Keele student shares her experience of sexual violence (1)

TW: Sexual Violence
When I was just 14 years old, I was sexually assaulted and raped by a 19-year-old male who I would rather not name. I have always felt ashamed about what happened to me because I felt like it was my fault or maybe that I wasn’t clear enough when I said ‘no’. Until now, I have never spoken about my attacker or my assault publicly, only a few close friends of mine are aware of the incident as I was too afraid of what people would say and if they would think it was my fault. However, recently I have spoken to someone who had also suffered sexual violence against her, she made me feel more comfortable with what happened to me and now, after 6 years, I’m ready to tell my story.

My attacker (who I will refer to under the alias ‘Dee’) and I first met at the park in the local town where my friend and I had gone to meet her boyfriend (at the time), My friend left me to go off with her boyfriend and I was left alone and this is when Dee first approached me. He looked older than me but he was attractive, seemingly kind, and was offering me his company so that I wasn’t alone. An hour had passed before my friend returned and in this time I don’t deny that I was flirtatious with him, we were alone and it was flattering to be receiving attention from this man as I never had much luck with the boys in school, so when he asked me for my number and Facebook I didn’t refuse him and I went home that day smiling.

Over the next few weeks, we would often text each other speaking of the next time we would see each other and how neither of us could wait. He would often text, asking what I was doing, where I was and who I was hanging around with, which I didn’t find weird at first. Then one day, I received a text from him while I was at the park with some of my friends, asking me to walk to the car park… I did what he asked and found him stood next to a little, yellow car and asked if I wanted to go for a drive. At the time, I didn’t think that it was strange that he had turned up uninvited in my village despite him never being there before. I was just excited to see this mysterious man I had texted over a series of weeks and without thinking about any danger, I hopped into the passenger seat of his car.

Dee offered me cigarettes and although I wasn’t big on smoking, I remember accepting them in hope that it would make me look more mature to him and it seemed to be working as he was flirting with me and started calling me his ” sweet, little darling”. I had enjoyed my afternoon drive with him but started to feel hungry and asked to go home, at this point he turned to me and offered to take me to and pay for a McDonald’s, promising to take me home after but this was a lie. After I had finished my food, he took an unexpected turn down a country road and parked up facing the hedges. He turned to face me and I remember being foolishly excited, thinking that he was going to kiss me. The next words he spoke, are those that I can still hear him say every time I close my eyes to sleep at night, he said: “I’ve treated you today little darling, you now have to please me”. At first, I wasn’t sure what he meant until he started unfastened his trousers and continued to yank them down to his knees. I was in shock and didn’t respond at first and then he leaned in to kiss me and pushed my head down to his crotch. When I realized what was happening, I tried to resist but he held my head down with his hands around my neck and cooed that I was a “good girl”, so I let it happen, I gave up trying to resist, cried silently and just waited for him to finish so that I could finally go home.

When I got back to my home I remember feeling so alone, like I had instigated this whole thing and felt so stupid for letting myself get into his car, I told myself that it was my fault and that I could only blame myself. So I stayed silent, I didn’t run to my mum or call the police and I never spoke a word of this to any of my friends – I was embarrassed was afraid that I’d be called a ‘slut’. I suffered in silence, the only person I could talk to about this was my rapist who texted me a few days later asking if he could see me. I replied asking him why he did what he did and he told me that it was my fault, that I ‘enjoyed doing it really’ and that nobody would believe me if I said any different. This is when I spiraled into a deep depression, I hated myself and felt worthless, as if no man would ever look at me again, as dramatic as it sounds – I felt broken yet I refused to seek help.

After a few weeks, my family had begun to notice that I wasn’t eating as much or smiling as much and I never left my room apart from when I had to for school. My mum grew concerned and approached me to let me know that she was always there for me to talk to and even though I wanted to so badly, I couldn’t bring myself to explain what had happened as I worried that she’d be ashamed of me. Instead, I promised that I’d make more of an effort to go see my friends and be social.

A couple of weeks after, I felt determined to leave Dee behind as part of the past so I blocked his number and messaged my friends arranging to meet the pavilion at the top of the high street in our village. However, when I arrived at the pavilion early and there was no sign of my friends but instead, a little yellow car parked on the side of the road. I was in shock and instead of running I found myself walking towards the car and as the car window rolled down, it was Dee, he said he had noticed that I’d blocked his number and thought he’d wait for me and he wanted me to get back into his car. Looking back now, I should have run away or called for help or even have said ‘no’, but I didn’t. Instead I was angry and I wanted answers and he promised to give them to me and promised to ‘treat me like a lady’ (as he said) so despite everything, I still found myself sat back in that same passenger seat at that same parking space, facing the same hedges as before but this time I wasn’t full of foolish excitement, waiting for a kiss. This time I was waiting for him to speak up about why he had treated me so badly. He told me that he was sorry and that he thought I was just “playing along” with him when I started to resist and that he thought it was a “game” I was playing to “get him off”. I started to cry at this point as I couldn’t believe what he was saying- he was finally admitting in some way that it was his fault, that he misinterpreted the situation and that he got it wrong. I think it freaked him out a bit because he stopped talking for what felt like a long time and just let me sob, I remember being so relieved that he was acknowledging that it wasn’t entirely my fault and this made me feel better about myself.

After I had just about stopped crying, Dee leaned in and kissed my cheek and I let him – admittedly I thought it was sweet. He did it again, this time leaning over me to kiss my opposite cheek and then his mouth pressed really hard against mine. I stopped breathing, I couldn’t believe that I had just fallen for all of his lies about feeling guilty or that he felt like he still had a right to touch me. I managed to free my mouth and asked him to stop but he just ignored me and reached under my chair and pulled it back to that he could climb on top of me. I started pushing at him to get off me but he continued to explain that “everything was okay”, he promised that it would be over soon and that it was my fault for teasing him all evening and that this was the “real reason” I got into his car. He told me if I didn’t want it then I should have never got into his car in the first place. I couldn’t reason with him so instead, I just lay there and let him rape me.

I don’t remember the journey back in that car, I don’t even remember how long it lasted or whether he apologised after. I don’t remember getting home or into bed. I can only remember being scared, being scared to tell anyone about what had happened, I just wanted to forget it. I wanted everything to go back to normal, and for years I carried my burden alone with only my closest friend knowing the truth I never explained the details.

This is the first time I’ve told the details of my story and I’m sorry if it is graphic but it is all the truth and I think some need to become more aware that horrendous injustices such as mine do happen.I don’t think a person every truly gets over something like this and I wanted to speak up now to show that it’s never too late to tell your story or share your experiences. You should never be ashamed like I was, or take the blame because IT ISN’T YOUR FAULT, it is your attackers. I still struggle to sleep most nights as i can picture the look on his face or hear the sickening words he would use to try and comfort me during my rape. It makes me sick to know others have experienced this and much worse and that the reporting and conviction rates are so low in the justice system.

I never spoke up for myself and I never told the truth, because of this my attacker still walks free and I do run the risk of seeing him one day. Please speak up for yourselves and never back down for the justice you deserve and be aware that if something like this has happened to you, you’re not alone I promise. My heart goes out to anyone who is suffering or has suffered sexual abuse.

Comments

  1. Natalie (Welfare & Internationalisation Officer)

    Hi, thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s incredibly brave and important that we have conversations about experiences.

    If you need any support or would like to talk to someone about anything you can contact one of the Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Team, all of the info is at keele.ac.uk/Sexual Violence.

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