OPINION: When someone says rape…

Words by Ed King / Lead image provided by Getty Images

I want you to remember your best sexual experience. I want you to relive it, in every detail, the most pleasurable and safe experience you’ve ever had with a lover.

I want you to remember where you were, what you wore, what you had to eat and to drink. I want you to remember what they wore, until they wore nothing. I want you to remember what they ate and they drank.

I want you to remember every step of the sex itself – every physical touch and every emotion that went with it. I want you to remember what they did first, what they did last. I want you to establish a timeline. I want you to remember the strength of their body, if their skin was hot, cold, rough, or smooth. I want you to remember if, at any point, you smiled. Or laughed, even if you didn’t mean to. I want you to remember them entangled with you. I want you to paint a vivid picture of the flesh and the thoughts and the sweat and the noise.

Now I want you to go into the street and tell the first person you meet, a stranger. Tell them everything.

Now I want you to do the same for your worst sexual experience.


This is an exercise in empathy I saw the Birmingham based Rape & Sexual Violence (RSVP) organisation deliver, to a group of venue operators and licensees at a South Side Pub Watch meeting. It was a ‘tough crowd’, fidgeting through a hot afternoon and a meeting they were obligated to attend. But this stopped the room. This made us think. Can you imagine actually doing that…?

The idea is to put yourself in the position of a victim of sexual assault, to help you to respond to any cases of sexual violence that might happen around you. To better understand what a victim of sexual assault would have to go through just to report what had happened to them – just to start a criminal investigation, to hold a rapist to account, to get justice. To stop it happening again.

It gets worse for the victim too, this is only the first step – the next is a line of cross examination to see if they would be a viable voice in court, with all the clichés and rebuttals that circle cases of sexual violence like patriarchal vultures. Did you lead them on? Did you know them? Did you act like you wanted sex? Were you drinking? Were you high? Was your clothing too sexy? Did you laugh at their jokes? Did you actually say the word ‘no’…?

But the RSVP exercise has stuck with me as a powerful way to put yourself in this terrible situation, even by proxy, and to allow even only a thin line of understanding for the process a victim of sexual violence will have to go through when they report what happened to them. Just the process of reporting it. Not the violence. Just the admin around it.

This pub watch meeting was over a year ago, but it came back into my head the other day when a social media post about sexual violence in Birmingham’s music scene got challenged – in a rather immediate and short sighted response, ‘evidence’ was asked for. Now this is not an attack on anyone for being involved in this conversation, debate and open discussion is healthy. And there is a side of me that says fair enough, evidence is important. Crucial in a courtroom. As a journalist reporting on anything, not just cases of sexual violence, I would be screaming “facts, figures, and cross referencing,” into my laptop.

Also, to be falsely accused of sexual violence must be a terrible experience – it does happen, you can’t and shouldn’t say it doesn’t. People of all genders and identification, of all ages, of all strata in society, are capable of lies.

But the bigger problem – the much more serious, pressing, and pertinent issue – are all the cases of rape, sexual assault, violence, coercion, abuse, and manipulation that never get reported. With all the sexual aggressors that continue to normalise their heinous actions because the victim is too scared, too wounded, too vulnerable or unsupported to go through the reporting process. Because people of all genders and identification, of all ages, of all strata in society, are capable of causing pain.

So, what do we do? Being involved in the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign has been, and remains to be, a significant learning curve for me – there was a point when I may have been the one calling for something to back up someone’s claim. Although I would like to think I would have done this at a later stage, off social media, and only if it was relevant for me to do so (i.e. not challenging someone who I didn’t know about something I was not privy to). And we are all fallible.

Plus, working with RSVP and the sexual violence and modern slavery team at West Midlands Police has helped me shape my understanding – something not everyone gets the chance to experience. But the first step to take around cases of sexual violence is relatively simple.

You listen.

Start there. Listening helps. Listening empowers people to recall and recant the most hideous of experiences, and to find strength to do it clearly – explaining the facts, figures and ‘evidence’ that someone at the appropriate stage will be looking for.

But the point of right and wrong, of truth and lies, is a few steps down the line. And we’re only at the first – you rarely know the veracity of what anybody is telling you, about anything, from an opening statement. You certainly don’t know it from a post on social media. Walking into this conversation immediately asking for proof will not help someone to deliver information, to explain the situation – it will only help silence them and countless other victims who need support and who need to be heard.

