Testimony 35

I was a victim of assault numerous times over the period of my time at KEGS. Being a CCHS girl, I believe this made me especially vulnerable to indecent behaviour. Because KEGS boys were my first introduction to what boys are like, I grew up thinking their predatory behaviour was ‘normal’, and I was often shamed by even good female friends of mine for making a big deal out of things that I felt scared by, but even my own conditioned friends thought was okay.

In one such incident, there was a KEGS boy in the year above me who I used to be best friends with. When it became clear he had a crush on me, I became uncomfortable, though did not believe my voice to matter. This boy was my first kiss and I can remember it so vividly. He first tried to kiss me when we were sitting in a field near my house. He did not ask and he did not explain what he was doing. Rather, he rolled on top of me from where we were sat on the grass, so that I was pinned down. I didn’t know how to respond, so I just sort of froze in the moment, but I believe it was clear I did not want to kiss this boy. Fast forward to two minutes later (more or less), and he again tried to kiss me. I didn’t want it, but I felt pressured to do so anyway. It’s something ‘small’, but I felt violated. To me, I’d always wanted my first kiss to be something special and sweet and pure with someone who I’d really liked. To make matters worse, after the ‘kiss’ was over, this boy said and I wish I was joking: “This is great – I can delete all my porn now.” When I decided I no longer wanted to be friends with this boy very soon after, he became angry that I’d ‘made’ him delete his porn collection. I’d really like to clarify that I’d never once spoken to him about his porn collection, nor did I ever ask him to delete anything. I was very sheltered and honestly even thinking about the topic at that age made me feel a bit sick.

After explaining to this boy that I no longer wanted to be friends, he stalked me to my house. I remember it so vividly. I’d got the bus home and was walking through the field and he was there, waiting for me. This was after I’d explicitly told him I didn’t want to be friends with him anymore, as I was uncomfortable. I’d like to emphasise that he’d walked to my house, which was an hour long walk away from his own – it wasn’t as if he lived next door. To say I was petrified was an understatement – I had no idea how to react. He tried to get close to him, but I ran away to my house. I thought he hadn’t followed me, but when I turned around again, he’d just gone a different route to meet me at my front door. Luckily, my family was home and he didn’t want to make a scene. But I was so ashamed at the whole incident that I didn’t tell my family anything about this at all.

Following this, this boy texted me in a way that I could only describe as harassment nowadays. He called me several times and left well over a dozen messages on my phone at a time. Frequently, he would talk about how he’d turned to alcohol, how he was apparently having strokes as a result of the alcohol (this was fictional) and how I’d ruined my life by ‘leaving him’. Again, I would like to emphasise that there wasn’t anything to leave – I’d simply told this boy I did not want to be his friend. At this time, I was 15 and he must’ve been 16/17.

I re-became friends with this boy perhaps around a year later. I believed strongly that people can change and he’d dated a couple of other girls at this point, one of whom was one of my very good friends. In my mind, everything was in the past and we enjoyed what I thought was a ‘solid’ new friendship for a time.

Consensually, we would cuddle sometimes, but in my mind it was absolutely never anything but platonic. I recognise now that that wasn’t always true in his mind. Sometimes he would get drunk if we were hanging out at his house and I would too. This was fine, but sometimes he’d then lie on top of me as part of what he said was our ‘cuddle’ – much like he did when he’d first tried to kiss me. He was my friend and he had a girlfriend when these instances happened, so I always assumed it was odd, but that maybe physical touch was just something he valued in very close friendships. It’s worth noting at this point that I am a neurodivergent person, who is currently exploring Autistic tendencies as part of therapy. I realise my perspectives at the time may sound ridiculous to any outsider, but I really just was that trusting. This behaviour only started to feel insidious or grotesque to me after one comment he made one time whilst this was happening: that he needed this because he hadn’t had sex with his girlfriend in a long time. I always felt at least a little uncomfortable around him from this moment onward, but especially when he would request these ‘cuddles’. In my mind, I just had to shut my eyes and wait for it to be over. Since this time, conversations with this boy’s now ex-girlfriend have revealed to me how he used to pressure her into certain sex acts in a forceful way, which devastatingly comes as no surprise to me now in retrospect.

