A lesbian woman who was attacked in the street has shared pictures of her injuries to raise awareness for the reality of homophobia today.
Charlie Graham, 20, was walking to meet a friend on Blackwood Road in Sunderland, UK, on Saturday, January 11, when someone punched her in the head from behind.
The unprovoked attack continued as Charlie was knocked to the ground by two male attackers, who pushed her down again when she tried to get back to her feet.
The pair then ran off, leaving the 20-year-old ‘bleeding and scared’. Charlie has suffered with headaches and panic attacks as a result of the ambush, which has also left her frightened of leaving the house in case she’s targeted again.
Images taken in the aftermath of the attack show the young woman’s face covered in blood, and her knees looking bruised and painful. The 20-year-old is now taking regular painkillers to help deal with her injuries.
Speaking to the Daily Star about why she decided to share the images, Charlie said:
[It is] very important to me for my pictures to be shared, so people are aware there are people out there that will attack you for what ever reason they feel is necessary – whether that is your sexuality, colour of your skin, the way you walk or how you dress.
Charlie believes the attack was fuelled by homophobia, and detectives have confirmed they are treating the incident as a hate crime.
Once the attackers had run away, the young woman FaceTimed her mum and aunt, who described Charlie as being ‘dazed’ after being hit.
Shockingly, Saturday’s ambush marked the fifth time the 20-year-old has been targeted. She has previously had stitches after having her eye split open by an attacker, and another time she was left with a black eye.
During one encounter, a stranger apparently shouted ‘dyke’ and punched Charlie as she walked along the street holding hands with a girlfriend.
She explained how the repeated incidents have left her traumatised, saying:
I don’t go anywhere by myself anymore. I only feel comfortable at my mum’s house.
I have panic attacks and anxiety attacks just thinking about going home in case they find out where I live and decide to come through the door, or I get attacked in my own home.
I have had people threatening to come through my door and smash the windows in.
Though Charlie is a firm believer in being proud of who you are, her experiences of homophobia have left her feeling she should ‘hide’ her true self.
The 20-year-old continued:
It makes me feel I have got to stay in the house and hide who I am and everything, but in this day and age I shouldn’t have to do that. It should be accepted.
I’ve tried not to let it beat me up and get on with my life, but I do worry if it happens again that it is worse than it was before.
It did scare me, but I thought ‘it’s just one of those things… it’s happened again’. What am I supposed to do about it? It happens everywhere. It’s my bad luck.
Northumbria Police are investigating the attack and investigators have said enquiries to identify those responsible are still ongoing.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 9am until 9pm Monday to Friday, and 10am until 6pm Saturday, or email [email protected]
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