“I lived every girl’s worst nightmare, I was raped.”
Editor’s note: This post deals with sensitive content that may be triggering for some readers.
Words by Charlotte*.
When I was 19 I was sexually assaulted by a man older than my father.
Prior to my attack, my life was looking pretty great. I had graduated high school and had just entered my dream career. I had moved away from my small country town and everything I knew. I had met the guy of my dreams and we had moved in together.
What could go wrong now?
It was a Saturday night, and my workplace’s annual ball. I wasn’t a big ‘party animal’ but I decided I was going to get dressed up and have a great night anyway. My boyfriend was overseas for work at the time (we were in the same career), so I headed off with a couple of the girls.
I had never felt better about myself. Little did I know that was all about to change.
The ball itself was amazing. I ate great food, drank amazing wine and danced with friends until my makeup had sweated off my face.
At the end of the night, I joined the queue for a taxi ride home. Waiting in that line, I remember feeling so happy, like I was on top of the world. It was almost my birthday, I was heading home for Christmas soon and I had just celebrated the most amazing evening.
As I jumped in a maxi cab, a few other people asked to share the ride to split the cost (ah hello, I was 19 so of course I needed the cash). I didn’t know any of them, except for one – an older man who was my superior at work, John**. I hadn’t spoken to him much previously, especially outside of work, so I didn’t give him much thought.
It was then that my night took a turn.
The driver had dropped all the other passengers home and it was just myself and John left.
John was sitting a few seats in front of me, but as the last passenger left the taxi he moved back and pushed himself next to me. I had no idea what he was doing and assumed he, like most, had drank a little too much and was keen for a chat. Everything was fine until he reached around to the back of my head and grabbed my hair to pull me into him. Abruptly he said “kiss me”, and I refused, yanking my head away and looking out the window in fear. I was so terrified, I sat there in sheer panic, willing the taxi to arrive at my house sooner. For the rest of the ride we didn’t speak two words.
As the driver approached my house I began to move to the front of the vehicle to pay the $57 fare (it’s crazy the things you remember). I was pulling my money out when John suddenly appeared behind me, angrily spitting words at the taxi driver, “daylight robbery, you’re ripping her off and she isn’t paying it”.
I was confused. I was more than willing to pay and get the hell out of that cab into the safety of my own home. I replied “It’s fine” and attempted to give the driver my bank card before it was slapped out of my hand by John. I scrambled to retrieve it and jumped out of the taxi.
I wasn’t alone.
John too hopped out of the taxi, yelling abuse at the driver and refusing to pay the fare. When I asked what he was doing, he replied “I’m not going anywhere with that a******e”.
I began to walk to my unit and he followed me.
I fetched the hidden house key and opened my front door. As I walked in, so did he. Pushing me through the corridor, he ordered that he was going to sleep on my couch for the evening as it was too late for him to get a taxi home now. Quietly, I went into my bedroom and closed the door behind me. I changed into my sleepwear, brushed my teeth, removed my makeup and climbed into bed.
Later, I was startled by a sound, and awoken to see my bedroom door opening. I knew it was him, so I stayed silent and still in the hope he would think I was asleep. In hindsight I look back and realise he was going to do what he wanted to whether I was asleep or otherwise.
John closed the door behind him, pulled the blankets back and got into my boyfriend’s side of the bed. He reached his arms around me, and the rest speaks for itself.
After he was done, I flew out of bed and headed to the bathroom. I pulled the door shut behind me, and rushed towards the adjoining door which opened onto the rest of the house. I bolted to my front door, swung it open and hid underneath my neighbour’s car until I could manage to phone for help.
After authorities were called, and an ‘investigation’ was completed, John pretty much got away with it all. Despite being pulled out of my own bed, I was told “It was my word against his”. All John admitted to was attempting to kiss me in the taxi (the only place where there was a witness), but that was it… according to him he had done nothing else.
To this day, “It’s your word against his”, replays over and over in my mind. To know I have lived my darkest nightmare, followed by a tormenting investigation process, and yet my attacker will walk away scot-free is excruciating. John was going to go unpunished for destroying my life, and that killed me.
The hardest part? I later found out John didn’t even live near me, so had no reason to get in the taxi that night. He lived on the opposite side of town with his wife and children. For this reason, I was told to “keep it to myself” and “I didn’t realise I was ruining this man’s family”.
It wasn’t long before my boyfriend returned home from overseas, and I realised I could no longer be in an intimate relationship. Everything had changed, and although it had nothing to do with him, I could no longer stand my own boyfriend touching me.
To this day, two years after the night of my attack, I am fighting for my rights and the rights of every young woman, to make sure my attacker doesn’t strike again.
I’ve gone from being a stubborn girl full of self-confidence, to a now-22-year-old who is battling PTSD, who suffers from depression and who has tried to end her own life. I was forced to leave my dream career and move to the other side of the country.
Everyday is a battle and some days are worse than others, but I refuse to stop fighting. I am in my first serious relationship again which has been the best thing thus far to happen to me.
If you or someone you know battles with depression, PTSD or any other mental illness, please please PLEASE confide in someone. Taking that first step is always the worst – I only realised that when I attempted to take my own life. Don’t wait until it is too late, please.
I urge other people – male and female – to fight for what they deserve, especially when it comes to sexual assault. If you don’t do it for yourself then do it for someone else. I won’t lie, it’s bloody hard, and it will never be easy, but it is so much harder to keep it to yourself and live with in silence.
I truly believe that justice will be served and I will continue to fight every day until it is.
The author is anonymous for legal reasons*
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