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'This is a fight you will not win'; Oxford University student pens powerful open letter to the man who sexually assaulted her


An Oxford University student has been "overwhelmed" with support, after she penned an emotive open letter to the man who she claims sexually assaulted her on the streets of London earlier this month.

Ione Wells, 20, waived her right to anonymity to write the extraordinary message in student newspaper Cherwell, asking her attacker, "did you ever think of the people in your life?"

The incident took place on April 11, when a man allegedly followed Ione from the tube to her family home in Primose Hill.

She describes how he waited until she was on her street to approach her, clapping his hands around her face so that she could not breathe, and forcing her to her knees so violently that her face bled. 

"When you dragged me by my hair, and when you smashed my head against the pavement and told me to stop screaming for help, when my neighbour saw you from her window and shouted at you and you looked her in the eye and carried on kicking me in the back and neck," she says. 

"When you tore my bra in half from the sheer force you grabbed my breast, when you didn’t reach once for my belongings because you wanted my body, when you failed to have my body because all my neighbours and family came out, and you saw them face-to-face."


Ione's letter was published as part of the newspaper's #NotGuilty campaign, to end victim-blaming among victims of sexual assault and raise awareness of the real faces behind such incidents.

"Did you ever think of the people in your life?" Ione asks her attacker.

"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 café under the railway."

"... This letter is not really for you at all, but for all the victims of attempted or perpetrated serious sexual assault and every member of their communities. I’m sure you remember the 7/7 bombings. I’m also sure you’ll remember how the terrorists did not win, because the whole community of London got back on the Tube the next day. You’ve carried out your attack, but now I’m getting back on my tube.

"My community will not feel we are unsafe walking back home after dark. We will get on the last tube home, and we will walk up our streets alone, because we will not ingrain or submit to the idea that we are putting ourselves in danger in doing so. We will continue to come together, like an army, when any member of our community is threatened, and this is a fight you will not win."

Since the letter was published a few days ago, Ione has been deluged with messages of support from strangers hailing her bravery:

"So powerful it will get you out of your chair, stand tall and say...count me in! Amazing" 

"An extraordinary lesson in courage from a 20 year old Oxford undergrad" 

"It's taken me a long time to realise I'm #notguilty & starting to get help now. Your letter has made me feel stronger, thank you" - are just a few of the many responses appearing on Twitter.

"Wow - what a wonderful community," Ione tweeted, in response to the flood of messages. "YOU have all proved my points about community in your support. Thank you! Let's do this! #notguilty."

not guilty

Ione claims CCTV footage shows the man who attacked her assaulting a second woman around 20 minutes afterwards. He was arrested at 5am the next morning and charged with serious sexual assault. 

Scotland Yard said a 17-year-old would appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court on May 6.

Read Ione's letter in full here



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