I heard you speak at the conference today and loved the idea of all of our stories being used to help influence and Change the way women are supported when they have experienced rape and sexual abuse. I thought I heard You encouraged us to report our stories whether we had gone to the police or not so it is in that spirit that I’m posting. I was 19 when I was raped by my boyfriend at the time. There was sadly a history of domestic violence and abuse in our house already and my mum had been raped when she was 14. I had been molested by a cousin when I was 13 and I did tell my mum about that but she did nothing and the feeling I was left with was that I was making it up. My mum by that stage very sadly was explaining things away that were happening to her and I guess it didn’t strike her as something she needed to or felt confident enough to to act on. That sent a very strong negative image to me, at Christmas time my boyfriend was staying with me in my parents house, they had gone to bed and he kept drinking got drunk and started getting aggressive sexually with me. I managed to evade him and he went upstairs to bed. I waited and waited and then when I thought he’d be asleep I went upstairs thinking I’d just be able to get into bed and go to sleep. As soon as I got into the bed, he woke up and was still drunk and forced himself on me. I thought to myself ‘I don’t want this to be rape and I don’t want to shame my parents and so I won’t make a noise’ I was so naive at that age that I thought that if I didn’t make a noise it couldn’t be rape regardless of how scared I was. I never saw him again. I never told my parents. I never reported it as why would I? My dad emotionally abused me and was violent towards me and my mum although she tried to protect me when it was happening used to advise me to ‘let it go in one ear and out of the other’ to avoid my dad behaving like that! I didn’t feel safe in my parents house so why on earth would I tell them that? I have gone on to experience further violence at the hands of men. It has got a lot better thank goodness and yet I feel the constant threat of it. It was of course hugely affected my ability to have a healthy intimate relationship as well as effecting my ability to have friendships with women. I’m healing my later in life but at least I’m healing – I’m grateful for that.

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