by Phoenix Rising, Domme, Australia
I was having the best year of my life. I had just freed myself from a bad relationship and was learning who I was again. I had just bought my first house, I had a job that I loved and friends who supported me. I could conquer the world if I set my mind to it.
I allowed myself a short fling, which gave me some much needed confidence after my 4 year relationship with someone who I suspect was more interested in men than women, though hadn’t faced it yet. I was having great sex and enjoying the feeling of being sought after.
But little by little I started to notice myself being manipulated by Brian. My control was being taken from me as I was coerced into acts I had not consented to and some very rough play that I had specifically said I did not want. But I was his girlfriend and my job was to make him happy, right? So I endured the humiliating and painful things he wanted because they were expected of me. The good girlfriend.
But only for a short while. I was able to see that this was not what I wanted and I set the situation right again, returning our relationship to a non-sexual, professional context.
Soon enough someone else caught my eye and I told Brian, which I assessed was the correct thing to do. He was furious. He still had hopes that we would rekindle our sexual relationship and this had upset his plans. He swore at me. Threw things. And stormed out.
Later that night, a group of my friends and I were out at a local bar for the traditional “Friday Night Drinks”. Brian was there and got more drunk than I had ever seen him before. I was told that he had even taken some amphetamines. I was concerned for him because I knew my news had upset him and did not enjoy the guilt I was feeling over his destructive behaviour.
Ever the responsible one, I was the designated driver. At the end of the evening, my car was full of my drunken friends and one by one I dropped them off at their houses. Until only Brian remained.
It was very late and his apartment was a good hour drive past my own, so he asked politely if he may stay at my house and leave in the morning. I agreed on the condition that he stayed in the spare room. He acquiesced. It didn’t take long for his manners to fall away. Whilst still in the car, he began trying to kiss and grope me. I pushed him away, trying to make a joke out of the situation. The closer we came to my home, the more aggressive he became in his groping and I started to panic. I can usually talk my way out of these situations, but that didn’t seem to be helping this time. He’s not listening to me. What can I say to make him stop?
I eventually pulled into my driveway and he immediately got out of the car to sit on the porch seat. I remained in the car for a moment, gathering my thoughts. Should I drive away? No, he might damage my house. Not to mention I am surely over reacting and will feel like an idiot when confronted about this later. I can’t just leave him here. I’m being silly. Nothing is going to happen. What a drama queen!
So I got out of the car and noticed that my neighbour’s lights were still on. Brian started to scream at me. “Give me a blow job!” At the top of his lungs, obscene requests like this were being flung and more lights came on in my neighbour’s home.
“Shhh!” I warned him. “You promised to behave yourself and stay in the spare room tonight. You’re going to wake up the whole damn street.” I unlocked the door. “Get in and shut up!”
He continued to sit there, screaming and waking people up. I was mortified. What are they all going to think of me? How do I get him to be quiet? What the hell do I do now? Maybe sex is the only way I can make this stop? Is it really that bad if I just have sex with him this one last time? There’s no other way to make him behave himself. The police are going to be called if he doesn’t shut up soon. Just one last time and it will be over.
So I decided what I was going to do. I walked through the front door and said to him “Are you coming, or not?” I undressed and went to my bedroom. And waited. Baited breath. Please just be quiet.
Then I heard the front door slam and stilted footsteps walking to where I was. He was bumping into furniture along the way, stumbling in his drunken state. By the time he was at the doorway to the bedroom, he was naked. Still holding a bottle of beer in his hand. I cringed as he jumped on me. I closed my eyes and tried to make sure it would be over quickly. But his hands were around my throat and they were squeezing. My eyes opened instantly and my hands came up to try and pry his away but he was far stronger than I. I tried to plead with my eyes. He pushed his way inside me as hard as he could and stared at me with hate in his face. We struggled until darkness enveloped me and I felt no more pain.
I woke up a few hours later, alone in my bed. The pain in my body confirmed I hadn’t just dreamt it. Where was he? Had he stolen my car? I wrapped myself in my satin robe and tip toed around the house. My car was still parked in its spot. So where was he? I was frightened. Was he still here or had he gone? I needed to know where he was. I crept slowly and carefully around the old house, looking from room to room. Spare room? No. Kitchen? No. Bathroom? Nope. Eventually I found him in the lounge, asleep on the couch. At that moment, a floorboard creaked under my foot and gave me away. I jumped out of my skin as he was startled awake. “What are you doing?” he asked sleepily. “Nothing” was all I could come up with. I hurried back to bed, but was followed.
