I have started watching Thirteen Reasons Why on Netflix. I feel inspired by the show to write this blog, to tell my story, to prevent others from committing suicide. I want to tell people who are suffering from guilt, depression, loneliness etc. that life does get better, and that it is worth living it. However, I also want to tell people who want to help us this; give us space, give us time to process our thoughts, give us time to come forward with our story. I have just turned twenty, I still have my life to live. However, after my experience, I did think about suicide, wondering how life would be like without me. And the thought terrified me, it gave me goosebumps, I would never be able to do that to my family. And I enjoy living my life, I want to make the most out of it. Think what you will about my story, some of who might think it was my fault, others will sympathize with me. I just want to let people know that suicide is not worth it, there is always a silver lining. This is my story.
I started studying at University nearly two years ago. At first, it was quite exciting, meeting new people, living away from my parents. But that quickly changed, I had trouble making friends, fitting in, communicating with my housemates, suffering from insomnia. I decided just after Christmas break to look for accommodation for my second year, and I found a place what I thought was quite a good deal. I found it after posting a post an ad on Gumtree (some of you may already disapprove of this and might see where this is going, but I was very naive). I found a room in a nice apartment which a guy was subletting (he was in his sixties), and it was well within my budget, all bills included. Fast forward a couple of weeks later, I had been invited to the Landlord’s apartment to talk, about the room etc. I had already told him I was interested in the room, and he wanted to get to know me a bit more. That was my first sign that something was wrong/different. Are tenant and landlord supposed to have a close friendship? Anyway, I ignored that first sign, as I was very naive. The landlord asked me if I had any girlfriends, I told him I had and was just dumped. I lied, in truth, I am gay and had just been dating a guy, and had been “dumped” (only my parents and sister know about my sexuality, none of my friends do). During our second meeting at his apartment a couple of weeks later, the landlord told me he was bisexual, and he suspected me that I was gay. I told him I was, he was the first person outside my family whom I told that I was gay. This was my second red flag, which I also ignored. Why would a landlord want to know the about the sexuality of his future tenant? A couple of weeks later we met again at his apartment (some of you might say “why are you still meeting this creep?”, I needed a friend, someone to talk to, as I felt lonely) and he had asked me to bring my laptop. At his place, I asked him why he wanted me to bring my laptop, he asked in return if I had any gay porn on my laptop which we could watch. I said no (I lied, of course, I have hard-core gay porn on my laptop, but that is none of that creeps business), so he put on the TV and inserted one of his secret gay porn DVD. Mind you, this guy was divorced and had children, none of whom knew that he was bisexual. I felt so uncomfortable when we were watching it, I couldn’t leave the apartment, as it was dark, I had come to the apartment with the train, and I felt scared, frozen in place. One thing led to another, including forcefully kissing against my will, inappropriate touching, and intimidation. I eventually found my courage and said stop, it took a couple of times to actually make him stop, and eventually, he did. I told him I was uncomfortable and wanted to go home, he apologized but said he couldn’t give me a lift back home. I spent the night sleeping on the floor beside the guy’s bed, that was the worst night I had ever had. The next morning, I took the train back to my apartment, went to my bedroom, and burst out into tears. I felt so lonely and used. But I suppressed what happened and pretended that night never happened at all.
Fast forward to May of that year, two weeks before my exams. I am thinking about the past year, and thinking about what happened that night. I suffered a mental breakdown and decided to seek help. I am a rower and athlete, and the rowing community is quite close. I contacted the welfare officer at my local rowing club, we met, and I told him about that night. He told me that if this would have happened to a Junior rower (someone under the age of 18), he would have automatically gone to the police and make a report. He told me I should consider the possibility of going to the police. The welfare officer helped me a lot, mentally, and made me come to terms with what happened. But we both could not have predicted what would happen at the police station, and I wish I never went to the police station. But I did, and I had a police interview. I should have never told the police officer that I was gay, the moment I told her that I was, I could see that she had already made some conclusion about what had happened. I don’t know what was worst, being sexually assaulted, or being told by a police officer that what happened to me wasn’t assault. According to the police, I wasn’t sexually assaulted because of three reasons. First, there was no penetration. Second, I did not tell the guy to stop the moment he stated forcefully kissing, I quote “he did not know that you didn’t want him kissing you, therefore he didn’ do anything considered wrong”. Third, because I told him I was gay, the police thought I had encouraged the landlord and had implied I wanted to have sex with him or a relationship or whatever. I left the police station absolutely gutted, I felt so guilty, I felt it was my fault, as the police had implied, and I felt so confused. I went back to my apartment and cried myself to sleep.
Even when I think about that experience, I still don’t know what was worse, being sexually assaulted or being told by the police no crime had been committed, and that it was my fault, as I had encouraged it. I did do some research afterward, and the police were wrong, what happened to me was sexual assault.
According to the police, someone has not committed sexual assault if the offender does not know that what he is doing is against your will. And people wonder why victims of sexual assault do not report it to the police. Every day I wish I had never gone to the police station, but it is something I have to live with. I have to live with the fact that the police told me it was my fault, that I had encouraged it, that no crime had been committed. Mind you, this happened in the United Kingdom, a country quickly to claim its “openness” and “tolerance”.
I don’t know if some of you might agree with the police, some of you might say I am overreacting. Word of advice, never tell someone who has been sexually assaulted or raped that he/she is overreacting. To all of you who are considering going to the police, this is my story, my experience. This does not mean that all police officers are bigotted and mean, however, every institution does have individuals which are. If you want to feel like you should go to the police, then go. If uncertain, talk to people, ask their advice, even if it is under a hypothetical example. But don’t commit suicide, there is always another way. I have made new friends, moved on. However, I will always have to live with this event, and will always have to live with my parent’s reaction when I told them I was sexually assaulted. No parent wants to hear that their child has been sexually assaulted, yet it has happened to me. But because I told my parents, I feel a lot more comfortable talking about it with them. Communication is the key. Communication is how you prevent suicide. Don’t stay quiet, as there are always people who do care, and who do sympathize.