My story I think is quite long, this is the first time I am writing it. I was raped, many times I do not know the number exactly, by my boyfriend of two years. I only realized it was rape after months in therapy trying to come to terms with my change of character, and many other negative things that had occurred in my life, I opened up one day about my boyfriend’s behavior and my therapist just said “that is rape” and that statement both brought my world together and crashing down at the same time.
I think I loved my boyfriend the first time I saw him, I was 17 and he had transferred from a different country and had all the things I looked for in a guy- he was adventurous, exotic, fearless and had experienced so much of life. The complete opposite to me: I suffered with anxiety after being sexually assaulted in an alleyway when I was 15, and after this I had a mentally and physically abusive relationship with a guy that lasted around 9 months. Anyway the first time my boyfriend and I date I was 18 and it didn’t last long because with everything I had been through I just wasn’t ready to open up to someone. We stayed in touch and no matter who else I tried to date I always thought in my head, my boyfriend was the one I would end up with and I still was in love with.
I went traveling when I was 20 and whilst away for months, my boyfriend told me he still loved me and I was intent on coming back from my experience – kicking my anxiety to the curb and trying to make us work again. Just before I came home though I found out he had been seeing my sister, she has Borderline personality disorder and as much as I love her, she is the most selfish person I know and she is very destructive. The day I came back from my trip, it was the most complete I had ever felt in myself, so happy. But it was also the day my heart broke as my sister and my (ex) boyfriend told me they wanted to be together, I gave my sister an ultimatum and she chose him. Eventually coming back to my house a few days later and admitting she had been wrong. I moved on, forgiving her and pinning it all on my boyfriend. He contacted me again a couple of months later, my life was on track I had applied to university again and was in therapy for eating problems I had developed but I was happier. He told me he had been to rehab, he had had a serious drug problem and we met up so he could explain his actions. He told me he was on many drugs when he met my sister in a club, and he saw me when he looked at her, he never thought he would have a chance with me so he went for her and nothing actually happened between them. He told me he had been seriously sexually abused when he was a child, I already knew this but the extent to which it happened I didn’t realize. His rapes had been filmed and they were sent to him recently and he had coped by drugs. We slowly started to build our friendship up, and even though everything that had occurred pointed elsewhere, I gave our relationship another chance- I loved him. I gave up therapy because I was happy. My family stopped speaking to me initially because my sister told them my boyfriend was a awful person, a drug user etc. I eventually convinced them he was not this person anymore, and they grew to love him but my sister throughout my relationship with my boyfriend hated him and was very distant and sometimes vile to me.
6 months into our relationship he admitted he had woke up next to my sister one day while I was traveling and he had lied so I would give us another chance. I felt manipulated and hurt that if something had happened- he said he was too drugged up to remember and only my sister had the answers- my sister had not been honest with me. He told me to put it in the past he did not want to talk about it. I had a mental breakdown and ended up in therapy again. The next year and a half I was in therapy sorting through many problems, and when our sex life became non-existent he blamed me and I also blamed myself. I offered to come off my anti-depressants, I offered to take female Viagra, and I would reason with myself that I was being stupid: I was in love with this gorgeous man how could I not want to have sex with him. He would use my weakened sense of self to make me feel guilty, guilting me and forcing me to have sex with him. I didn’t realize I was being raped. He would cry and argue with me because I had no sex drive, he did not take no for an answer. He would ask me to get naked at least so he could pleasure himself and just look at me, he would never just look. He would often force himself into me. I would cry and say no and he would just ignore me and continue. I imagined I was somewhere else and then blamed myself for not loving him enough to do as he asked. I was in the wrong. This happened more times than I can count.
2 years into our relationship, with lots of strains which he blamed on me for being in therapy and being a “mess” he admitted that he did sleep with my sister. I was devastated but still couldn’t leave him. I thought it was all my fault. He eventually broke up with me and said he needed time to himself and would come back to me soon, I just had to wait. I told him if he broke up with me now I would never get back with him. He broke up with me and I’ve never felt so relieved in my life. I was so surprised, I felt like a load of weight had come off my shoulders- I didn’t feel sad or like a break up had just occurred. I felt a release.
I still had problems with intimacy though, problems I attributed to myself. I slept with someone for the first time after my boyfriend about six months after we broke up. And although the desire was there, as soon as it happened I broke down and told him what my boyfriend had put me through. I realized none of this had been my fault and I also realized all “my” problems with intimacy and sex had stemmed from a long line of abuse- not just my boyfriend, but the man before that who had attacked me and the boyfriend before him. But my boyfriend had been a huge part of my feelings of sexual inadequacy. I felt sick when I thought about being touched now.
I finally started to speak to my therapist about my boyfriend’s behavior sexually and she told me I was the victim, and the survivor. I still have to work at not blaming myself, but deep down I know I have done nothing to deserve what has happened to me. I remembered when talking to my therapist that my boyfriend had admitted to me when we first met that he had been accused of rape when he was like 15, and it had destroyed him. I remember feeling so sorry for him and such disdain at the girl, the liar. Now I’m not so sure. And I worry he could do it again, I feel that he would definitely do it again because I think he has a warped sense of sexuality and what constitutes consent and normal sexual behavior. This I believe stems from his own abuse. But it doesn’t make any of what he does okay.
I can’t forgive him yet, I haven’t got to that place in my heart or life. And I haven’t told my family what happened to me, I broke down once when my mom told me that my boyfriend had moved on to another girl. I told my mom I wasn’t sad because I still loved him, I was angry because how dare he have a life when I’m left to deal with the consequences of what he did to me. She didn’t ask, I think like the couple of friends I have confided in, she didn’t want to know. I think that is one of the most hurtful things, when you find the strength to eventually confide in someone often they don’t reciprocate that strength. Instead they avoid the issue, they make you feel more shame because you are inflicting pain on them by telling them the ugly truth of something that happened to YOU. How dare you. It’s led me to believe that no one will understand what happened to me unless they too had it happen to them, unfortunately there is n o one around me that falls into that category. So I guess that is why this is the first time I’m writing my story.
I know this has been long, but I guess by writing it fully I’m hoping it will help me heal because it will help me realise that I am not to blame. Also I hope it highlights that rape happens in relationships, and sexual consent is a delicate yet important issue. I really hope, and would like to be part of, young people being educated on the true meaning of sexual consent. No should mean no.