I saw Brave Miss World today on Netflix, I watched it with my partner. She’s asleep now and I’m looking at the website alone trying to process what I saw privately so she doesn’t have to know the effect it had.
When I was 17 somebody spiked my drink and sexually assaulted me at a party. I was knew most people at the party so felt safe and was in hindsight quite naive. I was going to college at the time and didn’t really have many friends, so when I found people from my college there I made an effort to talk to them. I really just wanted them to like me and be my friend so I wouldn’t be so lonely… I let them hold my drink whilst I rolled cigarettes and we talked outside. I was starting to feel quite drunk so I said I wasn’t going to finish my drink, they all cheered me on to finish it and there wasn’t much left so I did.
At one point, the rest of the group went inside and one boy asked me to stay to talk with him. I rolled a cigarette and he told me he didn’t smoke, at the time this didn’t seem strange or sound any alarm bells. I was feeling a bit confused, and really tired. He told me to lean against the wall and tried to kiss me. I remember saying I had a boyfriend and he stopped trying to kiss me. The next thing I remember is waking up feeling very confused and feeling cold by my legs. I was half naked and he was trying to force himself, it was touching. It really hurts when someone does that – I think that’s why I woke up. I was trying to say no but it was hard to talk. I did manage to say no but was struggling to open my eyes, and he wouldn’t stop. I thought it was actually my partner as I was so disorientated (not that this would have made it better). I did manage to open my eyes and was quite shocked to discover it was not my partner, he tried to push me back agains t the wall and spoke to me, but the sound just came in waves and I couldn’t understand what he said. I managed to stumble away and pull my underwear and tights back up. I went back to the party and my partner was looking for me. I remember he hugged me and I looked over his shoulder thinking if someone walks back from that alley it was just a mistake, if not someone just tried to rape me. Nobody came back, the guy must’ve run off. I felt really detached and remember just accepting that he’d tried to rape me. I didn’t say what had happened, I just said I wanted to go home. I then vomited everywhere and a friend drove me home. I don’t remember being driven home, or being put to bed once I got home.
It took a while for me to fully remember the evening (I still don’t remember all parts), or admit what had happened. The next day I asked my partner if we’d almost had sex and he said no, he looked quite concerned. Later that week I told a teacher at my college what I thought had happened and that it must be someone from my college. She told me to find her if I saw him and that the college could help with finding his name if I wanted to tell the police. I did find his name, and I did tell the police three months later. They told me it was “sexual assault” and put his name on a “list” apparently, but mainly convinced me court “wasn’t for everyone” and people might not believe me. Nothing ever really got done about it short of my three trips to have a statement taken. I just felt so dirty and disgusting and guilty. I remember thinking I must have led him on in some way or “asked for it”. Horrific ideas I’d never deem to think about anyone else, but I spent ages justifying to myself why it was my fault. I remember thinking that “assault” was such an inoffensive word to describe my experience, that it somehow didn’t match the scale of the fear, shame and pain I felt.
Anyway, what really struck me about the film was hearing from other survivors. It’s taken me a long time to accept my feelings as valid because I wasn’t “actually raped”. Hearing how other women just wanted to be unattractive and hide, hurt themselves and forget resonated with me…
I got dreadlocks, stopped wearing shorts or skirts and didn’t really socialize for months. I do socialize now, but I don’t ever go out on my own still to places where I’ll be drinking or meeting people. I still feel afraid without a wing person to meet me from my house and take me to my door at night. This is something I’ve only recently acknowledged and am trying to break that habit/protection mechanism now. I’m determined that he won’t define me and am finally getting rid of my dreadlocks after six years.
Anyway, I’ve rabbited on for ages in this post so I’m sorry about that. It’s just such a big thing I could talk for days I guess! If anyone has managed to reach the end of this, I’m okay. And if this has happened to you, you will be too. It takes time and self-love and acceptance that you are a valid person in feeling the way you do as a result of events, ultimately though I think it makes you grow. It takes talking about it and admitting it to people, but it does get better. The pain eases.
I’m now in a state of quiet acceptance – I don’t even feel angry at him any more. I’m not even sure I’d want to talk to him. I used to want to sit him down and explain exactly what he did and how that impacted on me – something he’ll never know. Now though, I know that I’m stronger because I had to go through this, and I guess I saved a lot of my friends from a similar fate as many people I know are now much more careful with their drinks. In short, it hurts but it doesn’t feel like such an achingly powerful pain forever.