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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Sex Education - A Conversation About Sexual Assault & Aimee's Bus Scene

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- I smiled at the person, and I thought,

oh, like, he smiled back, he was nice.

And then I just felt this person following me,

and this kind of, looming presence,

and he would not go.

It's just so sad,

because I feel like every woman

has a story, and that's why I loved this storyline so much

because it brings out the other female character's stories.

- So the inspiration for Aimee's storyline in series two

came from a personal experience that I had myself.

This thing happened to me about five years ago,

where I was on my local bus

and I was on the way to King's Cross station,

I was going to visit someone in Scotland.

It was really early in the morning

and I got on, and the thing that was really strange about it

was that the bus was actually basically empty,

except there was like one other woman who was, like,

at the back of the bus.

And this man got on and he just made a beeline,

like, straight for me,

and came and, like, sat right next to me,

which was just so weird,

where I was like, you have so many seats,

that you could sit on,

but you've come and you've sat right next to me.

I had my bags on the floor,

and he put his feet on my bags,

so that, like, I couldn't move.

And he started, like,

kinda inching himself towards me,

and then he was like, sort of, rubbing himself on me,

and then touching himself.

(rhythmic music)

Talk about things you'd like to do

- Sorry!

You got to have a dream

If you don't have a dream

How you gonna make a dream come true

- What you doing?

(man grunting)

He's wanking on me!

(passengers speaking faintly)

- I mean, I think everyone knows this feeling,

but I just went into this, like,

it was like, fight or flight.

I just suddenly was like,

I have to get out of this situation,

like, I think this person means me harm,

like, I need to go.

And so I ended up, I just like grabbed my stuff

and, like, I got off the bus.

It was so creepy because he moved,

he moved seats, so that he could see me out the window.

Like, as the bus went off.

And I just burst into tears.

And then, it was really strange,

cause I kinda shook it off,

and like, got on with my, you know, my weekend or whatever,

and then it just really stayed in my head,

and I started having sort of panic attacks,

where, like, I couldn't get back on my bus,

I didn't like getting on the Tube,

and this lasted for, sort of like, weeks afterwards.

And in the end, the thing that actually helped me,

was I was sort of part of this like, feminist, sort of,

women's group on Facebook.

And I ended up, like, posting a thing about it.

It was like way before any of the me too stuff had happened.

And just hearing, like, other women, sort of,

saying, oh, like, that happened to me,

and I totally understand where you're coming from,

just made me feel, I don't know,

like more kind of heard,

and that gave me a bit of, sort of, solace,

and I think, made me feel a bit braver.

- So about eight years ago, I was on a bus,

I was on my way home quite late at night,

and I was on the phone to my mum.

And, really distracted,

and didn't really notice the guy next to me

until I suddenly looked down

and realized that his hand was on my leg.

And I kind of froze in shock,

and before I could think, or move, or do anything,

he moved his hand up and grabbed me in the crotch,

groped me, grabbed me between the legs.

And I stood up, and I moved away from him,

and because I was on the phone,

I said what was happening out loud.

And I said,

"Mum, I'm on the bus, this guy's just groped me."

And everybody on the bus heard,

and everybody looked away.

No one even made - What?

eye contact with me,

they looked down at their phones, or out the window,

no one said a word.

And it made me feel panicked and embarrassed,

and like I shouldn't have said anything.

It was as if they had said,

they might as well have said,

whoa, don't bring this up, you deal with this,

this is your thing.

Made me think, oh god, it must have been my fault,

I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,

or I was wearing the wrong thing.

I got off the bus, and I ran the rest of the way home,

and I never told anyone what had happened.

And it was only later that I looked back

and realized it wasn't just me

that got such a strong message from the people around us,

you know, this is your problem, you deal with it,

this is normal.

It was also the man on the bus.

He learned you can be on a public bus,

you can sexually assault a woman,

you can have her say what's happening out loud,

and no one will do a thing.

