‘Lord of the Flies’: 10,000 abuse claims

The UK is embroiled in a storm over rape culture in schools, and one website is at the centre of it all after gathering more than 10,000 testimonies of sexual abuse.

The founder of Everyone's Invited, Soma Sara, set up the site to gather survivors' testimonies after realising she and her friends all had similar stories of sexual harassment, violence and misogyny.

Like Sydneysider Chanel Contos, Ms Sara called on people to anonymously share their stories - of groping, revenge porn, assault, rape and sexism.

"I was raped when I was 14," writes one survivor.

"He took my virginity unknowingly, without my consent. To this day I blamed it on myself."

Another described playing drinking games with a friend at a party.

"I didn't know that he was doing shots of water instead of vodka like me. He then proceeded to pin me up against a wall, put his hand in my underwear and touch me.

"He would have got a lot further if one of my friends hadn't come around the corner. Within an hour, I was labelled a whore and a liar."

Soma Sara, 22, founded the Everyone's Invited website, where more than 10,000 stories of sexual abuse have been shared.
Soma Sara, 22, founded the Everyone's Invited website, where more than 10,000 stories of sexual abuse have been shared.

RELATED: Chanel Contos website exposes abuse testimonies

Others discussed boys who shared nude images without their consent.

"When I was 13 a boy I really liked continued to ask me for nudes despite knowing how uncomfortable I felt with it," one girl wrote.

"I really liked him and wanted to make him feel the same way and so after months of persuasion I sent one, which he then screenshotted and sent to his friends.

"Many of his mates then messaged me threatening to share my nudes if I didn't send them more."

As the testimonies have flooded in, many involving some of the UK's most prestigious private schools, senior MPs have joined the call for change.

Robert Halfon, Conservative MP and chair of the Commons Education Committee, said the testimonies "revealed a 'Lord of the Flies' culture of abuse and sexual harassment of pupils in distinguished schools".

He called for a national inquiry and thorough review of safeguarding and inspection, and said schools must provide counselling, with head teachers and governors held responsible.

MP Jess Phillips, a long-time campaigner against sexual violence, said this had been "problem for a very long time" and that action on schools was long overdue.

 

Everyone's Invited has created a space for survivors of sexual assault, harassment and rape to anonymously tell their stories.
Everyone's Invited has created a space for survivors of sexual assault, harassment and rape to anonymously tell their stories.

RELATED: Campaigner says student apologies 'problematic'

"The Government have been failing young people in schools, they are failing rape victims in our country and they have got to do something about this now," she told Good Morning Britain on Tuesday.

"We've been hearing for weeks, and no doubt we will hear again for months, and in fact it's been going on for years, that people coming forward about their sexual violence are ignored, the criminal justice system largely fails them."

Samuel Schulenburg, a former student at $40,000-a-year south London boys' school Dulwich College, wrote an open letter last week accusing the school of being a "breeding ground for sexual predators".

The school's head teacher Joe Spence has "unreservedly" condemned the "distressing" allegations and said staff are "meeting with victims to listen to their experiences and their concerns, and we will act on them".

Students at Highgate School in north London staged a walkout over the "vile and inhumane" allegations of sexual assault and rape by some boys at the school.

The school said is was launching an "immediate external review of the sexual abuse and harassment allegations" and is "working on an anti-sexism plan".

 

Many of the testimonies are from young people and took place at some of the UK’s most prestigious schools.
Many of the testimonies are from young people and took place at some of the UK’s most prestigious schools.

 

The website began largely with testimony from students at private schools in London like the one Ms Soma attended, but the 22-year-old said the "extraordinary impact" of the website showed such incidents were "not rare" or confined to one demographic.

She wrote in The Times that "for years women have felt that they just have to accept it or laugh it off" and that "we must all take responsibility for a culture that is so widespread and actively work together to dismantle and eradicate it".

"Much of the behaviour described within these testimonies is the product of a culture that normalises and trivialises these actions," she wrote on the Everyone's Invited Instagram page.

She said rape culture - "when thoughts, behaviours, and attitudes in a society or environment have the effect of normalising and trivialising sexual violence" - was endemic "in all parts of society including all universities and all schools."

UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the allegations were "shocking and abhorrent".

"Any victim of these sickening acts that we've seen reported should raise their concerns with someone they trust, whether that's a family member or friend, a teacher, social worker, or the police," he said. "We will take appropriate action.

"No school - whether an independent school or state school - should ever be an environment where young people feel unsafe, let alone somewhere that sexual abuse can take place."

 

The website has created a groundswell of anger and a call for change among senior MPs.
The website has created a groundswell of anger and a call for change among senior MPs.

 

But Ms Phillips said that ministers were told four years ago that "there was not just rape culture, there was rape occurring - every school day in a year there would be a rape that was going on in school."

She said that "a third of 16- to 18-year-olds stated that they had experienced unwanted touching, so sexual assault at school, and two-thirds of 13- to 21-year-olds said that they'd suffered harassment."

Conservative MP Maria Miller said an urgent inquiry was needed into allegations of school sexual abuse as part of a "deep dive" investigation to establish why complaints were not being taken seriously. Ms Miller, who oversaw a groundbreaking report on the issue in 2016, said "a disturbing culture has been allowed to take root in schools" and that the national Ofsted inspection body needed to find out "why the situation has not improved for children" in five years.

Police said the school rape culture revelations could lead to the biggest increase in reports of sexual abuse since the scandal over paedophile entertainer Jimmy Savile.

Norfolk Chief Constable Simon Bailey - the National Police Chiefs' Council lead on child protection - blamed the "volume of pornographic material that's being consumed".

"There's an erosion of an understanding of what normal sexual relationships look like," he told BBC News, saying a police helpline would be set up and promising to "investigate those allegations which are of a criminal nature".

Testimonies of sexual abuse from the Everyone's Invited website

"When I was in Year 7 aged 12, I was pressured to send nude pictures to a boy in my year. I had no idea this was even a thing, I felt disgusted doing it but felt like I had to. I later found out he was telling everyone I did it - I felt sick. This happened to me on many occasions throughout secondary school."

"In year 10, I was drunk with my friends and received a message from a boy in my year asking me to send nudes. I didn't want to, but felt like I had to. He screen-shot and stored it on his phone. He was showing it around in a class until my friend saw what was happening and made him delete it. I always felt this couldn't classify as sexual harassment because it was through social media. This is happening in an unprecedented form."

"When I was 13 I was on a high-school camping trip. We had just finished a raft-building exercise on the lake but I had lost my shoes and had to walk back barefoot. A male teacher said he would carry me so it didn't hurt (I expected him to give me a piggy back). He threw me over his shoulder and as he walked would spank my bum a few times. I'd shout and he laughed and carried on. I was embarrassed but didn't think anything of it back then."

""My school was such a sexist environment to grow up in where we were told our skirts couldn't be too short and we couldn't show our shoulders in case it distracted the boys or male staff. If you were walking up stairs and there was a group of boys behind you it was pretty normal to be groped and we were just told to take it as a compliment. If we tried reporting it to teachers they told us our skirts should be longer and then it wouldn't happen.

This left me with a really unhealthy set of norms and led me to be to disregard sexual harassment from boys at uni and even not to realise I had been raped by friends until years later."

"I was having sex with a 'friend' - I had given consent but pretty much as soon as it started it really hurt and I realised that I didn't want to do it anymore. I told him and asked him to stop but he just kept going, pinned my arms down and wouldn't stop."

"When I was 14 some older boys invited me to a little party, they played beer pong with me and cheered me on into drinking a lot, I was very drunk and lay down on a sofa and passed out, when I came round someone's penis was in my mouth."

"At 14, I was at a small party (the first I ever went to where alcohol was available). All my friends were there and we got quite drunk, I passed out in a tent and woke up however long after with a boy, who was meant to be my friend, between my legs touching me."

"I was 15, in a crowded corridor when someone grabbed my crotch with force and then carried on walking away. I was so embarrassed and felt violated. I didn't say anything as I didn't think anyone would take it seriously."

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as 'Lord of the Flies': 10,000 abuse claims



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