An open letter to Glastonbury, from a victim.

Dear The Eavis family, and all who make Glastonbury happen,

So I write a lot of letters, but I promise this one will be worth reading – stick with it. This isn’t complaining about the crowds or the headliners, or telling the world how life changing the week was for me to provoke envy inducing angry faces all over Facebook. This is a story about a girl who contacted a giant festival who cater for hundreds of thousands with a request for help and was met with compassion, love and overwhelming acts of kindness.

I was lucky enough to get tickets to Glastonbury for the first year ever, with a group of friends who were equally as excited as I was – WhatsApp groups sharing outfits and line up rumours sprung up within minutes of receiving the golden tickets, and June 2017 could not come soon enough.

Unfortunately for me, something horrible happened in April 2017, months before we were due to jump on the 2am coach down south. I was sexually assaulted by two of these ‘friends’ after a night where I had mistakenly put my drunken trust in these guys at an after-party. My memories of the night were hazy; the drunken texts with other friends to come and save me, coupled with the injuries I sustained were not. 

At the crisis centre the next day, as I lay sobbing on the table being photographed and probed by 4 nurses, I received a barrage of phone calls and threats from certain friends telling me to go home, to not report it. Telling me that no it wasn’t consensual but ‘don’t ruin the group’ and ‘don’t ruin Glastonbury for us all.’ The nurses were asking me to report it to the police, but I was receiving 15 voicemails a day with threats from these friends, and with every threat received, another inch of my fight would disappear. 

Eventually, the harassment got worse. I couldn’t turn my phone on without getting more. I blocked the numbers, the contacts on Facebook, the accounts on Instagram, but they’d find more ways to get to me. This is the point I went to the police. 

After a harrowing three hour video interview, I still couldn’t feel relieved. I had taken time off work, I was barely surviving on two months worth of SSP & I was receiving threats not to attend the festival that I had been looking forward to for months.

The police officer recommended I get in touch with the festival, and try and ask for a refund to help my money troubles. I was gutted, but we agreed for my own personal safety whilst investigations were ongoing, it was the best route to take.

I couldn’t find a number, nor an email to contact, so I filled out a 500 word enquiry form on the website, assuming that with a festival that size receiving hundreds of enquiries per day, my plead for support may get overlooked.

It didn’t.

Instantly I received an email from an amazing human being – Marianna – who told me the Events Operations Lead would give me a call.

I received a call off Adrian a few days later. Adrian is an ex police officer, and asked me to tell him what happened. It felt difficult disclosing the details over the phone to a stranger, but he made me feel at ease. 

Instantly he set to work. He told me he would do everything in his power to make sure I could attend the festival, and would put a safeguarding procedure in place to ensure I could. He contacted the DC at the police station dealing with my case, and together they devised a plan. Despite the fact he – as the Events Operations Lead – had one of the busiest jobs in the world weeks before the festival, he dedicated himself personally to me. I was overwhelmed (I had cried at least 5 times by this point – this will be a recurring theme in the next few paragraphs I’m afraid – stay with me).

He sent me a car parking pass in the post, so I wouldn’t have to get the coach with the friends who had been threatening me. 

(Side note: I called National Express, despite my ticket being non-refundable – to try and wangle a refund for the tickets I had bought. She asked why I was no longer going to Glastonbury. I relunctantly told the lady the story, she cried, I cried, she spoke to her boss, I got a refund. Humans are exceptional.)

I arrived at the festival with Tom at 8am on the Wednesday, and pulled into the staff car park, far away from where the rest of the revellers would be arriving. I was asked to call Marianna at this point and let her know I had arrived, so we started to attempt to load all of our belongings for five days, plus 3 crates and a shocking tent onto our backs. Marianna arrived, with a beautiful girl named Kerry driving a security vehicle, and both greeted me with the loviest hug someone driving through the night could ever ask for. They were so unbelievably sweet and welcoming it was like meeting old friends again. They helped us load our stuff into the van and told us to jump in. We had no idea they were going to take us anywhere, we were prepared for the long, sweaty trek to the queue like the rest. They drove us up the the gate, and got out with us, with all of our things. At this point my anxiety was through the roof, I was looking over my shoulder frightened of catching glimpse of the perpetrator and their friends. Marianna noticed my worry, took my hand and walked us up to the security guard at the front of the queue. They had a quick chat and he ushered us right through, Marianna making sure she didn’t let go of me the whole time. 