You can get away with this, in other words,

go ahead, do it again.

It just happened to fall, for me,

in a week during which I had a number of other incidents

of quite serious, being followed home by a man

who just wouldn't leave me alone,

wouldn't take no for an answer,

being shouted at in the street by some blokes

really commenting about my breasts.

And at the end of this week, I sat down

and I was thinking about it,

and it just suddenly hit me,

if those things hadn't all happened in the same week,

I probably wouldn't have thought twice

about any one of them,

because it's normal.

And it just made me suddenly have this moment

of thinking, why is this normal?

Why is it just the way things are?

I started talking to other women and just saying,

for the first time ever,

have you ever had anything like this?

And the stories just poured out

of every woman I spoke to.

- Something remarkably similar happened to me

on a train platform, when I was really young.

I smiled at the person, and I thought,

oh, like, he smiled back, he was nice.

And then I just felt this person following me,

and this, kind of, looming presence,

and he would not go.

And I was walking through crowds,

and I was thinking, my mum always used to say,

"Try and find a family."

(all murmuring agreement)

Or somebody like that,

find a family and stand with them,

and say, I'm really sorry,

but I couldn't see any families.

I could only see other, at that point it was like,

I could only see men.

I was like, why are there no women here?

And then I went over to this guy, and I was like,

"Can I just walk with you? Can I just walk with you?"

And he was kinda looking at me like I was a freak,

and I knew this guy was like, yeah,

touching himself behind me,

walking down this train platform.

And that was the worst part, was feeling ignored.

- Yeah - And feeling like,

why does no one know,

why can no one see what's going on here?

And that's what I found so moving in Aimee's storyline

was of course, the event is so traumatizing,

but what traumatizes her even more

is that she has such faith in the world,

and she has such faith in people,

so when she's looking round after it's happened

she really does expect someone to go,

I'll help you!

and nobody does, everyone's blank.

And that's the thing where it's like,

I used to feel so safe, and now I don't.

This man smiled at me, he had a kind face,

he didn't look like he was capable of that.

How do I navigate in the world now?

Now that I know that I'm not safe,

and now that I know that when I smile at someone,

it might invite that kind of behavior.

Can I get off the bus please?

(tense electronic music)

- Watch it with the case! - Sorry!

(bell dings)

- Can I get off the bus please?

- You all right, love? - Yeah.

I just need to get off the bus, please.

He jizzed on me.

- It can make you feel very vulnerable,

where you start blaming yourself,

or you can start to feel like, maybe,

you know, it was down to something

that you might have done or said.

- It's so good, I think, that you focused

on the reactions of the people around Aimee on the bus.

Because we so often wrongly focus on

well, what did she do wrong?

And what could she have done?

And the truth is, if any one of those people

had said something, or stepped in,

it would have made a huge difference.

It would have sent her the message that it's not her fault,

and she's not alone,

and it's not normal and just something that happens.

And it would have sent him the message,

you can't get away with this.

That's the most heartbreaking thing about this scene,

the guy who does it gets the message,

this is okay, no one will challenge you,

you can go and do it again.

- I think we've all been in that situation

where you've seen something happening, to another woman,

and there's a strange connection

where you sort of look at each other,

like when I was on the bus,

there was another woman on the bus,

and, you know, she looked at me like,

oh my god, this is awful,

but she also didn't jump in,

but it's like, I don't really expect her

to do that either.

But it's like, we need other men, I think,

to be saying, you know,

this is not right.

- I think Aimee is the perfect character

for this to happen to,

because she operates on this plane of like trust,

and, you know, even with her mean friends,

she doesn't think they're bad people,

she just thinks the right thing to do now,

is to say, I'm gonna stand up for Maeve.

Cause Maeve needs me.

She's always kind of,

trying in her way to do the right thing,

and she doesn't really dislike or hate or mistrust anyone.

