Charlotte | Sexual assault on a firearms course

I had worked very hard to build my reputation and successfully apply for a very male dominated firearms department. I was the only female on the 9 week residential firearms course. In general I was treated well on the course by the instructors apart from one who took a dislike to me and gave me harder tasks and training scenarios which felt like I was being set up to fail. I passed the course but not easily despite being one of the best shots on the range. I had to work harder and prove my abilities much more when kit and uniform didn’t fit and made things much more difficult for a female.

After you pass the course instructors and recruits went out into town for dinner and drinks. We had a dinner with ample amounts of alcohol and we went onto a bar for more drinks. I was stood in a circle of at least 8 other officers who had passed the course with at least 3 members of the instructor staff stood within sight and hearing. One of the recruits walked across the circle, straight towards me and with both hands grabbed both my breasts over my clothing. He made a comment to everyone in the group referring to the size of them, guessing the size and saying he was pretty close. It sounded as if they had all been guessing the size of my breasts and he did this action in an attempt to see who was right. It was humiliating and degrading. I was in shock. There was a mixture of laughter and silence. I just walked off to the toilets and cried. It is unlike me. I’m a strong and outspoken woman. I didn’t know how to protect myself or stand up for the right thing. Everyone had seen and no one did anything. I didn’t want him to know he had upset me but I couldn’t hide it very well. A couple of the other officers came to speak with me to see if I was ok as well as one of the instructors. It ruined and tainted my achievement. It should have been a celebratory occasion.

The following day I had one officer come and see me and try and talk me out of making any complaint. I told him it was nothing to do with him and that I hadn’t decided what I was going to do. The officer who assaulted me then came to see me and instead of apologising told me how I could ruin his career. I had worked soooo hard to get to this point. I didn’t want to be the girl who complained about colleagues. The officer was very popular with the other male officers. It felt like I would suffer if I made a complaint and honestly thought it wouldn’t be worth it. I still had to endure a week of first aid training with the same group of officers after these events.

Constabulary: N/A or Prefer not to say

Timespan: Over a decade ago

Did you report it to the police?: No

Your ethnicity: White British

Have you experienced suicidality due to this?: No

Are you disabled as defined under the Equality Act 2010?: No

illustration by Danny Noble

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