For a girl at the age of twenty one, I’ve far surpassed the average of people I’m meant to fall in love with in a lifetime – but also, with getting older I’m starting to wonder whether I’ve ever really been in love at all. Am I positive I wanted to spend the rest of my life with these people, am I sure it wasn’t infatuation, lust or even pity? Have I kidded myself into believing I have met my soul mate with every person I date because I’m a hopeless romantic, only to be rudely awakened when I realise just how bored I am?
This one man, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to explain my feelings – to my self or anyone else who is prepared to listen. It’s a relationship I’ve never experienced before, it was constantly back and forth – being overwhelmingly in love, to experiencing bursts of hate that I never thought possible. It was volatile, it was violent and aggressive – it was something that I should never have been wrapped up in but until now it was simply impossible to walk away from.
I can’t really describe what kept me there, maybe knowing that no matter how many objects I launched at his head he would always grab my arms and hug me until I stopped. Maybe it was every time he screamed it was over and headed for the door, if I wrapped my hand in his and pulled him back – he wouldn’t make one more step. It was that dependency on each other that scared me, we could be utterly horrific as a partner but nothing would make us leave – we would maintain a united front and battle against anyone who dared tell us we were toxic.
I’d never had a relationship with anyone before where arguing was so common, it’s not even like we bickered – we fought, we pushed and we pulled, we screamed and broke up every other week. But that was us, perhaps without it – we would have had nothing to say to each other. There was no one like him who could fire my temper with a click of his fingers, and it seemed I couldn’t say a word without his blood boiling. It was passionate, it was exciting it was adventurous – but I realise now it was for all the wrong reasons.
I was blinded by how sinister our relationship was and excused him for everything without a second thought – as he did with me, but continually let each other pick at each other until I was a shell of my former self – I was no longer the girl he fell in love with and I hated the man that wrapped his arms around me in bed all night. There were days I would look at him and it felt like my love for him was pouring out my veins and seeping into his whilst getting nothing in return, I sacrificed everything for him, my friends, my family, my education and even men who would treat me like a princess in comparison – but I didn’t care, because I loved him.
Whilst, as I’ve said, I have been in love before – this was different, I would have sold my soul for him, I’d have flung myself in front of moving traffic if it meant keeping him safe. Unfortunately, it was my safety that became neglected. I was suddenly on a course of anti depressants at just 19, I was self harming and blaming everyone but him – whilst I knew what he was like, I was sure I could change him.
It sounds strangely romantic doesn’t it?
It is only now I realise it wasn’t romantic at all, I was a victim of rape. It’s almost impossible to ever put into words what I have gone through without blaming myself in some way, without belittling my thoughts and feelings when I compare myself to other victims. It is impossible not to question myself, and there are still things I know I could have done differently to stop it happening. At the vulnerable age of 18 I entered university unbelievably naive, trusting everyone as though they were a member of my own family – never once thinking that by the time I reached 22 – instead of celebrating my summer birthday I would instead be awaiting a court case against my ex boyfriend. It is very easy for me to look back now and kick myself over why I continued seeing him after the initial rape, despite how obvious it seemed to me then. He took everything from me, he took my sparkle and I forced myself to love him – and after some time I really did. I turned a blind eye to the fact I cried myself to sleep most nights with his body weight on top of me, I ignored the pain I was in and how much I begged him to stop – I ignored how he shrugged his shoulders when I bled because of how rough he was, simply to leave my bedroom with a kiss on the forehead each day like it was all ok again. I ignored his complete indifference every time I tried to explain what he was doing to me, how it was wrong – just to receive a response that I enjoyed it, and how he liked it best when I cried.
Come February, the last time he forced himself on me, I went to the police with the encouragement I needed and am now awaiting the trial in June. Whilst parts of this process have made me want to hide, at times want to die, want to go back to him I have forced myself to remain strong – I will not be his victim any more. I hope this summer I get the justice so many people deserve, but whilst I have doubt in the pit of my stomach as to whether he will ever answer for his actions – I thank God that I got away, that I had the support and strength I needed in those few minutes where I made my decision – I hope people realise that it is possible, that all is not lost, that it is up to you to fight against it, it is up to us for our voices to finally be heard.