The next day for him after the first rape, it was like nothing happened, just cool and calm on the job like always. I didn’t speak. I just pretended the flu was so bad it had claimed my voice. The following week he resigned from the company altogether. That had not previously been on the cards. His resignation was not planned. I still have some seriously incriminating evidence signed by a Senior Partner of our firm connected with him leaving the job. They even let him out before he’d worked his full notice. Even by his horrendous standards he knew he’d overstepped the mark alright.
In the run-up to my rapist leaving the company he came to find me on almost every project he could. Abusing his use of the client booking system, I rationalise. But I was such a nervous wreck, so wracked with self-doubt that I was verging on paranoia and thought that everyone was against me and was plotting to help him rape me. He just kept turning up and I couldn’t make head nor tail of it.
Honestly, I thought our co-workers were in on it. I’d lost my mind.
I thought the only solution was to try and reclaim some presence and ability. Ha! Nice try, me! In November, I was leading a team on a project in London and the others had left on the Thursday: I was the only person left on the job so I could deliver the report to the client on the Friday. I was in my hotel room preparing the presentation and determined to make a go of something. I’d been struggling to concentrate or to think of anything since the first rape and I was pretty much a nervous wreck. I daren’t tell anyone, not a soul.
That night he’d visited a prostitute in London along with another Senior Manager and the aforementioned Senior Partner. Afterwards, he came to find me at my hotel. He was absolutely nothing to do with my job nor my client. He called me and said he’d got my room number from the man on reception and was on his way to see me. I froze completely and freaked out. I couldn’t think – my brain hurt.
He shouted outside my room so loudly and for so long that I was a nervous wreck. What if someone heard him? what if I was implicated? It was my name on the room booking. I couldn’t think straight and he was still shouting in the corridor. If you’re ever in this situation, call the police. It’s 999 you need in the UK (older self speaking there).
But I ended up opening the door to try and shut him up. He was the most drunk I’ve ever seen anyone. He fell on me and I could smell alcohol and another woman on him. He immediately declared that he’d been with a prostitute – perhaps he was proud?
Then he got some strength. He threw me on the bed and I knew what was coming and I thought no you fucking don’t! Not this time! I was ready for the tide to turn and I didn’t give it up easily.
I was so angry with him for taking everything away from me. No no no. I thought I could fight him which was another error on my part. He was already on top of me but I punched him hard in the face repeatedly. I might as well have punched the wall for all the good it did. What I considered to be hard blows just glanced off him, but it made him more angry.
Turns out fighting an aggressive drunk man is a very, very bad idea. He was particularly violent with me that night.
That was a big turning point because I learned not to fight back.
I laid there, ashamed, shaking, shocked and terrified. Afterwards, he was sick in my bed and then passed out, so off the back of a violent rape, I cleaned up his sick and slept next to my rapist. In the morning, he checked me for bruises (I rarely bruise and hadn’t done, despite his aggression.)
He forced me to watch his smug face closing in on me, back out again then in again, like a demented optician, his face way too close to mine, grinning at me as he realised and laughed in my face because there was no evidence. There was never any proof. I can still hear his chilling smug laughter.
At the client presentation the next morning I was like a zombie. I have no idea what came out of my mouth. The fact that I turned up at all was a miracle. But it was probably the last time I was going to lead a team, I thought.
My mind started going blank quite a bit. He’d still text me non-stop and come to my house. If I’d have rung the police, they would of course have got involved. I wanted him to stop but I didn’t trust anyone to help me. I couldn’t talk about it because I couldn’t explain it. I was sure no one would believe me. There weren’t stories to latch onto in the media like there are nowadays. I didn’t understand why it was happening. I thought maybe I was to blame, maybe I’d done something wrong, maybe it was a problem to solve. I was good at problem solving, wasn’t I? Well not this sort, I’m afraid.
The next phase was getting used to being raped. I didn’t fight anymore. I found I could go into a type of strange meditative trance that separated my mind and soul from my body. That way he was only getting my body, not all of me. But that was dangerous too. You see, if he noticed I was coping, he’d throw me around. I think that triggered some nasty anxiety issues and possibly deeper mental health issues with me. To be violently thrown when you’re in a kind of meditative state. I don’t know. I haven’t sought help on that. I can’t fully grasp it but it was very disturbing. Up until last year if I recalled these situations, I still got weird tingling cramps on my scalp.
What could I do?
I tried getting his number blocked but my phone provider Orange said I’d have to tell the police. I couldn’t do it. I felt like no one would believe me. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t have the language. I told a couple of friends my age but they didn’t understand. It wasn’t like it is these days where people are a bit more informed. It just wasn’t a thing we knew about, any of us. They couldn’t grasp why I was calling it rape when I’d previously consented. If my friends couldn’t understand what I was saying, what hope did I have of making anyone else understand?
I challenged him about it during conversation. (Why? Did I think he’d see reason?). He laughed openly in my face at the utter insanity of me ever being able to tell anyone. Just openly laughed at me. He said people would believe him, not me. He then acted out in front of me what he would say if anyone ever challenged him on it. He was not only plausible but able to ridicule me at the same time. He acted all the different parts – the police, members of staff, me – he could fully orchestrate what everyone’s roles would be, which I found stunning and terrifying.
He was so cool and calm. He got what he wanted. He said he had the power to wreck my career and if I told anyone then my life might as well be over because he’d tell them I was making it up to spite him because he’d dumped me and I was just a silly girl who was upset at getting dumped.
It got worse. By the February / March 2001 he was leaving really creepy messages on my phone; he was definitely disturbed sexually. Sometimes when I couldn’t cope, I’d end up sobbing on the floor in a heap, begging him to stop and leave me alone. He said I was very unattractive crying like that.
I was usually to be found (or not found, actually) sitting alone at home on the floor rocking and crying. I couldn’t see a way out. I didn’t want to trouble anyone by saying what was happening. I started to envisage my own funeral and there was no one at it. I was in a very bad way.
I went on holiday with a friend in February 2001 for a week. When I got back to the UK, he’d left me about 40 creepy voice messages. He knew where I was and he was coming to get me. I had a massive panic attack in the airport. My friend was like oh just delete them. I should have told her how many there were. I should have insisted she listen to them. I should have kept them and I should have contacted the police right there and then, but all I had was no support and shit advice.
I was 21 when I secured my first graduate job. I couldn’t understand what was happening or why. I wrongly felt that in having experienced quite a lot of grief and loss the previous few years (4 family members had died within 3 years) that I’d had my lot for now. Coping with rape and his hideous variety of ongoing emotional and psychological abuse was traumatic in the extreme.
I kept it all quiet. All I knew how to do was bottle stuff up. Really, just getting up in the morning and coming to work would have been enough for me. I was in a very bad position to try and cope with a psychopathic abuser like him.
My whole life focus at that time involved pain, distress, isolation, turmoil, anxiety, physical violence, worry and the black hole in front of me.
So I pressed self-destruct.
If he wasn’t going to fuck off the face of the earth, it looked like I might have to.
Read next post: The Pit of Nothingness and Can I Step off the World please?