We had a good night, yes?
I was raped last May. I had gone out with friends to our usual club and was excited to be going to see a band there. I'm a single mum of 2 children (one of which is disabled and I only ever get one night a month off. So going out with my best friends, letting my hair down and de-stressing is a MUST for maintaining my mental health!). Being a single woman who loves what life has to give, I often went out armed with condoms ready to "pull", but that night I was condomless and in high spirits- it was all about friends and the band. I was spiked-I have never, ever taken drugs before in my life. I don't know when it happened-whether it was in the club itself or when I went into the takeaway afterwards. I watched the band, had a dance with my friends then felt really tired. I said my goodbyes and went across the road to the takeaway (as I did every time, it was part of my going out ritual) and ordered my food.
The man behind the counter had flirted with me on a couple of occasions before, he held no interest for me whatsoever-he was just the man that served the food. He was a greasy, slimy guy with a pot belly that didn't speak much English. I wouldn't have noticed him if he'd passed me by in the street. He was annoying but I was always polite and bantered back in the 5 minutes it took to get my food ready.
This time I needed to use the bathroom, so I asked him where it was and he said he'd show me. That's the last thing I remembered.
I woke up the following day (in my own bed) and had a broken toe, bruised and swollen knees, a gash across my bottom and finger marks around the tops of my arms. I'd been penetrated both vaginally and anally. There was semen all over my skirt and dirt marks down the front of my corset. There were texts on my phone from him (he'd put his own name and number into my phone) saying "we had great time, good sex", "we see each other again yes?".
I cannot tell you how horrified and totally terrified I felt. The first thing I did (ever practical) was go for the battery of tests to make sure I was OK. Then I went to counseling. The thoughts that went through my head were crazy..."Did I say yes?...it's possible", "Did I make noises like I was enjoying myself?" "Did I encourage him?", "Did I flirt with him too much?", "Why didn't I insist he at least wore a condom?...I'm always so careful". Then not being able to remember anything was pure torture-exactly what happened? How did my corset end up like that? Was I conscious for any of it? What happened to my toe and knees? How was the gash made? Did I hand my phone to him? Did I chat to him afterwards? Did I fight?
The thing is, I'll never know these things-my memory is probably never going to come back from that night and I've accepted that now.
In October last year, I found out he'd been fired and the shop had new owners in. Half of me was happy that I'd never have to see him again and the other half was terrified--because now he's not confined to one place-he could be anywhere.
On New Years eve I went back in for the first time. I ate my food sat at a table. I walked up the stairs and stood in the room (I had a memory of an orange room-the only detail I had) where it happened. I made peace. I'm not a victim, I'm a survivor. But I will never forget how easily it happened and how easily I initially blamed myself and not him. The thought that "he was just a guy that got lucky with me that night and can't really be blamed for taking advantage" took a long time to shake off...And it was wrong.