Had just read an article on the Stanford rape case and the deeply moving letter writen by the woman involved. I belive the justice system here failed to include intergrity into this case. One of the most poinent elements needed in this given situation.
It opened up a few scars in the first half but the ending changed my perception on looking back on my own experiences when the memories arose.
Instead of crying tears of re-living rape incidencies and the hurt it caused, it’s causing me the tears of gratefulness and an understanding I hadn’t comprehended before. I felt compelled to share this womens’ courageous letter and details of my own healing process of rape.
Here’s my story.
Growing up, I had a promiscious sister at 16, who actaully enjoyed the company and attention from men. I was the opposite. At 15, I was in the library, focused on my studies, had a boyfriend that I had a best friend relationship with and loved going out dancing with friends.
When we went on UK coast holiday with my dad, my sister and I wanted to go out on the town. I loved dancing and was confident enough to tell men I wasn’t interested in their advances on the dance floor and I was just their to dance. When leaving the club, my sister wanted to go walk about the highstreet and see if anything else was open and we were approached by two men, who after a bit of sweet talk, managed to pursuade my sister back to their hotel to smoke some weed. I wasn’t comfortable in the slightest and kept making excuses that we had to meet my dad and go home. My sister said she was going to go with them with or without me. I thought it would be safer if we stuck together so I went along.
After drinking at the bar, I kept quiet trying to display my disinterest and it was obvious they were trying to get us drunk. I wish then I told the bar man to call my dad. I wish then I could have made my excuses and said I had started menstruating and was in so much pain or anything to get us out of their. Maybe I was young an naive and had good faith that this was going to be fine, my sister would just smoke the weed and then we could go home.
We were led up to their room for ‘weed’ and as a sat on a bed (there were no other pieces of furniture to sit on), he put his arm over my shoulders and I remeber him being heavy and stinking of alcohol. They sweet talked us somemore and at this point I felt numb with fear. As my sister was taken outside to smoke she asked if I would be alright, I tried to show it in my face that I wasn’t and when she asked again he pinched me so hard where she couldn’t see, I just blurted out yes. I was scared he was going to get violent if I didn’t. I wont mention the details but it was only stopped when my sister came in and realised I was being forced to have sex against my will because I was begging him to stop, crying and shaking with fear. Even when she was trying to drag me away from him he wouldn’t let me go. We walked to meet my dad around the corner in silence and we all drove back to the campsite in silence. It was like everyone knew what happened but was too ashamed to speak. I cried in my sleep all night with my sister snapping at me to shut up. It was one of the loneliest feelings.
Not only did this incident leave me with mental scars but also 3 sexually transmitted diseases, two of which were treated with three months of treatments, and yes I begged for him to wear something, but he didn’t.
Unfortunately in the UK at that time, rape culture was a girl bringing it upon themselves. Even on my first visit to the sexual health clinic for tests after the rape, I got judgemental statements. “You’re 15! Should you even be having sex?” was the receptionists response when I handed back the forms. I sat opposite a an older girl and her mum who gave my the most disguted look. I went into the room and sat on the table and the nurse asked “Why didn’t you use protection? You’re far to young to be having unprotected sex”. At this point the shame became too overhelming and I broke down. After informing them that I had been forced to have sex, the treatment changed and there were two nurses at either side holding my hand for that check. I was asked to see the counsellor straight after all the tests. He broke down in tears when I explained what happened. I can see now that he was relating me to his daughter and the thought that it could happen to his girl struck him painfully so. But at that time I felt he was crying because there was no hope for me. I then felt no hope. I went to see a specialist doctor about the herpes complex, she too burst into tears saying she had this on the mouth and can’t kiss her grand children. I felt like I should be destroyed. Like an entity that was safe for no one.
Please note: For any STI or disease sufferers, this is far from the truth – looking back it was obivous this professional also needed help on her persepctive on the subject and should not have treated a patient under such a strong emotional drive but as a child, an adults word, especially a doctor is one not to be taken with a pinch of salt.
I was in comtempt with my sister for a long time. The tension built up to the point we had a public argument on the train about it. I was trying to tell her and my best friend about the results from the test. I had warts, chlamydia and herpes. The first thing my sister said was “I can’t believe you got sti’s on your second encounter!” and lauhed (I had only lost my virginity to a boyfriend earlier that year). I burst into rage and my best friend had to seperate us to keep us calm.
