It’s been nearly three years, since you ruined my confidence, body image, relationships, and essentially, my life.
Three years since you tricked me, since you locked the door and held me down by my arms, in my own house.
You apologised to me the next day by text whilst I sat on the great western train that seemed to last an eternity, still paralysed from shock and disbelief.
Then you denied it, to everyone.
You made me doubt myself. Did I want it? Was there any part of it I’d enjoyed? Could someone be so horrible, disgusting and abusive to another human being – or was I crazy?
You’ve got a little sister. How could a man with a sister only a few years younger than me, deliberately hurt me? It’s not possible.
18 year-old me denied it ever happened, thought it would be easier to forget it ever happened and live with you in our shared accommodation for nine months.
Nine months of completely ignoring the pain, listening to our housemates whispers claiming I was lying because I didn’t want my then-boyfriend to think I’d been unfaithful.
Nine months of heavy drinking, comfort eating and long nights in the library, because I felt safer there.
Nine months of triple locking my bedroom door and having to ask you to move so I could get to my kitchen cupboard.
When people say they miss freshers week, the freedom, fun and nostalgia. I feel differently. I miss the first five days I had of those things, before you single-handedly ruined them.
My freshers fortnight turned into abnormally long showers, drinking straight vodka and repressing my anger and sadness.
More emotions confused me, if I was to ignore it, should I be nice to you? Why did I feel self-conscious around you? Why would I feel self conscious around someone so vile?
Then a few weeks later, when my neighbours couldn’t find their housemate, I carried a half-naked, crying girl out of your room and knew that it hadn’t just been me.
Seeing her shaking and sobbing uncontrollably triggered some horrendous feelings and that was the first time I felt I could relate to anyone. Lucky for you, she did exactly the same thing as me, and pretended it never happened.
In my new, all girl, house, we played drinking games and soon the topic of everyone’s ‘number’ came up.
It came to my turn and I answered truthfully. Immediately one of my new housemates said, ‘what about him (you)? That still counts’. Her actual words following this was ‘if he was inside you, it counts as sex’.
Hurt and defensive I argued that rape was not the same as sex.
To my surprise, she argued back and tried her hardest to be deemed ‘right’, to the shock of my other housemates who could see I was holding back tears.
My brain started trying to process this, was it sex? Did I want it? Was I flirting? What did I do to make you think it was ok? Does she think I’m lying? Do all my friends think I’m lying? Is she just saying what everyone else is thinking?
The next few months were filled with sleepless nights, since I had to replay the events of what had happened to convince myself I wasn’t in the wrong.
Then I heard someone else I knew mutually had been assaulted, and her friends (who didn’t know my situation) didn’t believe her. They called her ‘crazy’ – to me. This triggered it all somehow and suddenly I felt all the pain and fear and anger all at once.
It manifested as flashbacks, physical nightmares, depression and extreme anxiety. I scraped through my second year, determined I wouldn’t let you ‘win’.
It became worse when the two-year anniversary came up, it triggered the nightmares and my long-term relationship broke down. I feared that everyone around me thought I was lying about you hurting me.
I started counselling and finally found someone who wouldn’t look at me with sympathetic eyes or just say ‘he just made a mistake, you were both drunk’.
I thought about taking you to court, I really contemplated it. But knew that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the judgement on a bigger scale, I didn’t have any evidence and I still wanted it all to go away.
I managed to grip on to my degree for 7 months in my final year with the help of antidepressants and the support of my mum and my friends. And then the PTSD took over, and with a looming dissertation deadline and pages and pages of reading, I couldn’t cope.
I had to pause my studies until January so I didn’t just scrape a pass after I’d worked through all the trauma and pain.
I hate that people told me if I felt the pain then you’d ‘won’, because I was fighting a losing battle anyway. You’d won when you violated me, that was your goal, you didn’t do it to cause me years of trauma, it was only your own ‘urges’ or power complex you cared about.
I am strong. And brave. And all the other bullshit people say to survivors. And I am worth so much more than what you did to me.
I did not deserve it, I didn’t want it, I didn’t give you any reason to do that to me.
I wish I could write this and make it out as if I’m fine now, and say something like I’m glad it happened because now I’m stronger or something cliché like that. Because it wouldn’t be true.
I wish it had never happened, it’s caused me more pain than anything I’ve ever experienced, seeing my mum cry when I told her, my ex boyfriend doubting I was telling the truth, being afraid of ever being intimate with another guy incase they did what you did three years ago.
But it did happen.
And it has sucked.
However, I am trying to find positives in the pain; I can empathise with other women who have been raped, it very quickly showed me who was a friend to stay, I learned to cope with an immense amount of pain and trauma weighing over me, and if it hadn’t happened then I don’t know what I’d be doing right now, probably a masters somewhere abroad since I used to be fearless and wanted to travel and live alone.
Although the pain and PTSD is still lingering, and I’m undertaking six months of trauma therapy, I met my new boyfriend, I found the best friendships, I found support where I didn’t think I would, I strengthened my faith and I am, for the most part, happy.
I hope that by writing this I have made whoever reads this less alone. I felt like I was the only person in the world that had been through it, but that is the furthest thing from the truth, there are so many of us, but it hurts to speak about it so we don’t.
So if you’re where I’ve been, all I can say is feel your pain, let yourself cry, because it only manifests in a nastier beast.
To my rapist, you ruined my life, so I made a new life which is a thousand times better. Everyday I pray that you’ll never do it again to anyone else and that the world will serve you your justice at some point in your life.
IF YOU’VE BEEN AFFECTED BY THIS ARTICLE PLEASE CONTACT VICTIM SUPPORT ON 0808 168 9111. THEY HAVE A FREE HOTLINE THAT IS AVAILABLE FOR ANYONE WHO HAS BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED OR RAPED NO MATTER WHEN IT HAPPENED.