#NotGuilty: I am proud

TW: Sexual assault

When I was younger I lost my sister. I think that made me more mature for my age. See, I’m already blaming myself. But I had a best friend and we shared almost everything together. She was my ultimate best friend, the sort of girl and friend you rarely ever meet. She knows what you’re thinking before you think it. She knows what’s wrong before you say it. Your sense of humour aligns. I was always slightly worried about her. And I guess due to the passing of my sister, I wanted to protect her and always make sure she was okay.

Her father was very invasive. He was always there, in a creepy way. Most people commented on it. We got on. And my best friend and him got on. Although he told her about his numerous affairs, they got on. He bought us alcohol and cigarettes, and let us do what we wanted. We could watch anything we wanted, and not be told otherwise. He wasn’t much of a parent to be honest.

The first time it happened, my best friend and I were watching Pretty Woman together on the sofa. He came back, drunk, and got under the blanket. I felt horrendously nauseous, I don’t know why. Maybe it was a premonition. He wouldn’t move his hand away when I tried to make him. I kept pushing his hand away and he wouldn’t move it. The next few times I went round nothing of the sort happened again.

Then one day I was in the kitchen and he attacked me again, forcefully. I have flashbacks now and I can see it. This happened on and off for a period of six months. I used to try different approaches to stop him, but nothing seemed to work. One of the most significant times was in the bathroom, because of the mirror, I could see what was happening to my body and I fought more than ever. I have issues now washing my face and brushing my teeth but I’m okay now, more so than I used to be about it. 

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I think it became a way of life really. I think I was so concerned that he was doing it to my best friend as well that I used to try and protect her all of the time. But it wasn’t possible. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t feel like my body or my mind belonged to me anymore. I just felt very sad, very confused and very isolated. I felt trapped and I felt alone. It has still affected me now. I’m a bit funny with food. I get nightmares a lot and flashbacks and I am on the edge quite a lot. But after they went on holiday for a week I realised my life didn’t have to be like that. I protected myself, and I moved away from her.

I told another friend about a year later, a few since then, and my mum when I was 19. It is the hardest thing I have ever been through or could imagine anyone going through. It is your whole normality and your entire body, what you live in, taken away from you. I don’t think many people truly realise the daily effects.

But, even though this is all very morbid and very sad, I have found that in this world there are absolutely amazing men and women that help you, inspire you, and don’t let you give up. Day in and day out. There are so many resources that are there for you. And life is so so precious and I am so so lucky in so many ways. I am so proud of my entire family and my entire existence. I have grown up and away from my trauma. It is in my fabric now, it is a part of my past, but it is not in my present. I am proud to be a woman, and I am proud to be a survivor of such an atrocity, so I can have more compassion and a greater insight into the mechanics of our existence as human beings.

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We are all capable of being who we want to be and who we work at being.