I told my then boyfriend what happened and he couldn’t listen. He just turned and walked away whilst I was pouring it all out, on why I was acting the way I was. I confided in another male friend, he said I mis-lead the guy by sitting on his bed, and that it doesn’t count as rape. This same friend who I confied in, invited me to his place up north and I insisted on staying on the sofa , but he insisted it wouldn’t be gentleman like and that I can use his bed whilst he slept on the sofa. That night he came into the bed and tried to kiss me. As much as I wanted to cry and ask him why he was doing this, I knew it wouldn’t help. I was alone with him in his flat, I had to sweet talk out of this one. So I successfully managed to say how much I saw him as a brother and an amazing person and that this wasn’t a great support following what happened. I left the next day and haven’t heard from him or reached out to him since. I learnt an apt saying, you can’t hang around with a lion and expect him not to eat you. It’s the same with the mentality of some people, you can’t expect them to see your point of view when they’re stuck in theirs.
There was so much pented up anger with myself, my sister and against those I thought cared about me. In a way it helped with my studies as I spent more time in the library, pre-occupying my mind and grew creativity by singing more to get the emotions out. Me and my sister had another argument was in front of my mum, who I had been too ashamed to tell. I blamed my sister for not protecting me, for leading me into that situation, which my mum got infuriated but now I see that she was just angry with herself, thinking it was her fault for letting us go away with our dad. My mum hasn’t spoke to me about it or for the details of what happened. Maybe she was scared, not ready for it or didn’t want to know. What I do know is that in her own way, she stayed strong, gave me hope be reminding me I can be anything I want to be and achieve anything when I put my mind to it. In her own way, my mums support was to focus on studying and the future. I’m forever grateful for this.
It was only half a year later, I met a friend of my sister who showed interest in me and my defense mechanism automatically went to deter him. He managed to get it out of me what had happened in the most caring understanding form. I felt a sense of hope again, that people still saw worth and hope for me. My sister walked in whislt we were talking. She apologised by saying all the things that made it evident she showed remorse, guilt and truly cared for my wellbeing.
There were two boyfriends I lived with at two points in my life who would sometimes force me to have sex with them when I was angry with them. Only one apologised a year after we broke up let me know he was getting help with his mental health and was advised to unload the guilt he was carrying. He told me he felt compelled to contact me let me know he didn’t mean to hurt me and asked for forgiveness. Instantly I felt the lift of pain that he caused and see him as an honest being who is now aware of what was right and wrong. The other only got in touch 10 years later and when I asked why, it was because “he was lying in bed thinking of me and wanted to see what I was up to”. I didn’t even feel compelled to carry on that conversation as I could see from this one email he hadn’t changed and would be that same person that I luckily got away from.
You can see which people have changed and acknowledge their wrong doing and those who can’t because they’re not willing to comprimise or acknowledge the affected someones view on their worth. I now no longer hold contempt with my sister or ex that called to apologise and I will never again see that man who did what he did or reply to that ex who thinks of me at night. Even if I could, I cannot ask for them to admit their wrongs as it wouldn’t be coming from them, it would be saying it for show. Instead, I choose to see my self worth and capacity to be loved is not one that is moulded by the standards of a misogynist culture, an uninformed nurse or group think. For me, the justice was mostly in the absolution between me and those who could see the error of their ways. In not denying what happened, in supporting each others worth, these are the first steps into forgivenesses and moving on.
In the recent the years I can honestly say I have moved on to a better way of looking at what happened, even with the defence mechanisms still there, I’m glad. It’s a great prevention technique and only the openly honest relationships survive.
The article brought tears to my eyes as it reminded me of the love and support that was there when I needed it. It’s easy to focus on the injustice of others and feel like a victim, stripped of dignity and selfworth, but it was the open hearts and support that pulled me out of the dark and reminded me life was worth living, dont’ stop and that there is hope to build up everything again. The world has a long way to go when it comes to finding justice, but this can be served if we fight hard enough for it, fueled with love and understanding.If the party in denial cannot accept that they have done injustice and you have the chance at a tribunal, take it. If they are spreading misleading information – challenge it! Just stick to knowing your worth and living a life of truth and if the other party are insistent of not being in the wrong, let them live in a world of delusion but if you can, don’t let them lead the world under the same delusion too. No one should have to suffer at the hands of this. By showing it’s tolerable, can be looked over, keeping silent – it’s encouraging that it’s ok, it’s acceptable. Delusion is a dark and loney place, maybe if they’re their long enough, the cracks will let some light in.
Thank you for reading.
Stay strong, live by truth, love and integrity.