Around this time of the morning four years ago, I woke up to realise that there was a man inside of me and I had not given him permission to be there. This was a man that I knew, very well. That I really cared for. That I’d dated on and off, that I thought would someday stop treating me like shit. I was naive, but the night before had been my birthday party and he’d finally told me he loved me and I believed him because I’d wanted it to be true. I went home with him that night, drunk, and we talked. Then he tried to initiate sex and I said no, to prove to me that this is how he felt when he was sober. So we went to sleep.
And I woke up to him raping me.
Going to the police about my sexual assault was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. Telling my friends was harder, because a lot of them weren’t my friends. He was more popular than I am, more fun to be around and so a bigger social loss if they were to abandon him for what he did. A lot of them didn’t want to believe me, saying that I looked fine externally, whilst telling them I was dying on the inside. A lot of them gave me sympathy one week and a slap in the face via smiling photos with him on social media the next.
I had to tell my already emotionally unavailable father that I had been raped. He’s not really looked at/spoken to/treated me the same way since. Like I’m too fragile. Like I’ll shatter at any minute.
Weeks turned into months of nightmares, breakdowns and outbursts, Police questioning and interrogation, health checks, vaccinations. I quit a job and group of people that I loved because it was too painful to keep myself there. I still look around certain bars and night clubs with an anxious tick because he might be there. I might run into him. I might have to see him and look at his face mirroring my own sadness/loss/fear/anger/bitterness. Sometimes I get too overwhelmed and stomp home alone with hot tears streaming down my face.
Years of therapy later and I still don’t understand.
A relationship tainted with a black cloud that has caused both of us stress, anxiety, depression, social disconnect.
On the face of it, it was all for nothing. I was let down by the judicial system. He didn’t get the punishment that he rightfully deserved.
That man taught me that my body is my own and does not belong to anyone else. If it’s not treated that way, it is my right, my duty to stand up for myself and shout and scream that this is unacceptable.
Women are not play things.
We are not sex toys that guys put kindness tokens into until sex falls out.
We are not a pair of legs, tits and ass.
We are not the makeup and clothes we choose to/not to wear.
We are not obliged to have sex with you because we laugh at your jokes.
We are not obliged to have sex with you because you want to have sex with us.
We are not there for the taking because we are drunk, unconscious or asleep.
We are not going to keep letting sexual assault victims be ignored and pushed into a corner because the word rape makes everyone else feel uncomfortable. We are not going to stay silent.
We are going to teach our children that the ‘boys will be boys’ culture is not okay. We are not going to raise girls believing that ‘he is being mean to you because he likes you’ – that might be true but you’re much better off with someone who just isn’t going to be mean to you.
We will give our children proper sex education. He will not die of blue balls because you don’t have sex with him. He should politely go and sort himself out if he’s more concerned for his own balls than how comfortable the girl is next to him.
No means no.
We will go to the police if you rape us. Even if it goes nowhere. Because that’s one more woman who has stood up for herself. One more statistic. One more crime reported. One more woman being brave and making it easier for the next. We will stand up and stand together until the word rape doesn’t make everyone else uncomfortable. It is happening at an alarming rate. It should be freely spoken about.
I’ve been told that he suffered too. That I caused him pain and drama and hurt his social image and his pride. As if that’s meant to be some form of consolation, or reason for me not to talk about it ever again. Like enough is enough, right? Wrong.
Good. Keep suffering.
Because when it comes down to it, it was not me raping him while he was unconscious. So I could not give less of a fuck about his pride.
Today I am so proud of myself and the strength that I found in that moment, to walk into that station and tell my story.
Today I will not be silenced.
Today I know that I did the right thing and I would do it again.