I was asked by Emma if I could write a post about life after rape.
(Please note that this blog post contains graphic details that some readers may find upsetting.)
Specifically how you get past it and the effects it has on your life after the event.
I was raped when I was 18 by the man that I shared a shared house with.
Emma has covered my story before and to my shock it had a lot of support and love for me from everyone who read it.
Back then if someone told me that I could one day write about it, I would have been horrified.
When it happened to me I was severely traumatised by it. I know that now looking back.
At the time all I remember is the pain. The terror. The bite of the broken glass in every single bit of my skin.
Wanting to die
When he was finished I don’t remember much. Lots of blackouts. Spaces of time where I was there but not. Lost somewhere in this new world of agony.
I didn’t have anyone to tell. My mum was a alcoholic. My brother was a drug addict. There was nobody. I had nobody to ask to get the glass out of my back. So it stayed there. And got infected. I had glass inside me too that stayed there.
All I can remember in the immediate aftermath was sitting in the room I had been hurt in and on the floor for days. Just sitting there. In my quilt.
Life after rape very nearly destroyed me
The pain was immense but I thought that was normal. The glass hurt, every time I moved it hurt. I couldn’t lie down. The worst pain was my tooth. He broke my tooth and left the nerve exposed and that was what my mind focused on.
It blocked out the bite marks and nails ripped. The bruises. That dam tooth was killing me.
I was too scared to go hospital. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to walk there, that when I got there they would examine me an it would be a man.
I was scared the police would be called and I would have to tell someone what he did. I couldn’t bear it.
Life after rape does not just return to normal.
So I told nobody. I stayed there in that room, in that house in my quilt on my floor while he was upstairs laughing every day.
I lasted a few weeks before one night I poured white spirit over myself and wrapped my quilt around me and walked out of my door with a box of matches.
I don’t know where I was going that night, or even why then, I have blanked that bit out but I walked through the town centre on the roads and got to a golf course where a policeman came and arrested me with the match in my hand.
I was ready to die.
I was sectioned for my own safety and taken to a psychiatric ward.
That started the four years in and out of hospital as I fought to die and they fought to keep me alive. During that time I aborted his child and learned the full extent of my medical injuries from what he did to me.
Once I realised I was better off dead it didn’t occur to me that I might be able to live through it. I was so focused on that. Nothing else mattered.
Years and years of my life were wasted on trying to cut him out of me, life after rape left me feeling his evilness, like a disease.
I had to deal with my anger, what he did to me burned inside me, the rage that I hated him consumed me so much I tried to burn it out of me.
Looking at my scars disgusted me and I knew others saw that too. They felt sorry for me. I couldn’t bear the pity. I tried to bleed the shame out of me, choke it out of me with ligatures. Nothing was ever enough to stop the mental pain let alone the physical pain and I destroyed myself and my family trying.
I don’t know half of what I did when I was allowed out every now and then. I remember once letting a man who knew what had happened to me use me.
He had sex with me in a room with no lights because he couldn’t bear to look at me, how ugly I was and I let him.
I lay there and felt nothing
After he said I had let him down as I hadn’t enjoyed it. I apologised. I actually apologised. I felt sick to my stomach, I never saw him again.
My defining moment came in a high dependency unit.
My life after rape was about to be turned around again.
There was a man there who wanted me. He had a personality disorder. He made it clear he wanted me and would watch me all the time. The staff tried to stop him but where as I was there 24/7 they weren’t. They had to go home. There were rumours that he and some of the others were planning on trapping me. I was told about it.
Something in me fought back. Not again. That thought, that single thought. I will not be a victim again. It gave me something to aim for. To get as far away from him as possible, and quickly.
So I stopped hurting myself, I started eating and I earned my freedom. I had the HIV test, and thank god it was negative. I found that after a few months the way I saw myself began to change.
I couldn’t change my scars, the bite marks on my thighs would always be there, the glass scars in my face would always be there. The internal problems from the rape would always be there.
I focused on what I could change. The nightmares, the self loathing, disgust. The negative way I reacted to men and the triggers. The smell of certain things, carpets, they way I viewed every day objects as weapons not their intended uses.
I refused to talk about what happened
Couldn’t do that without triggering and it resulted in my needing people with me to stop me hurting myself. I found a way to lock it all away.
But I could ask for help when I was beginning to panic or I could ask for someone to talk to me about something stupid and distract me when I felt the need to self harm. I was taught methods to use to not self harm such as elastic bands on the wrist. Pinching my ear at the bottom.
I was taught coping techniques to deal with walking past men in the street, self defence and more and most importantly I was taught it was NOT my fault.
I can’t sit here and honestly write that anyone who has been raped should go to the police because I know even in principle its the moral thing to do its not always that simple. There isn’t always someone you can turn too to help you and sometimes there’s no escape clause.
The only advice I think I can give is simply that when you have been raped your entire world changes and there’s nothing you can do to go back to who you were.
It becomes a choice.
Are you a survivor or a victim?
I was a victim for a long time. I couldn’t see a way to survive, but there is a way. Even if there’s nobody around to help you survive, you can still do it.
Choosing to survive meant I lost those years of my life, and I couldn’t get them back but it also meant I found strength, courage and enough time to let my mind see he wasn’t worth my life or my tears.
He took my body but he was not taking my life. My breath. And the one in the high dependency unit was not coming anywhere near me, and he never did.
Getting out of hospital I made a choice to trust in one man and thirteen years later I’m still with him. He loves me despite my scars and he accepted me despite my hatred of men.
I’m not cured by any means, I hate men still. They make me nervous and panicky. I hyperventilate . I can’t even walk to the shop on my own in case a man serves me. I don’t like people hugging me except my dad and my partner.
I don’t like glass now. I hear it in my head as it crunched into my skin.
I can’t lie down on carpet.
I can’t have vaginal exams by anyone.
I look at my scars and think back to that time, and what happened and how I dealt with it and a part of me wishes I had someone to tell. Someone at the time to have helped me. Anyone. I was young and so trapped and hurt, hurting so badly.
And nobody saw it because they were all so wrapped up in themselves and what they needed. I needed help and there was nobody there.
When nobody saved me, I had to save myself
NOBODY should ever be raped. Man, woman or child . I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anyone.
I have met many rape victims during my hospital stays and the one thing that rings through as clear as day is feeling so alone, so utterly alone and helpless and that’d the stigma we need to break.
Life after rape needs to be talked about.
If you have been raped no matter how or why it happened you are NOT alone and you never will be.
You CAN Be strong and get through it and when you come out the other side you will see things so differently.
The pain doesn’t last forever. Not the physical pain, or the mental pain.
There are ways to make yourself feel safe again, even though that probably seems so unlikely.
Don’t be afraid to trust someone again. Don’t look for the desire to hurt in everyone or you will see it when its not there.
Teach yourself to learn its not your fault.
Rape is the forced act of sexual violence on a person. FORCED means you didn’t consent and even if you couldn’t stop them it doesn’t me it right.
No means NO, no matter who, what or why its said.
Every day you survive after being raped it becomes one more day of your past. Your history. It doesn’t have to be your future.
Talk if you need too. Cry if you want too. Scream if it helps.
Take each day as it comes.
Don’t let a rapist win. Be the survivor that cuts off their power and glory.
This post is an anonymous post written by an inspiring mum who wishes to share her own experience in the hope of helping others. I have full permission to share this story. Why not share your own story?