Months before she was supposed to attend the Glastonbury music and performing arts festival in the U.K., a woman named Laura was sexually assaulted by two of her friends.
"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," she wrote in an open letter to the festival on her blog.
Along with several other friends, the two men who assaulted her were supposed to go with Laura to the festival. The day after her assault, she started to get texts from other people in the group telling her that "no it wasn’t consensual" but "don’t ruin the group" and "don’t ruin Glastonbury for us all." They asked her not to report her rape, and Laura wrote that she got 15 voicemails a day with threats.
"I couldn’t turn my phone on without getting more," she wrote. "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."
The police suggested she contact the festival organizers and ask for a refund, since they were worried for her safety should she attend the festival. Unable to find a number or email, Laura filled out a 500 word question form on the festival's website explaining why she could no longer attend. She didn't really expect to hear back, but she did.
"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. 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."
The safeguarding procedure Adrian set up blew Laura away, and is why she felt the need to write a letter to Glastonbury and publicly thank them for their support.
When she and a friend got to the festival, they were able to park in the staff parking lot — far away from where other festival goers would enter the event. They were then met by Marianna, who had driven to the festival in a security vehicle, and taken by car up to the gate rather than having to hike up like they expected.
"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," Laura wrote.
After they made it through security, Marianna passed Laura a letter from Adrian that said ‘the bearer of the letter must have her requests for her safety taken seriously and she must be taken to safety immediately.’ She was told to hand it to event staff whenever she felt unsafe.
She was given VIP wristbands for bars at the event, were taken to a camp where the friends who sent threats wouldn't be, and taken to a reserved spot in the festival.
"I broke down in the back of the van," Laura wrote. "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."
And she definitely did enjoy the festival. While there were still some instances when she felt unsafe, like the area where she knew her harassers were camping and performances she knew they'd go see, Laura wrote that she didn't have to use the letter once, and she even made a few new friends.
"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," she wrote.
"So, this letter is to say, thank you. God I wish there were a stronger sentiment. 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."
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