Amongst the panic in my mind at the time, I remember being startled at his eyes. He hated me. Thoroughly and with a vengeance. I had never seen anyone look at me with such hate and violence in their eyes. It was clear he was trying to hurt me. All the time I pleaded for him to stop, but he was in his own world and may not have even heard me for the good it did. He tore at my nipples with his teeth, held me by the throat and beat me until I had broken blood vessels all over my body. He experimented to see what would cause more pain and when I passed out, he would wake me up before he would continue. It was my reaction he wanted. Then the seriousness of the situation dawned on me; would he keep pushing until he actually killed me?
The week beforehand I had bought my first vibrator, which he had overheard me talking about with the other ladies from the office. He demanded I produce it for him. I did so, unwilling to anger him further and bring any more pain to myself. He then proceeded to rape me with it.
Somewhere during all of this, I must have blacked out and he either let me fall into the darkness or could no longer rouse me. But I woke in the morning to find him lying beside me, snoring. You would think I wouldn’t have any panic left in me, but there it was again, paralysing me. This time, with one directive only; don’t move. So I lay there still until I felt him wake.
Without a word, he rolled over and raped me again. My body was so broken and my mind so shattered I didn’t even say a thing this time. I was in shock and could no longer even protest. I just lay there, eyes closed, waiting for the agony to be over. Waiting for him to be done with me and leave.
In only a few minutes, he was finished and climbed off me, headed to the shower. After I heard the shower running and was certain by the disturbed sound of the water falling that he was safely in there (for a short while at least) I attempted to get up. My body screamed. There was throbbing, sharp pain, sticky wetness. I used the bedside table to help pull myself up and looked at the bed behind me. It was sodden in blood. My blood, I realised. I gasped at the sight that may have been taken from a horror movie. Look what he did to me. I pulled the sheets back so that when he ventured back into the bedroom, he would see what he had done.
I gingerly draped my poor body in the robe and went into the laundry, so that when he left the bathroom I could sneak in without him happening across me. When my ears told me the coast was clear, I locked myself in the bathroom with my clothes to change into and ran the water. Stepping into the shower, safe in the knowledge that the doors were locked, I saw the water change colour as it collected the blood from my body and rinsed it down the drain. The soft pressure of the water on my back was too much to bear, so I lessened it to a mere trickle. As I washed myself, I noticed mark after mark. Torn skin, bruises, tears, broken blood vessels, cuts, bite marks. On stepping out of the shower, I inspected myself in the mirror and was shocked. I had clear bite marks all over my chest and face. My shoulders too. Hand prints. Both nipples were bitten through. How could I have let this happen?
I dressed myself very carefully, as the pressure of the soft clothes I had chosen still cut into my swollen body. And I drove him home as if nothing were wrong.
I did not want go home afterward, so I travelled to a friend’s house. I was confused and needed to talk. Jana was a late sleeper, so I decided to bring her breakfast as compensation for waking her. On opening the front door, her sleepy eyes woke quickly upon taking a single look at my battered frame. She ushered me in and asked what had happened. “I don’t know. Bad sex, I guess.” She phoned the police as I ate my muffin.
The police advised her that the most important thing was that I go to the hospital; everything else was secondary. She tried to convince me, but I did not want to make a fuss, so I refused. Instead I spent the day in her gentle company where I was not forced to say anything I was not ready to. She helped me out of my heavy jeans and into a light skirt that was not as painful to wear. My handbag was too much for my bitten and bruised shoulder to bear, so she suggested I simply carry my purse in my hand. I hadn’t even thought of that. Clearly my mind was still in shock.
At the end of the day, she took me home and put my bloody bed sheets in the wash. She stayed with me until I fell asleep on her lap on the couch, leaving the number for the Rape Crisis Line beside me.
On waking, I was possibly in even more pain than the previous day. I saw the number Jana had put beside me and was curious, so I phoned. “Hi. I’m, uh, not sure what happened to me but I think I need to tell you about it. Actually, how about I tell you what happened and you tell me what it was, okay?” I was nervous, uncomfortable and sure I was making a huge deal about nothing more than bad choices. With shame, I told the patient voice on the other end of the line the events of the previous night. “So what do you think that was?” I asked her when I was done. I waited for her to tell me that sometimes we all make bad choices and to counsel me as to the best way to look myself in the mirror again. But she did not.
“You have been raped, darling.” The word was so harsh. Rape. No I hadn’t. Maybe sexually assaulted a little, but not raped, surely? That is when you are walking down a dark alley and some stranger jumps out at you. They wear balaclavas and brandish knives and leave you in the street, half dead. That’s not what happened to me. Rape…
Most of her words disappeared as I tried to grasp what she had just said. She asked if I wanted to speak to the police about it and I replied that of course, I did not. This was not worth the time of the police! It was a stupid mistake. But I did take her advice to go to the hospital. My injuries were severe and I was still bleeding. Not to mention that I had since found a slat from my bed strewn on the floor, which was no doubt the cause of some unexplained bruises on the back of my legs. I called and made an appointment for later that day.