So, listen. Again, start there. Don’t shut someone down because you don’t want to hear what they have to say, or because you hold crossed fingers that it will turn out to be untrue. We’re not there yet, there’s a challenging and difficult process to go through until we reach a point of cross examination – one that is designed, in essence, to begin addressing what is true and to hold people to account.

And if it helps, use the RSVP exercise – put yourself in the position of someone who has experienced sexual violence and has found the strength to talk about. To speak out. To challenge it. To seek help and to seek help for others.

There is an old and troubling adage that if you’re being raped then you should shout “fire”, because people would be more likely to come to your aid.

What would you want the first response to be?

Ed King is the campaign lead for NOT NORMAL NOT OK, challenging sexual violence in the music industry and beyond – from dance floor to dressing room, everyone deserves a safe place to play. For more on NOT NORMAL NOT OK, visit www.notnormalnotok.com

If you have been affected by any issues surrounding sexual violence and want to seek advice or support, visit www.notnormalnotok.com/category/support-advice or email info@notnormalnotok.com

OPINION: A team effort (…we are greater than the sum of our parts)

Words by Ed King / Pic by Aatish Ramchurm

Whilst promoting the next NOT NORMAL NOT OK live gig fundraiser, being held at Centrala on 25th October, I was messaged by someone who’d just got their tickets saying: ‘thank you for making a positive difference’. Simple enough, but something in me was uncomfortable – from well planned birthday presents to professional praise I’ve been waiting too long to hear, I can feel awkward from adulation. This was different though.

NOT NORMAL NOT OK was launched just over a year ago in response to a deluge of stories we heard about sexual violence in the local live music scene. And it started where most things do, for me, as a piece of writing. Namely an op-ed featured on Birmingham Review, which originally ended on a general call to arms to tackle sexual violence – ‘we should join together and form a campaign…’ that sort of thing.

Then we thought, why not just put a campaign together and use that drum banging energy to get people to join in – the call to arms became a social media drive, with our sticker campaign as the initial outreach activity. And it went well; venues reached out in support, promoters and artists invited us to their gigs to hand out stickers, and a reasonable chunk of both the music and mainstream media got solidly behind the campaign.

We had achieved our aim of bringing the issue out of the shadows – our logo was appearing on t-shirts, guitars, drum kits, and the occasional toilet room door at venues across the city. Our social media spiked with sign ups, the mailing list gained traction, whilst countless people asked how they could get more involved. Plus, after a relatively short time, we had already started helping victims of sexual violence get the help they needed – linking them to our campaign partners at RSVP and West Midlands Police. We had even had a few curious phone calls, such as people asking “…should I be worried?” A question that answers itself if you stop and think about it.

(On that note, we would rather see someone get help to address and change their negative behaviour than burn them at the stake. If you need help, whatever your problems with sexual violence, be honest and reach out.)

But from my days evaluating consumer based PR campaigns, NOT NORMAL NOT OK launched with aplomb. We had reached our audience; the singular idea had grown into a force of its own, propelled and shaped by the ongoing support of people across the city. And right there… that’s why ‘thank you’ makes me uncomfortable.

There are a team of amazing volunteers who have supported NOT NORMAL NOT OK from day one – pushing the message at gigs and handing out stickers wherever they go. There are the people who take the time to read and share our social media activity – which encourages new people to learn about the campaign and seek help if they need it. There are the venue managers and promoters that have been so embracing – allowing us into their premises and supporting our campaign teams. There’s everyone who’s bought a badge, worn a sticker, or turned up to our events. And there are our campaign partners at RSVP and West Midlands Police – who have made this into something more than just a paper tiger, helping us get the right support to those who have suffered abuse.

I waited for a few minutes before responding to the message I mentioned at the start of this article, offering: ‘Team effort – thanks to you too’, as my reply. I hope it didn’t sound ungrateful. It certainly wasn’t meant to. But the absolute truth is that the successes of the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign comes when we make that team effort, when we are greater than the sum of our parts.

I love the picture at the top of this post. It was a great gig, with everyone on stage and off sharing in a sense of real group achievement.

