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Life has only just began for me…20 years I guess since it occurred. I never spoke about it until November 2018. Some say I may have lost relationships, jobs and houses but in truth I gave it all away by not talking.

I’m a 6ft boxer, in a loving relationship now with E.- she has been a light to all of this. I was in the police for 16 years and saw things even my worst enemy shouldn’t have seen – that doesn’t define me, neither do I now see does the events I will unfold.

I had a great upbringing – I was good at football, talented almost – my parents ensured I wanted for nothing.

In 1999 I was going on my first ‘lads’ holiday with 3 friends I was at college with. The location Benidorm.

I was single having come out of a 3-year relationship with my school sweetheart R.

We set about it like any lads holiday. We were into our 1st week and all was well. The night in question – I’d simply had enough to drink and wanted to go back to the apartment. My mates were still wanting to stay out, I made my excuses and left with the key.

The apartment was on top of a hill, I was heading there, walking alone, when suddenly I was hit from behind or it may have been at the side – it’s irrelevant I guess.

I just remember laying on my side and not feeling in control – from there I was being picked up. By a guy I didn’t know nor would I expect to.

What happens next…haunts me.

He picked me up and I staggered over with him, like an injured football player, to an apartment – I still struggle to put this into words…

My memory is fragmented in terms of what happened next. I remember waking up having passed out in a room, on a bed.

On my back, naked at this point, I remember waking to excruciating pain. I was effectively being raped at this point, on top of me, inside me. Before that fight or flight situation kicks in.

I remember just kicking out in panic, shouting ‘women, women’ – he fell at the end of the bed. I just wanted to get out of this situation, I grabbed what I could see of my clothing, oddly I grabbed my watch and t-shirt before running out of the apartment.

I didn’t look at him twice, but I still have a very visual mental image. As I ran from the apartment there was a second man just sat there drinking in the kitchen.

I made my way outside and just threw up…I also realised I was naked from the waist down and needed to cover up – I ripped a billboard poster from the wall to obtain some dignity and staggered back to my apartment, broken and in pain.

I vaguely remember getting back and being the subject of banter that I’d left a girl in a rush because I’d not even got my clothes – she must have been rough! I didn’t tell them any different, I couldn’t…the shame and disgust I felt was unspeakable.

Why me? I wasn’t bothering anyone nor causing attention.

The remaining holiday was just a blur, I shut down most of the time. I returned back home and thought – I’m back now, I’ll be fine, no more reminders, no chance I’ll see him or anything to remind me again.

That statement alone ‘I’ll be fine’ or ‘I’m fine’ for those close to me know I’m far from it as soon as it’s left my lips.

I’ve gone on to achieve some greats things work wise, have 2 beautiful children and ‘survived’.

Since November 2018 I had kept this deep dark secret to myself to the detriment of relationships breaking down, becoming very detached with loved ones and losing my fiancé at the time as a need to talk.

I’m on that journey now, some days are better than others – that’s just life but if I’ve learnt what a valuable lesson it is to talk, and be reassured you are a stronger person by doing so. I use to see it as a sign of weakness. It’s far from it.

Please, don’t make the same mistakes in life as I did. Break that silence, talk to professionals and seek counselling and guidance where you can then start to heal and cope with the past, I know before I spoke out I wasn’t – I would have denied it but I know I wasn’t.

Your loved ones don’t deserve to see you suffer in silence but more importantly you don’t. I’m a 6ft ex police officer of 16 years, if I can do it – you can.

Ash

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