So, this kind of, I keep saying that she's like

the good witch in "The Wizard of Oz"

who's like, in the bubble.

- Yeah. - That comes down,

and then all of a sudden that bubble's just popped,

and she's like, crashed down to earth.

And it's like, she has this identity crisis,

because it's, everything I thought was true, isn't.

If I smile at someone, something bad might happen to me.

If I'm nice to someone, something bad might happen to me.

And she doesn't think she deserves to be traumatized by it.

She keeps saying, it's not a big deal,

it's just a little stain,

it's not a big deal, it's not a big deal.

Because she feels like she doesn't deserve

to be blindsided by it.

So what do you wanna do for your birthday?

- Nothing.

What happened to this cake, exactly?

- It didn't look so bad before,

but then I was on the bus, and a guy wanked on my leg,

and I got a bit of a shock,

and I smushed the cake.

- What?

- Do you think it'll stain?

I love these jeans.

- You have to report it.

- It's fine, they were only cheap.

- No, you've been assaulted.

- I think he was just lonely.

Or not right in the head or something,

which is weird, cause he was quite handsome.

- Ames, this is serious.

- It's silly. I'm fine, honestly.

- Okay, I know what I want to do for my birthday.

I want us to go to the police.

(uneasy music)

- So even when it's happening, she's like,

okay, this thing's happening to me,

which is really weird,

and I'm not sure why it's happening to me,

but I need to just take care of this cake,

and I need to get it to Maeve,

and if I can take care of this

and make sure she has a happy birthday,

then all that'll be fine,

and it'll just be,

and I feel like that is such a female instinct.

It's, okay,

what do I need to do?

What's the next action that I need to do?

Rather than just stopping, going,

how did that make me feel?

Even though that is a terrifying thing to do,

is actually to sit in the feeling,

and to get angry about it,

because anger isn't really allowed if you're a woman.

You know, especially if you're someone like Aimee,

who feels like her main value is sweetness,

and kind of, easy breeziness, you know.

She thinks, oh I'm not, you know, don't look at me,

I'm kind of, you know, I'm fine,

I'm just here, like, having a nice day, I'm okay, I'm okay.

And if I'm not, if I'm not that happy person,

then people won't wanna be around me.

But this thing's happened to me

that's made me actually angry, and sad,

and I don't like that,

and I don't like that it's shifted my personality

because now I don't really have anything to offer anymore.

And I don't know how to function now

that I'm the one who needs support.

And that's why she really isolates herself,

because I think she thinks,

well, I'm just gonna be a pain,

if I'm around people with this negative energy,

I'm just gonna be a burden.

So I'll just kind of remove myself from everyone.

And I slate myself, and I think

that's what we all do, as well,

cause we are taught to accommodate from such young age.

It's like, if you're gonna be a bit sad

and a bit, kind of, of a negative Nelly,

why don't you just kind of, you know,

keep yourself to yourself?

(all murmuring agreement)

You know, cause you don't wanna

upset anyone. - Don't take up space.

- And you don't wanna take up that space,

yeah, that's exactly what it is.

And I think this trauma forces her to start taking up space

because she can't not.

It's like this thing that wants to rip out of her.

- [Maeve] Anything about me!

- [Ola] You don't know anything about me!

- Stop fighting over a stupid boy!

- Ames, why are you crying?

- (whimpers) Because I can't get on the bus.

It was really difficult to go back to that time

of being 17 or whenever,

but that's because I'm older and I've matured

and I know that I'm allowed

to be a multi-faceted human being

who experiences a range of emotions,

and I don't have to just be a sweet, digestible woman.

So I would permit myself to get angry, now.

Back then, it was going back into that mindset

of I'm not allowed to feel this way.

I need to just suck it up and get on with it.

- You're so right about that being

something we're taught to perform as women.

Being polite, not making a fuss.

