Why is it every question people start with when you say you were raped is ‘Were you drinking?’? Yes. I was drinking. Does that make me any less of a human being? Does that make me a willing participant to such an act? I shared my story with one person, a friend when we were drunk. I know they remember, but now we don’t talk about it. And that almost makes it worse than not telling anyone at all. My flatmates, they know something happened that night. They tucked me into bed and lay beside me until I’d fallen asleep, and the next day when the tears finally came. They didn’t push me to talk about it. But now I can’t talk about it. It seems almost too late.
Something you need to know about me- I befriend everyone on a night out. It’s as though alcohol turns my usual empathetic nature onto hyper alert. If a girl is crying or is alone, I make sure she joins our group of friends and is safe. If a boy gets into a fight, you bet I’m in the middle of it trying to break it up. So when two boys approached my friends and me on a night out and explained they had lost their friends and had just moved into the city…I invited them to be part of our inclusive group. And well the rest, yeah.
I walked only a short distance to find a lost friend. They offered to accompany me. I should’ve realized it didn’t add up. New to the city? Yet knew which streets to take to get to my friend? Naive.
Whilst one stayed on the lookout, the other took away my dignity, consent and confidence. They both wore the same shirt, but my rapist had a hole in his on the shoulder. Isn’t it funny the details you remember?
You know what I did? I stood perfectly still and cried. I don’t really know why I didn’t scream or fight. Afterward, I told him it was ‘Ok’ and that ‘I won’t tell anyone’. Have you ever been so sure you were going to die? I mean, I’d seen his face. Their faces. Wouldn’t it just be easier to kill me now? They went to the effort of raping me, what’s the added inconvenience of throwing me over the railings into the canal?
But they didn’t. Maybe they felt the weakness in me. Knew that I wouldn’t report them or that I had no evidence to tie them down to it even if I did. I’m not sure. I didn’t. Report it, that is. If I couldn’t convince myself I had done nothing wrong, how could I convince the Police? Or worse still, a Jury.
I feel numb, still. I text my best friend ‘I need to tell you something’ and she comes over for tea or a movie and I bottle it. She has problems of her own going on. I don’t think I want to add to that.
I’m not sure what I want to gain from writing this all down. Freedom? A weight lifted off my chest?
I’ll let you know.
— Survivor, age 21