I don’t know if it’s my age or what, but things are whizzing round my head more than usual. Maybe if I write it down I’ll settle a bit. Or maybe not…
I was a melancholy child, very shy and socially awkward. As I grew so did my anxiety.
I never really felt like I fit anywhere. My Mum wasn’t affectionate, I was generally left to my own devices. My Dad didn’t live with us. Then he died. I was 14.
Anyway, I plodded on, my friends kept me going. They’ll never know what they did for me because I didn’t even know until now! Without my friends, I’m not sure how I would’ve gotten through school. They kept me sane, well kind of!
But then I had to enter the real world and, wow, that did not go well. There are many things that didn’t help my situation, too many to go into – shit, I’d be here all night! But, one of the first things to screw with my head (after I left school) happened when I was 16. I met a boy.
Of course, I was head over heals for this boy. He was amazing. Although he was the same age as me, he seemed older. He had facial hair, proper stuff not the bum fluff all the boys I knew had. He was already drinking regularly in the local pub. He played pool with his cousin. He was cool.
He was my first.
After roughly two weeks of bliss, he started to change. Or maybe he was just being himself, I don’t know? He was drinking every day to the point where he would pass out. He would disappear for days, sleep with other people and be a general asshole towards me. He threatened me regularly, once burning me with a cigarette. He dropped a sofa on my arm (big leather sofa with a wooden bottom)after a row, I was reaching under the sofa to retrieve a cigarette he had dropped and made the mistake of saying to him not to drop it – that smirk, I can still see it. I witnessed him strangle his mum half to death. I had my first miscarriage. Then I was told some other girl was pregnant with his baby. I confronted him.
We were in the pub with his cousin, he was hammered as usual. After reassuring me that this girl had gotten pregnant before we got together and that I’m the only one for him, he proceeded to get even more drunk. Something weird happened when I went to the loo, his cousin came in and tried to kiss me. I pretended I didn’t notice and walked off. When we left the pub, they walked me up the road towards my house. We got into a row. He started to tell me that I shouldn’t have confronted him because it was none of my business – he shouldn’t have found out from me that he was going to be a dad. Apparently I was bang out of order. He threatened to beat the shit out of me. He told me he didn’t love me and that we were finished. By this point, we were walking on the path by the woods. His cousin was trying to calm him down. It wasn’t working. “Go on, fuck off in there” he was pointing at the hole in the fence, into the woods. “Fine” I stormed off into the woods and stopped behind a tree to see what they were doing. They were talking quietly. Then the cousin came over to me. I felt safe around him, he was always sticking up for me. But he was weird that evening, trying to kiss me in the toilets and now he did it again. I pretended, again, that I hadn’t noticed. My now ex boyfriend was coming. The cousin grabbed my hand and pulled me deeper into the woods. He was laughing, we were running from him. I really wasn’t sure what was happening, I didn’t know what to think. We stopped. He told me to “watch this”and he whistled. We heard a whistle. So he whistled again. Another whistle. He led him right to us. Before I knew it, the cousin had disappeared and it was me and the ex. He’s trying it on with me. I’m saying no. He’s starting to get a bit forceful and I’m still saying no. I couldn’t believe he was expecting sex after all that had happened. I was angry. He’s grabbing me and trying to kiss me, I can’t even remember what he was saying. I’m starting to panic. All I can see is trees and bushes. It’s so dark. He’s got me on the floor, pulling at my clothes. I’m telling him to get off, telling him he’s hurting me. It’s like he doesn’t hear me. Am I even saying it? I’m sure I am but it’s like he doesn’t hear me. How am I on top now? Get up, get up. I can’t, he’s holding me. I’m on my back again. I’m pushing him, hitting, kicking but he’s on me, like full weight. Now I’m covering my face, I’m letting him. Why am I letting him? All I can think is it’ll be over in a minute. Then I see him. The cousin. Staring from behind some bushes. What is he doing? I’m shouting that he’s there, I start to kick and hit again, not sure what I was expecting but it worked. Or maybe he was just finished, I’m not entirely sure. But, nevertheless, he got off me, stood up and looked -protesting that I was seeing things. I’m quickly getting my pants and trousers on. He’s coming back over. Shit. I call to the cousin, telling him that I’m not stupid I can see him. Out he comes. Suddenly it’s a joke, he’s taken the ex’s clothes and ran.