On entering the full Emergency Room I felt like every eye was on me. In spite of the Australian summer heat, I had worn long sleeves and a high necked top to try and disguise my state of physical distress. But the marks reached up to my face and no amount of makeup could hide the clear teeth marks on my cheeks. So I sat there and waited to be called, wondering if I should have given a false name.
But my name was called quickly and I was taken into a small room, softly furnished with couches instead of a hospital bed. Not what I expected. I was met by a woman with a clipboard who introduced herself as a counsellor. I told my story again, quickly and detached. Matter of fact. As though I was telling someone else’s tale. She asked that I make an official report to the police, which I declined again. She made it very clear that in order to have a full forensic medical assessment meant that a police report had to be filed. I declined again. All I wanted was treatment for my injuries and to be sent on my way.
After manoeuvring around her persuasiveness that I report the “crime”, I was finally able to see a doctor. The counsellor helped me onto the bed, which I resented and needed at the same time. Fluorescent lights shone on me and I was in a gown. When did that happen? The doctor was explaining something I wasn’t listening to and the counsellor was holding my hand, which I also resented. I was not a child. I was asked about my physical injuries. I tried to remember the long list I had discovered since the previous morning and told them everything. Almost. I did not tell either the counsellor or the doctor about my anal injuries. I was humiliated enough. I did not want to be poked or prodded there too. She didn’t ask, so I didn’t volunteer the information.
Then the exam began. Cold fingers poked at me through latex gloves. A spotlight was aimed at my broken vagina as the speculum cranked my swollen body open. The pain was intolerable. I made a conscious effort not to squeeze the hand that was holding mine. Must be strong, must be strong… I recall a voice saying “she is lucky to have lived through this one”. When the first swab touched me I squeezed the hand in spite of myself. My eyes clamped shut and tears rolled down my cheeks without permission, but I did not cry out. I opened my eyes to see swab after swab come out of me, soaked in blood, to be put in small plastic casings that were efficiently labelled. The doctor seemed frustrated with my flinching. The counsellor looked at me with pity that I hated even more. This was a mistake.
It took about a week for the bleeding to stop, and any months for my bruises to heal. I still bare scars on and in my body that will never heal. But reflection on the situation encouraged me to go to the police. Not for myself, but for the women he would hurt if I did not. So I made a statement and clutched the Goofy drinking glass filled with water they gave me. I was careful to admit what I saw as wrong doing on my part, and once again left out any mention of anal rape or trauma. I was very careful not to embellish at all, and in doing so left out quite a lot that should have been mentioned. If it had been made clear to me that this was the only evidence I would be allowed to submit at trial, I would have gone about things differently.
I was called in a few days later to speak with a more senior member of The Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Unit about my statement. He said that when people heard it was a “boyfriend rape accusation” most people rolled their eyes until they read my Statement. That they believed me. That astounded me. Why would the police not believe me? We sat in his office for about an hour, clarifying certain things, signing papers and he explained to me that Brian would be arrested. I was so nervous. So guilty. How could I do this to him? But I had told the police the bare bones of it, without any of the really nasty stuff, and they still saw fit to proceed with 6 counts of rape, sexual assault, etc. so who was I to argue? Maybe I really was raped?
The police came to his workplace later that day for him and gossip was wild about what had happened. All at once, it was him vs. her and you had to take sides as to who you believed. Our friendship circle was divided. I was not their friend anymore, merely a frightened rape victim who jumped at every sound. But I fought it and pretended to be strong.
I knew there were whispers about me. Brian was asked his version of what happened and that story was different each time it was told. I assume because he may not fully remember? Either that or a lie is hard to keep straight. He even confessed to a few people that he had raped me. One of the newer members of our friendship circle even had the nerve to approach me and ask, “What’s it like to be raped?” He had a genuine curiosity, though not a touch of understanding at how inappropriate a question that was. “I bet it’s bad, huh?”
Even after Brian was charged and disappeared from sight, I struggled. My employer had to be told because I was regularly required to attend appointments with police, lawyers and psychologists. My presence was a constant reminder to upper management that something terrible had happened in their ranks. I was an embarrassment. They tried everything they could to make me leave. I was forced to give up my beautiful office, demoted without reason several times until I was finally given the jobs of 5 people and made to work at the Reception desk. So I gave them what they wanted and I left.