One of the first girls that I ever worked with

on this particular topic was a 14 year old girl

who'd been sexually assaulted on a bus,

and the man that did it had followed her off one bus

and onto the next, and she felt uncomfortable,

and she knew it was weird,

but she was only 14 years old, and she'd been taught

that she shouldn't be rude to grown-ups.

- Exactly.

- And so when he sat down next to her,

and started talking to her,

she felt like she had to answer.

And she'd also been taught that she shouldn't make a fuss,

and she shouldn't, kind of, get in people's way.

So when he started touching her,

she didn't want to say anything,

cause she didn't want to disturb

the people around her on the bus.

And at 14, that girl had been taught,

as a girl, you need to be quiet,

not get in the way, not make a fuss,

you need to be polite.

But no one had ever thought to teach her,

no one has the right to touch you without your consent.

And we don't, we teach women, like you say,

this is normal, this is part of life.

What were you doing, were you asking for it?

What were you wearing when it happened?

Well, you were probably flirting.

Maybe he just liked you.

All of the reasons that we have.

Are you overreacting?

Are you sure that's really what happened?

Did you imagine it?

Are you sure he was touching you?

Especially in a crowded bus where it so often happens.

How can you be sure that's really what was going on?

Surely someone would have said something

if you really said what was happening?

We have so many different ways to tell women,

don't say anything, maybe it was your fault,

did it even really happen at all?

Is it any wonder that we don't talk about it?

- I think that thing about

not making a, like, scene,

not wanting to disrupt other people,

I feel like, I'm 33 now, and I feel like that's still in me,

on some level.

- Always! (all murmuring agreement)

- Conditioning, isn't it? - So conditioned,

it's so buried.

- I mean, I even had that

when I first started wearing a skirt at school.

I always wore trousers, I was such a tomboy,

and then the first time I wore a skirt

was when I was 15.

And it was summer, like, that was why.

And I got called up, and taken out,

where my headteacher told me off.

She was a woman, and she told me off for wearing a skirt.

And I was like, why?

She was like, oh because we've got male teachers

running the playground.

And I was like, I was also just like, so confused,

I was like, I don't understand how,

but she was like, Mr. So-and-So's

just said your skirt's too short.

I was like, why was he looking at--

- Exactly! - What?

- I don't understand-- - The message that that gives.

- The child wearing the skirt

isn't the problem in that scenario--

- Yeah, do you know what I mean?

- It's the adult--

- Cause he couldn't control his feelings.

- Right, so I'm so confused,

like whose best interests do we have?

We need to be on side of our girls, like,

and stop this,

actually-- - And not teach them.

- Yeah.

- That it's normal, cause if that happened to you at school

and then you're in a bus a few years later,

you're thinking, well this is what I learned at school,

this is my fault. - Absolutely.

- I'm wearing the wrong thing.

- Did you have a low top on?

- I'm bringing it on-- - Yeah.

- You know, even talking about

feeling like you couldn't smile at people,

you were made to feel like it was your fault

for smiling at him,

of course it wasn't your fault for smiling at him,

but that's what

the world tells us-- - Why did you engage?

Why did you engage in it? - Right?

I must have done something to deserve this.

- Yeah.

- I like that you focused on this,

because I think often when we talk about sexual assault,

it's such a big spectrum, right,

it feels like something very, very explicitly intimate

is happening, in a very public place.

Often a lot of people don't think

they can even get help for something like this.

Like Aimee's character.

(melancholy music)

- See, she's got a proper problem.

- You've got a proper problem.

- Pot hole on the high street.

Bloody council.

- Come on, let's go,

it's basically like he sneezed on me or something.

- He came on you, Aimee, yeah?

- Yeah, cum is kind of like a penis having a sneeze.

Ugh, that means when you swallow someone's cum,

it's like eating their snot.

- [Officer] Just take a seat, we'll be with you in a bit.

Hi there, how can I help you?

- Hi.

This is my friend Aimee.

She got sexually assaulted on the bus.

