I was recently a victim of a sexual assault, by the brother of someone I know, while my partner was out of town.
This is not the story of that day. This is the story of what happened after.
I told my family, my close friends. Went through the nightmare of going to the police. Most we’re shocked, and asked questions, but soon the contact stopped completely.
I’m sure it was to try to let me pull myself together, to deal with what was to follow, but what I needed was the distraction from my own thoughts.
I told my manager and a colleague what was going on, and they were the most supportive and understanding, allowing me time to have police interviews and to cope with the outcomes of those interviews.
The fear has started affecting me, and started to creep in to my daily life. I took to wearing baggy clothes, barely bothering to tidy myself up to be presentable. I had trouble sleeping, no energy and started to get paranoid about cars following me for too long, thinking it might be him.
Two weeks after the incident I tried to go back to the gym for the first time. As soon as I stepped outside my work, I saw a guy walking down the road who looked exactly like him. I panicked. As he came closer I realised it wasn’t, but the fear was real and I ended up in a puddle of inconsolable tears in the work bathrooms.
I’m anxious and fearful of my partner leaving me to go away for a weekend and me in the house alone, but I don’t want to burden my family and friends with my anxious thoughts. I used to regularly catch up with friends for a drink, dinner or movie. I haven’t gone out without my partner present since the incident, mainly out of concern that I may embarrass myself if I feel uncomfortable in a situation.
Two months on I received a phone call from the cops saying the situation didn’t have enough evidence to proceed with charges. I feel like I’ve been left to live with the violation, the lack of trust, loss of relationships, loneliness and degrading feeling that I’m ‘damaged goods’ for the rest of my life.
The process has ended, life has moved on, but I haven’t.
I have always had a passion for writing, and have found previously that it has helped when I feel isolated, like no one understands what I’m going through, or wants to hear about it as I’m not important, and they have enough of their own dramas. But, it means I’m doing something else to help release some of the pain and lack of connection I am feeling. This is the first time I have written about this torment and I hope it may help someone else feel less alone, and find courage. Though the system may sometimes fail us, I still believe that if I hadn’t gone to the cops I would be feeling worse than I do now.
I had been seeing a counsellor for a past abusive relationship. I was already doing everything the counsellor suggested would help me feel better – eating protein, exercising regularly, writing, doing breathing exercises, taking anxiety medication to help sleep. Since I was already doing all of these things before the assault, I don’t know what more I can do, it’s just adding to the wound, and my failing self esteem.
People tell me I’m strong and it’ll get better. I’d just like to feel safe, loved and break free of my own of prison.
If you are a victim of sexual assault there are many services you can contact, depending on your needs, to report the crime or to seek counselling and support. This includes the Victims Access Line (1800 633 063) which provides information, referral and support to victims of crime.