Flowers bloom with roots in dirt: rape survival story

Flowers bloom with roots in dirt: rape survival story

It is not uncommon for survivors to feel alone and isolated. For many, hearing and sharing stories can play a vital role in their recovery from trauma,
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At 13, I was raped by a boy in my own home. He was a year older than me. I thought he was my friend. We were somewhere I felt safe. I don’t remember every small detail. That was eleven years ago. I have never shared this story with anybody. Until now. 

Consent wasn’t an issue covered in my sexual education at school. I’m not even sure if we’d covered that by this point. 

I’d always been a risk-taker. I loved to stay out later than I was allowed, run riots with the bad boys in the neighbourhood, started smoking/drinking at an early age as well as skipping school. The adrenaline rush was what I wanted. 

It was a regular weekend. I was out with a close friend and we came across a mutual friend from another school. He asked us if we wanted to hang out. Older boy, wanting to hang out with us? We felt validated. We felt cool. 

My friend got tired toward the end of the night. She wandered home and I started to walk home too. Our mutual friend, to keep him anonymous we’ll refer to him as Nate, walked me home. 

He asked to come in for a glass of water. When we sat down on the sofa, he kissed me. I’d never been kissed before. I hadn’t expected it. He was well known in town for being a ladies’ man and I was well known for being a tom boy. What interest would he have in me?

While my brain was racking itself for reasoning, his was working a 100mph. He’d already undressed himself and starting undressing me too. The confusion and misunderstanding in me couldn’t align with what was happening. I didn’t know how to react, I didn’t know what to say or how to get him to stop. 

I remember it being dark. I remember the sheer lead-weight of his body crushing mine, his lips smashed against my motionless face, his cigarette stained breath on my neck. I was screaming inside my head. My mouth opened but my throat was so dry I couldn’t force the words out. The feeling of an alien object inside you is violation beyond understanding.

Just like that, it was over as quickly as it began.

The Aftermath

It can’t have been more than ten minutes. I was a virgin, whether or not he was I don’t know. I suspect not. Everyone said losing your virginity was this exciting, important event. I felt different. Not in a good way. Like he’d taken something from me I wouldn’t ever get back. My self worth.

When he finally rolled off of me, I ran upstairs and locked myself in the bathroom until he left. 

My mother, as any mother would be, was horrified. She was supportive in saying that if I wanted to report it that I could and she would be there for me. Immediately, she got me a morning after pill. 

None of that compared to what was to follow. 

The shame I felt at what had happened left me feeling dirty, inside and out. Showers became a daily, if not twice daily, routine. Nothing could get the feeling of grime off my skin. The light had to be left on so I could sleep. 

I seriously considered reporting the incident. Then, I remembered all the news stories, reports on TV and people I knew who went through something similar just to be victimised further. I was scared they would blame me: she was out too late, she shouldn’t have been hanging around a bad crowd, she shouldn’t have been drinking, what was she wearing, was she asking for it?

I’d been a quiet, but rage filled, kid up but only in response to others actions to me, as retaliation. 

I confided in my closest friends to try to figure out what to do. That turned out to be a mistake. One of them had shared the information. 

A crowd of about thirty children from my own high school and the rapist’s high school gathered outside a local park which was on my route home. They followed me as I walked. The rapist was amongst them. A crowd of pretty girls. Popular girls. Girls that didn’t like me. They shouted all the way to my home. Skank. Slut. Whore. B*tch. Slag. Cum dumpster. Liar. 

The excuses as to why I couldn’t go to school the rest of that week were easy to get away with. It took months for the rest of the world to forget in school, I’ve never entirely forgotten. I don’t think I ever will. That shell shocked little girl is dead and a starving tiger has taken her place. 

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The recovery

I never reported the incident. Honestly, I wanted the world to swallow me up and forget. I wanted to forget, too. 

This, I justified to myself in many ways: he wasn’t violent, I didn’t fight him off or scream, so I blamed myself for what happened. At the time, I didn’t know that freezing up was a common response to rape. I didn’t confront the damage it had done until it was much later. 

Impact on relationships

My first long-term relationship was abusive and unhealthy. He was an adult and I was still a minor. His reputation was well known for being a heavy drug user, aggressive, and a party animal. He financially, emotionally and physically abused me, draining me off well over a thousand pounds throughout our relationship. The preferences for sexual violence were not revealed until later on. He would go missing for days on end, or turn up in the middle of the night blinding drunk to scream at me and push me. In the end, he dumped me after cheating on me for two years and impregnating a friend of ours, whilst moving in with a different friend who became his girlfriend.

Similarly, my second long-term relationship was also abusive. I had fallen into the cycle of giving myself what I thought I deserved. Whilst living in our shared house, he would go on benders, vomit on the bathroom floor and pass out on the sofa. He shattered the glass shower door. Locked himself in someone else’s bedroom. Pushed me down the stairs once.

I knew nothing but anger and disappointment in relationships. The best thing I ever did for myself was to spend time alone, focusing on how to treat myself better first before identifying those people worthy of being in my life. Since those gap years in dating, I’ve found my taste has much improved. I seek kindness, otherness and acceptance. 

Even after years of mental health treatment for anxiety, depression and a personality disorder, I never discussed the rape with a therapist or support worker. I never wanted to acknowledge I allowed it to happen. That I was not in control. Obviously nowadays I tend to be a control freak and a domineering person to make up for the feeling of weakness. 
I do feel lucky in a way that it wasn’t more traumatic when I read other survivor stories. The fear never goes away. When someone you know, a peer, a friend, rapes you, you start wondering who else you know that’s capable of assault.

The biggest problem is that boys don't think what they're doing is rape. If she didn't say no, it must mean yes...

I’m 100% certain the boy, in his opinion, did not rape me. To this day, he probably thinks he was just a bad lay.  That was clear from the aftermath. A deeper understanding of consent and ability to consent is needed at a younger age to stop more sexual assaults against children who do not know how to give consent, or show a lack of consent. 

As a minor, you do not have the capability of legal consent. Therefore, anybody planning to engage in sexual activity as a minor should openly ask for consent to ensure it is given prior to the act. If Nate had asked if I wanted to have sex, the answer would have been no. Unfortunately, he forced himself in before asking. 

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