Content warning: This post details sexual assault/rape and will be will triggering for some readers.
After some difficult years struggling with my mental health, and adjusting to becoming a young single mother, I decided to try and get out and socialise again, reconnect with people my age, and try to regain my identity and sense of self.
I decided to go to a Halloween party at a friend’s home. I wore a short skirt. I remember blaming that short skirt. I was having fun for the first time in a long time. I was confident, laughing and felt like a“normal” twenty-something woman.
Throughout the night, my friend’s husband kept touching me inappropriately. He was extremely persistent. This wasn’t the first time he had been like this, the first time I had put it down to him having too much to drink. I kept asking him to stop, but he was acting like it was a game. He eventually backed off, and I started to relax and have a few drinks with some of the other party guests.
After an hour, out of the corner of my eye I noticed one of my male acquaintances topping up my drink, and realised I felt quite drunk. “How long has this been going on for?” I wondered. I excused myself and went to the bathroom. While I was in there, a door adjoining to the bedroom flew open and I was pushed into a wall, hitting my head, and dragged into a dark room. Two men raped me. I believe they had coordinated throughout the night and it was premeditated.
I remember lying there, and I could not move my legs. Afterwards, I waited for half an hour to try and regain some stability and then stumbled out to my car. I drove home drunk. I knew I just needed to get out of there to safety. I honestly don’t know how I made it home. I took a shower, and for four years I said nothing to anyone. I believe I was in a state of shock, the trauma and fear kept me quiet for a long time.
I remember when the “me too” movement began, I felt a sense of anger, not at the men who were now being called out, but at the women. The women who were brave enough to speak out. Perhaps because I wasn’t brave enough. But those women helped me realise what had really happened to me.
I still have great difficulty looking men in the eye now when I am speaking to them. When I visit my friends, I can no longer talk happily with their husbands or feel safe when I am alone in a room with a man. I have lost a lot of the spark that made me who I used to be, sometimes I feel like I’m almost afraid of having fun. I am slowly rebuilding the joy for life I used to hold.