The most horrible thing is not what has happened, but what it does to you. It can take hours, some people have to suffer through it for years. For some of us it has just been a moment.
It only takes one moment and everything you are, everything you have experienced, the beautiful soul within you, gets destroyed.
It is not the act of violation itself. It is the never ending war you have to fight.
I was seventeen. I was on a trip with my coworkers in a spa hotel just a few hundred miles away. We were enjoying the nature, the spa, the food, got a tour through the hotel (since we were the front office department from a really big and famous high class hotel in the area). In the evening we finished our wine at the hotel bar. A few of us left early, celebrating on their rooms. I held myself back, stayed downstairs at the bar, at our cozy table in the corner with my two bosses. I adored them, looked up to them. Strong women in leading positions. I was only six month into my job, had finally gotten my degree and knew that I wanted to be where they were. One day. Someday. The day never came. It might would have if I would have spent the rest of the night getting wasted in one of the rooms with my coworkers.
Instead we had another glass of wine, and suddenly it was so late, the bar emptied. Also my two bosses went to bed. I wanted to leave too, but the barkeeper started a conversation with me. He was handsome, charming. I was young and flattered by the attention. I was tipsy, overly tired, so I wanted to leave, especially since he almost finished cleaning up the bar. That was when he offered to make me tea. I always start freezing when I am tired out.
It was orange tea – my favorite flavor of this special brand that we served in our hotel as well.
I felt uneasy. So I headed to the toilets in the lower floor. I felt dizzy, the world wavered and made me feel sick. I must have taken me some time down there since suddenly someone was knocking on the door. My bartender asked me if I was okay. I assured him I was so that he left. That was when I threw up. I remember it being oddly shocking. Due to the red wine the white porcelain was stained red. I thought my stomach was bleeding – that was until I could wrap my head around the fact that it was just the wine we had for dinner.
When I got back I wanted to head to bed immediately. But he wouldn’t let me. He sat me down and poured me more tea, which was cold by now.
I was young, I drank a lot at that age. We had a four or even five course dinner. So a few glasses of red wine would not have made me sick. But at that point I didn’t pay attention to that fact.
He helped me into the elevator, I was stumbling around like I was totally wasted. I remember how he held me through the elevator ride. I was leaning on his chest and he had one arm around me to hold me upright.
The next thing I knew was how he helped me into a room. There was another guy instructing him. Much later I remember how he told me that this was the apartment of the hotel owner’s son, who had a spare room where he sometimes crashed. It was a single bed in the corner, right next to the door on the right side. Not one of those comfortable sized single beds, but one of those tiny ones, where you would feel like you barely fit in. Next to it there was a small table. With condoms on it. I only recall them because they were talking about them.
I don’t know what happened then. I only recall gaining consciousness. I was on my stomach, my hips pulled up, so that my face got pressed into the mattress in a very uncomfortable way.
And I remember how one male voice said “She is waking up.”
I didn’t think. My thoughts were heavy, I felt like a guest in my own body. Thinking logically and connecting the dots seemed impossible – wasn’t even on my mind.
Getting up was hard, because my trousers and my underwear was only pulled down to my knees. I also didn’t had to put on a shirt, only to rearrange it.
I stumbled out of the room. The other man, the hotel owners’ son, headed to his bedroom, which was right next door, threw himself in his bed and invited me into it. He said with a smile that I could stay for some more fun if I wanted to. I don’t recall my answer, but I left. But I do remember his big belly and his age. He was at least 35 or even 40 – which was pretty old for me back then. The “gross old” in association with sex.
My room mate was just getting up when I got down. I don’t know if she guessed what had happened. Sure she thought I had a one night stand, but probably only because I had been drunk. Because I did feel a little uneasy and was wobbly on my feet.
I didn’t shower, I peed, and I changed. I don’t remember breakfast, but I remember our last hours in the spa before we left. I barely left the pool, didn’t want to go into the sauna when anyone was in there. And I had this very weird feeling in my lower body. The one you have after being penetrated. A tingling sensation. Like when you rub over a part of your skin over and over again. It starts tingling and will stay sensitive for some time.
I never got back there. I never pressed charges. It took me years until I told someone.
Instead I abused alcohol and made myself forget. I had sex with multiple men. I chose the man, I chose the time, I chose the circumstances. It gave me power.
They thought I was behaving slutty. I though I had control.
I made myself forget, until I didn’t know anymore what that was. And then I broke.
It took me a few affairs and a serious relationship until it came back to me. It hit me one day. I remember being in my apartment – one I shared with my ex-boyfriend with. It hit me like a train. Full force. Right in the face. I don’t know what had triggered it. But it came back. And with it the pain.
I was in shock. I could not breath, I could not cry. I couldn’t scream.
I didn’t know what to do. I felt dirty, used, disgraced.
The more time passed, the more details came back. It ran my relationship into the ground. I never told him. I took the blame of ruining our future together quietly. Like I took everything then. Without a word of complaint.
Even telling my best friend which I know since we were children took a long time. She sat there, listening, and while I kept talking I couldn’t figure out why there was no shock or surprise on her face. Until I finished. She said I had already told her.
I made myself forget, pushed everything away, so far, that I even lost myself.
There are many things I remember about that night. But I never remembered telling her.
It was a long road. Healing. It took forever. Still does. Sometimes there are good days. Sometimes I can barely survive. There were days, where I couldn’t leave the house. I still don’t like being touched by foreign people. I need to drink to be flirty and step out of my comfort zone.
The next relationship I had ruined me emotionally. And then it took one one night stand with a man I met at the same time as I met my last ex-boyfriend. We didn’t even have sex as in the penetrating part – since there was too much alcohol involved. But we were intimate. For a very long time. And it was intense.
It helped me heal. I am far from being whole. I am patched up. Every now and then I need to adjust the band-aid a bit, sometimes I fall apart again. It takes time to put the pieces back together, but given the fact that my story of being emotionally and physically abused started when I was just a child, I kind of figured out a way to survive.
There are still days where I feel like drowning, where I feel alone. I am suffering from depression. An aftermath. Something like that handicaps you, hovers over you like a dark cloud. It affects your life. Not only back then, but it follows you every step on the way.
It is like you push a vase to the floor. Then you pick up the pieces and put them back together. Until it gets pushed down again. Then you pick those pieces up again and put them back together once more.
You cannot heal from something like this. You can only survive. But you will never be whole again.
I did not file a report because after all those years I don’t have evidence. And the fight along the road would be too painful and the road itself would be too long. A road, that would lead nowhere after all this time. But I grew, I became stronger, because I needed to in order to survive.
If you get raped or sexually assaulted, do not wait. Do not hesitate. Get help. File a report. Do not destroy the evidence, proof to the authorities that you are the victim of a crime. It is nothing to be ashamed of. You did not do anything wrong. Surviving makes you an even more stronger person.
– Survivor for 9 years