I was raped at a house party by someone I knew
And no, I wasn’t ‘asking for it’
You’ve read the headlines, you’ve seen the statistics, and you’ve probably avoided walking a certain way home just to keep yourself safe at night. It’s a cruel world out there, and heavily student-populated areas have shockingly high reports of rape and sexual assault. Manchester in particular.
But it isn’t just as simple as listening to the advice your parents have been giving you ever since you were a teenager. “Don’t walk home alone”, “Get a taxi back after a night out”, “Don’t talk to strangers”. You know all of this already, and you certainly don’t ever expect anything bad to ever happen to you, even after copious amounts of alcohol and a shit night out in whichever club you’d chosen to grave your presence with that evening.
But what if the person who assaults you is a friend? We read so many stories about students getting sexually assaulted by vaguely described strangers in dark alleys, but what if protecting yourself from the perils of the post-nightout walk home isn’t enough to protect you from people you’ve known (and trusted) since your uni experience began?
A few months ago, I found myself in this predicament.
I was raped at a house party by a friend of a friend, someone who I had known for years and who I had grown very fond of over the course of our friendship. And only now has the reality of the situation really sunk in.
It all started when my best friend invited me to her house party. She studies at a uni not too far from mine, and I got on really well with her friends. It was nothing out of the ordinary, and if anything I was looking forward to getting out of Manchester for a few days.
A guy that my friend had lived with the previous year, and one of the prominent figures in their friendship group, was going to be there. I’d always had a bit of a thing for him, which in hindsight makes me feel so much worse about the situation. But there we both were, at the same house party, absolutely off our tits on a cocktail of strong spirits and Class A’s, and of course I just wanted to enjoy myself and have a good time.
In fact, me and him barely spoke all night. By about 5am, I decided to call it a night. I had been awake for almost 24 hours, and had outdone myself to the point where I was sick in front of everyone and needed to get my head while I sobered myself up. So I went to my friends bedroom to have a nap.
I’m not sure if he knew I was there, or he stumbled across me by chance, but about half an hour later he came in. And that’s when it happened.
I can recall every detail, and despite not being sober enough to have much control over what was going on around me, one thing is for certain. I said no. I did not give consent. I did not want to have sex with him, and I did not want anyone else to be in that room except me.
The hours, days and weeks which came afterwards are a massive blur. First came the denial. Because, you know, how could a man that I was friends with possibly have raped me? That’s not what friends do. I thought that maybe it had been my fault. I was absolutely smashed after all, maybe I had led him on. So many maybe’s and so much doubt nearly drove me insane. I didn’t let anyone near me for weeks. I would flinch every time a door slammed, and if a guy ever spoke to me in a club I would instantly shut them down, because I couldn’t trust men anymore, not after this.
Then came the acceptance. Admitting to myself that yes, this did happen and no, it wasn’t my fault – that was the hardest part.
Then came the decision making. Would I report this to the police or would I hope that eventually it would go away? The process was long, difficult and emotionally draining, but I’m still here to tell the tale.
There’s a long way to go before I’m back to my old self again, and there’s a lot of work to be done before I get my justice, but progress is progress. I haven’t seen him since, but I hope he realised the severity of what he has done, even if I may never get the chance to tell him so.
The worrying thing is, I am not alone. I’m sure there are lots of women and men in my position right now, who have been assaulted by someone close to them and have had no idea how to cope with it. My advice to you is that time is the best healer. You’ll go through such a strange rollercoaster of emotions, you’ll have days where everything seems like the biggest uphill struggle, but you’ll survive. If I can go through it and still manage to smash my exams and get myself a grad job, then anyone can.
The name of the author has been withheld to protect her identity.