- I got jizz on my jeans.

I mean, we're probably wasting your time.

- You're not wasting anyone's time, all right?

- That scale you talked about, that spectrum,

where we're told it's okay to talk about

very serious forms of sexual offenses,

but we shouldn't talk about others.

We don't do that with anything else, right?

Nobody says the police should never tackle any fraud cases

until they've solved all the murders.

- Right.

- With everything else, we accept

that there are different things that happen

and no one's saying they're all the same,

but they're all completely valid to tackle,

except with this,

except when we're trying to shut women up, basically.

- I think it cuts through a lot of bullshit

when something like this happens.

And it can really show you what's important.

To sort of say, I'm sorry that happened to you,

and the girls say it to each other,

and it was very moving.

And I mean, it's a very small moment,

but it's that idea of having someone acknowledge

that you've been through something absolutely terrible.

- Yeah.

- And also to show, sort of, how you can help someone

who's been in that situation.

- Yeah, like, not trying to fix it, necessarily.

- Yeah! - Like, just matching it.

- Yeah! - Just being like,

I hear you.

That's awful. - Just listen to them.

- [Laura] Yeah.

- And all of these girls

can sit there in a room

they don't have anything to talk about,

they're not friends normally,

and yet this is the one thing that they can all bond over.

- [Viv] So you can't get on the bus

because you think that man's gonna be on it again?

- No, it's more that he had this really kind face.

I remember, because he smiled at me.

And he didn't look like some wanking psycho killer.

So it's like, if he could do something like that,

then anyone could.

I always felt safe before, and now I don't.

Probably sounds stupid.

- It doesn't sound stupid.

I was groped at the train station last year.

We were going to a gig in the city,

this groups of guys walked past,

and one of them grabbed my tit.

(men laughing and jeering)

And it really, really hurt.

So I sometimes feel funny in crowds too.

It was like they thought my body was theirs, or something.

- Yeah, like we're public property.

- A few years ago, some boys were catcalling me.

- [Boy] Nice!

This woman told me it was my fault

because my shorts were too revealing.

- [Woman] You have to be careful, dressing like that.

So I went home and I cut them even shorter.

Because fuck them.

- Good, why should you have to change your behavior

because of what they did?

- [Maeve] Exactly.

- I used to go to the local swimming pool

all the time when I was a kid.

One day, this guy flashed me his penis in the pool.

And it looked all dangly and funny under the water.

(young Viv giggling)

I told my mum about it,

and she wouldn't let me go back anymore.

It's sad, because the pool was my favorite place to go.

- That's so unfair.

- I guess, but statistically, two thirds of girls

experience unwanted sexual attention or contact

in public spaces before the age of 21.

So, it's not unusual.

- A man followed me home from work about a year ago.

Every time I sped up, he sped up.

(keys jangling)

It was so scary.

(tense music)

He ran off when he saw my dad,

which made me angry,

because I don't want to be dependent on another man

to protect me.

- I'm sorry that happened to you.

- You too.

- Thank you.

You're so right about that I'm sorry.

I'm sorry, rather than doing, like, detective work,

and saying, so when did you move away?

And did you say this thing to him?

- Yeah.

- And did you try and give the message

that you didn't want him?

There's no questions asked, it's just,

I hear you and I'm sorry.

- I'm sorry that happened to you,

yeah. - And that can be the most

relieving thing when you feel like

you don't have to explain yourself,

and give any disclaimers, or give any justifications,

it's just, this is what happened,

and someone just saying, cause it does feel like,

at that moment, that person is taking a little bit

of that pain away from you.

Because they're saying, I'm sorry and I see it.

- I see you.

- I see it, and I see you,

and it's real.

- Yeah. - I believe you.

- [Aimee] I believe you.

