There is no easy way to intro this, other than to say how unbelievably grateful I am to the woman (who wishes to remain anonymous) who felt brave enough to share this list about her recovery from rape. 1 in 5 women have been a victim of Sexual Assault, which means this horrendous experience is something more people go through than we perhaps realise.
Two years ago, in the weeks just before Christmas and months before my wedding, I was raped. It is still odd to say or write that. But it is a fact and I live with it everyday. I was not attacked as I walked down a dark alley by a menacing stranger, I was drunk and was raped by a colleague.
I developed PTSD and was robbed of the joy you are meant to feel planning your wedding (a concurrent police investigation is a wedmin mood killer). I lost my career and many friendships. I have only stepped foot in a bar again twice – once on my hen and once for my celebratory pushing-out-a-baby NCT night. I was only able to do that because I felt pretty safe both times. On one I was flanked by 10 women, including my 80 year old nan, wielding penis straws and on the other I was spurting milk at anyone in a five foot radius.
Every hour approximately 11 people are raped in the UK, it is far more common than we realise. Here are some things I have learnt about myself and recovering from rape. I hope they give some comfort to anyone affected by this or help anyone supporting someone going through it.
In the early days and weeks….
You will not be able to comprehend anything that has happened to you. It will all feel like an outer-body experience to a nightmare you cannot wake from.
You will be sure no one, not even your closest friends and family, will believe you.
You will read the legal definition of rape countless times and convince yourself you got it wrong, that it didn’t really count as rape. But you didn’t get it wrong and it was rape.
You will feel utterly terrified. All. The. Time. This is why rape and sexual violence is so destructive, it makes both your outside and inner worlds terrifying. You will be convinced if you report it they will ‘get you’ for ruining their life. You will be convinced that you will end up in prison for defamation. But put yourself in the environment you feel most safe and remember they ruined their own lives.
You will be unable to carry out simple day to day tasks. I remember one night I couldn’t cook a jacket potato as there were some crisps in the bowl I wanted to use. Despite owning over 30 different potential potato/crisp storing containers, I genuinely couldn’t work out how to get the crisps out of the bowl and put the potato in it. So I ate the crisps for dinner, and for the three months that followed too. But eventually, your appetite and ability to microwave potatoes will return.
How you cope will be entirely individual and unique to you. You may not want to tell anyone, I wanted to tell everyone. I needed to see their shock so I could make sense of why I felt so awful. I also needed to have sex. I wanted to take control back of my own body. There is no right way to react, just do what you need to survive the days and take each day one at a time.
In the months and years…
You will find support where you never knew you had it. I received some incredible support and solace from complete strangers – my friend’s mum, my ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend, the receptionist at my GP practice. Three strong and inspiring women who saw me struggling and stopped to help me.
Your favourite pastimes will be ruined. Some because of the crippling depression that will set in but some because you will suddenly realise how prevalent sexual violence is in the everyday media we consume. To this day I still cannot watch Eastenders or House of Cards. And now Broadchurch too. A travesty, I bloody love David Tennant.
Talk. Get in touch with Rape Crisis or your local women’s support group. Meeting people that have been through the same thing, and are also unable to microwave potatoes, will help.
There is no real justice after rape. I didn’t get to send my rapist to prison, but I have realised that criminal justice doesn’t matter. The closest you will come to getting justice is becoming strong enough to move on with your life and reclaim what someone took from you. I’m still working on this one.
You will feel human again.
If you have been affected by this list then please contact Rape Crisis, they are here to help.
Such amazing strength in this list. We don’t need to know your name you have given enough. A great reminder than time can heal. Wishing you much deserved happiness & strength for the crappy days. Thanks for raising awareness x
Thank you. I needed to see this. I was r on Sunday – This helps
I’m so sorry his happened to you. Please find someone you can talk to – I didnt tell anyone for 3 years and it ate away at me. Be strong. You are stronger than you know. I promise it will not always feel this bad. Xx
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was raped by my best friend 12 years ago and I’m still coming to terms with the friends I lost after speaking out. I can relate to every single thing you wrote, the fear of not being believed still comes up every time I see those people who chose his side. Rape crises have been amazing to me, after finally having the courage to report it a few years ago, they have been supporting me to rebuild my life and find freedom from PTSD. It’s been an awful journey but like you, I’ve found some amazing support from women although at the same time women have been the most destructive critics. Thank you for being a voice of positivity among survivors.
Thank you so much for sharing, it is hugely brave and selfless.
Thank you for being so brave, truthful and selfless.
You have ahown that there is hope for all victim’s of rape and sexual assault xx
Thank you for this. It’s been 17 years for me and so much of this felt completely familiar. You do reclaim your life and move on and yet there are still things – a sensation, a story on the tv, a list on the internet that bring it all back.
Thank you for enduring and for your strength. I hope you continue to reclaim what was taken. I’m still working on it too. X
Such honest and inspiring words. It was 16 years ago for me. I told a handful of people some time after and I think no one really knew how to respond, so I just try not to ever think about it now. I fell into the awful trap of telling myself Inasked for it and that’s a tough one to beat.
Thank you for being brave and sharing your story. I was raped 6 years ago by a man who I had previously been dating. I still don’t really believe it happened but I live with anxiety that grips around my throat no matter how good my life is. I grieve the self confidence that I lost that night.
This honest and open piece will help so many women feeling terrified and alone. This lady should be so proud of herself for having the courage to share her experience. Xx
Such a brave brave post to share. You have blown me away with your strength and courage. Hopefully this will help help lots and lots of ladies and gents who have been through the same awful experience x
Reading this was cathartic. I was an 18 year old virgin when it happened to me, by one of the ‘cool’ rugby players from where I’m from, who all the girls adored and the men looked up to. Nobody would’ve believed me; so much so I made myself not believe me for a long time. It’s affected all of the 3 relationships I’ve been in since; I’m now 35, and single. It feels like it destroys everything; I can never predict when the crippling cloud of self loathing, anxiety and low mood will return. I recognised myself in everything you described, and that’s comforting. I know you’ll understand.
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