Trigger warning: sexual assault/rape.
When I was around 20 years old, I was raped.
I was raped by someone I knew, had known for over a year, and considered him a friend. I was comfortable around him and I had never felt uncomfortable when we had been alone before. On the night that he raped me, we had been out together for the evening in a big group of people. By the time we all went home, a few of us were staying together in one person’s house. We were all back at the house (6 of us), and hanging out in the kitchen. I’d had a bit much to drink that night, and I started to feel unwell. I took myself to the bathroom (which was being renovated and didn’t have a lock on the door), and I sat in there for a little while because I felt like I was going to be sick. He let himself into the bathroom and apologised because he needed the toilet. I said it was fine, I moved away from the toilet and turned away, using the edge of the bath to try and help myself up. He flushed the toilet, and then stood behind me. He pulled my jeans down as I was “standing” on my knees, and I distinctly remember saying “No, TJ, I don’t want to” I tried to move away from him but this didn’t deter him.
He raped me anyway.
I felt so uncomfortable and insignificant. He finished and left me in the bathroom. I stayed there for what felt like hours, before returning to the kitchen. Upon returning to the kitchen, one of the people said “guys if you’re going to do that could you at least be quiet about it?” everyone laughed.
I didn’t laugh. I hadn’t made any noise. I didn’t want it to happen.
I said no to him. I moved away from him.
I said no.
I blocked this experience out because it was uncomfortable and honestly, it took me so long to figure out that I had been raped. Rape culture was so embedded in me that I felt as though I was making it out to be worse than it was, that I was overreacting to it.
Years went by, and by this time I had learnt so much about consent, about asserting one’s consent, about people disregarding your boundaries, about rape culture, toxic masculinity, and the boundaries of sexual assault. This also happened to be the time that my Mum was being diagnosed with cancer. So as one can imagine, I was majorly preoccupied with Mum’s treatment and I pushed the rape realisation to the back of my mind. I pushed it so far aside because I was angry about it.
I was so angry. I got angrier.
I got angrier about my Mum being unwell, I got angrier about not being able to do anything. Then she got better and I was so happy that she was getting better that the rape didn’t matter anymore.
Then she died, and I got angry about being raped. I got angry that I never told my Mum. I got angry that I allowed my anger to surface when anything in my life, my friends lives, and the media even remotely related to consent and assault appeared and I couldn’t do anything about it.
I got angry when I was having a picnic with my friends and one of them brought his name up (because a few of them are still friends with him), and I took that opportunity to tell every single one of my friends to their faces that he raped me, and not one of them asked me how I felt about it or how I dealt with it. And they still haven’t.
I watched Michaela Coel’s incredible “I Will Destroy You” and I felt angry every single fucking episode. It was getting too much. I called the rape crisis helpline and I’m on their waiting list to receive counselling.
My experience with Mum’s death and grief closed this down and then opened it up again. I wish to the edges of the universe that I could tell her. I should have told her. I’m on the right path to counselling with regards to my feelings about this, and I really hope it helps even just one other person by telling this story.