As Linor was pointing out, rape can happen to anyone. However, more often than not, the most vulnerable are preyed upon, children, women and men who were weakened by other sorts of abuse or difficulties in their lives. I need to write my story, and it will be long, with all my efforts to make it as concise as I can.
My story begins when I was 17. Two weeks after my father’s death, after having cared for him and almost not having slept at all for nearly two months because he was too ill to be trusted on his own, even for a couple of minutes. My paternal uncle came to my house and started insulting me, my father and grandmother (also deceased), in an attempt to intimidate me so he could get all the inheritance from my grandparents (not much, really). I was too physically weak to move and leave the house so had to listen to him for more than an hour, when my mother came home. She allied with him. My mother had always been physically, mentally and emotionally abusive towards me, even more during that time, but having grown up in a nice neighborhood, my parents being university graduates with good jobs and I, an only child, everyone was accusing me of being the spoiled brat who’s bringing pain to my poor mother and were trying to ‘fix me’. It was an isolating experience, although I had friends with whom I shared interests, they didn’t know about my private life, most were a bit older and had already gone to university.
So that day I gathered all my strength and went to my boyfriend. He was ten years older than me, we had been friends for a few months and only became closer in the last few weeks. I was in deep emotional distress and he was comforting me as always, hugging me, and then took my pants off. I was wearing a skirt and was otherwise completely dressed. He started touching me with his manhood at which point I told him that I didn’t want to have sex and he told not to worry and to trust him. It did feel comforting and we had never talked about sex at all before, not even had any intimate touches so I did trust him. Next thing I know he was inside me, but I didn’t feel much really, I was too distressed. Then he saw blood and asked me if I was on my period and said no, it was my first time. He was in denial for a bit then cried. I remember is thinking as I got up “This is not going to happen again between the two of us”. But it did. I didn’t love him, but I needed him, he was the only support I had in those days. Nevertheless, four months later when he left the country I was happy to get rid of him really. It was an experience that marked me at the time, because I felt I didn’t have control over my body.
One year later
Somehow I managed to ace my final exams and straight away went off to my university city as far away as I could. I moved in with a girl during the summer. At the time were living with her friends as a temporary solution, and since my godmother warned me it was very hard to get student accommodation in that city, we were looking for a place and for jobs. After a first interview at a supermarket I was smoking a cigarette outside when an older guy approached me and was giving me health advice and said I looked about 13 and was underage to smoke. I said I wasn’t and he insisted, asked me to show him an ID which I did eventually. We talked a bit longer and he told me he actually owned a small private student accommodation and the rent was acceptable. I gave him my number and agreed to meet that Sunday at 7pm. I wasn’t pleased but thought he was a busy man.
He picked me up in the centre of the town and drove me to a café. It looked a bit shabby but I didn’t mind so much because I was badly dressed (it was a cool day and the only warm clothes I had with me were some baggy jeans and a large, unappealing jumper, which is what I was wearing) and might not have felt at ease in a classier place. He seemed to be friends with everybody there, mostly men, and I was a bit frustrated that the discussion was wandering around different subjects but I wasn’t getting much of the information I needed. He bought me 3 or 4 small votka-orange but I really drank half of that. After the football match ended he asked me if I wanted to go see the place and I said it was too late now (almost 9). He offered to pay me a taxi home or drive me to the centre and since I didn’t want to abuse his kindness I said it was a short walk for me from the centre so was happy with that plan. As we were getting in the car, a friend of his asked if he could give him a ride so the three of us drove off.
I didn’t know the city very well and thought he was avoiding traffic. As we were leaving the city I got anxious and asked him to stop the car. He accelerated. I knew I was in danger and was holding onto my mirror which I could use as a weapon. He stopped a few minutes later on a hill and got out of the car. First instinct: I wanted to drive the car into the steep slope and cause and accident with his friend in the back. I thought I would die anyway. But he had taken the keys. So I got out and walked backwards with big decisive steps. For a couple of minutes I thought I got out of it until I felt the friend grabbing my arm forcefully, he punched me in the jaw with a strength I didn’t believe human beings are capable of, and dragged me beck. I screamed as hard as I could but there was no one to hear me and they threatened to cut me if I didn’t shut up. They took my phone, I got more punches and then they took my trousers and pants off. One was holding my legs and the other one my arms. They were tall, heavily built men and I am a short, skinny girl. One penetrated me and the other one forced himself orally on me. I was already in another world, convinced I was going to be killed and cut into pieces and mentally numbed myself to the ordeal that was going to happen to me and made peace with leaving this world.
I got sick and almost threw up. Which is when they let go of me. They drove me back to the centre of the city and the main guy wanted to kiss me on the cheek and suggested we see each other again. I was walking towards the house moving automatically, as if I was a toy and somebody rotated a key inside me, not feeling my body at all for hours. When that wore off, an excruciating pain in my jaw in in my body started. I managed to take a shower, very much in shock. A guy whom I didn’t know and was staying the night at our place noticed I wasn’t well and I managed to tell him what happened. I would have probably felt ashamed to speak to someone I knew. He told our mutual friend in the morning and he took me to the police.
They didn’t believe me. Because I was still in shock and because I could barely move my jaw, I spoke in a way that seemed calm to them. They asked me to call the guy (I had his number) and in less than an hour they both were at the police station. Only when the policemen saw their declarations didn’t match, they finally believed me. But still blamed me for being naïve and not knowing how to look after myself. Unluckily, I don’t bruise easily and could not notice any bruises where the pain was almost unbearable (I found some in other places later on). They told me the only way was for me to take them to court but my chances were slim. I had had a couple of law suits in the previous year for family reasons, had no support or money whatsoever and couldn’t bear seeing them again. So they were just let go.
This is very important. Initially, the policemen feared he was a notorious rapist because the first name matched, and were relieved it wasn’t him (wtf, right?). More than 40 women have gone to the police over the years accusing that guy of rape but he was let go every time. He was finally thrown in jail about two years ago for… beating up a guy. East European justice.
I felt alone and abandoned for years, moved from one bad place to another, my badly paid, demeaning jobs didn’t allow me to live in a decent place, and been dumped unexpectedly by quite a few guys (I was too keen on clinging on to someone thinking once I found love and a sense of belonging it would all go away). I tried to kill myself a few times, once I took around 150 antidepressants with whiskey and absinth, was unconscious for three days then woke up, looked at the date, looked at the time… I felt so defeated by life, I wasn’t allowed to live, nor to get away from it all, I didn’t even feel human any more… No one in my family knows but I am sure if they did I they made me feel so much worse. I haven’t actually spoken to any of them in years (after a friend of my mother tried to strangle me) and feel happy and at peace for not being manipulated and shamed any more.
I am 27 now and in a better place. I have a supporting boyfriend, feel safe where I live and I am about to start university again. My wounds haven’t completely healed and what pains me the most at this time is that having survived from one day to another for years, I find myself now incapable of even providing for myself (I live in the UK now) and don’t have the strength to do exhausting physical jobs any more, but I hope I’ll be able to turn this around.
— Mihaela, age 27