Yesterday I spent an hour in a police station reporting something that happened to me nine years ago, and I don't think I could have done it without you.
I won't go into detail but I was 14 and walking home from the bus stop after school, and I will say now that what happened was not the worst it could have been, but that does not at all excuse it nor make it right.
After getting over the immediate shock and fear, I told a couple of friends at school the next day, who dismissed it quickly, probably thinking it wasn't that bad or even that I was making it up. After that, despite concealed bubbling worry, I did not tell a soul for 9 years, but now here I am telling you.
I spent time on and off thinking that maybe it wasn't that bad, that people would think I was wasting their time telling them and, more worryingly, that actually my school skirt was quite short. Maturing through teenage years into my twenties, I have more understanding of the world, and of right and wrong in grey areas. Just because something could have been worse, does not make it right, acceptable or even legal.
There's been a thriving sense of female empowerment growing on social media sites, not least because of a certain video that caused a furore. A few people spoke up about it, and in turn more and more showed their solidarity against harassment and assault. Many of the women I follow and many of those that follow me gave their opinions and spoke both with and for eachother in the messages they sent. This in turn has given women who had suffered at the hands of someone else the strength to speak out about their experiences, file formal reports with the police and even tell their own story online.
One of the reasons I put off telling anyone I knew was because I was worried that they might think differently of me, like I had been damaged or somehow mentally compromised because of the incident. But through blogging I've 'met' women who have been through much worse and instead are incredibly strong and have used their experiences to make them better people.
With recent events on my mind, along with media coverage of reports of historical assault charges, my own experience was weighing on my mind and after so many years I wanted to get it off my chest and try to draw a line under it.
With your tweets full of strong moral feminisim and people feeling empowered enough to speak out against a celebrity or Youtuber, I knew that I had the bravery to finally speak to the police. Not only did I book an appointment to see the police, but for the first time I told the story to two of the people closest to me who were very supportive.
I'm not writing this post in the hope that you'll feel sorry for me, I don't feel like a victim anymore. I'm writing in the hope that I'll pass on the courage that you and other women have given to me.
I may have left it too late for much hope in any conviction, but having a dark memory at the back of your mind (however recent, or long ago, or bad, or 'not that bad') is difficult to bear.
Even if you think nothing can be done, talking about whatever is troubling you in your own words and time to someone who really does want to help is the best remedy you'll find. And just because you may have found your courage secondhand from someone else, it does not make it any less yours.
Maybe its weird that strangers on the internet and in the media helped me to overcome my fears but, with weight off my shoulders, I think its a wonderful thing.
Just hold in your mind that anything empowering you post, retweet or say online is being heard, and when lots of voices sing together, it creates a perfect harmony.