Before I recount my experience I’d like to address the difficulties of speaking about an individual case of rape without statistical evidence. By no means do I wish to homogenise what has happened to me as if it applies to all survivors. In writing this my end goal is to help normalise victims coming forward and speaking out against the atrocities that have happened to them. I want victims of all kinds to reclaim the discourse surrounding abuse. This post will not be explicit, but I will be talking about the detrimental effects it has on my mental health, the way in which authorities have handled the situation, and some words of advice. I don’t mean to patronise in any way. Whatever has happened, it’s never the victims fault.
I was sleeping in my room when the attacker walked in at half past 3. I normally leave my door unlocked in case I need any help from my flatmates so they can easily come into my room. Ever since I had been diagnosed with manic depression and anxiety I have been medicated which induces pretty horrible dreams so I never know if I’ll scream or cry in my sleep. I now lock my door if I’m in my room any longer than a minute.
I used to enjoy watching horror films for the thrill but whenever I watch them now, I feel numb. The real monsters, I realise, are walking among us. My nightmares have become less surreal and are now hyper real, recounting every moment of an event in excruciating detail. Nowadays I struggle to differentiate between my dreams and reality. If it wasn’t for my friends I would not have reached out to authorities and thus allow it to fester in my mind and body. My body went into over drive- I wasn’t allowing myself to think about common questions such as “why?” “Why me?” “Did I deserve this?” I was throwing myself into paperwork, meetings, dissertations, drinking.
The university has been incredibly supportive and fast working, but I cannot say the same for law enforcement. This isn’t to discourage anyone from coming forward. If anything, I wanted to close the case before they came to the agreement that there was not enough evidence to pursue the case. In relation to my experience, this is extremely questionable. I wanted to close the case for reasons not uncommon. It can take up to 18 months to reach a decision, it’s emotionally draining, it’s scary, and it’s always throwing things into a new light and forces you to view things from a clinical perspective.
There is always specialist help at hand. I was pleasantly surprised at the range of counselling services available for me, I occasionally get phone calls from a counsellor who asks me how I’m doing. My tutors are aware and sympathetic, and my friends are unwavering in their solidarity and support. Unfortunately, along with trauma I have seen a cold side to the people I have once loved who do not show me the compassion I would have expected them to. Whatever happens, I’m not ever going to lose sight of the commendable actions of my closest companions.
I’m writing this to prove that I have not lost my voice, and I will make sure that justice shall be served. I hope that my voice enables others to come forward, to help correct the flaws in the legal system and show that this brutality will not weaken me. This week in particular slowed everything down and unfortunately I dwelled on everything in a way that sabotaged my own wellbeing. The future for me is working on self-love and compassion, and trying to leave feelings of resentment behind. It’s never going to be easy, slip ups will happen, but emotions are never concrete, it does actually get better.
I think all I really have to say is: when you’re ready, come forward, speak out, take the help you can get, and don’t lose sight of how valuable you are and how you were unjustly wronged. Be kind to yourself and I’ll be with many others to listen. No one deserves this..