A letter to you both… By an Anonymous Contributor
8 years ago you walked into a friendly local pub and saw me; what you saw was a 16 year old girl who on the face of it was a confident, outgoing person, enjoying the social life that came with living in a pub. I was old before my time; life changes had made me grow up quicker than others my age. I didn’t like people knowing how low my self esteem was, I didn’t want them to know that I was always the target of fat jokes even though I was only a size 12-14 so I put a brave face on. To the outside world, the girl you saw was me.
You must have noticed the vulnerability though; I think you saw how I reacted when you would give me a compliment. To have someone a couple of years older than me saying I looked nice…I had never had that before. You noticed that and you kept it in your mind.
Over the course of a few months you worked on becoming my friend; you would regularly pop in to the pub and chat with me, you would text me, message me online and always be a smiling face for me to see. You started flirting with me and of course I flirted back…I was 16 and enjoying the attention. But I never thought it would go further than that. You were just a guy in the pub who I thought was nice.
I remember the night you invited me out; you said we could go for a drive along the coast and have a chat. I knew you pretty well at this point so I jumped at the chance. I knew my mum wouldn’t approve though, so I told her I was going out with a female friend of mine. She wouldn’t want me going out with someone older than me.
When I got in the car your friend was there, but I knew him too so I didn’t mind. It was just friends going out after all. You offered me a bottle of vodka and straight away I started feeling on edge; I was sure the bottle had been opened. I took a sip and said that my lips were sore; any excuse so that I didn’t have to drink it.
Then you started driving, along the coast like you said we would. But you pulled over in a car park. I was naïve and thought it was just to get out and have a walk along the beach. But that’s when you did it.
You locked the door and your friend jumped over to sit in the back with me. He started touching my leg, and put my hand on his. I moved it away but he kept on asking me to touch him. He was rubbing my leg, kissing my neck and grabbing my breasts. I asked you to let me out but all I heard was “go on suck it for me” as your friend got his penis out. I told you both that it wasn’t funny and kept on asking you to let me out.
Eventually you did, and as I started the long walk home I saw you drive away. I can’t explain how I felt at this moment; I suppose I felt stupid. Why would an older guy be interested in me?
A little while later you text me; “please let me give you a lift home, I don’t like the thought of you walking, it was his idea, I promise, I am really sorry”. Text after text read the same thing. I agreed. You picked me up and started to drive me home, which I was grateful for. It was a long walk and I was freezing cold.
But then you pulled over again, into another car park. You locked the doors. You did exactly the same thing, but you were different about it…you knew what to say. You were telling me how much you liked me, how bad you felt about what your friend had done, how you wanted to be more than friends. But then you were just the same…you started touching me, putting my hands on you and asking me the same question as before. I told you to let me out and I remember you laughing…telling me to lighten up.
I got out after what felt like a lifetime and started walking home. This time I couldn’t stop crying; I text my friend and asked him to come and meet me but he was busy. I cried the whole way home until I got to my front door. I remember walking through the pub and straight up the stairs to my house. I ran a bath and sat in it for at least an hour just scrubbing myself. I felt so…dirty. I told my mum I was just tired and needed an early night, and cried myself to sleep in my room.
It wasn’t until I went into school and told my friend what had happened that I thought about telling someone. She told me I had to report it to the police and walked me to the station straight from school that day. The police drove me back to my house and sat me down with my stepdad. They had to tell him what I had told them; I can’t imagine what that was like for him. Knowing it had happened days before but not being able to do anything as I hadn’t told him. But it wasn’t telling him that worried me, it was my mum. They called her back from work and went through it all again with her. They took my phone, laptop and my clothes. I was totally cut off.
But I am not writing this to tell you what happened; you know exactly what went on. I am writing to tell you what you really did to me.
No you didn’t rape me. I was not hurt physically in anyway; no bruises or cuts. No black eyes. No scars. Except for the emotional ones.
I felt nothing but guilt and blame since that day. I should have told my mum where I was going, I shouldn’t have flirted with you, I shouldn’t have gone out with you, I shouldn’t have got back in the car for a second time.
It was my fault. The police did nothing as they didn’t have enough evidence so obviously they saw the messages we had been exchanging and saw that I was flirting back and thought I was asking for it? Thought I wanted to have sex with you?
Fast forward 7 years and there I was. Sitting in a counsellor’s room asking them for help. I had no self-confidence, I had difficulty in trusting people and I was suffering from extreme anxiety. I thought all of this was because my dad died; I saw a counsellor before and they told me I was hyper aware of mortality, which is why I was feeling so anxious. I thought the low self-esteem was only because I was in a relationship with someone who didn’t find me attractive. I thought the trust issue was because I had been burned by friends so many times.
I remember sitting there feeling stupid. I had lost my dad 5 years before and had managed to somewhat move on from that. I had battled with depression and anxiety and had got to the stage where I was managing it. I returned to university after a year off and I was doing it…I was succeeding. Yet I still felt crap. How can I move on from my dad dying, but not from what you did?
I didn’t want to be seen as a victim. That sounds weak. I had gone through so much that I no longer felt weak and vulnerable, I felt stronger than before. But something was still holding me back; that something was you two.
You are the reason that I had no confidence, the reason I ballooned to a size 22, the reason I feel anxious when I see men in the street, the reason I couldn’t move forward.
But my counsellor taught me how to see things differently; no matter what I did, what I said to you, you NEVER had the right to do that to me. It didn’t matter if I lied to my mum about where I was going; we have all done that at some point…that still didn’t make it acceptable. And NO I am not a victim; I am a survivor. Victims don’t need to be weak…they can be strong.
There is no way that I am over what happened; the emotional scars you left are still there. I sometimes feel like I am fighting a losing battle. But every time I think about you I feel something deep inside…I feel pity. How sad you must have been to prey on a 16 year old girl because you couldn’t get someone your own age to have sex with you. How pathetic it is that you had to physically lock me in the car to stand a chance of getting any action. How ridiculously boring your lives must have been that you sat and thought of this together; down to the finest details of the alcohol that you got for me.
I don’t know what you are doing now or where you are…but if you have a daughter, think how hard it would be for her to tell you this story. The story of how two men took advantage of her, locked her in a car, wouldn’t let her out and sexually assaulted her. I had to tell my two big brothers who live 300 miles away, my uncles found out and so did my friends. They told me they would fix things…they would find you and they would hurt you. But that wouldn’t make it any easier for me. Looking back now, honestly, I wish they did. It wouldn’t have made me feel any better at the time, but it would have made you hurt…just like I did and I still am.
But at the end of it all I am not a victim. I have learnt from what has happened and I am now helping other people who have mental health issues. I have empathy and understanding that I never had before.
You have no power over me anymore.
It’s time to let you go.
Goodbye, and good riddance to you both.