He told me that he’d warned other Managers about my poor standards of work and my stress that I brought to the workplace. It was true, I was stressed – because he’d made me that way. He constructed the entire scenario then blamed me for it.
In truth, the project client staff were actually really nice to me and I learnt a lot on the job, but I started to feel like my reputation was in shreds. I was anxious in case I’d never get to work on a decent job again. Career wise, I couldn’t fathom what I’d done wrong yet my reputation seemed to be somehow hanging in the balance, which caused me huge anxiety.
I only wished the project would end as I desperately wanted to get away from him. Perhaps a Manager back in our base office might take pity on me and get me an easy job to do so I could recover from his clutches.
I hated August and worked myself to a rag trying to deliver the project sooner so I could get away from him. On parts of the day when he and I were not together, he’d call or text me upwards of 10-20 times per day. To say this was intrusive was an absolute understatement. I wished he’d fuck off altogether.
By this point I had moved back in with my Mum in anticipation of buying my own house, my first house. How I managed to have the wherewithal to buy a house amidst all this I’m not sure.
My Mum was now dipping her toe in dating waters (my Dad had passed away a couple of years prior to this time) and I saw her less. My good friend had moved away to another part of the country. I started to feel very alone but as my Mum was getting happier and moving on, I didn’t want to trouble her with my issues. When I saw friends, I just wanted to have fun with them to redress the balance of normality. I never told anyone what he was like. I thought it would end soon and it would be over and everything would turn out fine and be normal again.
Then came the last week of the project. I got flu and missed a night out with some other contractors as I was so ill. I woke in the night and had this feeling that he was with another woman and I thought I knew who – another contractor working with the same client, staying at the same hotel as us. They’d flirted with each other and it seemed plausible. My instinct on it was so strong that even though I was really ill, I got up and went to this woman’s room and sure enough, he was in her room. They were both semi undressed and flustered.
I was totally wiped out, but strangely quite pleased at catching him out because I felt like it might be finally over between me and him. Feeling nervous and suddenly odd with them semi naked and me standing there in the corridor, ill in my pyjamas, I said something completely out of place like, “Hi, I wanted to check you got back from the restaurant ok,” then quickly scuttled off back to my room. I felt strange but relieved because I thought I could get shut of him. It had gone past the point of me feeling that my pride was dented – it wasn’t: I couldn’t care less who he was with if I meant I could get rid of him.
I went back to my room and crawled back into bed but soon after, he was knocking at my room door, loudly. What did he want? Game over, surely? I let him in to avoid a racket. BIG MISTAKE.
He was drunk and angry as hell at being caught out. I was too tired for an argument since it was the middle of night and I had flu. I was genuinely aching & feeling like utter shite. I got straight back into bed again. I should have chucked him out first, but he was pacing up and down like a demented animal and shouting at me (how dare you come to her room? etc) so I actually had no inclination for a fight. I was too tired to be even worried so I just laid there. I thought he’d just shout until he stopped, then leave. He didn’t.
When he’d finished shouting, he hadn’t got rid of his anger. And that’s when it happened the first time.
I had no power to fight him. My limbs were very weak. I had no idea he was going to rape me. I couldn’t believe what was happening.
Now this is hard to say, and some readers may wonder why I am spelling this out, but I think that unless you’re a victim of rape it’s something no one wants to think about or talk about. I think it’s important we do both for the sake of moving past these hideous crimes.
I was saying What are you doing? Why are you doing this? Get off me! Stop it! That hurts! Stop! I don’t want this! Get off! etc, etc.
I played that monologue on repeat the whole time to no avail.
It’s not like having sex but a bit worse. It’s not like you say no and then think oh go on, ok then. It’s nothing to do with leading someone on. Not like you think ok let’s do this and then regret it after and call it rape. No, none of those things, and certainly nothing to do with what you’re wearing or how you’re acting. I was dressed in sweaty pyjamas and had snot all over my face. This was wholly uninvited. It was abuse of power and control gone so badly wrong that it turned into a violent sexual act. It makes me feel physically sick and dizzy to recall it even now.
Let me paint a picture for you.
It’s having your wrists pinned down, aggressively, painfully, not being able to breathe for the dead weight on top of you, someone extremely angry who takes on severely violent proportions.
A strong, violent, animalistic fiend who snarls in your face, looks you square in the eyes like they truly hate you and want to punish you. It’s violence: vile, revolting, abominable, harsh, disgusting, intimate violence. Truly painful in every sense: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It was like wrestling with an alligator. It felt like my soul was systematically hoovered out of my body by pure evil.
I felt like I’d been murdered, but afterwards, I was still alive.
And now, even now, when an act of abuse triggers that response in me, there are times my soul’s memory will still travel back to that place and feel the absolute pit of terror of that night and the repeated attacks that followed it.
Yes, I had previously voluntarily had sex with him in the past. Does this fact detract from or negate the pain he caused me, that was to be a lifelong legacy? When I call this a lifelong legacy I don’t mean to say that I am bound by this memory now on a regular basis. The fact that I am left with remembering this repugnant act at all, is reason enough to call it a legacy. It is the fact that this abhorrent feeling has the strange persistent ability to replace every other good feeling I’ve ever had, even now.
I questioned my entire judgement and there was no way out. No one, and I mean no one, should ever, ever, have to go through that.
Read next post: Rape – the Aftermath