We jumped through security in minutes, and climbed right back into the van that had been brought to the other side for us. Back in the van, they passed me an envelope. In the envelope contained a letter. The letter was from Adrian addressing whomever received it that ‘the bearer of the letter must have her requests for her safety taken seriously and she must be taken to safety immediately.’ I was asked to carry this letter, along with a list of numbers, with me throughout the whole festival, just in case. I was also passed two hospitality wrist bands, one for Tom and one for me. These offered us a space behind the Pyramid and Other stage which had quieter bars only accessible to hospitality wrist band holders so in case I became overwhelmed or needed a place to clear my head a bit, I had it. 

I broke down in the back of the van. Marianna came round to the door and gave me a huge hug. I had asked for none of this, and yet these incredible humans had come together to make sure for the next five days I wouldn’t have to feel like a victim – I could actually enjoy the festival. In a festival catering for so many, they really gave a shit. They gave a million shits. More shits than I could ever have expected or asked for. 

They dropped us off at a camp where they wouldn’t expect our friends to be, and took us to our reserved spot behind the stewards, who were all briefed about the circumstances. They all greeted me with hugs and helped us carry all of our things from the van and get ourselves set up. Saying goodbye to Marianna and Kerry, I handed over THE WORST thank you card ever – like, how on earth can a thank you card ever be enough? Especially when it said ‘You are a good egg’ with a picture of an egg on the front (my card buying skills need work) and we all hoped to find each other again in the midst of the crazy. Kerry came to our camp once the next day to check in (hugs aplenty) but we never did see the others again.

And the festival was amazing. 

Yeah, there were places I didn’t feel comfortable going (I knew where they were camped) and favourite bands I opted out of seeing in smaller tents (I knew they’d be there) but I can thankfully say I never had to use the letter. 

I mean, there were times with my new friends we had made (Kitty, Sean, Catherine <3) when were waiting in big queues and they were jokingly like ‘USE THE MAGIC LETTER’ but I didn’t. I was safe. I was really really safe.

I made some new great friends, I saw some incredible acts, my tan lines are ridiculous, my hangovers were unreal and at the end of it all, i didn’t feel like a victim, I felt like someone who had finally been to Glastonbury. 

So, this letter is to say, thank you. God I wish there were a stronger sentiment. Not many people would be aware of the amazing work you did for me – you didn’t do it so you could write about it, or get a pay rise, or for glory, you did it because you really cared. And I doubt my minimal blog readers would make this reach the heady heights of Michael Eavis (but please do share away, yeah?), but on a deeper level, I am writing this to say that people really care. Sometimes when you lose all hope, the unbelievable and altruistic kindness of strangers can help give you the strength to keep fighting. 
I have met some really awful humans in my life, who have killed my spirit and, in all honesty, made me feel life wasn’t worth living anymore. To me it wasn’t just a festival, it was genuinely restoring my faith in people again. People that really fucking care.

So, Adrian, Marianna, Kerry and the rest of the team, I hope you see this. If you don’t, I hope you know that you made a difference, and you made me feel like a survivor again. 

Lots of love,

Laura x

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409 thoughts on “An open letter to Glastonbury, from a victim.

  1. Dear Laura,

    I’m so sorry you had this happen to you! And it saddens me that you’re “friends” betrayed you like that. No one should be treated like that, I’m glad you found new friends and I hope that they will help you overcome this awful experience. Never give up you’re a survivor and a strong woman!

    Love from the Netherlands,

    Laura

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Laura,
      I read this blogpost a couple of times now and it’s just so touching and beautifully written. I would like to repost it on my blog and I would like to send you something as a gesture of support. Would you mind sending me an email via confettitess @ gmail.com to let me know you’re okay with reposting?
      With love from Amsterdam,
      Tess

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This story of people coming together to help a person in need is so heart warming that it made me cry tears of joy. I still can’t stop 😂

    The world needs more people like this, people that care about other people’s feeling and not just their own. Maybe we wouldn’t have so many wars.

    What those people did to you is so dispicable, those people don’t deserve… you know what ? They don’t deserve my words. I won’t waste my time on them.

    You on the other hand, do deserve my time, our time, our attention.
    You deserve some proper friends.

    If ever you want to chat, you can friend me on Facebook, my name is Callum Henshall. I live in Bordeaux France.

    Lots of love from France! Good luck!
    Callum

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Just read this on the New Statesman. I’m sorry such a horrifically shitty thing happened to you but I’m so glad you had such a good time at Glastonbury. You write beautifully, keep being a badass ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m so incredibly sorry this happened to you and delighted that you were treated so brilliantly by the team at Glastonbury. When people are the absolute worst, it really does bring out the best in others. I hope you continue to feel better and stronger xx

    Liked by 2 people

  5. While reading this letter and all others on your blog, through your writings I felt loss, sadness, hope, sympathy, joy, humor, compassion, empathy and resolve. Please know that I do care and wished that I could have been there even just to sit with you as company, to listen, to hold your hand and maybe help you in some small way.