And we’re asking you now, as we asked when we launched this campaign, please continue to help – come to the Centrala fundraiser on 25th October, be part of the next group photo we’re planning to take. Buy a pen, buy a fridge magnet. Help us hand out more stickers at more gigs and help us reach more people via social media. Get involved.

NOT NORMAL NOT OK has made some great progress in the past year and we’re about to embark on a new outreach activity that will help us make even more – click here for more info. But this only works, really works, if we don’t do it alone. And whatever ‘thank you’s are left hanging in the air can be more deservedly shared by all of us.

NOT NORMAL NOT OK is hosting a live gig fundraiser on Friday 25th October at Centrala – with Flight Brigade, Hannah Brown and Lycio all performing live. All money raised will be used to support the venue ‘tool kit’ and staff training programme, for more info visit www.notnormalnotok.com/venue-tool-kit-staff-training-programme

Tickets are priced at £5 Early bird / £7 standard advance, then more on the door – for direct event info and links to online ticket sales, click here to visit the Facebook event page.


NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

SINGLE: ‘Hate Myself’ – Hannah Brown 20.09.19

Words by Ed King

On Friday 20th September, Hannah Brown releases her latest single – the somewhat troublingly titled, ‘Hate Myself’. Released via Brown’s own social media you can grab yourself a stop, look and listen courtesy of Soundcloud – click here or link below/ablum artwork to you left.

Launching off with a pop punk riff that makes me think of skateboards and summer, Brown’s latest single sounds more like a trailer for an American coming of age melodrama than a piece of emotional seppuku.

It’s fun, it’s vibrant; it has that slight staccato chord progression that makes me look back at my teenage years and sigh into my shoulder. But don’t be fooled, this single is entrails on the floor with a wry ‘yes, it’s your fault’ look as the last breath becomes a rattle… a fuck you, plainly put. And one that should make all those erstwhile school ‘friends’ wait nervously for the name drop.

But this isn’t a song about revenge, it’s about strength. ‘Hate Myself’, it’s quite clear; Brown is shining the light bright in her own face and casting shadows of the past that she wants kept rightfully behind her, where shadows belong. Lasting three and a half minutes, and bouncing through trauma and trouble, the song holds no punches. Especially when to the gut. It even proudly declares in its press release: ‘Hannah begins to let go of the power others previously had over the way she viewed herself, breaking the cycle that had bound her for years.’ So yeah, just in case it wasn’t clear before… fuck you.

‘Hate Myself’ continues Brown’s tradition of visceral lyrics and public therapy. But with no doom, gloom, or long sleeves in summertime to save an awkward downwards glance – this is empowerment. ‘Hate Myself’ doesn’t wallow in self-pity, it takes the bile, gives it a name, then throws it in the right direction. It’s a clarion call for the right of the righteous, as the chorus begins and ends: “I already hate myself, I don’t need anyone else… I don’t want to hate myself anymore.”

Brown is one of the more accomplished and hard working artists in the Midlands, having built her initial six string reputation into a ferocious full band sound; her material is valid and exciting. And fresh. Recent singles ‘So Should You’ and ‘Further Away’ have continued the melodic rock vibe from her awesome 2016 EP, Better for This – with melody and strong vocals leading throughout her work. And Brown’s live performances relay something so special it just can’t be recorded.

‘Hate Myself’ has been described as the single that has taken Brown ‘from folk singer songwriter to indie rocker’, and it’s certainly as radio friendly as such self-analysis is ever going to be. But hooking her work onto a genre shift doesn’t catch it for me.

What we’re witnessing, what we’re privy too, are the cracks in a chrysalis. And with this much honesty already seeping through we’re watching something of beauty start screaming to fly.

‘Hate Myself’ – Hannah Brown.

Hannah Brown releases ‘Hate Myself’ on Friday 20th September, available to stream for free via her Soundcloud page – click here. For more on Hannah Brown, including gig info and other releases, visit www.hannah-brown.co.uk 

Hannah Brown will be playing at the NOT NORMAL NOT OK live gig fundraiser on 25th October at Centrala, alongside Flight Brigade and Lycio. Click here for more direct gig info and links to online ticket sales, via the Facebook event page


NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

NOT NORMAL NOT OK: MeMe Detroit, The Butters Aliens, Sofa King – live gig fundraiser @ Hare & Hounds 07.06.19

On Friday 7th June, the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign hosts it’s first ‘live gig fundraiser’ at the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) – with MeMe Detroit, The Butters Aliens and Sofa King all performing.

