An Open Letter to My Rapist

—–TW—–

The passage below is something I wrote, and read aloud to the Court and my rapist today as part of my trial within my Lawyer’s closing statement. It is obviously, by nature quite detailed and graphic so I’m using this as a forewarning about reading it. I’ve already said to my family about this, who I would very much wish won’t read it but as adults you can make your own decision if you choose to. I didn’t post this on here for it to cause anyone offence, the reasoning behind it is more to create awareness.

The trial hit it’s fourth day today in which the closing statements by both sides were made and it’s now in the hands of the Jury. The Judge has asked for the Jury to reach a unanimous decision this morning. They were called back into the courtroom before it was dismissed for the day, and the foreperson announced that they had not reached a decision yet. The Judge has now said that she will accept a majority decision of 10-2. I hope that they can reach their decision tomorrow so it doesn’t drag through until next week. This will also mean I can go home this weekend, and I really can’t wait to just get away from here.

I read this directly to him, and to his family and it was the first time I’ve actually looked at any of them. They wouldn’t meet my eyes, and I think that speaks volumes. He however, sat and stared blankly at me for the full time – not one hint of any emotion or remorse. That is something I just can’t comprehend. I felt okay reading it, my legs started shaking really badly and I had to kick my heels off in the witness box for fear of going over on my ankle. It wasn’t until I sat back down that I had to excuse myself from the courtroom to go and be sick.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

“If it is allowed, I wish to read this letter directly to the defendant and his family.

You know who I am, and I you. You were a friend of a friend, and therefore by extension a friend of my own. I may not have known you all that well but we lived in a house together. You held a position of trust, one of which you abused. You took advantage of my vulnerabilities and used them for your own gain. You hurt me. You’ve been inside me. That’s why I am standing reading this today.

Thursday 12th January 2017 was a day like any other in my life at that time. I had returned to work from home having being off sick recovering from a Thoracotomy in November 2016, as well as dealing with existing mental health difficulties. The day was non descript, mundane. Evening passed and like any other day, I was getting ready to go to bed. I went to the bathroom, I took off my make up, I brushed my teeth. From the bathroom I went directly across the landing to my bedroom. I got changed into an old t-shirt, and I went into bed. I fell asleep. Alone.

What happened next was unlike any other day in my life. I was woken after an amount of time that I cannot be certain of, but my room was dark. No semblance of daylight was coming through my curtains. I woke up with the horrible feeling that something wasn’t right, and after the initial moments of confusion that are experienced when you wake up, the reason became clear. Standing next to my bed was the outline of a man; you were standing next to my bed. You were standing in the dark watching me.

I don’t know how long you had been there for, but suddenly this feeling of unease and uncertainty intensified within me and I sat upright. I asked you, “What are you doing?”. I asked you again, after no response, “Why are you in my room?”. You wouldn’t answer me, but you did laugh. I can still hear that laugh sometimes. It wasn’t a jovial laugh, a laugh at something pleasant. You were laughing at me.

You moved closer, you moved onto my bed. You ran your hand up my leg. I moved away. I moved as far to the other edge of my double bed as I was able without falling off. I asked you gain, desperately, what were you doing? By now you were stifling what would have been a raucous laugh, you were enjoying scaring me. You were playing a game with me, and it was a game that only you were in control of. Through the grain of the darkness I saw clearly the enjoyment on your face. It terrified me. Writing this, I can recount with perfect clarity every single detail of your advances towards me before you gave me no option but to attempt to escape by falling from the bed. The photographs that the Jury have been shown will show that I made it no further than the space of floor between my bed and the wall. It all happened so quickly, but I remember it in slow motion.

I hit my head on the corner of my bedside table, something I would later be confused about as I felt blood matted into my hair at the back of my scalp. This blood would account for some that Forensic Officers found on my bedroom floor. Attempting to stand up, you were on top of me. You lay inside my legs, holding me down. I could already feel that you were aroused. I would later find hand-shaped bruises on my arms, thighs and one on my neck where you compressed my breathing to stop me from calling for help. You left me winded. I later find out you have fractured my Hyoid bone in my neck and bruised my larynx. I am unable to swallow properly for six weeks without severe pain, and I cannot speak correctly for a week. You bit my ear, my neck, and my shoulder. I can still feel this as I write. Your breath was heavy in my ear as I struggled against you, I soon realised you were laughing again.

“About time.” You said.

