I wrote the article below for The Guardian’s weekend Family section (it’s published anonymously), but had always been resistant to posting it on my blog/website. Part of my issue was not hurting those closest to me; the ones I love the most. I’ve now spoken with them in the last week so I cannot use that as an excuse any longer.
This morning I saw a post from Leonie Dawson on Facebook – ‘Make no mistake, your story needs to be heard. Your gifts need to be known’. So, there it is….My Story and The Gifts from it.
I’m no longer defined by my past and I’m certainly not looking for sympathy or pity. For me, it’s about coming to terms with what is, coming into my power, and moving on to live my life in the Fullness that is my right.
It’s been quite a journey over the last nearly five years, and I would acknowledge the huge part that Gillian Alexander, of Sacred Touch has played; the safe and sacred space that she has held for me to fully engage and integrate my experiences, and her consummate skill in knowing when to push and when to hug – thank you. Thanks are also due to Mary, of North Ayrshire Rape Counselling – her skill as a rape counsellor made it possible for me to finally acknowledge that I had, in fact, experienced rape. And, of course, a huge thanks to my family for sticking with me and loving me through everything.
A Letter to………………The Man Who Raped Me
I was sixteen when I came to work for you. At sixteen I knew everything – and nothing. I was the middle child, never felt that I fitted in and never felt that life-affirming love from my father as I was growing up into a young woman. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was desperately looking for someone to love me. You were over twice my age, thirty-four, and married. You had travelled the world with the Navy and regaled me with stories of your adventures; you seemed so mature, wise and knowledgeable; you had a great sense of humour and your eyes sparkled when you laughed. You took me out at lunchtimes for runs in your sports car; sometimes we would stop off for lunch. It all felt so grown up and romantic. I truly believed that I was in love with you and was sure that you were falling in love with me. You never said as much, but I was sure it was turning into a real Relationship.
Oh foolish me – it was many years before I realised that all you were doing was grooming me. I’ve spent years trying to remember how it changed from a ‘love affair’ to brutal, sustained rape. I’d never had a boyfriend and wasn’t sexually experienced, and so I assumed that what you did to me was love. It sounds so silly now. It was violent and it went on for many months. What gave you the right to do that to me?
Part of me knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t tell any of my friends about it as that would prove that I wasn’t as grown up as I thought I was. I was too scared to say anything to my parents. I was so confused and upset that I did nothing about it; I guess part of me was still fantasising, that everything was alright and that you really did love me.
The situation was taken out of my hands when I discovered that I was pregnant. I didn’t know what to do. So I did nothing. I didn’t tell you, nor did I tell my parents. Maybe I hoped that it was all a bad dream. Anyway, my parents found out and that was that. They wouldn’t allow me to tell you myself, so I never saw you, or spoke to you again. Did you ever wonder, just for one second, how things went for me after that, or what became of the child you had fathered?
When my child was born, it was taken from me. I wasn’t allowed to see the baby or, heaven forbid, touch it. A few weeks later I signed the adoption papers, and that was it. Gone. It was never talked about at home. I didn’t receive any post-natal care, and I was encouraged just to get on with my life.
I started distrusting men, then not feeling safe around them, and then I began to hate all men. In reality, I was scared of them; scared they would notice that I was a woman and come after me the way you did. Did you ever stop to think of the long-term consequences for me? So, I spent the next forty years dressing in clothes that hid my shape, I cut my hair in a masculine style, and I behaved in such a way that no-one would want to get close to me. Oh, and I drank……..and drank, and then drank more. Sometimes when I got drunk, I felt such violent rage in my body – if you had been around I would have killed you. You weren’t around though, so I had to content myself with self-harming and smashing up my home.
A few years ago, I decided that I couldn’t live like this any longer. I had to change or I would die. I found someone that I could work with and embarked upon a profound, and prolonged, and immensely intense journey of recovery, bringing my trauma into the open, healing and finding the gifts in my experiences. The biggest gift is my child. We finally made contact with each other and we enjoy the most wonderful of relationships. The second gift was finding love and compassion for you. I never thought that would be possible. It was necessary for me if I was to move on with my life. It took a long time, but I forgave you first, then I found love for you, and eventually compassion. I hope that you now have a sense of how your actions impacted on my life and that you can now find forgiveness, love and compassion for yourself.