Doors open at the Hare & Hounds from 7:30pm, with tickets priced at £5 (early bird) and £7 (second release/otd) – as presented by NOT NORMAL NOT OK. For direct gig info and links to online ticket sales, visit the Facebook Event Page by clicking here. The event is further supported by BBC Introducing West Midlands and Birmingham Review.

Tickets can be bought through See Tickets (click here) and through Skiddle (click here). Physical tickets are also available from the artists themselves, or by contacting the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign team directly (click here).

NOT NORMAL NOT OK was launched in June 2018, set up ‘to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.’

Following an op-ed piece published on Birmingham Review, citing the actions of two Birmingham based promoters – one who sexually assaulted a singer of a band they were promoting and the other who made some frighteningly misogynistic comments about women attending their venue – the NOT NORMAL NOT OK partnered with West Midlands Police and the Rape & Sexual Violence Project (R.S.V.P.) to begin outreach work at live music venues in the West Midlands.

For the past year, NOT NORMAL NOT OK has been distributing campaign stickers at live music events across the region – with both the gig going public and the artists performing donning the black and yellow NOT NORMAL NOT OK logos at the gigs they attend.

Venues across the Midlands have been welcoming the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign into their events, from the Town & Symphony Halls to independent venues such as the Hare & Hounds and The Dark Horse – showing solidarity for the message of zero tolerance when it comes to sexual violence.

Now the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign is launching its own programme of live music events, starting with a ‘live gig fundraiser’ at the Hare & Hounds on Friday 7th July – with MeMe Detroit, The Butters Aliens and Sofa King all performing on stage. The event is being supported by BBC Introducing West Midlands, one of the first media outlets to get behind the campaign, who secured MeMe Detroit as the headline act.

A second fundraising gig is being held at Centrala on Friday 25th October, with electro-rockers Flight Brigade coming to Birmingham for the penultimate date on their Chased by Wolves album tour – Flight Brigade‘s new single, ‘Tinderbox’, will be played on BBC Introducing Solent on Saturday 25th May between 8 and 9pm.

All money raised from the NOT NORMAL NOT OK live gig fundraisers will go directly back into the campaign – supporting continued outreach work with live music venues, alongside bespoke counselling/advocacy training for NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign staff with R.S.V.P.

“NOT NORMAL NOT OK was born out of a reaction to stories of sexual assault, intimidation and violence within our local music scene,” explains NOT NORMAL NOT OK Campaign Director, Ed King. “It began with one person’s story, a singer in a band who had been sexually assaulted by the promoter who was putting their gig on. But as we started to talk to people about sexual violence in the music scene, towards those both on stage and off stage, we were told about a frightening number of cases – from people being sexually assaulted in a crowd, to rape. 

It was a horrible realisation and one that I, both personally and professionally, had been naively unaware of. But many people want to see change and with the help of both the music community and our campaign partners – including West Midlands Police and the Rape & Sexual Violence Project – we are now shinning a light on the issue, talking about the ‘elephant in the room’ and exposing a culture of sexual violence that is disturbingly commonplace in the music scene.”

NOT NORMAL NOT OK hosts it’s live gig fundraiser with MeMe Detroit, The Butters Aliens and Sofa King at the Hare & Hounds Friday 7th June – with tickets priced at £5 (early bird) and £7 (second release/otd). For direct gig info and links to online ticket sales, visit the Facebook Event Page by clicking here.

For more on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, or to seek help and advice about issues surrounding sexual violence, visit www.notnormalnotok.com

For more on MeMe Detroit, visit www.memedetroit.com 
For more on The Butters Aliens, visit www.soundcloud.com/buttersaliens
For more on Sofa King, visit www.sofakingqueen.bandcamp.com

For more on the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath), including venue details and further event listings, visit www.hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk

INTERVIEW: Lisa Thompson, Chief Executive of RSVP – ‘What is sexual assault?

