It’s taken me a long while to write this post. I’ve started it and deleted it more times than I can count. I started to write this blog because I wanted to share what I’d been through over the last 10 months, which essentially all started with the night that I was sexually assaulted. Saying that I was sexually assaulted is something that I’m ok with admitting and talking about aloud, but writing a post solely on the subject has proven harder than I thought. It’s made me realise that I’m probably still struggling with some aspects of it a little more than I’d realised.
I’m going to do this part of my blog across 2 posts, because the topic as a whole is quite a heavy subject. Some people might find this one too difficult to read and I completely understand. However, the reason I’m sharing the details of what I went through is to make people aware of what sexual assault survivors actually do go through. The process of reporting a sexual assault affected me in ways I don’t think anything else ever will. As I sat in the police car the night that it happened, I had no idea what was to come. I had no idea what the process was and what I’d be put through over the following months.
For both legal and personal reasons, I’m not going to go into details about what happened that night. As much as I want to be open and honest about everything, there’s some things that I do wish to keep private such as the specific details. I also don’t wish to share details about my attacker on the internet. This blog is and always has been about me sharing my journey, it’s never been about me using it as a platform to slate other people. Therefore some parts may be vague, but any details that could be linked to my attackers identity won’t be shared. Some details that may need to be shared to give context to my situation are that the sexual assault happened on the evening of Christmas Day / early hours of Boxing Day morning, it was done by someone that was briefly known to me, he’s married and is over double my age.
My boyfriend was with me from the moment the assault stopped happening. As I fumbled around trying to get away as quickly as I could, he looked at me with pure confusion. He followed me out into the street and asked me what had just happened. I was uncontrollably sobbing and couldn’t speak properly. I was in absolute shock. I was shaking and felt like I was going to throw up. I can’t truly put into words just how horrific the feelings were that I had at that time. Eventually I got my words out and I told him and within seconds he’d rang the police. I don’t remember the exact time, but I’d say it was around 2AM or somewhere close. I was in a state of pure shock, panic and fear. I kept telling my boyfriend that I just wanted to go home, but I knew I wasn’t thinking straight. He told me that we had to stay and wait for the police. Still I tried to walk away to find my way home, but with the state I was in and the 2AM darkness, I had no idea where I was or where I needed to go. I was trapped, just a minutes walk away from the place in which I’d just been sexually assaulted.
I have no idea how long it took for the police to get there. It could have been minutes but to me it felt like hours. They pulled up and as one officer spoke with my boyfriend, the other sat me in the car to ask me what had happened. Single, mumbled words were all I could manage to say. They then drove us to the police station. I can’t recall the journey to the police station. I can’t even recall what happened once we first got there. The next memory I have is been sat in a box room with 1 small table and 4 chairs, being asked to give a statement by an officer. Me and my boyfriend had been separated so that we could each give a statement. I felt like I was in a daze, like things around me were happening in real life but my head felt clouded and I couldn’t actually process what was happening. I honestly felt like at any moment I could wake up and realise that none of it was real, because nothing about that situation felt real. You hear in the news about people being sexually assaulted, you may even know someone who it’s happened to, but I never expected that one day it would be me that was sat there in a police station recalling the details.
Once our statements had been taken and officially logged, we were allowed to go home. Around 7.30AM, the police drove us back. My parents were awake by now and were texting me to ask what was happening. I didn’t want to tell them over a text so I told them that I’d explain once I was home. I asked the police officer if he could drop me off a few houses away from my own so that my parents wouldn’t see me get out and panic before I’d had a chance to explain. As soon as I stepped in the door I broke down. My boyfriend left me then to go home himself so that I could have some time alone with my parents to let them know what had happened. We talked, we cried and then at 11AM I was picked back up by the police to go to the medical centre. I hadn’t been allowed to shower or change my clothes. The medical centre needed to take DNA samples so showering would have removed that evidence. But I couldn’t help but feel dirty. All I wanted was a scolding hot bath to try and remove any trace of him from my skin.
Once we were at the medical centre I was talked through what would happen next. One of the loveliest women came to sit with me and my parents and talk through the process. Even now, I have so much respect for the people who work at that medical centre. The 2 women that I dealt with that day made a truly awful situation a little easier for me to deal with. The job that they have to do isn’t a very pleasant one, but they put so much emphasis on making sure that I was as ok and as comfortable as I possibly could be the whole way through. I had to have my entire body looked over for any marks or bruises and explain how I’d got them which would then be recorded. They then took DNA samples from any part of my body that had made contact with his. When I first walked into the room where this would all happen, I was completely overwhelmed. There were swabs and tubes lined up all across the unit on the back wall. But thanks to the amazing staff, they managed to keep me as calm as was possible throughout. I felt sick the whole time I was there. I think a build up of shock, panic, fear and no sleep took over my body and I felt truly shocking. I had absolutely no energy. I didn’t want to talk anyway but I probably couldn’t have strung a sentence together if I’d have tried. If I was asked a question then I’d give short or one word answers. I knew I needed to be there to have everything recorded properly, but I really couldn’t wait to leave.
I was at the medical centre for about 3 hours in total. Once I was done there, I was supposed to go straight to the police station to give a video interview. The police stayed with us the whole time we were at the medical centre to take us straight down, but I ended up so ill that in the end they sent me home to rest. I’d been sat with a bin next to me for most of the day because I felt so dreadful and poorly. Eventually, my body hit back and I ended up being pretty sick. I sat on the toilet floor with my head back against the wall and tears streaming down my face wondering what on earth was going on.
I can’t explain just how surreal the whole thing feels. Once I’d been told that I would give my video interview the next day, I still didn’t know what to expect and everything still felt like a blur. Nothing felt real and I still felt like I could wake up at any minute and it all have been a horrific dream. But it wasn’t, and in reality it was only going to get more difficult. At this point it had only been around 10 hours since the sexual assault had happened and I’d been through so much already, both in terms of the police process but emotionally and mentally too. I think almost every person would expect the process for a sexual assault victim to be difficult, but it’s quite honestly one of the most difficult, draining and testing things I’ve ever been through. But despite how difficult it was, I knew it was the right thing to do. I’d been the victim of a very serious crime and despite the effect the reporting process was having on me, I knew I had to do it. I knew there was no way that I could just go home and live my life without doing the right thing and reporting the assault. Maybe it would’ve been easier to do that, but easier or not it definitely wouldn’t have been right. So I got back home that afternoon, managed to get a few hours sleep and tried to mentally prepare myself as much as I could for what was to come the next day.