(I have changed the names of all people involved in this account.)
This is quite a long account so I do apologise.
Max, this is the message you sent me 8 years after I woke up to you on top of me after our college prom:
I sincerely hope that life is treating you well and you are feeling good.
I hope this message isn’t an intrusion on your happiness. But, f**k, I miss you like crazy.
I understand that I was a special sort of C**t.
I know that I don’t even warrant a thought. But I think of you often.
I realise that my behaviour was beyond reprehensible.
I just wish that I still knew you.Feel free to ignore this.
I just turned 26 and know I still think about you daily and wish I had done the right thing for you and by you.
I hope you have the best of everything and are happy.
AGAIN!!! Feel free to ignore this and feel no way. This message is no doubt all about me.
Stay beautiful and powerful.
So Max this is my reply:
You forcing yourself on me was certainly an ‘intrusion’ on my happiness’.
I was healing. You built up my trust towards boys and then shattered it.
Why had I lost that trust in the first place? Believe it or not you weren’t the first guy to assault me. Apparently young people are the most likely to face sexual assault than other age groups and research shows that rape has one of the highest rates of repeat-victimisation. I suppose those statistics make sense of my adolescent experiences. But it doesn’t take away the emotional damage it causes or most importantly it still doesn’t explain why you did what you did.
I was only 13 the first time I was raped; I was a virgin. Infatuated with an older 17-year-old boy who had taken an interest in me. After going up to his room to ‘chill’ as we had done a few times before, we started kissing which I was okay with but then panic set in when he began undressing me. He pushed me down on the bed and got in between my legs. I tried to reason with him that I was a virgin, tried to push him off me, but my protest was completely ignored. ‘Don’t worry I won’t put it in’ he said. But not long after he managed to force himself inside me. I tried to forget what he’d done to me. But 6 weeks later I found out I was pregnant. Ricky’s response was simply ‘just get rid of it and let me know when it’s done’.
Next there was Justin I was 14 he was 18. I met him through a girl at school who was dating his friend. Dating older ‘bad boy’ types seemed to be the ‘cool’ thing to do. Justin and I had been going out for about 4 months but at points I was very scared of him. I remember being held against my will after my curfew until I performed oral sex on him. He threatened me a few times; threatened to hold my bare legs against a hot radiator, threatened to rape me during an argument, threatened to push a metal spike inside me as a ‘joke’. Another time he held a silver pistol (not loaded) to my head and pulled the trigger as a ‘bit of a laugh’ (we live in the UK so only the army and trained police officers carry guns) showing what kind of criminality he was involved in.
Justin invited me to his new house that he shared with his older cousin. Justin and I had sex and then he left the room to go to the bathroom. One minute later the bedroom door opened but it wasn’t him it was his cousin who entered the room. I ran to get my cardigan from the back of the bedroom door to cover my naked body but he ripped it off me. I tried to get away from him but he grabbed me and threw me down on the edge of the bed. ‘What are you doing, Please?’ I screamed. But he didn’t listen and held me down as he undid his Jeans.
What chance did I have, a 14-year-old girl against a 21-year old man? How could Justin not hear me screaming? Why was he not coming back to help me? When the cousin, started raping me I started to cry uncontrollably. He began kissing my lips and neck as I cried repeating the same thing ‘shh it’s okay baby don’t cry, daddy’s here’. When he was finished he just left the room. I hurriedly got dressed in case he came back.
But the next person through the bedroom door was Justin. Hysterically I told him that his cousin had come into the room but he cut me off mid-sentence saying ‘he’s my cousin’ as if that made it oaky! I screamed back at him ‘I don’t care if he’s your f****g dad’ but I didn’t get to finish the sentence as he jumped up in anger and pushed me against the wall holding my face into it ‘you sleep with who I f*****g tell you to sleep with’. I didn’t want to anger Justin further so I didn’t argue when he told me I had to have sex with him again. But I kept my eye on the door the whole time terrified his cousin would come in again. Thankfully he didn’t. Another girl from our school was raped by Justin’s brother at a house party. So there was obviously some kind of culture of abuse within that gang.
