20-year-old Oxford student Ione Wells has launched a new campaign that aims to establish ‘a strong force of community dedicated to tackling misdirected victim characterization.’ Because the victim is never to blame.
Ione was the victim of a brutal attack that happened as she walked from the tube station to her family home in Camden late at night. Her response? She has waived her right to anonymity and launched the #notguilty campaign with a powerful open letter to her attacker.
The letter, published in the University of Oxford’s student newspaper, describes the violent assault that happened as Ione walked from the tube station to her family home in Camden late at night. It is a courageous, personal piece of writing that empahsises the many implications of violent acts and the fact that ‘Community is a force we all underestimate.’
‘This letter is not really for you at all’ she wrote, ‘but for all the victims of attempted or perpetrated serious sexual assault and every member of their communities.’
‘When you dragged me by my hair, and when you smashed my head against the pavement and told me to stop screaming for help… – 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 cafe under the railway. All the people who form those relations to me make up my community, and you assaulted every single one of them.'
The response to Ione’s letter has been an overwhelming show of support and solidarity. The campaign website notguiltycampaign.co.uk is calling for contributions – thoughts, experiences, and positive thinking – around the issue of victim-blaming.
In relation to Ione's case a 17-year-old man has been charged with sexual assault and will appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on May 6.