Empty bus stop

 

On the 12th October 2018, I was raped.

On the 12th October 2018, I was sexually assaulted.

People don’t like ‘the R word’, but changing the wording doesn’t change what happened. It doesn’t make what happened any less horrific. When I mention the word rape, people wince and frown, as if it is a dirty word. It’s not. It’s a word with a horrible meaning.

On the 12th October, I met a man. He was not a stranger, nor was he a friend. I had known him for several years but had never actually met him in person. We often used to speak about gaming, and I viewed him as a genuine person. We arranged to meet – it was a Friday night and I was bored. I have no shame in saying that I wanted to have a hook up that night. It wasn’t long after a break up for me and I think I wanted a distraction. Whenever I arrange a hook up, I always make it crystal clear beforehand what will and what won’t be happening. That way, I can feel safe and the other person can know what I am comfortable with. It was agreed, before we met, that we would not be having anal sex. He responded with ‘OK, that’s fine’. To me, that was confirmation that he was happy to meet, and I was happy with that, so I made my way to his flat.

Everything was going fine, I was having a good time, and so was he. He then tried to go further, to which I reacted multiple times with ‘no’ and ‘stop’. Rape isn’t always how it is shown on TV. It’s not always violent, nor is it in a dark alley. It’s black and white. If someone says no, and you don’t stop, regardless of who you are and your relationship to the other person, you are raping them.

I’ve always thought that something like this would not happen to me. I also thought that if someone ever did rape me, I’d just push them off. I’d shout and scream until they stopped. That wasn’t the case. My mind went blank, and I couldn’t move. My brain wasn’t processing what was happening, and I just froze. I was desperately trying to think of anything that would distract me but I couldn’t. I couldn’t think of anything. I just wanted it to be over. I wanted to be in my bed, alone.

It’s hard to say how long I was lying there for. It seemed like forever, but it could’ve been minutes. He stopped, as he could see I was visibly shaking and struggling to breathe, and he led on the bed next to me. I looked across at him and he seemed so calm. How could he lie there so normally after what he had just done to me? I told him I was going to go home. He stood up but I told him to stay on the bed whilst I was getting dressed. Once I was dressed, I started walking towards the door. He tried to hug me, and I kept walking.

Man in front of doorI was outside. I was free. I was desperately trying to hold it together until I got home. My brain was starting to process what just happened and I could feel myself starting to break down. I did what felt natural to me, I rang my ex.

For the last nine months, whenever I’ve felt bad or upset, I’ve always rung him. So I did. I just wanted to hear his voice. When I told him what happened, I could tell he was upset. Of course he was. He told me to go home and call him then, so I said I would.

I walked to the bus stop, and started waiting for a bus. It was a Friday night and the bus stop was busy and full of people. I was paranoid and felt like people were looking at me, almost as if they knew what just happened and were judging me.

Obviously, they didn’t know and they weren’t judging me, but my mind was all over the place. I didn’t want to wait at the bus stop, I just wanted to get home.

I tried texting my housemate, but they were working. I texted my colleague, but they were drinking so they couldn’t drive. I felt alone, and Bristol had never felt so dangerous to me before. I got an Uber home. I was silent for the whole duration, and just got out when we got to my house.

I stood by my front door for a bit. I almost didn’t want to go in, because I knew that as soon as I shut that front door, I was going to lose it. And I did. I had the whole car journey to think about what had just happened, and it all came to a head when I was in my room. I was angry. I was hurt. I felt dirty. I felt used. Most of all, I was lonely.

I went to my bathroom, and stared at myself in the mirror. I looked awful. I looked at myself for what must’ve been around five minutes. How could I let this happen to me? What have I done? I turned round and looked at the shower. I desperately wanted to be clean. I could smell him on me and it was making me want to throw up. I knew I couldn’t shower. If I did, all traces of DNA would be gone. So I tried so hard now to shower. It was the only thing I wanted to do, but I knew I couldn’t. I went downstairs and texted one of my friends. He came over and I felt safe again. Both him and my ex told me that I had to go the police. I knew I did too, but I didn’t want to. He offered to come with me the next day, so I said I would go.

When I was getting dressed in the morning to go to the police station, that was the first time since the rape that I felt like a victim. I looked at all my clothes, all the things I thought I looked nice in, and I felt sick. I didn’t want to look ‘nice’, simply because the last time I made an effort to look nice, I was raped. I put on a pair of tracksuit bottoms and a hoodie. I subsequently kept that on for four days.

When we arrived at the police station, they said they would send a specialist officer round to my house that night, so they told me to go and wait for them. They reminded me not to shower. They didn’t arrive at my house until 10pm. They asked me to recall what happened in detail. I was horrible to go over every little thing. They took my clothes from my previous night and they took swabs from my mouth and my rectum. Both swabs made me feel sick. I did nothing wrong, so why did I have to do this? After the swabs and my statement was finished, I asked them if I could shower. That’s still the only thing I wanted to do. They told me I could not shower until the next day. They wanted me to attend a clinic called The Bridge – a place in Bristol that specialises in Rape and Sexual assault.

Man taking a showerI wore the same tracksuit and the same hoodie to The Bridge. Again, I was accompanied by the same friend. Everyone at The Bridge was so friendly but it didn’t make my time there any easier. It was the second time I felt like a victim. I had to undress and put a gown on. I had to lie on the bed as they check for bruising. I felt disgusting. I couldn’t stop myself from crying.

Once all the swabs were over, they told me I could shower. I was so happy. They gave me a towel and some shower supplies, and I got in the shower. I think I was in there for about half an hour, but it felt nice to be warm and clean again. When I came out of the shower, two police officers asked me to meet them at a police centre for a video interview.

It was horrendous. I had to recall every little detail such as what I wore, what parts of his body did I touch, how I felt at the time of the rape. It was just under an hour, but felt like an eternity. As I came out of it, one of the police officers informed me that the guy had been arrested and taken into custody for questioning. I felt shocked that it happened so soon but I was relieved. Me and my friend went back to mine. We both sat there for a bit just to breathe for the first time in three days.

When my friend went home, I had another shower. Whilst in the shower, I took a photo of myself smiling. It was the first time in days that I had smiled and meant it. I felt positive. I had got through a number of horrific ordeals – the rape itself, the swabs and the video interview. It made me realise how strong I was emotionally. I was proud of myself. I looked at the photo and my smile made me feel warm inside.

Fast forward two months and I’d love to say he was convicted, held accountable and I have moved on from what happened. Sadly, that isn’t the case. My case was closed, due to insufficient evidence. It’s understandably very difficult to prove someone was raped.

I was obviously upset and angry, but I’ve learnt to accept that. I did all I could. I reported it. There’s nothing more I could’ve done. I do not feel anger towards the police, they also did everything they could. I’m angry at the person that did this. He’s the only bad person in all of this.

I am slowly moving on with my life. It’s not easy, and it has been hard. But the support I’ve had has truly been the one thing that kept me going. Even from people that don’t really know me. It was sad to see people that did know me not reach out to me once they found out what happened… People that I have been friends with for years. It’s sad but something like this really makes you see who is actually there for you. Right now, I feel like I’m ‘Daniel – the guy who was raped’. I know that’s not how most people view me, but it’s how I view myself at the moment, but it’s slowly changing. I’m getting there. I am strong. I easily could’ve let this destroy my life. But I didn’t let him do it. I’m determined not to let the rapist win.

And he hasn’t.

Daniel

 

Note: a full version of this blog was originally published on Daniel’s website at https://www.perksofbeingdaniel.com/blog/what-happened

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