Ex-Love Island star Zara McDermott opens up about sexual assault

Former Love Island nominee Zara McDermott said she felt the need to talk about her sexual assault because the memory had been “buried” in the back of her mind for so long.

The reality star hit a critically acclaimed BBC Three documentary about revenge porn earlier this year and follows it up with a special exploration of rape culture.

The former Essex government adviser recently said she was attacked about four years ago by a young man or boy who appeared to be wearing a school uniform, but passers-by intervened.

McDermott said she had difficulty describing the experience as an “attack” because many women had experienced worse.

She told the PA news agency, “This attack that happened to me is hard to say it was an attack. I guess I’m just not allowing myself to say that because I got away very unscathed – and I’m so aware that so many other women haven’t had that.

“That’s why I know that I don’t want it to be a ‘woe is me’ situation. This happened to me and I couldn’t really do anything, but I got off pretty much unscathed.

“That was something I felt more, so it was important to talk about it and share it because I hadn’t really done it yet and had it buried in the back of my mind.”

McDermott said a “massive part of the healing” was making her previous film about revenge porn, which she fell victim to during her school days.

She added, “It was almost like therapy doing this doctor because it was the first time I talked about things I hadn’t talked about in years and thought about what really happened.

“Why do I feel this way sometimes? Oh, it’s because this happened to me when I was 15 and this is how I feel now.

“It has helped me heal myself and connect things that I may have felt slightly hurt about when I was younger. So I wouldn’t lift a weight so much, but rather a healing process. “

McDermott praised her friend Sam Thompson, who played in Made In Chelsea, for his support when she first spoke publicly about her experience.

She said, “He is literally the best person in the world. He is my best friend.

“He is always there to talk to me about anything and everything. I think it’s really important in life to find someone who you can be 100% yourself with and who will accept you for every mistake and experience – and he absolutely does.

“And I hope he can feel the same about me. We’ve both been through a lot in our lives.

“We’re not that old yet, but we’ve still been through a lot and it’s really important that I can talk to him and he always makes me feel like I can. So he gives me great support and is always so happy to be involved in my films, because sometimes it’s really important to get a male perspective on something. “

Zara McDermott: Uncovering Rape Culture will air on Wednesday November 24th on BBC Three.

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