Lisa Thompson, Chief Executive of the Rape & Sexual Violence Project (RSVP) / Lisa BretherickWords by Emily Doyle / Pics by Lisa Bretherick, courtesy of RSVP

Since the launch of the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign, many questions have been raised and discussed. Perhaps one of the most pertinent and important has been ‘what is sexual assault?’ It seems some people don’t understand the severity of their actions, whilst others can carry doubt over how to describe the aggression they have suffered.

Lisa Thompson, Chief Executive of the Rape & Sexual Violence Project (RSVP) – the city’s leading support agency for sexual violence and abuse, met with us to offer her insight and to help provide a clear answer to this question.

Sexual assault would be any unwanted sexual contact that’s happened without your consent,” Thompson explains. “It could be loads of different things, but for example if somebody touched your breast and you hadn’t said yes, that is a sexual assault. So, the key thing is consent.”

Consent can be withdrawn, it can be changed, and it can be renegotiated,” Thompson continues. “You might give consent to one thing on one day, and the same thing on the next day you might decide not to. Sexual assault covers a wide variety of offences, but the key thing is around that lack of consent.” No means no, a message that seems simple but one that can sadly still go unheard.

“You can go through sexual abuse or sexual trauma without being touched; you could be forced to watch sexual acts, or pornography… you could have had images that were consensually taken but then they’re shared, as ‘revenge porn’, that’s still got an element of sexual trauma.” Thompson makes it clear that there is a broad spectrum of crimes that are considered sexual assault, both in the judicial process and in more colloquial settings.

The other thing to acknowledge is that even if somebody gives consent but it’s been under pressure or coercion,” Thompson continues, “that wouldn’t really be consent. Also, some people might not have the capacity to understand what they’re consenting to, and somebody can’t consent if they are totally under the influence of drugs or drink. So, consent on the one hand can be fairly simple and straightforward, but there are some complexities.”

A client quote from the Rape & Sexual Violence Project (RSVP)RSVP provide support to all survivors of sexual assault. The organisation offers free counselling, social groups, and advocacy services, as well as self-help information, a telephone helpline and other holistic services. RSVP also offer training for professionals who support abuse survivors, and specialist support for asylum seekers and refugees.

RSVP are a specialist rape and sexual abuse service,” Thompson tells us. “We established nearly forty years ago now, so in November we’ll have our fortieth anniversary. We established as a rape crisis service for women, run by women, but in the eighties we started to see men and now we’re a service that’s available for people of any gender who identify in any way.

Some of Thompson’s work with RSVP also involves providing training for organisations who work with survivors of sexual assault and abuse, as well as those who have the power to challenge attitudes surrounding it.

Preventative work is always difficult,” Thompson says. “Sometimes more of the messages are given to victims or survivors, telling them to, ‘drink less, not wear this, not go there, never be separated from your friends…’ What we need to be doing is giving more messages to offenders or potential offenders that this kind of behaviour is not OK, it won’t be tolerated here, and these are the consequences.”

Thompson talks about ‘victim blaming’, a phenomenon which sees survivors of violence retraumatised by the responses of individuals and institutions if they choose to disclose their assault.

“These messages are sometimes really blatant, but are getting more subtle,” tells Thompson. “So, sometimes it might look like you’re doing the best for victims and survivors by saying, ’be careful, be conscious of your safety’, rather than really poking the finger and putting all the focus and the responsibility on the potential offenders.Sharie Shienhmar from the Rape & Sexual Violence Project (RSVP) / Lisa Bretherick I think that’s what people need to be more aware of. Victims and survivors live in a victim blaming world.”

One of the key objectives of the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign is to encourage both the live music scene and wider communities to talk about, and challenge, sexual assault and aggression. Thompson is passionate about changing the conversation around sexual assault, but she’s the first to acknowledge that this leads into uncomfortable territory at times.

When we do talk about sexual trauma and sexual offences there’s sometimes difficult conversations to have, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid having them,” Thompson affirms. “We need to acknowledge where sexual violence is happening… and acknowledge how prevalent it is. If we sweep it under the carpet and try not to have these conversations, we’re not naming the elephant in the room. We’re perpetuating silence, and it’s a silence that makes it more difficult for people to speak out.”