- And it's like, just the release of telling somebody,

you know, and having someone listen to you properly,

and that release does make it,

I think it does make it a little bit easier,

cause it then makes it more like,

it's not my fault that it happened,

and all of the other 50% of the, like,

I call them vampires,

you know the voices in your head

that chat shit, and sort of,

are just, sort of, always going,

oh no but it's your fault. - Yeah, yeah.

- What did you do?

Whatever, you can cut half of that

when you tell someone and they just listen to you.

- Sort of relief. - Like, you can stop

so much of that anxiety, and so much of your own,

I don't know, self-hate, or self-blame, or whatever,

which I think comes hand in hand with it.

And it's something that has to be acknowledged as well.

- Yeah.

- Probably a lot of my friends that I talk to,

that have been through something like this,

the hardest bit is telling someone.

- So, fair hair, clean shaven,

five feet eight or nine,

and a blue jacket.

- It was kind of aqua.

- And was he already on the bus?

- Yeah.

I think so.

He might have got on at the second stop.

- Right, it's really important to know

what stop he got on at,

so we can get as clear a picture as possible.

So you said, you remember smiling at him,

was that after the first stop, or the second?

- Sorry, what's that got to do with anything?

Are you saying she shouldn't have smiled at him?

- Look, charges like this are really hard to convict.

And if we do actually catch the guy,

the questions are gonna get harder.

- Can I have my jeans back please?

I'm gonna go, I'm sorry to make a fuss.

- Ames.

What if he does it to someone else?

I know you can do this.

Please.

- You're doing brilliantly, Aimee.

- [Maeve] Yeah.

- Just, take your time.

Try to remember.

- He was already on the bus.

- I've really noticed a difference as well,

since me too and all of those kind of conversations

have really been brought out into the open.

Like, I feel like I used to talk to my female friends

about stuff like that,

but it would almost be in a jokey kind of way?

- Definitely. - Yeah.

- And they-- - Funny anecdote for you.

- Yeah, and now I feel like it's like,

oh, it's okay to take this seriously.

- I had that once, where I worked with somebody

that just used to slap me on the bum.

But because I started working there

when I was 16, I genuinely thought it was okay.

I said it to someone as a joke,

and they were like, that's bad that that's happened to you.

- Oh it's the most-- - By the way.

- And I've noticed, yeah, a lot recently,

where there's that shift of,

oh my god, hilarious story, the creepiest guy, so.

And then someone just goes, that's not funny.

It's completely wrong.

And I think the fear when Aimee finally opens that box up

and she gets sad, and she gets angry,

and yet the girls still like her.

- Oh, out of curiosity, what did you come up with?

What binds you together?

- Other than non-consensual penises, miss, not much.

(dramatic music)

- You gonna be okay?

- I think so.

I don't feel sad, I just feel angry.

- I know something that might help.

- Now that I've just taken that leap of faith,

and been vulnerable, and shown a side of myself

that maybe Aimee has thought, up until now,

that that's kind of, like, an unattractive,

or, like, displeasing side of her.

And then when she finally, kind of,

can't do it anymore because she's just so exhausted,

and so overwhelmed, and so triggered,

and then she lets this part of herself out

that she's kind of pushed down so much,

and the girls are like, no, we're with you.

- Yeah.

- Let's go fucking smash some shit.

- Let's go smash.

Let's find that rage. - Let's do it.

- Come on. - And I'm gonna cheer for you

while you do it.

What do I do?

- Think about something that makes you really, really angry,

and then smash it as hard as you can.

- I'm angry that I'm not very good at baking cakes.

(glass shattering)

- Yes! - Woo!

- Come on! - Go on, Aimee!

(uplifting music)

- I'm angry that Steve keeps trying so hard

to make things better, but he doesn't understand.

(glass smashing)

(girls cheering and clapping)

- I'm angry that a horrible man

ruined my best jeans and nobody did anything,

and now I can't get on the fucking bus!

(girls cheering)

- This is amazing!

(girls whooping)

Can I keep smashing stuff?

- Yes!

- Give it to them!

