Sexual Assault: Crowded Concerts Are No Excuse

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{WARNING: The following contains material that may be triggering to survivors of sexual assault.}

Imagine standing amidst a packed dance floor, excited to see that band/musician/artist you have been waiting forever to see. You scoot your way through the crowd because close just isn’t close enough as your anticipation builds. The lights dim and suddenly the crowd rushes in pressing you up against everyone around you. No problem. You’re a veteran of the pit. It’s all part of the experience.

The artist(s) take the stage and the crowd moves and settles as the music begins. People are still pushing forward and you have no room to move. Suddenly you feel a hand on your hip. No big deal, the person behind you probably has less room than you and that’s the only way he can have his arm down.

You feel his hand grip your hip a little. Okay, maybe he started to lose his balance in the shoving and it was just an instinctive reaction. Then you feel his free hand grip your other hip.

You tell yourself it’s not what it seems. There’s a reasonable explanation. The crowd is jam-packed. Maybe he just needs some more room.

You move forward, even though it means pushing the people in front of you. You still feel his hands on your hips gripping even tighter as they begin to wrap around you.

For too many girls, this is not a hypothetical. This is a reality. And it is not talked about enough in the concert culture. I was entirely oblivious to this occurring around me until it happened to me. Since then I have witnessed it and heard about it happening to others.

Less than two weeks ago, I witnessed it happening to another girl. The crowd began to get rowdy as a mosh pit opened up. The girl was standing at the stage barricade when some guy decided to take advantage of the situation and press up against her. Unable to help her, being 20 feet away and trapped in the same tightly packed crowd that she was, I watched her paralyzed as he put his hands on her and pressed his face into the back of her neck.

Everyone around them paid no attention, completely oblivious to her fear and confusion as she was pinned helplessly against the barricade. If more attention were brought to this sort of occurrence and more people were aware of these events happening, these situations would be more easily identifiable and preventable.

The worst part – most people would assume concerts are a safe space. Many people use concerts as an escape from reality and problems of every day life. There is a sense of community that comes with sharing a common interest in the music. On some level, you all vibrate on the same wavelength. You are around “your people.”

Being in a setting where you’re used to seeing people take care of each other, to have someone take advantage of that sense of community feels an even deeper violation. Instead of being lost in the music and atmosphere, you’re robbed of your moment to become part of someone else’s “good time.”

Yesterday, The Los Angeles Times ran an article highlighting activism surrounding sexual assault at music festivals and steps that are being taken to address the issue, but it needs to be addressed across all venues hosting similar events. The first step to preventing these assaults is awareness. It needs to be talked about. If any of my friends (and you are all my friends) wish to speak to someone about their experiences, I would love to be that supportive ear.

Protect each other. Respect each other. Love each other.

[All photos are my own, unless otherwise stated.]

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