Please note, this post contains content and details that some people may find upsetting and distressing.
The new year is well under way and the threat of exams is looming closer every second. This may even end up being posted after exams depending on when the stress takes over every waking moment.
I’ve seen many people post that the new year signals a fresh start and it’s the first chapter of a new book, which it is. Every day should be lived to the fullest, go out and chase your dreams. Make plans, see the World. I am excited for the year ahead despite everything with my funding still being unknown. But like most years I have baggage that comes into each clean new year with me. 2017 will mark the fifth year. I’m not sure how this blog post will be received and it doesn’t actually really matter because just the process of writing it will (hopefully) help me in some way shape or form. To be honest it can’t do any worse than I have managed so far. The keeping it a secret, pretending it didn’t happen, the counselling, reporting it, trying to talk about it haven’t worked out yet, so I had to take a gamble. If this post helps 1 person somewhere I’ll feel like it was worth it.
In July 2012 I was raped.
I still can’t say that out loud, after 4 and a half years. It’s impossible to voice it. The closest I’ve gotten is to say I was sexually assaulted. Which gives people the information they need. I know it doesn’t make it go away if I don’t say it. I’m not quite sure how it’s more socially acceptable to use the c-word than it is to talk about rape. Not in the lad culture sense, in the real sense.
I have tried to talk about it with friends but I know it makes them feel awkward. Which is completely natural. I mean what do you say to that?! I don’t think of them as less of a friend because of it in any shape or form, but it does make you feel like you have to carry it alone. And even now I avoid putting it on people as I don’t want them to feel awkward or even upset them in any way. Because deep down you don’t know what any one is truly going through or the experiences they are carrying with them.
It’s become habit to say I’m ok. I will never ever be ok. Never again. But I can’t say that kind of thing everyday as I’d never get out of bed. I will never be the person I was on the road to being either. That single act changed my life forever. Something I have mourned, got angry about and thought about every single day for the last 4 and a half years. I contemplated writing this post in the summer but I didn’t want to mark the anniversary. But I did feel like I needed to get it all out. I’m about to start my second block of counselling sessions which will hopefully help me in some way. I had the first lot about a year after the
event, act, incident. Which obviously wasn’t some magic wand waving moment, but it did help me. I learnt that it’s ok to have emotions you can’t label. It’s ok to not be able to express how you are feeling. Something I initially found really distressing. I like everything to be clear. To be feeling a wave of unexplainable emotions every single day was hell. A living hell.
I’m ok with crying in supermarkets now, I don’t think there’s a place I haven’t cried due to a flashback or even worse thinking I’ve seen him walk in the room. That is an instant sick in the pit of the stomach feeling. Luckily I have only seen him 3 times since.
Probably one of the worst moments was last summer on the anniversary of the day, llama supporter took me to see a film with his friends, we had researched in depth to make sure there wasn’t any form of incident in it. A pre safety check. We were in the cinema, in the centre, literally the centre of all the seats and a scene starts where you can hear, not see, someone getting raped. I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown. I couldn’t get out. I couldn’t not hear it in surround sound. I had to ride it out. And cry silently for the rest of the film.
Like most victims of rape, I knew my attacker. I wasn’t walking home alone, I wasn’t in a dark carpark, I wasn’t drunk, I wasn’t wearing a revealing outfit or any of these ‘red flags’ you are told to avoid as a female, that shouldn’t even be considered as factors. I have relived the day countless times in my head, my dreams and everywhere. It follows me where ever I go. I can be mid conversation and it’ll suddenly appear.
I took myself to A&E after, due to extensive internal injuries. I have never ever felt more let down by the NHS. When I arrived the woman at reception wanted to call the police, I felt like a deer in headlights. I told her I didn’t want to talk to them. I was alone and couldn’t face that by myself. I saw someone, I wasn’t examined despite bleeding heavily, I could hear the nurses talking about me in the corridor before being sent home. They told me if I was still bleeding in 2 days to go and see my GP. When I got to my GP she had to refer me due to my injuries. You become like some form of experiment, countless tests and internal examinations. All of which I would attend again in a heartbeat if I had to, but at the time you feel like you want to die.
I have 2 people close to me who have gone through similar experiences, which breaks my heart, but I don’t think I would have got through the first few weeks and months without them. Just to have someone who understands in some shape or form when you feel like the loneliest person in the room really does help. It was also because of them that I decided to report it to the police. After a year of statements, interviews and countless other things it came to nothing. The CPS didn’t want to take it further. Which was soul destroying. To have to relive every single moment multiple times to the police whilst being filmed, twice and in statements was hell. At the time it felt like I had destroyed a year of my life I could have used to deal with it instead of reliving it. How I passed my exams at uni that year I will honestly never know. But now I am glad I went through it, even if nothing came of it. If he’s ever stupid enough to do anything else, at least he’ll be on record and if that helps one person in any way, then it wasn’t a waste at all.
It has now become such a part of daily life, I can’t remember what it’s like not to have nightmares or flashbacks which is depressing in itself. I still feel that you have a little tea light inside you, that twinkle in your eye and mine has been put out forever. Like I said before, it changed who I was and where I was going completely. I know now it’s not for the worst. But getting to where I am now has been the hardest experience I hope I ever have to endure. Right now all I want to have is one day I don’t think about it, at all. I know that is probably so long off but when that happens I’ll feel like its not constantly in my head and my mind controlling who I am as a person.
I also hope that one day the current lad culture we are experiencing where rape jokes are thought to be funny, will be deceased. And maybe one day we will live somewhere that it’s ok to talk about it. Something that is so hard even with people you are closest to, but something so important.
If you or anyone wants someone to talk to or help here are a few links that I found really helpful. There’s even one with advice on how to support a friend who has been sexually assaulted. Something which I also found helpful as did my Mum.
If you want some advice without the pressure of reporting anything, you can call NHS 111 non-emergency service. They can supply you with information on your local Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC).
You can also contact Samaritans
116 123 (UK)
Please remember that what ever you are going through, you are not alone. No matter how lonely you feel. There are many wonderful people out there who can help you through anything. The pit of despair does get lighter, it takes time and energy but it is so worth it. You matter.