The various stages of trial were incredibly difficult. Being made to relive the experience over and over as you tell it to lawyer after lawyer and Magistrate is one thing, but to have your honour and integrity questioned is another. I wanted neither friends nor family there, no gallery of onlookers for support. I could not bear for anyone to hear what I had done. I was so ashamed of my imperfect behaviour. But I needed one person for help. So I chose my friend Kim. She picked me up in the morning, drove me into the city and walked with me all around the entire block to enter the courthouse just so we didn’t have to walk past his family by going the 20 steps to the door. She sat with me in silence. Put her hand on my shoulder. Told me I was doing great. To this day, I will never be able to repay the support and kindness she offered me.
For three days I was on the stand, Kim being overwhelmed by a gallery of his friends and family who stretched their legs out for me to climb over as I passed. Not once did I look in his direction, though I felt his eyes bore into the side of my head the whole time I was there. The Crown Prosecutor took me through “my version of events” as I worked hard to stay professional and not crack. He would not get the better of me. I answered every humiliating question and tried to make direct eye contact with as many members of the jury as possible. Then came the cross-examination.
His barrister stood up and looked at me derisively and I tried to remind myself that this was just theatre. Then he took his glasses off and dramatically threw them on his open book. I almost rolled my eyes. This is a little act he did often and it grew to anger rather than exasperate me. He did his best to highlight our former sexual relationship and insist that I was merely heartsick, having been dumped. That I had begged Brian for this one last sexual encounter. That I liked it rough; hence all the marks on me. That I asked for it – how cliché.
I was provided with a transcript of a phone call that Brian and I had whilst in our relationship. This was a transcript of phone sex, which we had had consensually. I was not informed at the time of the phone call that I was being recorded and now here it was, in graphic detail, before me as I stood in front of a judge, a jury and a gallery full of his family. I was instructed not to tell the Court what I was reading from, but to simply read the highlighted passages. To my further humiliation, I read out the out of context passages to the court. The oohs, the aahs and the words that shamed me to say out loud to this audience. There it was. I was a whore.
Eventually I was allowed off the stand and the police officer I had been dealing with came to see Kim and I. He told me I did well, but that several items of information had been deemed inadmissible. Among these the jury were not to receive were any evidence of his alcohol use on the night in question, his substance abuse on the night in question, the Statement from my friend Jana who was too riled up to be contained to the rules of a Courtroom, and any evidence of the three confessions he made to three different people. I felt ill. How could so much go wrong? I then started to ponder the term “justice system”.
But Kim drove me home and stayed with me, telling me how proud she was and reminding me that the worst part was finally over. When I got the phone call in the middle of the night from the police officer, I was hardly surprised to hear that Brian had been found not guilty on all 6 charges. He was free. And I was not.
In the years that followed, I tried to make sense of things. I tried to push myself into sexual relationships I was not ready for to prove to myself that I was normal. I over-compensated and worked like a fiend, climbing the corporate ladder and stopping for no one. Until I met Mark.
Mark was intelligent and funny and swept me away with his wit and charm. Before we knew it, we were in love. As luck would have it, Mark was one of the most accomplished forensic psychologists in the world, specialising in exactly what had happened to me. No, he was not a therapist, but his work was in understanding the mind of the criminal who behaves in this way.
He helped me to realise that Brian is what is known as a sexual sadist; someone who derives sexual pleasure from causing humiliation and pain in others. They do not respond to treatment and only escalate their behaviour. I had angered Brian when I told him I was going to start dating someone else. He viewed me as his property and showed me so. If I hadn’t let him in my car, hadn’t driven him to my house, hadn’t opened the door or a million other things I beat myself up about every day, he would have found another opportunity. And had I fought back against him, he may well have killed me, as these particular types of rapists are prone to do. Maybe then I would have believed it wasn’t my fault?
Mark showed me that rapists fall under several different typologies that I will explore in articles on this site, but they all have different motivations, behave in different ways and respond diversely to different victim reactions. That is why the logic of “scream at them, punch them, fight back!” is so flawed. Where one type of rapist will run away, the other is likely to kill you. There is a simple rule of thumb I have learned; do anything you feel you need to in order to survive. Everything else is secondary. Let us not forget that not all of us are survivors of rape, many are left victims. If your instincts tell you fight, then fight. If your body freezes up, go with it. You cannot think in the moment anyway. Your body will help you react any way you need to. The worst thing you can do is make yourself feel guilt for things you did in order to live through it.
10 years have made their way past since that day and I’m still here. I still suffer from depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and may always. I still wake up in the night from memories that terrorise me. I still look in every direction before putting my key into the lock. I still suffer from physical scars and reproductive difficulties. But I made it. I ended up marrying Mark who has been very supportive of my work as a survivors advocate. He dotes on me and worries about my own triggers, which is very valid but worth it considering the sense of accomplishment I get from assisting others.
I now work with Lady Hecate in the Lair and help others find their feet, their voice and reclaim their sexuality. I am so proud that I have been able to turn my own painful experience into something that helps others heal.