Thompson goes on to talk about how the silence surrounding sexual assault harms survivors on a number of levels. It goes without saying that a lack of discussion makes it harder to speak out, but the damage caused by this attitude goes much deeper.

I think it’s very common for people who’ve been through sexual trauma to think it’s their fault. We live in a world which tells people that what they’ve been through was their fault. Because they’d had too much to drink, because of who they were mixing with, because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time… all this stuff does is perpetuate victim blaming.”

Sharie Shienhmar and Beverley Higgins from the Rape & Sexual Violence Project (RSVP) / Lisa Bretherick“There is a normalising of sexualised behaviour which we need to change. Sexualised behaviour, treating people as sex objects, it’s not OK. It’s not ‘banter’, it’s not harmless, and it can lead to an escalation of different types of crime. I’m not going to say ‘more serious’, because all types of sexual assault are serious…” Thompson pauses to consider this. “But in terms of what we’d look at in the law, definitely crimes that would carry a longer maximum sentence.”

NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign ‘to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.’ And whilst it’s true that RSVP work in areas that some would term ‘more serious’ than sexual assault in music venues, when I mentioned this to Thompson she is quick to challenge the narrative.

The message we like to give is that all sexual trauma is serious, that it’s not OK, and it could have, and usually does have, some impact. For some people, a one-off incident could be absolutely devastating. It really depends on where the person’s at; what other life experiences they’ve had, what kind of support they have around them, the context of what happened, who they are as a person… but all sexual trauma is serious. We should be able to live in a world where we give clear messages that it’s not tolerated.”

As the conversation moves to focus on our endevours, Thompson identifies how the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign can help foster inclusivity in our city’s live music scene. “A number of people who have been abused and raped in other places – in home settings, within relationships – will be going to those venues. If that venue gives a clear message that this behaviour isn’t tolerated that feels welcoming and supportive of them, so they’re more likely to feel safe as well. It could work on all sorts of different levels.”

Natalie Harris, Abba Gordon and Becky Willets from the Rape & Sexual Violence Project (RSVP) / Lisa BretherickWe talk a little more about the campaign, and Thompson hears how NOT NORMAL – NOT OK calls upon everyone within Birmingham’s live music scene to unanimously condemn sexual assault and aggression. With the wealth of experience from RSVP, I ask what actions people can take to challenge those cultural norms surrounding sexual assault?

Make a decision not to be a bystander,” is Thompson’s immediate response. “They can make a decision that if they see something that isn’t right, they challenge it, they do something about it, they intervene. If they can’t intervene themselves they could always get on the phone, if they’re in a venue they could bring somebody over, they could always ring the police, they can ring Crimestoppers anonymously, there are all sorts of things. Or if somebody looks uncomfortable after something has happened, you could go over and just show kindness.”

This is everybody’s business,” continues Thompson. “It isn’t just survivors and perpetrators; this is all of us. We’re creating a culture change – a change within the venues – that is more welcoming, diverse, and safe for all. Just a small act of not walking by something that you thought, ‘hang on, that doesn’t seem right’… an act which might seem small to you could be absolutely huge to somebody else.”

People can educate themselves. They can challenge people and show that they have a zero-tolerance stance. Offer support if a friend is a survivor and discloses. If somebody does disclose, the key thing that they could do is believe them. We live in a world that doubts people when they disclose sexual violence –  if they disclosed a burglary the response would be shock, not ‘are you just claiming this for the insurance?’.”

Thompson shoots me a look that is mostly exasperated. “People don’t respond like that. We can show belief; we can show compassion and kindness. They’re all free things that you can do, but they’re really important to people. And they can start to challenge the kind of messages that survivors might have had from other people and other places, and restore their faith in humanity again.”

“You don’t have to have been a victim or a survivor to actually do something. We can all do something to show that together, we’re working to create a society that’s safer for all.”

RSVP is a Birmingham based organisation which offers ‘empathic services to support and inspire children and adults of all genders who have been affected by sexual violence and abuse.’ RSVP have been supporting the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign.

If you have been affected by sexual abuse, assault or violence, you can access RSVP’s free services – for more information and contact details on, visit www.rsvporg.co.uk


NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room. To learn more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this feature – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse, or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK website.