I haven’t had sex in two years, ever since my boyfriend and I broke up after a disastrous six-month relationship. I’ve been in several situations with friends of friends or acquaintances where it could have happened – someone literally in my bed asking to have sex. But I just don’t want to.
In 2015, I was on a solo backpacking trip across Australia. I was 22 and already living out there at the time – I’d taken a year out from university on a student exchange to Melbourne. But I’d just broken up with a guy and wanted to get away from the city for a bit.
I was on Fraser Island, camping in a remote area with no phone signal. One night I got drunk with my tour group, so drunk I was sick, and I decided I didn’t want to sleep in my tent. I relocated to the van where our tour guide was sleeping. In the middle of the night, I woke up to find him on top of me, raping me. I’d been wearing a bikini and he’d taken the bottoms off.
I froze because I didn’t know what was happening, but he noticed I’d woken up and stopped. I confronted him and he made up some excuse about being drunk. He went to sleep and I tried to do the same.
The next morning I woke up to find he’d put my bikini bottoms on the bonnet of a nearby car, in front of everyone else in my group. When I confided in some of them what had happened, they laughed and thought I was joking and that we’d just slept together. We hadn’t – I knew he had a family, a wife and four children.
There was a lake swim planned that day. I didn’t want to go but the alternative was sitting with him waiting for everyone to come back, so I went. I only had one bikini with me, the one I was wearing the night before – it didn’t occur to me till later that when I went in the water it washed off any potential DNA evidence – my mind had just been on one thing, getting away from him.
That night we went back to a hostel and I hid in my room, too afraid to even go to the supermarket across the road to get food.
“I was completely numb to everything and was just going through the motions."”
When the trip was over, I returned to Melbourne and reported him to the police, as well as the tour providers who employed him. The police said there was little they could do and eventually dropped the case. I went to counselling once a fortnight for six months but I’m not sure how helpful it was.
In September 2016, I returned to London to start my masters and the following January I met my new partner – he was on my course and we studied together.
From the start I was upfront about what had happened to me in Australia and said I probably wasn’t the best person to be with. I’d told him about the rape while we were still just friends when he had questioned my slightly ‘odd’ behaviour in certain situations. So going into the relationship, he knew.
He tried to be supportive, but was so young, he didn’t know what to say. Meanwhile, I was completely numb to everything and just going through the motions of a relationship because I felt like he wanted it. I was also very awkward about sex, which manifested in a lot of body hang ups. He said if I didn’t get over them then our relationship was never going to have a future. In short, it was an absolute disaster and after six months we ended it.
“I just don’t want casual sex anymore. I want someone who is supportive.”
I don’t do online dating but I’m very open and straight up about it – if a potential partner googled my name, the fact I’m a rape survivor is there on my social media. And I’d definitely bring it up long before sleeping with someone new.
I’m 27 now and I think I would like to meet someone, but I just don’t want casual sex anymore. I want someone who is supportive. I was recently watching a documentary about sexual violence and the thing that upset me the most was that this woman, who’d been assaulted, had such a supportive husband. I just thought: I’m never going to have that. It really triggered something inside me.
I don’t have flashbacks to what happened but I do think something deep inside my brain has made me go off sex totally. I’ve put up a real mental barrier and there’s an element of fear about letting someone get close. I’ve got to a stage where I don’t even fancy anyone and that’s just not me. I’m now thinking about going back to counselling – I need to properly deal with what happened.
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