“Taken from me”

**Trigger: Rape**

I’ve only told 3 people in my life about this. It scares me, it haunts me and it makes me ask so many questions about who I am now to the point of confusion and insecurity. To me, I was always an idealist when younger – I would grow up, meet someone perfect, lose my virginity to them, marry them, have children and grow old with them. However, this plan was ruined when I realised at around 11 that I was gay and I had a crush on a guy from school. I fought it off to keep my ideal dream by having girlfriends (none longer than a few days) but deep down I knew my ideal world was nothing more than a dream. However I could still do most of it, so it wasn’t all bad. I waited to meet a nice guy, which was difficult when I hadn’t come out. But I’d been asked online for sex and I declined due to being 15 and to wanting to be in a relationship before my first sexual experience.

In July 2008, I had gone into town for a meeting and went to a public restroom. It was about 8.50am so pretty quiet and I went in a cubicle when there was a knock on the cubicle door. Being naive I opened the door, and a mid 20s male entered the cubicle and dropped to his knees. I didn’t know what was going on until he unzipped my jeans and pulled down my boxers, he then began to do the thing and then undid his trousers and pushed my head down. I’ve never liked giving blowjobs since then. Because if I do, I see his face and I freak out. I get scared, I feel unsafe and I feel dirty. He tried to fuck me too. Thankfully, it was only a small toilet and he realised I was beginning to make too much noise so he left. And I just cried. I went to the meeting and acted like nothing had happened. I came out to my friends in the September. I didn’t tell anyone why, but this guy had been haunting me in my sleep, during the day and when trigger words were said. I needed another focus, I needed to be me and hope to move on by finding someone. I didn’t get any help for it, and when I did have mental health problems and attempt suicide, I knew that the experience hadn’t helped but still I told no one. I got my first proper relationship, and lost my virginity to him. Or at least that’s what I pretended. But it had already been taken from me, something I will never get back from that man. That day he not only took my virginity, he took my dreams, my safety and my happiness. Since the incident, I have been sexual way too much. I make jokes about everything, and everyone. When I broke up with my boyfriend, it was because of sex and my way of coping was to sleep with as many people – not because I was trying to get over my ex, but because the man who raped me was still haunting me. And in my mind, if I sleep with enough people he will go away. Someone else will take over from him in my mind and I can move on.

Whenever someone sends me a message online saying “rape me” I get angry and upset. Rape is not something you choose. It’s not something I wanted. It’s changed me in ways I can’t even begin to fathom. I do wonder if he has made me who I am today, but I’m not even sure who I am – I can’t even see past my wall of defences anymore. I have so many faces for show, I don’t know which is real. I’m on a search still to find some of what I lost that day, but he may have taken so much from me but all he cannot take from me now is my life. I will not commit suicide. Because he is not doing that to me. I’ve only told 3 people in my life about this. It scares me, it haunts me and it makes me ask so many questions about who I am now to the point of confusion and insecurity. Person 1 – someone who was at the meeting that day I told 3 years after it happened. Person 2 – a person I’d just met because I’d had a trigger. Person 3 – someone at Reclaim the Night. Because I had gone, with my own motives. I wanted some release, and it gave me some at least. It gave a lot of emotion, but I at least think it helped. It annoyed me when someone said men shouldn’t be allowed at Reclaim the Night. We can get raped too. And I’ve been silent about it too long. Don’t silence me or other men because of our gender. Rape is rape, and victims should unite and be strong together and for each other. That is why I am writing this. We will learn to deal with it. I’m going to speak to someone about it and get the help I need, 4 years on.

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