According to the Rape Crisis website ‘90% of those who are raped know the perpetrator prior to the offence’.
I had been flirting with a friend for a few months. We saw each other occasionally, but only in social situations, as we no longer worked in the same industry.
I’d been out with friends drinking all day and we ended up in the same bar in the evening. Through a series of sliding doors events I ended up coming round underneath him, searing pain coursing my body. He was heavier than me and his weight was pressing me down. I remember the pain and asking him to stop, I repeated it, I cried. He finished after what seemed like a lifetime, but what in reality was probably a minute. I rolled away, he pressed himself into the back of me and said, I’m sorry don’t cry, I’m so sorry.
I woke up in the morning, still drunk. I think we were both confused. I had no idea where I was or how I’d got there. I scrabbled for my clothes and left after a brief goodbye.
I’ve spent the last few months going through the whole situation, when I’m not distracted or on the commute home. I get flashbacks where I remember us laughing, joking, and flirting. I feel the pain of being penetrated whilst dry. Feel embarrassment as I remember him grabbing me by the ankle and tipping a bottle of water over me for fake lubrication. I remember being rubbed raw by someone who was clearly so drunk they couldn’t function properly or had no idea what they’re doing. I remember thinking should I be enjoying this? When will it end? Can I make noises to make him get this over with quicker? Why can’t I move?
I didn’t believe this was rape. Friends don’t do that. I’d been flirting; I must have been up for it at the beginning, why didn’t he stop? I must have drunk too much. I happen to be someone who blacks out after too much alcohol, however whilst in this state I can function and speak as though I’m stone cold sober. The only tell tale sign is when quizzed I can’t recall what I did 5 minutes previously. Clearly it was my fault, I should have been more careful.
Over the next few weeks I thought about it. For two days after I cried in the shower. I told four of my closest friends and my parents. I didn’t want to acknowledge it. I was heavily ashamed, but I couldn’t escape it. It turned out that he had been so rough that he had left my insides bruised and there was heavy inflammation. I told the doctor everything and he suggested that I go to the police. I was so sure it was all my fault that I never did and still haven’t.
Gradually I’ve come to accept that this is something that has happened. Perhaps I was in the wrong place at the wrong time or as we had been flirting for a long time perhaps it was inevitable. I think it’s also taught me a lot and enabled me to grow as a person. I realised that I could either spiral down into a pit of despair or I could accept it and put the energy into my life and others around me.
I began exercising, joined the gym and focussed on myself. I started to look after myself made sure I looked and felt healthy. I went abroad on my own, and I realised that this didn’t have to stop me, and in fact, it had made me stronger.
I developed a positive outlook, something that had been taken away from me in my past relationship and the sexual act. I realised that when you hit rock bottom the only way is up. I developed an inner strength that meant I could help friends going through depressive moments. I learnt that I could tackle anything that life threw at me, such as a friend trying to commit suicide or finding out my past 2 year relationship had been an entire lie, as it turned out my ex was cheater. Gradually I told people, my closest friends. I remember the hardest part was telling a friend in the same industry, as he knew the guy involved.
It was a horrible thing to have happened, and yes, it has affected me. I still get nightmares where I relive the whole thing and find myself paralysed and screaming, but with the help of posttraumatic therapy I now only get them if I’ve been out partying. I still have days where I walk into traffic and think what’s the point, but they have lessened now. I’ve learnt that the sadness goes away and it doesn’t last forever.
I still relive the memories when I’m tired and run down, but it’s no longer in a negative way. The PTSD therapy has taught me to recall them, recognise it happened but it’s no longer tied up in present emotions. I was scared to tell people because I felt it made me different, but I learnt that talking about it prevents a build up that can make you ill physically. I realised that the sadness wouldn’t go away but I’d be able to handle it better and time would take away the physical pain.
I still can’t sleep soundly in bed with someone else, but I now try to sleep in the same bed as friends after nights out. I signed up to dating apps again, not to actually date but to build up my confidence. I discovered self worth; I cut my hair, bought new clothes and took up doing things like painting my nails etc. Simple things like shaving my legs became something that made me feel better, more clean and in control. I gave more of a shit about myself, decided to do everything that I wanted.
In the meantime I worked on myself. I got back into running and set myself goals for the week. I’d try to cover 26KM a week and try to let at least one of those runs be 10km. I started helping others; I applied for Samaritans training and attended information sessions until work got too busy. I helped my friends with their problems. I believe that if you can help others and make them feel happy, it gives you satisfaction and happiness.
The major things that have happened in my life have happened in the last couple of years. I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy, however I think that if I had the choice of reliving my life and knowing how much I would achieve and be driven to do, I wouldn’t change a thing. This is something that has made me, me. I realised how much I have to offer, how much I am truly loved by my friends and how there’s nothing that you can’t survive.
Let me clarify, I’m not writing this as revenge, I don’t want sympathy and I am not looking for a medal. I want to offer solace to anyone who needs it, reassurance and the belief that you can be raped or sexually assaulted and go on to lead a normal life. Yes I still have internal scarring and no I don’t think I’ll be able to be sexually active with anyone for a while, but I’m actually happy. I can handle anything life throws at me.