I wore a large men’s t-shirt to bed. I didn’t realise I would be having unwanted company. You pushed it up past my hips and your forearm was pressing over my neck. Your hands wandered over my exposed skin. You pushed your fingers inside me. Intense burning pain spreads through my lower body. Though struggling to breathe, I made a desperate attempt to hit you – I did, although I wouldn’t find out until later that it was across your face. You hit me back – hard. You did it again – harder. This would later leave me with a fracture in my cheekbone and an eye so swollen it was fully shut. I tasted blood in my mouth as you split my lip. My blood and skin tissue is found under your fingernails.

I continued to try to fight you, to fight for myself. You held your hand over my mouth hard as you forced yourself inside me. I remember the salt from my tears stinging my eyes and face from the cuts you left. I tried to scream against your hand, but no sound came out. I could barely breathe. You told me I wanted it. You told me I liked it. You told me I deserved it. Did I tell you that? Did those words ever come from my mouth? How could they when you were intent on keeping it shut? If this was consensual, why did I have no say? My mind was telling me to fight you, but I felt my own body weaken against it. The pain you were causing me felt like it was splitting my entire body in half. The feeling of fluid running down my inner thigh, I would later realise was blood. My eyes closed. The sounds of your breathing in my ear quietened. The compression to my trachea and a combination of pain and shock had rendered me unconscious. I don’t know how long I was unconscious for. My eyes opened again, but with difficulty. You were still on top of me. The pain came back. My breathing had slowed as I realised I couldn’t fight you off any longer. I didn’t have the strength and honestly, I think you liked it. You liked my feeble attempts to overpower you, my helplessness. You even took your hand away from my mouth, you knew I was too weak. You grabbed my hair and pushed me over onto my stomach, you hit my head against my wooden floor. You hit it again – harder. I still remember the sound of the crack of my head against the wood. You moved your hand around to my neck where you compressed my throat yet again. You forced yourself into me again from behind – harder this time. My eyes were burning from tears. I heard your breathing get faster and louder in my ear and felt as you moved faster on top of me. You were enjoying this. I could hardly keep my eyes open, I saw speckles of light from the lack of oxygen. I remember knowing I was going to pass out again. Your ragged breathing was quietened by the sound of my pulse inside my head. I thought I was going to die. In that moment there was no images of memories, only complete and utter fear that my life was being taken away and I had no power to hold onto it. As an adult woman I recognised the noise of you finishing what you had started, faintly, behind the thumping, rapidly slowing sound of my pulse. I didn’t feel you pull out of my body. My entire body ached and felt numb all at the same time. I don’t think my eyes were open. You kicked me – hard, in the stomach. I gasped desperately for air that would not come. You said nothing as I heard you walk from the side of my bed to the other side of my room. As quiet as you must have entered, I heard you turn the door handle and it clicked again as you left. I would later find out you went back to bed, and back to sleep.

I can’t say how long I lay on the floor where you left me. I’m not sure whether I was awake or unconscious. I don’t think I knew if I was alive. Eventually after this undetermined period of time, every pain I had felt came flooding back through my body. I remember gasping desperately for air. Pure and intense panic came over me. I counted 5 attempts to stand up with shaking legs. I remember trying to shout but nothing came out of my mouth. I wouldn’t be able to speak properly for a week after the damage you had done to my throat. I fell, twice, on my way to my bedroom door. My bedroom had begun to get light. It was morning now. I was dizzy and my vision blurred as I felt my way along the hallway to my housemate’s bedroom (Witness 1). I have little memory of getting from my room to his, or going through the door. He was asleep. What you had done had gone unnoticed. On waking and after initial confusion, his face crumbled as he saw me. I would not see myself until much later that day, by which point the dried blood that covered my face and thighs would be gone. He carried me downstairs where he put me on the sofa. Again, I am unsure if I was fully conscious. I remember sounds but no visual aspects accompany them. He had alerted my other housemate, who was also sleeping in his bedroom further along the hallway. In hushed but desperate voices they asked me exactly what happened. I would not know until later that my speech was incredibly slurred and hoarse, and that none of what I was saying was understandable. My entire body had shut down from shock.

The next thing I remember are Police entering my home. My vision remained blurred, out of the one eye I was able to open. I was still lying on the sofa of our living room. I still lay in the t-shirt that I was raped in, but I had been covered with a blanket. Two police constables were kneeling next to the sofa, gently trying to regain my consciousness. A paramedic stood behind them. I couldn’t understand where all the noise was coming from, everything in this room was cautious and peaceful. The noise came from upstairs, and from the hall. You were being arrested on suspicion of rape and assault. I was moved from the sofa to the kitchen; gently, slowly. My body didn’t feel like my own. Every step was painful and my legs shook uncontrollably. I was sat down while a paramedic shone lights in my eyes and I was handed an incredibly sweet cup of tea. I was asked questions.

