Justice is rarely served when it comes to sexual assault, and it’s about time to start a conversation as to why Ilayda McIntosh writes.
Michaela Coel’s incomparable sexual consent drama, I May Destroy You is a devastating exploration of the reality of sexual assault. The joint HBO-BBC commissioned special unravels the lead character Arabella’s trauma following her rape (Michaela Coel), and its subsequent consequences.
The series is captivating for many reasons: the attention to detail, the multifaceted character development, the simultaneous intimacy and irrationality. Some moments are intangibly disorientating, while others are so abundantly raw, it hurts. Coel trusts in the viewer to draw the conclusions that aren’t necessarily explicit.
But what is especially clever about Arabella’s story is that it doesn’t begin with her assault in the way you would expect, typical of a televised re-telling. The incident punctures her ongoing story of success and joy in its tracks.
Equally, her rape isn’t the only occurrence of sexual assault in the show, showing how pervasive sexual assault is through multiple narratives, such as the portrayal of non-consensual condom removal, as well as the assault of Kwame (Paapa Essiedu).
Sexual trauma completely shatters you. It breaks you and your perception of reality into a million pieces, and in your attempt to reassemble each shard, you inevitably hurt yourself further. Trauma impacts career, friends, family, relationships, sense of security and perceived self-autonomy; essentially, almost every facet of your life.
For both myself and many other survivors, it the exposure to the reality of reporting sexual violence in the UK that resonates deeply. In February 2017, I was raped. I’ve been through months of PTSD, NHS counselling (individual and group), antidepressants and more following both my assault and the eventual police investigation.
But unfortunately, it wasn’t until 8 months afterwards, that I gathered the strength to report my ordeal to the police. I had to consent to share counselling notes, medical records, mobile phone data – all before being given the opportunity for legal guidance. Had I known the impact CCTV, or forensic evidence, could have had upon my case, perhaps I would have reported earlier? But I didn’t know.
The one thing that kept me going, was the hope that my suffering would not be in vain, the hope that my rapist would be convicted. On October 2, 2018, almost a year after the initial report, I was handed a letter explaining there was not enough evidence to refer my case to the Crown Prosecution Service.
To say I was devastated would be an understatement. The NHS is unable to provide survivors of sexual assault with support once a case has been closed, so after receiving that letter, I had one final session with my counsellor and I was left to deal with my trauma alone, at university.
…read the full story on HuffPostUK
This story was first published on HuffPostUK, written by Ilayda McIntosh, a freelance journalist, copywriter, photographer and social media producer