iI was sexually assaulted and can’t remember if I was raped (but feel I was) over 10 years ago in Barcelona a city I had been living in for over a year.
I still find it difficult to say out loud what happened to me, when I talk to my therapist in the rape crisis centre about the incident I always refer to it as what happened to me in Barcelona. I am uncomfortable and afraid to admit to myself what happened.
Thats how I coped with this memory the last 10 years that followed. I kept it in, hidden, it was my secret and I didn’t want to talk or think about it. If I don’t think about it it will go away. It wont effect me…but we all know this is not true ..as scary as it is to face the truth if u hide away from it it will always pop up and creep its way into your thoughts.
I had moved there with my ex boyfriend who was from Spain and planned on living there for the year. We went out one night to a party with many friends and drank a lot of champagne and beers. I remember we were all very drunk. I remember leaving the night club and waiting for a taxi to come pick us up. I remember getting in the taxi but the rest is blank up until the point where I woke up in a dark dumpsite alley way with my top pulled up. My trousers down and a man lying on top of me kissing my mouth and neck.
I remember I kissed him back for I didn’t know where I was and the first thingI though was that it was with my boyfriend in my bedroom. It was less than a second later that I realized that this man was a stranger .
I was scared, confused. I tried to get him off me but he wouldn’t stop. He held my arms down. He looked like he was panicking. I then went blank unconscious, when I woke up I was alone in the dark.
I was terrified he was still there but he was gone. I jumped up fast but was dazed and confused I remember I had one shoe missing and was covered in muck. I remember looking out from the dark alley way into the light of the street the first thing I saw was a big cloud sculpture on top of the building in front of me. I knew where I was as I walked by that sculpture everyday. I was 5 minutes from my home on the same road.
I ran home and up the 13 flights of stairs. I have never wanted to get home so fast in my life…to feel safe to be away from the outside world where I could be hurt again.
When I got inside the apartment, I remember going straight to my flat mates room and knocking on the door. There was no answer. I didn’t know what to do. I kept knocking and knocking I didn’t want to be alone. Eventually my flatmates friend opened the door (my flat mate was not there) and came out to me. I remember it vaguely but remember I kept repeating I was raped. I went to the toilet and looked at myself in the mirror…this moment is one I will never forget. I was covered in muck my face. My hands everything seemed blurry almost like in slow motion. I was staring into my own eyes. I felt like I recognized what had just happened in that moment my eyes were filled with fear and pain…i cried.
The girl was vey helpful and went with me in a taxi to the hospital to get tests and talk to someone. I arrived at the hospital feeling ashamed,guilty. I felt that if I hadn’t got so drunk this wouldn’t have happened. I felt like it was my fault. That the people were looking down at me arriving at 5 in the morning .
Hours passed and I was probed with needles and tests to make sure I didn’t get any diseases.
I was trying to call my x boyfriend continuously for hours but there was no answer. Eventually he picked the phone up and was very slurry. I had woken him. He didn’t know where he was. Ee was the other end of the city on the side of the street sleeping on the footpath. How did he end up there? What happened? He didn’t know. He didn’t remember anything from the taxi until that moment.
We were both missing for 3 hours from the time we entered the taxi to the point I got home after the assault.
Where was I for those 3 hours? Was I in the alleyway with this man that long unconscious with him taking my body? These are thing I will probably never know and really never want to remember either. The not knowing is a torture in some way even tho I don’t want to remember.
I told him I was in the hospital and why. He cried and came straight away. He arrived with his brother and friend.
After the hospital, I went to the police station to file a report, but I couldn’t remember what he looked like as it was so dark. I will never forget piercing eyes…that is the only thing I remember the shadow with the piercing cold eyes. I knew that we would never catch him.
The police were very unhelpful and sniggered at times while I gave the report as I didn’t speak spanish very well. I felt uncomfortable and ashamed.
I went home and cried. I felt so vulnerable. I felt like someone had take away a big part of me, like a part of me had died. I didn’t want to leave the house for days. I called work and told them I would not be back for a while. I was afraid this Man who assaulted me knew where I lived. I was filled with fear that I was passing him on the street and wouldn’t recognize him. What happens if he gets me again. Was I drugged in the taxi?
I didn’t know where to turn. I called my friend in London. This was the first person I told…she was very caring and helpful. I didn’t tell my family until years later…I couldn’t.
A few weeks after I overheard my boyfriend say to someone what if I was cheating on him with this man that assaulted me. That hurt me so much to think someone who was supposed to love me would think that I was lying about what had happened.
When I eventually told my mum. Her response was to minimize it “was that I was lucky I didn’t get killed and didn’t really seem too affected by it.” I guess that was her way of dealing with it. She told me not to tell anyone else…it hurt a lot I felt so ashamed. I felt she is still embarrassed by it.
I have told very few people. My sister, my husband and my close friends. A large portion of people in my life don’t know my secret. I feel too uncomfortable and dirty. I feel that I will be judged and looked down upon by them.
I feel so alone,almost isolated when it come to this topic. I wish I knew more people who went through the same thing who could relate to me.
Watching this film really made me cry tears of pain. It also gave me hope to heal and made me feel less alone as I heard other peoples stories who I could relate to completely. They had the same feelings as me,the same shame the same,feelings of fear. I wasn’t alone.
Its a tough journey ahead but I am ready to fight for life and not let what happened define me, to ruin my life. I still have my bad days or even weeks where I feel like everything is collapsing around me, my anxiety kicks up, I’ll get flashbacks and I can’t sleep properly. I have nightmares where the shadowed figure will be standing over me while I’m asleep. I still continue to be hyper vigilant but I feel that with time and therapy everything is reducing I’m learning skills to cope. Time will heal. I just need to keep the faith.
– Survivor since 1981