What is your name? How old are you? Is this where you live? When did you last eat? Have you been to the toilet? Have you showered? Are these the clothes you were wearing? Where is your room? Can you tell me what happened? I’m sorry to ask this. Was penetration involved? Have you had any alcohol or drugs? Can you tell me where he hit you? When did you last have consensual sex? Would you be willing to write a statement? Can you name the witnesses? Is there someone we can call? I could go on.

My memory fades at this point. My best friend (Witness 3) arrives. I hear crying. I hear my housemates. I hear sounds but I have no visual memory. A bathrobe and slippers are put on me but my t-shirt stays on. They apologise to me that I have to continue to wear it until a forensic officer can collect it as evidence. I am metaphorically bubble wrapped; I cannot shower. I cannot use the bathroom. I cannot clean myself. I cannot eat. I am taken to The Haven next to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. People are kind but I am in a daze. My best friend (Witness 3) is with me. She tells me over and over again that it will be okay. I hear her but I’m not listening.

I am taken to a room where I lie on an examination table. My t-shirt is taken and I am given a hospital gown. It’s too bright. Everyone is gentle. Everyone is female. I sign paperwork with the assistance of my friend to say I consent to having an examination taken. This is the first consent I have given. My hair is combed. My fingernails are clipped. Measurements are taken of bruises and cuts. They are cleaned. I am photographed. My lip is stitched. I am told I can say for them to stop at a any time. X-Rays confirm I have two fractures: one to my cheekbone, one to my hyoid. I am given pain management for my throat. A neck brace is put on. My best friend holds my hand but I don’t really feel it. I feel suddenly that I don’t want to be touched. She’s crying. I am not. An ice pack is applied to my face. My legs are spread for the second time and a female doctor examines the damage you have done to me. I hear her dictating notes to a nurse. She is gentle. She asks if she can internally examine me. I say yes but no sound comes out. My entire body tenses with pain. Swabs are taken. These are given to the police which are later found to contain your DNA. I am given stitches. My examination concludes and all the swabs and samples and photographs and my t-shirt are given to a police officer. I am told I will be supplied with clothes and I can take a shower if I wish before leaving. I will be referred for an appointment with a rape counsellor. I am given the morning after pill, something that will later fail from violent vomiting. I take the clothes but not the shower. I go home in my second journey in an unmarked police car with my best friend.

I am in a house that no longer feels like home. It feels foreign, different somehow. I see myself for the first time in the bathroom mirror, and I cry. Half of my face is a shade between purple and red. It’s swollen, I cannot open my eye. My face hurts to move. I tie my hair back and remove the brace to see the same colour across my neck. At the side and on top of my shoulder there are bite marks. I have hand-shaped marks the same shameful colour on my arms and thighs. I am sick, I start to choke. The pain in my throat is overwhelming. This isn’t my body, I think, and that isn’t my face looking back at me. For the first time I am able to wash and I run the water so hot it scolds me but I don’t feel it. This isn’t my body I keep thinking. Everything looks distorted. I look and am damaged. I stay in there for nearly two hours. I sit in the shower and let the burning water run over me. I scrub desperately at the marks on my body but they won’t fade.

For the next two days I don’t speak in any capacity. I cut all communication and I shut down. I wander from room to room in an alien environment and cannot connect to a single thing in it. My bedroom is no longer my own, I cannot go in. I get to the door and stop dead. Memories, vivid memories come racing back and I am sick again. I faint. I later realise these are flashbacks, and I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I no longer own possessions, you took each one of those from me. Everything I have bought and carefully curated becomes tainted. I no longer own anything.

This is now Sunday evening. I was raped two days ago. I begin to speak. My words are quiet and hoarse, but I speak. I am seemingly calm. Everything I do is precise. I do not say I have been raped, I am yet to say it aloud at this stage but over and over in my mind I say it. It hasn’t sunk in. My family do not know at this point. I feel shame cover my entire being. I feel guilt. I don’t want to be alive.

