Student subjected to terrifying sexual assault writes open letter to shame her attacker

An Oxford student subjected to a terrifying sexual assault has written an open letter to shame her attacker.

Ione Wells was attacked by a man who followed her back to the family’s home in Primrose Hill, north London on April 11.

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In her letter, first published in her university’s newspaper, Ione describes the moment she was dragged along by her hair, had her head smashed against the pavement and her bra torn:

When you clapped your hand around my face until I could not breathe, when you pushed me to my knees until my face bled, when I wrestled with your hand just enough so that I could scream.

When you dragged me by my hair, and when you smashed my head against the pavement and told me to stop screaming for help, when my neighbour saw you from her window and shouted at you and you looked her in the eye and carried on kicking me in the back and neck.

When you tore my bra in half from the sheer force you grabbed my breast, when you didn’t reach once for my belongings because you wanted my body, when you failed to have my body because all my neighbours and family came out, and you saw them face-to-face.

– IONE WELLS

Iona’s letter appeared in Cherwell, a student newspaper at Oxford University, and forms part of its #notguilty campaign which aims to end the culture of blaming victims for sex attack victims.

Ione says she has been overwhelmed with message of support.

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Here is Iona’s letter in full:

I cannot address this letter to you, because I do not know your name. I only know that you have just been charged with serious sexual assault and prolonged attack of a violent nature. And I have one question.

When you were caught on CCTV following me through my own neighbourhood from the Tube, when you waited until I was on my own street to approach me, when you clapped your hand around my face until I could not breathe, when you pushed me to my knees until my face bled, when I wrestled with your hand just enough so that I could scream.

When you dragged me by my hair, and when you smashed my head against the pavement and told me to stop screaming for help, when my neighbour saw you from her window and shouted at you and you looked her in the eye and carried on kicking me in the back and neck.

When you tore my bra in half from the sheer force you grabbed my breast, when you didn’t reach once for my belongings because you wanted my body, when you failed to have my body because all my neighbours and family came out, and you saw them face-to-face.

When CCTV caught you running from your attempted assault on me and then following another woman twenty minutes later from the same tube station before you were arrested on suspicion.

When I was in the police station until 5am while you were four floors below me in custody, when I had to hand over my clothes and photographs of the marks and cuts on my naked body to forensic teams – did you ever think of the people in your life?

I don’t know who the people in your life are. I don’t know anything about you. But I do know this: you did not just attack me that night.

I am a daughter, I am a friend, I am a girlfriend, I am a pupil, I am a cousin, I am a niece, I am a neighbour, I am the employee who served everyone down the road coffee in the café under the railway.

All the people who form those relations to me make up my community, and you assaulted every single one of them. You violated the truth that I will never cease to fight for, and which all of those people represent – that there are infinitely more good people in the world than bad.

This letter is not really for you at all, but for all the victims of attempted or perpetrated serious sexual assault and every member of their communities.

I’m sure you remember the 7/7 bombings. I’m also sure you’ll remember how the terrorists did not win, because the whole community of London got back on the Tube the next day. You’ve carried out your attack, but now I’m getting back on my tube.

My community will not feel we are unsafe walking back home after dark. We will get on the last tube home, and we will walk up our streets alone, because we will not engrain or submit to the idea that we are putting ourselves in danger in doing so.

We will continue to come together, like an army, when any member of our community is threatened, and this is a fight you will not win.

– IONE WELLS
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