I look around, dazed. I can’t see my trainers. Where’s my bag? That shit, he’s taken my stuff too. My phone is in my bag! Luckily I had gotten my pants and trousers back on. There he was, stood in just a t-shirt. My mind is racing, I don’t know what to do. He’s so hammered he can barely stand, it’s like it hit him all of a sudden. He falls into a bush and can’t get up. I think I went into auto pilot. Before I know it, I’m helping him up. Why was I helping him up? I took his hand and I pulled him up out of the bush. I remember feeling very confused. I’m yelling at him to call his cousin, I want my stuff. “He’ll be at mine” so I followed him! I followed him? What the actual fuck?! There we were walking down towards his house, me fully dressed other than my trainers, him naked from the waist down. As we got to his house, I was silent. I numbly followed him in and sat down. I’m in his house. The cousin wouldn’t answer his phone. I’m getting agitated now, I want to go home.
In he strolls, smiling as if it’s all been one big joke. I pull my trainers on. Where’s my bag? He didn’t take it, it’s still in the woods. Mid conversation I notice the ex has passed out as usual. I remove the lit fag from between his fingers, put it out and go. The cousin is following me. I keep telling him to leave me alone. He says he can’t let me go back to the woods alone. I’m scared, what if it’s not in the woods? What if he’s taking me back there for something else? My heart is racing, trying to think of a way out of this mess. We get to the woods, we find our way straight back to where we were and there it is. My bag is just laying there. Had it been there the whole time I wonder, or had he put it back?
Now he’s insisting on walking me home. I’m still scared but a little more relaxed now, he hadn’t done anything in the woods. I’m walking fast, the quicker we get there the quicker he will leave me alone. No such luck, he’s following me in! Talking to me about the pill. The pill? Why is he asking me about the pill? Yes I’m on the damn pill. We sit on the sofa and he proceeds to tell me how many other girls the ex has slept with behind my back and how I deserve better. He kisses me, I freeze. Shit. I’m kissing him back but kind of pulling away – trying to brush it off. He touches my breasts, I feel sick. I can’t. Please don’t.
We sit in silence. He falls asleep, I stay wide awake until morning. He wakes, we say goodbye and he leaves. A wave of relief, then confusion, then shock.
It all sounds so ridiculous. I tell no one. Then, one day, about 6-8 months later I told someone close to me. I fumbled through the details, embarrassed. I didn’t use the word. Then she said “It’s not rape, he was your boyfriend”.
A mix of thoughts and feelings whirled around my head for a long time. It tormented me for quite some years. I confided in a select few people after 3 or 4 years. I told my psychologist. She asked me why I call it “the incident in the woods” so I told her “he was my boyfriend so it can’t be rape, right?”
I needed to process this. I needed to think clearly. It was just another thing in my mess of a head. It took years but I finally came to terms with it and can now see it for what it was, or what I think it was. Looking back, I think they were planning a threesome. I think they were expecting me to comply. His aim wasn’t to force me, things got out of hand, he took it too far, I don’t even think he remembers what happened that night. You see, my ex is many things, but not a rapist. Yes he’s a vile human being and he makes my skin crawl but I’m not scared of him anymore. I don’t shake when I see him, I don’t panic. That night, things got out of hand and, yes, it has scarred me but he is not a threat to me or anyone else. It was horrible and shouldn’t have happened, but I believe it could’ve been a lot worse and I am grateful it wasn’t. I have put it behind me.
As for the cousin, he wasn’t anywhere near as drunk. He stood there and watched us, he watched me trying to get away, he heard me shouting. He knew he was hurting me and he just stood there and watched. Was it fear? Was it that he didn’t know what to do? And what the hell was he doing after? Taking our stuff. Following me home. He drew out the night longer. He couldn’t just leave me be. What was that about? I guess I’ll never know.
So, there you have it, I was raped. And, yes, it was rape. I said no.