The dynamics of our friendship changed once again when this boy came back from his first term of university to visit home for the first time. This was the last time I intentionally saw him. I met up with him then while he was visiting home. I was freshly 18 and had never been on a ‘night out’ yet, so he took me on one. Something felt off the whole night. Nothing about him felt safe or comfortable anymore, but I though I was being paranoid and silly. Besides, I had few friends left in school at this point as a result of the abuse and isolation I was experiencing in my then-relationship and could hardly afford to lose even one.

It’s hard for me to think or talk about this night. Like so many of my experiences at KEGS, it brings on intense bouts of dissociation to do so. Even as I’m writing this, that’s what I’m feeling right this second. This was very soon after one of the girls in my year had committed suicide. This boy and I were drunk and talking about it. This was a girl who I had known all the way through primary school and through both of our secondary schools, and while we’d never even really talked, I’d watched her grow up from a distance and her death absolutely broke me – already fragile at this point anyway. He confided in me that he’d felt the shockwaves of her passing too. Even though he was away at uni, had never personally known her and wasn’t in her year group, he’d felt that right at his core.

Later that night, he assaulted me. He’d been pulling me onto his lap, and I had said no and that I’d rather just go to sleep, but he wouldn’t listen to me. I just wanted it all to be over, so I just rolled over and pretended to go to sleep. It was after he thought that I was fast asleep that my friend assaulted me. In between what he was doing, he would get up, have a smoke, get back into bed and carry on what he was doing. I remember trying to recoil into the foetus position as slowly as possible, so that there was as little of my body that he could touch as possible, but also while doing so slowly enough that he’d certainly think I was still asleep. This boy was nothing the person I thought he was and I truly thought if I did anything that he feasibly might try to kill me. I waited until he was asleep to escape his house, but all the doors and windows had been locked. I really truly thought I was going to die in that moment and I remember hiding crouched behind the door in the utility room when I heard his footsteps coming down the stairs, obviously to check where I had gone.

He found me eventually and when he learned my Dad was outside the house (it was 4AM at this point), he let me out of the house without much further bother.

Months later, I saw him in the Chelmsford Wetherspoons by complete coincidence and I ended up getting him outside with one of my friends present also to ask him why he did what he did. This is critical. His entire apology was centred around how he’d felt ‘tortured over this for every single day that it happened’. He did not apologise and when I refused to allow him to come any closer physically to me and denied his absolute non-apology, his response was that I was the ‘least forgiving person [he] knew’.

KEGS Head and Governors, I hope you can understand the implications of this. This boy, who grew up under your care, firstly, did not understand the first thing about consent. Secondly, he did not (and perhaps still does not) deem rape and assault a serious enough issue for someone to: a) feel seriously affected by and b) not to immediately forgive him for because of some self-pitying delivered monologue. Not only did that ‘apology’ indicate to me a lack of accountability assumed for his actions: it also served the intended purpose of shifting the blame from him and his actions to me for ‘making’ him feel some levels of guilt over his own behaviour.

In my experience of the KEGS environment, yours is a school that breeds this exact brand of boy. One who feels so entitled and emotionally removed from women, that he feels no issue with committing assault after assault, again and again and again. Having left the school, I cannot say what the culture of the school is like now and hey, maybe the year above me, my year and the year below me all just happened to be the demonic year groups wherein this type of behaviour was rampant. Even if it is not, something happened (or did not happen) in the school to enable the turnout of the boys to act in this way. Reform your sex education and take these accounts seriously, or this will be a reality for so many more young women. Please try to show us with actions – not just empty statements – that you care. There are certain things that you cannot remain neutral for and I promise you that this is one of them.

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