Over the next couple of weeks I am visited by the Police regularly. For two days my room becomes a crime scene, and people in white outfits come and go from our home. I have not seen you. We have not spoken. I tell over and over again what has happened, with unwavering vivid detail each time. Detail about how you raped me, and detail about how you assaulted me. You have been granted bail; you cannot contact me or the witnesses, you must report to the Police station every day, your passport is surrendered. People are cautious with me. They treat me like I’m fine China. They tip toe around me and they’re falsely positive and optimistic. Memories of the attack haunt me at all hours of the day and at night, they attack me out of nowhere. I feel like it is happening all over again. I’m dirty. My body is unclean. I have to clean myself continuously but it’s never enough. Over and over again, I clean myself. I’m sick, violently. I don’t know who I am. I find out I am pregnant, and subsequently terminate the potential life that was forced into this situation as much as I was. A psychiatrist tells me I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Mental Contamination Obsessive Compulsive Disoder. In fact, I have three separate psychiatric assessments from the Police, the NHS and privately to confirm this. My mental health deteriorates rapidly due to this, and in March I experience a severe nervous breakdown with temporary psychosis which leads to a suicide attempt. I am sectioned under “Section 4” of the Mental Health Act for 72 hours for my own safety. For all you stole from me, you gave me back these experiences. They rule my time, effort and actions. I am a prisoner in a body and home that are not mine. You caused suffering in the lives of those I love, those I care for and those that care for and love me. You broke bonds that were not yours to break. You stole potential from situations that were not yours to control. You left me temporary physical damage that became permanent mental scars. You steal and coerce what is not yours to take or give. What you could not have by choice, you decided you would take by force.

UK law states that every man is innocent until otherwise proven by the Crown Prosecution Service. You have the right to a fair and open trial, and you have the right to silence. It seems however, that I have the right to be further humiliated and shamed by your actions. Throughout this trial, you have remained silent whilst I have been examined over and over again by both the Prosecution and the Defence. Ten lives including my own are disrupted over the course of this week to give evidence, while you sit and look at me with a blank expression as if you have no idea why you are here. Twelve members of the public make up the Jury; whose lives have also been disrupted, and have been subjected to seeing and hearing things I’m sure they wish they hadn’t. I have told what you have done and I have answered questions asked out of context. You say you plead guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm, but not to the charge of rape. Your lawyer paints you as quite the masterpiece; an upstanding member of the community with no criminal record to your name, not even a parking ticket to muddy a squeaky clean demeanour. Your argument reiterates what you told me while you raped me: that I wanted it. Your argument is that this was consensual sex, and you have used my resulting mental health difficulties to your advantage; to say that I am unreliable and unstable, and that a suicide attempt and sectioning only further this. Yet, there seems to be no strong confirmation that these incidents were drawn from your doing. You accept the charge of ABH which comprises of not only physical injuries, but also psychological. Your lawyer suggests that due our cultural differences, perhaps I had led you on and gave you false impressions.  I am not a British Citizen, and English is not my mother tongue but this is not about culture or language; your actions were Universal. Your lawyer suggests I willingly became pregnant only to further a false rape claim, to this I truly despair. If it is not only bad enough that you subjected me to something so emotionally and physically painful, and degraded my entire being, I was left to make the harrowing decision to terminate a life that you had forced inside me. You found out for the first time within this courtroom that I was pregnant as it stands to be an aggravating factor in the charge of rape, yet you continued to show no emotion. It was as if you were told that the sky was blue, or the grass was green. It didn’t even phase you in the slightest.

People have told me to pity you, to feel sorry for you. To do that would require sympathy, and I hold none available to you. I am not sorry you must have such a fragile ego that you have attempted to reclaim control from me to compensate for lacking it elsewhere in your life. I am not sorry that you cannot express your feelings or thoughts in a healthy or adult way. I am not sorry that you think this makes you powerful, when all it does is expose your vulnerabilities.

What you did was rape. I know and hold this to be true, and behind your plea of not guilty I believe that you do too. This was not about sex. It was not about intimacy, or love. This was not about my mental health. It was not about that we are from different countries. This was not about that you are a man and I am a woman, and this certainly was not about you having an automatic right to using my body for your own gain. This was about me saying “no” to you, over and over. This was about you not being able to deal with not being in control.

I read this today because this trial has come to it’s conclusion, and it is now in the hands of the members of the Jury to decide on it’s fate. I read this today, to you and to your family because above all else I need you to hear it directly from me. I need you to hear the pain you caused me and the fear you instilled in me. I need you to hear how you used my body for your own personal gain, and how you were so reckless with your lack of remorse and compassion. I need you to hear the lasting impact your actions have had on my daily life, and how they will continue to affect me for a long time to come. Today you are a rapist, and today I am your victim. The difference between you and I is that my label will fade outside of this courtroom, as I continue to heal and reclaim the life that you so desperately wanted to destroy. Your label, however, will stay with you and with your family for the rest of your life. “

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