It’s late in the afternoon and my still-undiagnosed partner is drifting in and out of sleep in his hospital bed where he’s been for the past four days. I have barely left his side, and while I wouldn’t even consider being anywhere else, I have to admit, I’m both mentally and physically exhausted. With no nurse or doctor in sight, and my boyfriend finally getting some rest himself, I take the opportunity to pop in my earphones and put on a podcast to try and stop my head from whirring over a thousand possibilities and stressing over lab test results.
I don’t really pay attention to the title of the episode I choose, only registering that I’ve chosen one of my favourite true-crime podcasts. I’m starting to zone out during the promos and advertisements which play at the beginning, before the two hosts say something that gets my full attention.
“The first story that we’re going to read, comes from a listener who we are going to call, K…”
I fumble with my phone and check what the episode title is; Survivor Stories. And then I realise this show is actually about me, and the story of the day I was raped…
Six months beforehand, I was listening to the very same podcast when the show’s hosts called for their listeners to email in stories of their experiences of surviving an attack. As anyone who listens to podcasts regularly knows, it’s a really intimate experience. It can get to a point where you feel like you know the hosts, which is why so many podcasts have fan bases who coin terms to describe themselves, buy and wear podcast merchandise, fork out cash to go to live recordings of the show or travel hundreds of miles to attend podcasting conventions. I’m a pod-fanatic, and so when one of my favourites said they wanted to hear reader stories, I felt comfortable enough to send in mine.
I really didn’t think it would go anywhere, I just felt like I needed to share my story. I also thought that, on some level, writing out my trauma would somehow help it make sense to me. I was diagnosed with PTSD after the rape and still have nightmares about it, four years on. So I wrote out a lengthy email, signed it with my name and a disclaimer that I didn’t think my story was important or worthy of being read on-air, but if they did, could they only use the first initial of my name. I hit send and forgot about it.