But you gotta

Make your own kind of music

Sing your own special song

Make your own kind of music

Even if nobody else sings along

Yeah

- When I started talking about it,

people said to me, no sexism doesn't exist anymore.

Woman are equal now. - Who the fuck said that?

- This problem, it's harder to imagine it now

with the conversation we're having,

which is great, but at the time, eight years ago,

people said, you know, women are equal now,

you're making a fuss about nothing.

You know, you're looking for problems.

And I thought, we can't fix this problem

if people don't know it exists.

We're all experiencing it, we've all got these stories,

but no one even knows they're happening to us,

so maybe one way to try and move forward

would be to bring these stories out into the light.

- I agree.

- And I set up this project

called "The Everyday Sexism Project."

It started out as a website, and I just said,

if anyone's got an experience they want to share,

someone of any gender, anywhere on that spectrum,

from low-level sexist, sexual harassment,

all the way up to discrimination or abuse,

and I thought, maybe if 40 or 50 people share their stories,

we'll be able to say look, this is still happening,

you can't dismiss all of us,

we weren't all getting the wrong end of the stick

or making it up.

And I thought that maybe then

we could take it seriously.

And actually what happened was that within months,

thousands of stories had poured in.

Within the first couple of years,

we had 100,000 stories.

- Jesus. - Oh god.

- Now there are hundreds and hundreds of thousands,

and suddenly we had this data set

that was the largest of its kind

that had ever been collected.

And I thought, how could we use this

to try and stop these things happening

to other women in the future?

So we took the stories we collected

about really specific things

and instead of saying, as we so often do,

well what did she do about that?

Or what can women do?

I took those stories, and I put them in front of the people

who could change things.

So we took the stories that were just from girls at school

and took them into schools,

and took them to the government, and said,

we need sex and relationships education,

this has got to be on the curriculum,

cause look what's happening.

- Yeah.

- Obviously really relevant to the show, like.

Kids didn't know that it was sexual assault.

I didn't know when it happened.

No one had ever given me that language

to know that what was happening to me

was against the law, cause I'd just been taught

it's the way things are.

And we had thousands of stories

that had just come from women

on buses and tubes and trains, public transport,

so we took them to the British Transport Police.

They knew that there was a problem,

because they knew that at that time,

only about 10% of incidents of sexual offenses on transport

were ever being reported.

But they didn't really know how to tackle it,

because people weren't talking about what was happening.

- Yeah. - And we had all the stories,

thousands of them, but no way to change things.

So we brought those two things together,

and we used those stories specifically

and those women's words

to retrain about 2,000 British Transport Police officers

as part of a thing they launched called Project Guardian.

And it meant that, suddenly, they realized

why people didn't feel like they could talk about it.

They realized that if you tell your story,

and someone dismisses it or doesn't believe it

when you first come forward,

you'll never ever feel like you can come forward again.

And it really overhauled the way in which

the British Transport Police dealt with sexual offenses

on public transport. - It's incredible.

- And raised the reporting rates

and the detection of offenders by about 25 or 30%.

So it was just a way to try

and not just have it be about telling stories,

but actually telling stories in itself is so powerful.

We hear from so many people who say,

until I found this website, I thought I was alone.

I never told anyone what happened to me,

because I thought it was my fault.

Sometimes women in their 80s and 90s

who've carried the pain of what happened to them for years,

and suddenly they see these other women's stories,

and it's like this lifting, this moment of thinking,

it's not just me, it wasn't my fault,

it's not okay, it's not the way that things should be.

- That the girls and boys need to understand

these boundaries,

and we need to talk about sex in a way

that it's actually happening.

And educate ourselves so that we don't hurt each other.

- Yes, and at the moment we don't.

There's nothing on the curriculum at the moment

that we have to talk about sexual consent,

anything apart from biology.

- So then we're teaching boys that this is okay--

- That it's normal.

- You see what I'm saying?

