Warning: graphic images below

Rejection never feels good, but rejecting someone, especially when you’re a woman, can be downright scary.

Gabrielle Walsh, an 18-year-old girl from Manchester, England, was punched unconscious while having a night out with her friend. Why did she get punched in the face? She simply told a man she wasn’t interested in him.

Gabrielle and her friend Kyle were leaving a club when they were approached by three men at 3:30 a.m. Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Gabrielle recounted what happened moments before the attack.

“I’d taken my shoes off and this guy came over and said ‘I like your feet’. I just said ‘OK’ and we tried to walk away. They kept walking behind trying to talk to me. Eventually, I turned around and said ‘I’m sorry, I’m not interested.'”

Walsh said the ringleader of the group, wasn’t taking “no” for an answer and kept harassing the two, asking Gabrielle if she was with “specky four eyes,” referring to her friend Kyle. As she urged Kyle to keep walking, the man grew irritated and punched Walsh so hard that she fell unconscious.

“When I woke up I was on the floor and the three of them had jumped on Kyle as well.”

woman attacked for saying no
Gabrielle after the attack

The perpetrator left her with a gash on her eyelid and, according to her eye doctor, she has a blood clot in her eye as well. She told the newspaper that, as of right now, she can only see the color yellow when she opens her eye.

The man who attacked her still hasn’t been found and Gabrielle says that the attack has made her afraid to go out. She then added something that all women know to be true.

“Girls feel like they can’t say ‘no’. They feel like if they say ‘no’ then they might hurt you and in this case, it was true.”

What happened to Gabrielle is not something that comes once in a blue moon. Unfortunately, this is a reality that women have to deal with on a daily basis. It’s the main reason why we give out fake phone numbers or pretend we’re in a relationship.

We know that saying “no” may not be enough for men to leave us alone and it could quickly turn into a dangerous situation. The number of women who are attacked or killed for rejecting men isn’t tracked so there aren’t any statistics to show just how problematic this issue is. But we hear stories like Gabrielle’s often.

Just last month, a California man shot a 10-month-old baby girl in the head after her mother rejected him at a party. Last November, a doctor in Chicago was murdered by her ex-fiancee after she called off the engagement. And in 2016, Mic profiled 14 women who were attacked or killed for rejecting a man’s advances.

gabrielle walsh attack
Gabrielle at the hospital after the attack

Many men feel that they are entitled to our bodies and that for some reason, we owe them something. This mentality isn’t entirely their fault. Unfortunately, it’s a byproduct of our toxic, patriarchal societal. Many young boys aren’t allowed to express their emotions freely and crying is frowned upon, while anger and aggression are encouraged.

Not to mention that the media perpetuates this idea that if a man is persistent enough, the woman he’s chasing will give in and say “yes.” Persistence is considered romantic. It’s literally teaching boys not take “no” for an answer.

How do we solve this problem? The responsibility can not fall on women entirely. Boys (and grown men) need to be taught how to handle rejection properly. They need to understand that rejection is going to happen, and that’s okay. Feeling sad and hurt is normal, but acting out with anger and violence isn’t.

Most importantly, it is not and never will be a woman’s responsibility to coddle your insecurities and feelings. We don’t owe you a damn thing.

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