“the most awful time of my life”

**Trigger Warning: Rape, sexual assault, abuse**

 

I was 18 and in my first year of university when I met him. I had interested in left wing ideas at college and when I came to university I soon found a left wing political party society.

He was the district organiser in the region, and was articulate, impressive and seemingly knowledgable. He immediately expressed interest in me and we began dating. A few months in I realised something wasn’t quite right when after an evening of drinking I woke up covered in scratches and belt marks he claimed I had consented to. He would play on my insecurites, tell me all the time how many women fancied him, and how people only liked me because I had a nice body, and that my personality was shit. He was often violent, and at a party in a period where we were not together he found out I had met someone else and proceeded to throw me into a wall repetitively, calling me a slut, bitch, whore, despite the fact I hadn’t done anything wrong as we weren’t together at the time.

He always managed to worm his way back in, feeding off my insecurities, controlling my finances, and I feel so stupid for not being able to walk away sooner. I was under his spell, I honestly believed I could not do any better, and did not deserve any better. Eventually when I left him and changed university he continued to pester me, finally being nice to me, and I tried to be his friend. I got a new boyfriend and was regaining my confidence.

One night he showed up, saying that if I was a friend I would talk to him and I let him in. He immediately asked me to sleep with him one last time, and I refused. I told him I was happy with my new partner, that I wanted nothing to do with him. I said all the things I had been to scared to say, how he made me feel, how I was better without him. I still didn’t believe he would hurt me again, by hitting me or emotionally damaging me. He stepped towards me and said if you don’t do it I will tell your boyfriend you have anyway. I still said no.

He pushed me down and forced me to have sex with him with his hands around my neck. I felt like I was dying, like my heart and insides were burning.

I left the political party as I could not bear to see him, and a leading member asked me why I had left. I told her, and she suggested I tell the disputes committee within the political party, who act as a kind of internal police. I never reported the rape to the police, and thought this was the only way I could protect the other naive men and women in the party who he could hurt as well.

The committee meeting lasted five hours, they refused to rule on the rape, and repeatedly asked me if I was still attracted to him, with questions about my sexual history at the forefront. They eventually decided to suspend him for a period of time, provided he read up on womens liberation.

The whole process, knowing him, being hit and raped by him, and the humiliation of the disputes committee has been the most awful of my life. But the reason I am writing this is to tell you that I am getting better, my confidence is still low, but the more people I tell the easier it gets. I still have awful dreams about it, but the university allowed me to take a year out of my studies and it’s helped no end. So to people who have experienced events like this, I promise it gets better, and easier, and support networks can be found in the most unlikely places.


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