So you weren’t the first Max!
You see on paper what you did to me isn’t as bad as either of them. Ricky stole my virginity and got me pregnant and Justin pre-meditated a rape with his cousin. But everyone knows that dates/boyfriends can hurt you. Whereas friends are supposed to protect you. That’s why to me what you did was worse as it was a betrayal of trust. Even so I still blame myself for creating a situation that lead to it.
You, Casey and I spent every moment together, you two were everything to me. We became known as the three musketeers by everyone at college. We were inseparable. I have never laughed so much in my life, never had so much fun. It’s messed up but sometimes even now (nearly a decade later) I have moments when I miss it, until I remember what you did to me. Sadly, you mistook the bond we had as friends for something more. That’s when things started to fall apart didn’t they Max?
Initially, you were my rock. You knew about all the things I was going through at home from the separation of my parents and the court case (which had been going on for years); the subsequent alcoholism of my mother; mental breakdown and hospitalisation of my father and the physical abuse I was experiencing from my boyfriend (once he hit me and knocked me to the floor in front of a room full of people) and it was you Max who was always there to provide support. The same way I was there for you as you had major issues at home too.
But that wasn’t to last was it? It all began to go downhill that one evening in the first year of our A-levels. We had eaten at Subway after college I think it must have been January as it was dark by 16:30. Everyone else left and we were alone. As we stood up to put our coats on you stopped, turned me around to face our reflections in the big glass window you towering over me (6.3 even at 16) in that white Adidas jacket you always wore. You put your arm around me and said ‘we look good together don’t we?’ I was so cringed out I just laughed it off.
But that was just the beginning. From that moment you applied consistent pressure on me to have a relationship with you. You would tell me how much you loved me and how we were supposed to be together. Your growing fixation on me was so obsessional it was commented on by other students and even teacher’s. Your behaviour made me frequently unhappy and uncomfortable. All I longed for was the platonic friendship we had before.
You and Jay (my boyfriend) disliked each other to put it mildly. Do you remember that day at mine when you both started arguing? Later on Jay told me something I didn’t believe at the time but now looking back I’m convinced it was true. He said that as you were arguing you were smirking and goading him whispering ‘go on hit me, go on Jay hit me!’ as you wanted us to split up. So, Jay lost it and started punching the fridge, literally till there were massive indentations in it. I ran downstairs and you looked at me and said ‘he’s fucking crazy look at him I will see you later’ and left. After you left, I screamed at Jay to get out as well but he came at me. I ran up the stairs to my bedroom, he followed me and grabbed me by the throat, I couldn’t breathe. I knew in that moment I had to end the relationship.
So, I called you in tears. do you remember Max? You said I should come to yours to get away from him (but this wasn’t unusual was it? I spent more time at yours or Casey’s than my own). You met me at the bus stop, gave me a big hug then said ‘f**k him, he’s a fridge punching d***head’ which made me laugh. But once we got back to yours you made it clear that you believed we were now going to be together. I perhaps didn’t respond as confidently as I should have because I didn’t want to rock the boat. I felt at that time in my life I needed you and I was too emotionally drained from what had happened earlier that day with Jay to then have a row with you. That night you tried to have sex with me. Initially I resisted you and then finally after about 4 hours of pressure you wore me down and I let it happen. I don’t blame anyone but myself for this, I felt so sickened by myself during it, after it, even now all these years later.
The next day I told you it was a mistake which you didn’t receive very well. A few days later you followed me home from college saying that you wanted to talk. You came into my home uninvited once I had opened the front door. I went to the bathroom and when I came out you were there at the top of the stairs, I tried to walk past you to go back downstairs but you blocked me and pushed me into my bedroom. ‘Let’s go downstairs’ I said’. But you took no notice and instead we ended up on my bed.
