I start with Taylor, my god-sister. I know we were children, I know you didn’t understand the severity of what you did. But it made me scared to be alone with you. I would make excuses to stay near my parents, so you didn’t drag me down the ladder off your bunk bed like a rag doll, pull me into the tent underneath and assault me repeatedly and then force me to touch you back. I was four to five years old when this started happening. You were seven. I don’t blame you as an adult for what you did. You have a child now, and I don’t worry for the safety of that child. I have since learned that young children who engage in unusual or over sexual behaviour were often abused themselves at a young age or witnessed it. I remember very little of your father, Eddie. But I remember he used to give me alcohol at new years and that I was a little scared of him for some reason. I called my dad and asked if he thought it was possible that Eddie could have done it. He said it wouldn’t surprise him. He was a notorious creep. I can’t imagine the hurt he put you through, or how that affects you now, if you haven’t repressed it. I bare no grudge against you. You didn’t understand. It hurt me, but he hurt you more.
To the anonymous male relative who abused me as a child – I cannot remember exactly who you were. You could well have been Eddie too. My psychologist says that because I was hypersexual at such a young age (from around 10 or 11), that I was almost definitely abused. It would explain also why I was so scared of men from such a young age, dreading getting in the car alone with friends dads who were taking me home after sleepovers, no matter how nice they were. I repress memories, especially such fundamentally traumatic ones, so I may never figure out who did it. But I am hurting all over wondering which person is responsible for the way that I am mentally today. I hurt all over because it could have been somebody I admire and trust. I cry whenever I think about it. I am crying now, just writing this.
To my mother, who sexually abused my brother: it is not my place to forgive you for what you did to him. Nor would I ever consider it, no matter his feelings on the subject. You are a manipulative, abusive, dangerous person. You hurt him, and me, and our father, in ways you cannot possibly fathom. He has BPD and PTSD because of what you did. I daren’t ask him the details. But my psychologist also pointed out that the reason you did this was because you were potentially abused, or witnessed abuse, as a child. I think about your family. Your eldest sister is cold, unloving, and doesn’t even hug her children. Your middle sister committed suicide at a young age. It is highly possible that there was an abuser in your family. I dread to think that it could have been your father, who I loved and respected so highly. I remember disliking visiting him, or any elderly people, from a very young age. I got a horrible vibe back then. It is only after his death when my dad explained what a brave man he was that I changed my opinion. But the fear is still there. The intuition of children is often very strong. Perhaps he abused me too. The thought of this makes me cry even more. I cannot decide whether not knowing is more scary than uncovering things. But I don’t know who to trust.
To the old man, who groomed me and manipulated me into performing sex acts for him via webcam during my early adolescence, I can only say that I truly hate you for what you did to me. I hate that you found my school friends and told them I got topless for you. I hate that you took advantage of a clearly naïve young girl with an already messed up take on sex and consent. I hate you. I hope you were caught and are rotting in prison. To this day I have never sent nudes, not even to people I love, because I have this undeniable fear and paranoia about it. I can only consider myself lucky that you did not share screenshots around my school like Amanda Todd. It is strange to be thankful in that situation, but it means I am alive today. Which is important, so I can protect other girls from men like you.
To the friend of my ex who tried so hard to fuck me that I sprinted away like a gazelle, who forced your tongue down my mouth and then bragged about it, who had the audacity to tell me I was a dirty cheater and that you wouldn’t ‘snitch’ – fuck you. There’s nothing else I can say about that. I haven’t taken my revenge on you yet. But I will.
To Tom. Tom, you hurt me the absolute most. You are the reason I am anorexic to the extent I am today. You are the reason I could barely leave my house for 3 years. You are the reason for countless suicide attempts, my denial of my sexual attraction to men, my self imposed celibacy, and fear of the city I live close to. You probably drugged me. You pulled me around, stretched me open, and violently raped and assaulted me for hours. Hours upon hours. You even did it while I was vomiting repeatedly in the sink. When I kept passing out, you poured beer over me so I’d be responsive enough for you to assault me again. Whenever I gained consciousness for long enough to run downstairs, you fought your friends for possession of me, screaming “she’s MY slut”. I was far too intoxicated to fight back, or even say “that’s wrong.” You dragged me back upstairs – the details are fuzzy as I continued to black out over the course of the night, but at some point I gained enough strength to tell you No. To tell you Stop. You ignored me. You left me on the bathroom floor so you could get a lift home from your mum and go on holiday. I ached for days. I slept with men I didn’t even like just to cleanse you from me. It didn’t work. To this day, whenever I bump into you, I cry. I think I am a strong woman. But I crumble at the sight of you. So many people I have loved want to kill you. But god damn it, I want the courage to do it myself.
