The detective told me that rape is about power. I replied ‘I don’t understand’. I don’t understand what a rapist can gain from the act of rape once it’s over, but I didn’t realise that it’s never over.
I am never out late and I never walk alone but this time I did. I got off the bus and walked past my grandparents house which is only 2 roads down from my own. I took a cut through by the allotments and garages. The news report calls it an alleyway but it’s not, it’s a partially lit up cut-through that I played in as a child, the path is short and that’s where you grabbed me.
I struggled to get away but I was completely pinned down, my face was between the cold leafy floor and dirt, I was winded and I was desperately struggling for breath while you raped me. I always thought that if I was attacked I would scream as loud as possible, grab at hair and clothing and look my attacker straight in the face, but the reality was that I froze. I knew that I would never see my little girl again, I thought of her waking up and not having a mummy anymore and that’s why I made a conscious decision not to look at you in hope that if I couldn’t identify you that maybe there would be no need to kill me. That’s why I closed my eyes and once you were finished I covered my arms over my head so you would see that I wasn’t a threat to you. I heard your breath and smelled your gloved hand when it covered my mouth but I didn’t even know what you looked like, you didn’t say a word to me, not one single word.
I couldn’t believe that I was left alive, I couldn’t believe that you were leaving, I was bleeding and shaking and I felt like I was going to be sick but I was so grateful to still be alive. I got up and grabbed my belongings and ran, I remember cutting my hand on a Holly leaf that was caught in my hair and another one that was actually partially embedded in my scalp but I couldn’t feel any pain. I don’t remember getting home or calling the police but I remember the blood that was on my clothes and I remember the ambulance asking if I was stabbed and I heard a voice say ‘no not stabbed, just raped’ that’s when it hit me, those were my words and my voice.
I woke up the next day to three police officers at the bottom of my bed. 2 of them were detectives and one was a SOIT officer 2 close friends were there, one was looking after my little girl downstairs and one made me tea and toast, I had one bite out of politeness but eating was the last thing on my mind. I took the tea in the police car and sipped it as we drove to the haven clinic in Paddington, I was still wearing my pyjamas that I had changed into after leaving the hospital in the early hours of the morning. Due to the amount I was bleeding the pyjama bottoms were now bloodstained too despite wearing maternity pads . We stopped off at the station for a forensic cool box, an the officer that brought it down to the car didn’t look me in the eye.
The clinic was an experience that I unfortunately remember but wish I didn’t. It took over 5 hours to swab and examine and document every injury. The bruising on my back was measured with a ruler and thoroughly documented, I didn’t even know there was any bruising on my back. The internal examination was a lot more intrusive, I had a tear, an internal laceration and bad bruising so I was in a lot of pain and still bleeding when I used the toilet. I had injections against possible desieses that I could have been exposed to and I was given a 28 day course of post exposure prophylaxis in case I had been exposed to HIV. The thought of contracting a life threatening illness from the attack hadn’t even crossed my mind at this point. I am ashamed to admit it but while laying on the bed being examine by one doctor and being given injections from the other I decided that it would have been kinder if I hadn’t survived. I stopped feeling lucky and felt incredibly angry, I wanted to fall in to a deep sleep and never wake up. during the next week every time I woke up I had about 3 seconds before I remembered what you did to me, the only way to stop remembering was to sleep. I was stuck in a vicious cycle of sleeping, crying, and taking post exposure medication that made me incredibly ill.
I have been stared at by a lot of men recently and think that maybe they are you and then I realize that they are staring at me because I am staring at them. I look at shoes because that’s the clearest part of the ‘person of interest’ CCTV footage. I am becoming obsessed with finding out who you are.
I think about you a lot. Its crazy because you are a stranger yet you are the last person I think about before I sleep, I imagine what you look like and I try to give you a voice but its just a guess. I need to know who you are and why you did what you did.
Was I in the wrong place at the wrong time?
If you hadn’t raped me then would some other poor girl be going through all this now instead?
Do you know me?
Did you set out to rape someone that night l or did you see me and thought I looked weak?
Were you carrying a weapon?
Were you planning on killing me?
Would I be dead now if I saw your face?
Why didn’t you speak?
I have to try and make peace with the fact that these questions I think about every day may never be answered because you are the only person that can answer them.
I don’t go out alone anymore, I get panic attacks when I drop my daughter off at nursery, I constantly feel like I am being followed and I suspect everyone. To a certain extent, you control my life now. You have power over my actions, my nightmares and my happiness. Now I understand what the detective meant.
— Survivor, age 28