Well, I slept, but don’t feel rested.
Should have put this to bed before retiring, but will do myself the kindness of doing so before my day starts properly.
Hot, sweet, comforting tea instead of wine this time….
In the early 80’s I shared the flat with a group of girls and a couple of boys who worked in the same place/industry as me. I don’t know if I could have called them friends, as those were few and far between even then.
I was very much into weights and fitness at that time and looking back and eschewing false modesty, I had carved myself a good, attractive, if muscly body, partly to appear stronger than I felt (or indeed was) inside, but also to try and find love.
At that time, I believed that my body was the best/only good thing about me.
A few times a year, we would all pool together and organise a house party. There was much excitement as we shopped for booze and snacks, splurged our wages on brand new outfits, shifted furniture around so there was room to dance, and filled the bathrooms with steam, cologne, damp towels and fervent wishes as we primped and preened.
We girls scuttled back and forth from our rooms excitedly, comparing make up, admiring outfits, swapping/borrowing shoes and accessories, and as we congregated in the sitting room awaiting our guests with baited breath, one of them asked me with a knowing smile:
‘So, is he coming tonight then?’
I grinned back at her, raised an eyebrow and everyone cheered and whooped.
A couple of bodybuilding friends of mine, Danny and Elaine, were bringing a friend of theirs along whom they’d met whilst travelling.
John was a great big blonde hulk of an Aussie who was a country boy when back at home, so a bit green to life in the city. Our eyes met across a crowded weights room so to speak.
Dan phoned later.
‘Mind if we bring John along on Saturday?’ he asked with a smirk in his voice, ‘he needs someone to make a man out of him!’
‘Oi you!’ I laughed. But a shiver of excitement thrummed through me.
It was on.
I had bought a brand new dress in order to present myself in the best possible light. It was elasticated and skin tight and, as intended, displayed my curves to their best possible advantage. I guess those dresses were the eighties equivalents to the bodycon and everyone was wearing them. But the bitchier of my friends would say behind my back that I shouldn’t wear them because they made me looked slutty.
Jealousy, I would think, dismissing them. Because I was stupid enough to believe that a well honed, lightly tanned, sexy body would bring me the love of my life like it had once before.
But it didn’t.
Sexy bodies attracts those wanting sex.
There is so much I’d like to go back in time and say to that hopeful, excited, loveless, screwed up girl teetering down the stairs in her too tight, too low, too everything dress and fuck me shoes looking like a less subtle version of Pauline Calf.
But I can’t.
All I can do is watch the events of that evening materialise on this computer screen, and get it over with as quickly as possible.
The party gets underway. I am off my usually strict diet, so I indulge in a few glasses of our infamous punch to kill my nerves.
What if he doesn’t fancy me?
What if he judges me on my face and not my body?
What if he doesn’t show?
I’d been stood up before and at that time, I thought that was my worse nightmare. God, if only I knew.
An hour or so in, Dan and Ellie arrive, and as they enter the room I see with huge relief and excitement that John is behind them, looking all shy and nervous. Then his eyes alight on me, he looks me up and down and grins wolfishly. I return this ‘tribute’ with a demure little smile and a flick of my long, teased, bleach blonde hair and wait for him to arrive at my side.
They push their way through the crowds and we chat a little. Ellie hands me a big glass of something and John and I chat and banter. I can’t for the life of me remember what either of us said. Dan taps me on the shoulder, nods towards the door, and makes a gesture with his thumb and forefinger. He’d brought along a joint.
I’m a total lightweight now when it comes to any kind of stimulant, but was even more so then. I shook my head. Ellie leans over and yells in my ear.
‘Come on, just have a bit!’ she bawls over the music, ‘don’t be boring!’
I look up into Johns huge, encouraging, doe brown eyes, shrug, follow them to the garden, and accept a couple of drags.
Almost immediately, the sky spins, and I feel sick.
No! This cannot be happening!
I’m going to ruin my chances with John!
I stay for a while and chat, then, feeling the gorge rising, I excuse myself as discretely as I can, head to the mercifully empty bathroom and throw up as quickly and quietly as possible. Locking the door behind me I quickly fix all signs of wear and tear on my face, clean my teeth, swish around some mouthwash, then return to the foray as if nothing has happened, hoping I’d got the worst of it out of my system.
‘Please make it stop’ I begged God/the universe/anyone, ‘he might be the one!’
But God had other things to do that night.
No sooner had I got myself another drink (so stupid!) than the rush of nausea returned, and I abandoned all dignity and staggered blindly off to the bathroom.
From there on everything is hazy.
I remember some guy (not John) standing behind me, holding my hair as I vomited profusely into the pan.
I remember lying on the floor, head resting on a rolled up towel.
I remember people laughing.
I remember Ellie forcing me to stand up, and putting me to bed.
I remember bitterly, dazedly berating myself for ruining an evening I’d been looking forward to for weeks and showing myself up in front of someone I might have spent the rest of my life with.
Then I slipped into unconsciousness.
This is the hard bit.
God help me.
Somewhere, sometime during the night, someone climbed into bed with me, took off my clothes and fucked me, groaning and moaning loudly whilst he humped me with every ounce of force and strength he had.
I remember groaning, pushing futilely and begging him to stop and leave me alone.
I know my eyes opened at one point but I couldn’t see his face, but I remember that the door to my room was ajar, letting in light from the hall.
Anyone and everyone could have passed by and seen what was happening.
No one came to my aid, even though I seem to remember at least one shadowy figure standing in the doorway.
