This post has taken me years to write. This particular attempt has taken me six months. I am not particularly slow with writing for the record, but the subject matter I want to talk about is incredibly difficult.
I was raped when I was fifteen by someone I knew and have only just let my loved ones know about it due to for a long time feeling ashamed and knowing it would change the relationship I had with those people, and I wasn’t able to have that attention. I wasn’t worthy of that. The same week the rape took place, I thought I was going to lose my mum as she fell incredibly ill and was in hospital for a long time. When she came out, my sister and I needed to help a lot until she was well enough again. So I kept quiet.
The person that assaulted me at the time held me down, looked me dead in my eyes and told me I was a whore, and for a very long time I believed it. I told one person as soon as it was over and they didn’t believe me, so figured “well if I tell the Police, they won’t believe me either and everyone else would think I was damaged goods.” So I kept it a secret for sixteen years.
I am not alone. According to Rape Crisis:
Only 15% of serious sexual offences against people 16 and over are reported to the police and of the rape offences that are reported, fewer than 6% result in an offender being convicted of this offence. This means that those who commit these very serious crimes may continue to pose a risk to the public.
From various conversations I’ve had or read, a lot of people haven’t told anyone. Why?
The reason why others keep it a secret is probably also down to the same feelings I expressed earlier, and this does make for alarming reading. But I understand it. We do all need to work together to ensure this is not a fact of life that we accept and get on with. Rape is the only crime I know where the victim has to prove their innocence and it makes me sick.
I have forgiven the person who committed the assault and the person I told in confidence who shrugged it off. I figured if I am to move on with my life, being bitter and angry was like me drinking poison and expecting them to suffer. But I didn’t deal with the guilt, shame and my relationships with men since then has not been all that healthy. Something that I am working on. Daily. I have recently taken up meditation and going for help, which is slowly unravelling the build up of hiding my shame and guilt for so long.
The impact of this all now means that I suffer with depression and have done unwittingly for at least six years before things got messy. It’s now been twelve years. And the more I think about things, the more I think it has been even longer than that. The familiar words “Cheer up, love” could have secured me a multi bedroom mansion if I were to collect a pound for every time I have heard it.
The need to ‘get on with things’ and worry about it when I’m out of that dark patch is always strong and very few people until now would never know I am having a bad time as I like most people are good at saying “I’m fine” when asked how I am.
When trying to write this piece in relation to how my physical activities really help I asked for people to send me a few lines in confidence to include in the post and it was very clear straight away that although it was fine for me to speak to those who replied about depression, it was not okay for me to include anything on the blog, and I totally understand why.
But the biggest help to all of this is my relationship with fitness. Before I became someone interested in running, my thing was the gym. I’d go two/three times a week for an hour. That pretty much got me through the day when at my last couple of jobs and any stresses the day would bring. Since I have been running, however it has meant that whether in a group, with my running partner Darren or alone I am forced to listen to my brain, as there are no external distractions. My World is put to rights when I put on my trainers and take out the days’ frustrations on the pavement and I can get on with sorting it when I get home and have my bath. I am not being dramatic when I say that running has saved my life. It really truly has.
I want to finish by saying to anyone that has been beaten or assaulted to please ask for help. Suffering in silence means that you carry this toxic thread throughout your daily life, and it seeps into everything unless you cut it out. It is not your fault if you have been assaulted and you are not in anyway asking to be treated so badly. Having spoken to my family and friends, I wish I had told them sooner.
What I’m saying is you CAN do this and while I’m no expert I know MY struggles and although it isn’t perfect talking to my family and fitness have helped me out of a lot dark periods of my life and it could work for you.
I do not need your sympathy or concern. I want you to help ensure that those around get the support they need, so they don’t suffer in silence. That all said and done, if you see that I’m becoming withdrawn do me a favour? Get me in my kit, shove me out the door and tell me to go for a run. ‘Cause it’s that time, again.
You can find help/advice from many sources including:
(If you are outside the UK, search: “Rape Counselling.”)