By Evy Tang, Computer Science Student
Evy Tang bravely shares her personal experience of the psychological aftermath of rape and concludes that to help victims 'move on', we must talk openly about rape and sexual assault.
Trigger warning: this article contains reference to rape and sexual assault that some readers may find distressing
The beginning of a New Year, the endless “New Year, New Me” speeches are everywhere.
Whereas many use this time of year to look ahead and perhaps turn a new leaf, three years on from being sexually assaulted and I am still not quite ‘over’ the experience or able to move on. But then again, I didn’t really talk about what happened to me for months.
Three years ago I was working in a restaurant in London and, a month after I had begun, I went out with my colleagues after work one day. I am not a huge drinker so it was unusual for me to be stumbling around unable to stand or walk and was vomiting a lot. I was not on the alert for having my drink spiked; nor did I realise at the time that my drink had been spiked.
We all got into a taxi and went back to one colleagues flat where I immediately fell asleep. I drifted in and out of consciousness, waking up to loud singing and dancing and laughing. I vaguely remember people leaving but was not alert enough to register where I was or what was going on or that I was incapable of getting myself home.
Suddenly, my colleague had his hands up my skirt which did shock me into a semi-awake state, but I was unable to process what he was doing and how I could stop it. I turned away and tried to go back to sleep, hoping that would stop him. But it didn’t.
I had to lie to everyone which only made me feel more ashamed of myself.
In a way, I wouldn’t say I felt traumatised at the time as I was hardly conscious or awake, but I remember enough that it hurt a lot and I still have those memories and flashbacks of him on top of me.
The worst thing was having to go to work with him the next day and explaining to my parents why I didn’t come home or answer any calls or texts. I had to lie to everyone which only made me feel more ashamed of myself.
I feel sick even writing this down and I am thinking of friends and family who may read this; what must you all think of me? I am so sorry. I am sorry that I didn’t tell you, I am sorry to my ex-boyfriend that this had such a detrimental effect on our relationship, I am sorry that my confidence was shattered and I don’t like to ever go on a night out. No one elected Miss Negativity or Miss Insecure the ‘fun friend’.
Days after I was raped, I had quit my job and changed my gap year plans. Instead of beginning my Au-Pair job in January, I began in October. The sooner I could get away from the U.K. and all things familiar, the better. A fresh start would wipe those memories away and I’d have new experiences to replace them. But reality is never so idyllic.
I felt guilty for ‘cheating’ on my boyfriend of the time and ashamed of myself for having a one night stand. Several months later I told my sister about what happened as I could not handle the guilt and she told me, straight away, that I should not feel guilty because it was not my fault. It was rape. And I was not responsible for what happened.
If you are reading this and you have had a similar experience, please, please, please don’t feel guilty
This is why I decided to write this down. I felt so guilty for so long. Being raped took a huge toll on my relationship to the point where I would sometimes be scared of my boyfriend when we were together.
Then, eventually, I just never wanted to sleep with him at all. Perhaps if I had spoken to someone sooner I wouldn’t have been so harsh on myself and maybe my relationship wouldn’t have suffered from this experience either.
The point I am trying to get at is, if you are reading this and you have had a similar experience, please, please, please don’t feel guilty. It was not your fault. If you can, please tell someone because no one should feel alone with this. It is awful feeling ashamed and alone but it is also unnecessary.
Publishing this anonymously would defy my point that we have got to open up about experiences like this; too many people have gone through the physical and then the longer lasting psychological effects of rape.
It is more widespread than anyone really acknowledges and more must be done to help people come to terms with their experiences and not let victims unnecessarily suffer in silence.
Below are some support lines for victims of rape and sexual assault.
-Rape Crisis England and Wales, 0808 802 9999 or visit their website
-SupportLine,to allow victims someone to talk to: 01708 765200
-Women Against Rape, helps female victims legally and with advocacy.
-Survivors UK, helps male victims of sexual assault and rape, another hotline is 0808 163 9111
- Pandy's, helps LGBT sexual assault rape victims
- NAPAC, The National Association for People Abused in Childhood
- MOSAC, Mothers of Sexually Abused Children. (MOSAC): for non-abusive parents to seek help on how to aid their children, 0800 980 1958.
Featured Image: unsplash / @evankirby2
Thank you to Evy for sharing her story.