To Rory, a boy who I trusted with my life. You were my best friend. You took care of me. But you loved me. You didn’t want anyone else to have me. You pushed me on the couch after Tom left and forced your tongue down my mouth. I was conscious enough to run away from you at this point. You said you’d be at the party to take care of me. But you tried it again. You’d get me drunk, tell me to lose weight, and then try repeatedly to sexually assault me. You told me you needed to lose your virginity, so I should unlock my door for you. You thought that you were owed my body. I tried to kill myself that night. You have seen me since. You go quiet, and avoid eye contact. So you should. You know full well the extent of what you did to me. I would avoid me too if I were you. You almost completely destroyed my trust in anyone and everyone.
To the men in their 20s who targeted me online when I was 15, asking me overtly sexual questions, telling me they wanted to fuck me, and almost grooming me to the point where I could have met them in person, I hope you are lonely and miserable. This includes the men who tried to get me to sext them, sent to me via my school bully, so they could share the screenshots around my school. I am still paranoid that everyone I date or who sexts me or who says they want to be with me is a con. I still worry that I am a running joke. Even when I am comforted constantly and told I am loved, the thoughts still plague my mind. What if it’s fake. What if I’m just about to be outed as a dirty slut.
To the bisexual man who told me I couldn’t POSSIBLY be a lesbian in a gay bar (I identified as one at the time – understandable due to my aforementioned trauma from men), who forced your tongue in my mouth because you sensed the naivety of me, you sensed I wouldn’t resist – I hope you are suffering today. I am only thankful it did not progress. I did not tell my girlfriend that you did this. I was worried that not screaming or hitting you would mean that I cheated. I will tell her one day, as we are still friends. It will hurt her so much to know that she could not protect me, even in a space where I believed I was safe from men’s advances.
To Elliot. Elliot, the boy known to his friends to be a predator, who held me when I was too drunk to move, and sexually assaulted me at a work friend’s party despite my protests that I had a girlfriend and wasn’t interested, and then had the AUDACITY to brag to his friends that he had ‘bagged a lesbian’, I hate you. I may still report you to the police. I thought that being an adult who was hardened to the world made me safer and more secure at parties after what Tom did. I was wrong. I am still so fragile. I cannot resist a grown man. I fear I may never be able to.
I saw a therapist, briefly, a couple of years ago, who told me that instead of a ‘fight or flight’ reaction, I had a ‘play dead’ reaction. Because of psychological and physical abuse as a child (a post for another time), I fear making a scene out of anything that I know is wrong happening to me. When somebody forces themselves on me, I not only do not have the physical strength to move them, but I have a mental block and cannot cry out about it. I don’t want to draw attention to injustice when it happens to me. To someone else, of course. I am so protective and defensive of other people. But not myself. I black out, mentally. I repress memories and take drugs to block out the feelings I get from them. Sometimes I break down, self harm, and try to kill myself. It is worst of all knowing that there are countless men I have missed from this list. Men I may not currently remember. There are gaps in my brain. Sometimes the memories come back to me, at night, and they cause me to attempt suicide. The flashbacks haunt me. I am still scared of Leicester. I am scared of men who even resemble those that have hurt me. I am scared of men who have mutual facebook friends with those who are friends with men who have hurt me. The anxiety and paranoia plague me. I am heavily medicated. I will probably be hospitalised again for it. I fear I am damaged beyond repair. It took me over 5 years of sexual contact to be able to achieve an orgasm with another person. I still struggle massively with this, no matter how enjoyable the experience. I fear my trauma has broken me sexually.
But recently I found someone. Who has sworn to protect me, who knows a lot about my history, who would kill any aforementioned person on command. I feel safe. I feel sexually empowered. I feel almost confident. I am starting therapy soon, with a woman who wants me to be safe and happy. I feel that it is coming. “Out of the ash, I rise with my red hair, and I eat men like air.”
As much as the fear constantly plagues me that I will be assaulted again, I know there are people who care about my safety. I will stick to them. That is the best I can do with the cards I have been dealt. I will learn to stick up for myself. I will learn to say no, or stop, or scream when I feel unsafe. I will get better. But there are holes in my brain that I can never get back, fully. Places I will always avoid. People who make me physically ill. Situations that give me flashbacks or make me want to hurt myself.
To everyone who has hurt me: the universe will punish you eventually. If I don’t do it myself. I am not alone. I am scared, but not a coward. I am anxious, but I will still fight for my right to dress and drink and talk as I want.
I am not a victim. I am a survivor.