So we're teaching them that

this is a completely normal thing,

and then they go on feeling entitled,

then when they do do something like that

and they do something wrong,

put someone in a situation,

they don't even know they've done it,

and they're so blase.

It can literally, as you say, ruin someone's life.

And it can be stopped-- - I think that's why

language is so important, like I think that thing about,

what you said when you were like,

oh I've been sexually assaulted.

I found it, even when I was writing the script,

like, there was a moment where,

I can't even actually remember

if it ended up in the episode,

it might have been cut out,

but there was a moment where Aimee says, like,

I've been sexually assaulted.

And even as I wrote it, there was a little thing in my head

where I was like, oh, like, has she?

You know, cause it feels so heavy.

- [Laura] Yeah.

- And then you're like, yes. - Yeah.

- That is exactly what it is.

And like, that's the language that needs to be used.

Not just, oh, he was a bit of a creepy guy,

or that was a bit of a-- - Absolutely,

or groping. - Yes.

- That's the euphemism we used, right?

We say groping, cause we don't like to say sexual assault.

- Yeah.

- Because people tell us it's not that big a deal.

- Yes.

- I think for a lot of girls, if they went to their friends

and said, I've been sexually assaulted,

and then described that scenario,

like friends, even, would say,

why were you being so melodramatic?

That's not a sexual assault.

Because we don't know,

we grow up thinking oh, this is just normal.

And it's normal cause it starts from such a young age.

We know that nearly, just under one in three

16 to 18 year old girls experience

unwanted sexual touching at school.

In other words, about a third of teenage girls

are sexually assaulted at school.

And if it starts then, then where do you go from there?

If it's happened at school where you should be safe--

- It's not good.

- It's just so much more common than we'd like to think

from such a young age,

and if we don't talk about it cause we're uncomfortable,

then we don't give those girls the language

to name what's happening to them,

we don't give them the power to know that they can object,

and like you said, we don't teach boys to know

what their rights and responsibilities are

in navigating relationships either.

So everyone's confused.

- Yeah. - Yeah.

- And it just doesn't help anyone.

- I think when you realize

that it's like every woman that you know,

it's almost like a, sort of,

like you're breaking out of

some kind of psychosis or something,

where you're like, oh!

- You're not alone.

- Yeah, it's not just me. - We're all just

living with this.

- We haven't talked about it. - And we're not really talking

about it, or saying anything.

- And it's so important, I think, that this storyline

really looks at the long-term impact that it has.

Because so often, these incidents are dismissed,

it's not a big deal,

like surely that's not that big a deal?

It was just a one off, whatever people say,

and the truth is, just like Aimee discovers,

it affects your whole life.

It affects how you feel, how you feel about yourself,

how you feel in crowds, amongst other people,

where you can go. - Relationships.

- How you can get there, your relationships.

(strident rhythmic music)

- What are you doing here?

- Getting the bus.

We're all getting the bus.

- [Bus Driver] Are you getting on, or what?

- Give her a minute.

It's just a stupid bus.

- It's just a stupid bus.

- And we've just dismissed these stories,

and ignored them for so long,

and finally I think, women and girls are speaking out,

and it's the power of that collective voice.

One of us speaking out on our own,

we get shot down, we get ignored, we get dismissed,

but when a whole group of us stand together,

as Aimee's friends stand alongside her,

and say, this isn't okay,

we're not taking this shit anymore,

this has happened.

It forces people to stop and listen to them,

and hopefully it forces us to change the conversation,

and to really confront the idea

that this shouldn't just be normal.

- Yeah. - It should be,

we've all been there, let's talk about it,

this needs to fucking change.

Because we shouldn't have all been there.

(indie music)

Halfway up the street

I used to be free

I used to be 17

I used to be 17

La la la la la la la

La la la

La la la la la la la

The Description of Sex Education - A Conversation About Sexual Assault & Aimee's Bus Scene