Leaning over me, you pushed your hand under my bum grabbed the back of my trousers and pulled my jeans and nickers off in one I remember sitting up trying to reason with you saying ‘stop Max my mum will be back soon’. Your response was ‘I will be quick’ then you pushed me back down and shoved your hands in between my legs saying ’how many fingers do you think I can fit up there?’ I remember grabbing hold of your wrist and tried to pull your hand away but then just giving up again and letting it happen. I hated myself even more for this why did I let you do this to me again? Why wasn’t I more assertive? Feeling you on top of me, inside me, made me feel sick. You didn’t use a condom this time so I felt so dirty afterwards.
After that I couldn’t cope so distanced myself, left our friendship group and started hanging around with Lorena. However, your response was to became more possessive. You told Curtis at the Christmas party to stay away from me because I was yours. Another time you held me against the railings outside college, pulling me back really forcefully every time I tried to walk away because I wouldn’t be in a relationship with you. Other students had to intervene! This is why I believe that you did what you did. Because it was my choice to say no to a relationship with you, my choice to leave our group of friends to get away from you. So at the first opportunity you had you decided to take away my choice to refuse you.
We were 17 by this point and it was after our college prom on that boat on the Themes. I still have the prom picture even though I can’t bring myself to look at it now. You and Casey towering over everyone in your suits, me in my lavender prom dress. Do you remember when I won prom queen Max? I couldn’t believe it! Couldn’t believe all those people had voted for me. But I saw the resentment in your eyes. Like on GCSE results day when I got an A for sociology and you got a B and you put my success down to luck.
A few people came back to mine after the prom. It was a free house (no parents), you and Casey came too. Maybe it’s my fault for allowing you to come. But there were so many of us in one room I didn’t think you would do what you did. Everyone was spread out on my bedroom floor by the end of the night, like a scene from skins. I must have been in a very deep, drink induced sleep because when I awoke face down in the pillow you had already penetrated me from behind. I could feel your legs in between mine, I could feel the weight of your body, I could feel you f*****g me. In this moment I felt like nothing, not even a person. In this moment I knew you saw the same girl that Ricky and Justin had, not the girl I had hoped you would see. Did you know I had woken up? Did you care? I was completely frozen in shock, humiliated, praying our friends didn’t wake up to see what you were doing to me.
Max I was unconscious when you started having sex with me.
But you knew you’d done wrong! Once everyone was up the next day you didn’t look at me once. You made your excuses to leave after our friends started questioning your lack of engagement in the conversation and my silence. When everyone left I broke down in tears.
Not long after I got a call from Casey. Were you behind that Max? I was sobbing uncontrollably but he was cold in his response. I remember him saying ‘What did you expect would happen, the guys obsessed with you?’ The conversation turned into me having to defend myself. ‘You must have liked it; you let it happen, you didn’t wake any of us up’. He reminded me that I had already let you f**k me, so couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. Then sounding annoyed he said ‘are you seriously going to make a big deal over some drunken sex?’.
Well Max if you were the puppet master behind that it worked? I kept quiet. You may have got away with it but in the end you lost out. You had a best friend for life who you lost and you’ll never get back. Reading through that message 8 years later makes me feel sick as I had buried what happened. ‘Stay beautiful and Powerful’ Is that a f*****g joke Max, Power? The very thing you took from me when you decided to have sex with me as I lay unconscious. How powerful do you think I felt then?
Or at any subsequent college social events when I had to see you. What about the time when you tried to humiliate me at the pub in front of everyone? After boasting about recent sexual conquests you looked straight at me and mocked me saying ‘seems I get to f**k any girl I want’. How powerful do you think I felt in that moment?
Maybe you were right in the message, maybe it really was all about you. To be fair most of the sentences in your apology start with I. Is admitting that your ‘behaviour was reprehensible’ your penance? Are you now absolved of the sin you committed against me? Is your conscience clear? Have you put it all behind you Max?
I wish I could!
— Leah, age 26