDs and safe-sex but never about the nature of consent or healthy relationships. I may be able to insert a tampon and put on a condom but I wasn’t told what to do or how to deal with being sexually assaulted.
I was sexually assaulted when I was 13/14 by my boyfriend and classmate. I thought this was normal, that this is what girlfriends are meant to do. It wasn’t until I was 15 that I realised I had been sexually assaulted, that I never gave him my consent and instead of doing anything about it I felt ashamed. My boyfriend would brag about it in the playground telling his friends that he’d done things before them, he was called a ‘lad’ and I was called a ‘slut’. No one asked if I had wanted it. I had no idea how to process what had happened, I overly sexualised myself and used provocative jokes about sex as a front to mask what had happened when I was 13. I didn’t want to be seen as a victim and so I tried to change the narrative pretending that I was up for anything, I had so little self-respect I didn’t care what people thought, as long as they never knew the truth.
This experience affects me even now, I have to explain to my sexual partners why I am not comfortable with certain things. I am angry. Angry because this could have been prevented. I truly believe that my perpetrator wasn’t aware that what he was doing constituted sexual assault and that because of his frequent consumption of internet pornography that he thought this was normal for a relationship. If we had, had mandatory education on consent this could have been prevented. I would have understood what was happening and could have maybe had the courage to ask him to stop, I would’ve known that I had to give my consent and he would have known to obtain it before doing anything.
In August 2017 I was sexually assaulted by my ex-boyfriend in my home. In July 2018 I went to the police to report the crime following a suicide attempt as a result of the PTSD I was experiencing due to the assault. In January 2019 I was informed that my case would not be proceeding to court due to ‘insufficient evidence’, in part because of the perpetrators ‘no comment’ interview, despite having messages where the perpetrator explicitly addresses the assault and apologises for it.
These are the reasons that lead me to setting up The Gemini Project, and why I am so determined to advocate for change to services and education.
I fully believe that had I had access to information on consent earlier my assault either would not have happened or perhaps it wouldn’t have taken 3 years to understand what had transpired.
I was raped when I was 13. This was my first sexual encounter. The perpetrator was someone in the same school year as me who was my boyfriend at the time. Due to my young age and general ignorance on consent and sex it took me a long time to process what had happened to me. I suffered from severe self-esteem issues as well as self-hatred and would avoid talking about sex so I didn’t have to think about or address what had happened. I felt so awful and ashamed and I had no idea why. Later, I found out that I wasn’t the first person he had done this to. Another girl before me had suffered the same thing by the same person. Considering our incredibly young age at the time to me this is very worrying. None of us had the tools or knowledge to deal with what had happened. With the nature of young people coupled with being in a school environment rumours quickly circulated. People would come up to me in the playground or in lessons and ask ‘did *anonymous* rape you?’. I was terrified of teachers overhearing and an investigation being started so I denied it. I was repulsed that people were asking me so brazenly, often with a smirk on their face. It was treated like a joke. I don’t think anyone at that time realised the severity and complexity of sexual assault- including myself.
Another factor which contributed to my initial denial was that I assumed the perpetrator didn’t know what he was doing. I couldn’t comprehend that the person who was meant to be my boyfriend could be capable of knowingly harming me. However, my innocence once again had clouded my judgement. The origin of the rumour came from my perpetrator. Apparently, he had boasted to his friends ‘she wasn’t ready, but I did it anyway’. I was confused, I began googling sexual assault and definitions. I was in shock that this could apply to me. After weeks of searching for explanations I eventually confronted what happened to me. When I was 16 I used the word rape to describe that event in my life, admitting it to myself 3 years later was my first step towards healing.
As I grew older my group of friends would talk about sex and relationships. Most people in my friend group at the time had experienced sexual assault in some capacity by the time we were 16. Friends I have made since then have similar experiences at similarly young ages. Sexual harassment was something we had also experienced often and was something most of us had come to accept as part of the human experience if you were a woman. Personally I had been experiencing harassment before I had even started puberty, by peers of my age group and by adults too. This is abhorrent and shouldn’t have happened to any one of us.
Considering the young age of each person involved and the time it took for me to acquire the knowledge to explain and understand what happened to me is why I feel it is necessary for consent education to be mandatory for everyone starting at the earliest possible age. I fully believe that had I had access to information on consent earlier my assault either would not have happened or perhaps it wouldn’t have taken 3 years for me to understand what had transpired. Furthermore, I feel that my female friends would have been protected from similar experiences. The prevalence of assault at young ages is huge. Due to the sensitive nature of the subject it’s not something most speak out about. It is discussed in private to trusted individuals but often it doesn’t go further. I never reported what happened to me, like most young girls I buried it.
I was also raped and molested in August 2017 by my twin sisters ex-boyfriend, a man I saw as a close friend and had always treated as family. I reported this to the police in April 2018 and after a long Investigation found out in January 2019 that it would not proceed to court due to ‘insufficient evidence’ partly due to my late reporting and also because of the perpetrators ‘no comment’ interview.
Despite the immense pain and negative impact these assaults have had on my well-being, I will not let them impact my life any longer. Through The Gemini Project I will use my experience to help other survivors and campaign for change. The one thing that has helped me through this all is that my knowledge, as much as I wish I hadn’t ever had to acquire it, can help others.