    Please keep writing, breathing and moving forward even if it is in halting steps. You have and will continue to improve and though you have likely heard it more times than you’d like, by talking about what happened to you, your struggle and healing you have given hope to countless others who may have been or be in a similar situation or one that feels dark due to different circumstances, all while helping yourself.

    Don’t give up hope, fractured is never broken and heals stronger than you were to begin with.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for this and your message of hope to other survivors. I am so happy that you had such a great time and I am inspired by your honesty and strength.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wishing you strength to deal with the aftermath of your awful ordeal Laura. The Glastonbury experience and all the people who helped make it happen sound amazing, so pleased you were able to go and to have a wonderful time.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your message just made it to the Netherlands, in Dutch, and popped up on my timeline on facebook. And what a message…
    It made me angry, at the “friends”, but so(!) proud of the people that do care, and reach out for others! That’s worth thinking of, people who make you feel that you matter!

    I’m glad to hear and see that you had an amazing time at the festival, and most of all… Felt safe! Girl, you do matter! You’re a strong woman, and you deserved it all!

    I wish you all the best, hope and strenght!
    Love from Holland,
    Jacqueline

    Liked by 1 person

  9. i doubt in a million years you’ll probably see this comment laura, but id really like to personally message you and talk! I’m going through the same situation and I’m here to talk if a girl needs a friend:)

    the world is your oyster x

    Like

  10. Wow! You’re an amazing young woman! You’ve shared a very personal experience, which takes guts and you reported the incident, even after threats. Many wouldn’t have the courage, because it does take courage to decide to take an action like that. I know everybody did all they could to make your Glasto a memorable one and what a job they did. I’m so glad that it was such a positive outcome for you. Hat’s off to all who helped. But… at the end of the day you still had to have the guts to attend the festival and you proved you had them. Blessings on you baby girl. Grow strong and leave behind that which does you no good. I hope your so called friends are leaving you alone so you can get on with your life and you receive all you ever wish for. Much love, you’re a brave, brave young woman<3

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I am so glad I took 10 minutes out of my day to read this (after stumbling upon it via an article on The Guardian). I am so glad you got to go to Glastonbury and felt totally taken care of. Faith in humanity restored 🙂
    It is truly heartwarming that those people cared so much to make you feel as safe and cared for as possible.
    Thank you so much for sharing this deeply personal story with us all. I hope all in your life is well and you are always receiving all the care you could ever need.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Laura,
    I am so glad you got to experience how wonderful Glastonbury was this year and that the amazing organisers protected you and treated you as you deserve to be treated…seriously and with respect. I already had a high opinion of them but now its risen even higher ! And you too have shown such courage in not accepting that you have to only be a victim and give up the festival you were so looking forward to. Good luck for all your future goals!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi, Laura,

    While reading this post, I was struck by your eloquence and courage in the face of someone wanting power over you. Bravo for standing up for yourself, writing Glastonbury, and going. And Bravo to Glastonbury for the way they responded to you. I was so impressed that I decided to share your blogpost as part of the We are the World Blogfest (#WATWB) that I’m participating in. If you want to check out how I shared it, here’s the link: https://eyesonlife-ginahunter.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-compassion-of-strangers-watwb.html

    All the best,
    Gina

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Well done Laura and congratulations I hope in some way for putting that ghastly experience away to the side. How wonderful Glastonbury have been and the police – understanding beyond all things … Excellent Gina shared this with us … I’ve come over from #WAWTB … cheers and all the best for your future – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Dear Laura,

    Thank you for writing this. I am struck deeply by both your courage and eloquence and the devastatingly disarming empathy and insight shown by the Glastonbury organisers. My love to you all.

    I wish I could say the same for your old ‘friends’ – i suppose that one thing to come out of this is that you can see hem with a clear eye, but that in no way mitigates how painful that can be. It is said that there are three sides in every act of abuse, not two; that there is not only the abuser(s) and the abused, but also all the people who knew, and who either did nothing to stop or even acknowledge it, or even actually tried to make you believe that ‘nothing happened’.

    If this third factor in the triangle of abuse would wake up and realise that, without their very own complicity, the triangle would completely collapse, then perhaps the response to the ‘me too’ campaign wouldn’t have been quite as utterly shocking in revealing just how horrifyingly endemic the problem of sexual abuse is.

    Bless your strength. I would like to share your story, if I may?

    Jamye ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, your comment is so enlightening & makes such an important point regarding the perpetuation of abuse.. you’re more than welcome to share, thank you so much. I hope you don’t mind me sharing your comment too, as it’s such an important message for those who don’t believe they may be part of the triangle by just doing nothing.. thank you so much again ❤️

      Like

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