Eventually he stops.
Some time passes. I don’t know how long.
And then it happens again.
I don’t know if it’s the same guy or not.
Then sometime later I hear a voice.
‘I can’t get out of the park’, it says coldly, ‘I’m going to have to stay.’
There was a big green in front the house; he must mean that.
I mumble something incoherently, and cringe as someone climbs into bed with me.
As daylight creeps into the bedroom the next morning, the first thing I notice is a bucket next to my bed and my knickers on the floor.
The second thing is a huge arm slung across my waist and a gentle snoring in my ear.
I try to turn my head, but pain pierces my brain so I wince and pull the duvet over my eyes.
What the fuck happened?
Then I remember.
And then I remember something that Danny had said a few days ago.
‘Man I’d hate to live in the room next to John’s! When he’s at it, he makes more noise than the woman!’
I can’t allow myself to think it.
I close my eyes miserably and drift back into unconsciousness.
Later I feel a hand gently, tentatively stroking my ribs and reaching down to stroke and explore my belly.
I turn and a pair of big, brown doe eyes meet mine queryingly.
We stare at one another for a moment.
Him not wanting me to remember.
Me not wanting to remember. Wanting to believe he never even touched me. And unbelievably, wanting to believe that he still liked me.
This is the bit I find the hardest to accept or forgive. I’ve had some lovely messages of support on the first part of this story, but I wonder what you’ll think of me after you read this.
It’s almost unbearable even to type this.
I don’t know what I thought.
That he never forced me?
That it was my fault?
That if we did it again, it would mean that I was never raped in the first place?
I have a friend that says she has never had a one night stand because she always made sure to sleep with them at least one more time as that, in her mind, rights the percieved ‘wrong’ and means that she’s not a scrubber, so maybe I was working from the same, warped, self hating principle?
Because that’s what happened.
I let him fuck me again.
Then he got up, said goodbye and left.
I knew I’d never see him again.
And, oh God, how I hated myself.
I didn’t even love myself enough to cry.
It was late afternoon before I managed to drag myself out of bed, into the shower and downstairs, where I was greeted with a chorus of whoops and jeers from my other flatmates.
‘Well at least someone got lucky last night’ said one of the guys wryly, ‘any good?’
I yawned casually, hurling myself into an armchair and gazed in the general direction of the TV with a smug grin playing around my bruised, defiled, desperately lying mouth.
‘I’ve no idea what you’re talking about…’ I said faux innocently, playing to the gallery as they all laughed and threw cushions at me, except for two of the girls who exchanged knowing glances and eyed me with a glimmer of disgust in their mascara streaked panda eyes.
I felt like dog shit.
But whatever any of them thought of me, they bought it. I think.
And from then on I even bought it myself.
I even told my friends that I’d pulled this gorgeous Aussie, but that he was a bit thick and crap in bed, so I probably wouldn’t be seeing him again.
Because I was in control.
And that memory of him plunging into me as hard as he could whilst I begged him to stop? I pushed that wounded, shredded, battered bit of myself down deep below the surface of my pysche, went to the gym and took my hurt, pain and heartache out of the weights and resolved never to think of it again.
Except for one night, when I was at the pub with my workmates and I saw a strangely familiar man smiling knowingly at me across the room. He’s nice looking, well dressed, but for some reason, he really creeps me out. I ignore him, and carry on chatting with my friends.
He comes over.
‘Hi!’ he says.
I return his greeting cautiously.
‘You don’t remember me, do you?’
He’s right; I don’t.
But I do.
‘I’m a friend of Dawns. I was at your party the other week. I held your hair whilst you were throwing up, remember?’
I laugh with mock embarrassment, then tell him I do remember him, and thank him for looking after me that night.
But he’s still looking at me in that ‘I know‘ way and the memory of that horrible, painful, sickening evening comes back full force.
We chat a little, then I make my excuses, say goodnight and head for home, trying my hardest to stop my brain working overtime.
He saw me puking up?
Bad as that was, I can accept that.
The figure in the doorway?
Best not think about that.
The second time I was fucked?
I do not, cannot, will not accept that.
This is where I would try and round this blog entry up neatly to make it a complete, well written piece of work, perhaps throwing in something about what I had learned from the experience and/or what I would like you to take from it.
But I honestly don’t know what to say. Because twenty five years later, I am still suffused with horror, shame and disgust at the events of that night.
Why didn’t I go to the police you might ask?
You know something, it didn’t even occur to me.
The eighties were very different times to these; I liked my attacker, I found him sexually attractive, I was dressed provocatively, I was probably going to sleep with him that night, and even if I had been believed, no one would have sympathised or supported me, not even Dan or Ellie, because I had ‘asked for it’
I think I saw them once or twice again after that night, and I could have sworn I saw the ‘I know‘ look in Dan’s amused eyes (and embarrased dismay in Ellie’s), and invariably the friendship dwindled and we eventually lost contact with one another.
I think they knew what happened, and most painfully, didn’t think there was anything wrong with it, and might even have encouraged it.
I’m trying really hard to reach back in my mind and comfort that stupid, fucked up, tarty, misled girl with the body of a warrior, face like stone and the tender wounded, contracted interior of a peeled prawn, and tell her it wasn’t her fault, she didn’t know any better and that it is time to forgive, both that stupid, ignorant, disgusting, selfish ape and herself.
But all I can feel right now is numb.
Fuck! I’ve just had a call from someone I was meant to meet half an hour ago.
I have spent 3 HOURS writing this.