I’m trying not to drink, but I need a glass or two of wine to do this.
Today has been a strangely dry day when it came to thinking about something to blog about.
I felt odd, stuck, vaguely restless.
‘Come on!’ I urged myself silently, fighting the lure of the TV, ‘you must have something to say today!’
And then, just in the last hour, I was given something.
Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it.
If anyone had asked me twenty years ago, if I’d ever been raped, I’d have told them ‘No’.
Fifteen years ago I would have said the same.
And on the surface, I would have looked convincing. I could have said it in a court of law and would have been believed.
But in the last nine years or so, every now and then a memory would float to the surface of my consciousness like a dead fish in a murky, polluted, junk infested river, and I would reach out automatically without even thinking and shove it right back under, out of sight.
And it would disappear for a while, but every now and again it would materialise again, with a blip, blip, stinking and rancid, it’s grey, filmy eyes glaring at me with scorn and accusation, and I would shudder, close my eyes, push hard and replace it with something else; another memory, a song, an urgent errand, a drink, but as it receded, deep in my heart, I knew it would return.
And it did; the blips turned into splashes, the stink got overpowering, and it got bigger, more bloated, more gaseous, more buoyant and it got harder and harder to ignore.
So one day I grabbed the slimy thing, looked it square in it’s dead, glassy eyes and said ‘Yes, it did happen. Now leave me the fuck alone!’ then hurled it back into the waves, watching it bob away on the current, where it stayed, just in my peripheral vision, no longer intruding, but never too far away.
In the late 80’s early 90’s a lot of my friends were into house music, trance and raves. They would get a message or a call, then rush off out to a warehouse party in the country or on a beach, take ecstasy, acid, speed, and dance their arses off, returning the next morning on a high, banging on about how much they loved the whole love, peace, unity thing they’d experienced that defined that decade.
I didn’t and don’t like not being in control. I might have some spliff with people that I trusted, drink to merry inebriety, but I actively avoided getting into a state where I was no longer able to look after myself. My friends would roll their eyes and take the piss out of me for being such a control freak, and I would take their baiting in good humour, crowing when they finally came down, and had to stagger off to bed full of misery to recover.
My young nieces and nephews have over the years taken me into their confidence about their curiosity or experiences with drugs. Careful not to put them off by having a pink fit or preaching, i would chat to them about what I knew about each pill, what it did, the side effects, how they might feel the next day, then give them the only piece of advice they ever need; only buy from people you trust, and only ever get wasted when you are with and going to stay with people you trust. Because if you are are wasted in the wrong place at the wrong time, anything can happen to you and you won’t be able to protect yourself.
I would say this casually, nonchalantly, usually not looking them in the eye, like it was no skin off my nose, like a friend, or older cousin might do. I would never betray my deep concern, my fear, my desperation that they take this on board, as it might make me more of a un-cool ‘worrying about nothing’ adult like their parents, or, worse still, make them curious as to why I stressed this so emphatically.
As far as I know, for the most part, they have taken this advice seriously. And let’s be honest, if something had happened to them, they would be unlikely to tell me anyway.
I just hope to God that if anything does happen, that they love themselves enough to report it or at the very least, confide in someone they love and be comforted.
I’ve alway avoid documentaries about sexual abuse; I have however watched ‘The Accused’ about six times despite the shocking scenes in that pool room. I think it’s because in the end, the perpetrators get what’s coming to them so it must be in some way cathartic to me.
If only it was the same in real life.
I had planned an early night tonight to try and get myself into getting up early instead of sleeping in, but for some reason I turned on the the TV just as this documentary was starting.
It covered the story of Juliet, a strong, sassy, confident woman who went out to the pub one New Years Eve to ring in the new year with a friend. The friend didn’t show, so she sat at the bar drinking rather than spending it alone. At some stage of the evening, she either had her drink spiked with something or just got very drunk, and then she was ejected by the door staff.
You see her in some security camera footage, and she could barely stand.
I feel like I’m going to throw up just watching her.
She then tried to totter home via an alley next to the pub, and was raped and forced to perform oral sex on someone or two people she didn’t know. She woke up the next day with a bruised body and mouth wondering what the hell had happened to her. The documentary, along with showing the day to day running of a sexual assault referring centre, tracks her story from the day she reports the crime on camera to the eventual arrest of her abuser and, thankfully, his sentencing and incarceration.
it is tough viewing. Especially as I feel her pain, shame and anger more than the average viewer.
I was raped when I was about twenty five years old in my own home by a friend of a friend.
I’ve never told anyone about this before.
Not even my counsellor.
I can’t do it now. But I’ll tell you tomorrow.