I was raped in Malia – and it’s not my fault
It’s taken me four years to realise I’m not to blame
by Emma Healey
The end of school holiday is one that you’ll remember for life. In many ways it’s a first taste of independence. The mass exodus of 18 year olds to Mediterranean coastal towns is a rite of passage, however with that many drunk and excited teenagers – something was always going to go wrong.
For me, and so many other people, it went wrong in one of the worst ways possible. I was raped.
Me and five friends decided that we would go to Malia on holiday – and in many ways it was exactly the girls’ holiday we wanted and needed at the time, plenty of playing in the pool, tanning, banana boat rides, getting outrageously drunk, and dancing on bars. I’m not going to pretend I didn’t drink, or that I was the most responsible person there – I wasn’t, but it still does not mean being raped was my fault.
I was drunk when I was raped. I was wearing shorts. I was making out with people. I had already had sex that week.
I did everything that rape victims aren’t meant to have been doing – the things that if women supposedly do they are ‘asking to be raped’.
But, and this has taken me four years to realise, none of this means I am to blame.
I’ll admit, I put myself in a risky situation – but to be honest, the whole idea of a risky situation is bullshit because there shouldn’t be someone who will take advantage of you. Without going in to too much detail – I was getting with a girl, the first girl I had ever properly hooked up with, we decided to go back to her hotel. So understandably, I was kind of scared but mainly excited. I trusted her.
She had two friends with quad bikes – and as her hotel was a bit away from the strip, she suggested they took us back to hers. We each got on a bike with a different guy, we got to her hotel and the guy driving the bike I was on said that they weren’t back at the hotel, and that we should carry on driving for a bit until they were home. If I could change anything it would have been that decision, I wish I had said that we should just wait at the hotel. But I was drunk, naïve, I had no idea where I was, and I trusted him.
He stopped in the middle of the Greek countryside and said if I didn’t have sex with him, he would leave me there. I cried the entire time, and the entire ride back to the centre of Malia.
I am so lucky my friends were there when I got back to the hotel – and the sad thing is, none of us saw this as a potentially dangerous situation. They thought I was safe with the girl, I thought I was safe. I mean, who hasn’t gone back with a stranger at some point in their life?
However, what happened happened. I can’t change that. It’s becoming a huge part of who I am.
While this was the most difficult thing I have been through, I didn’t expect to find other people’s reactions so negative.
I had friends who asked why I would say that when I told them.
I heard colleagues at work saying that girls who get drunk and go on “these type” of holidays were basically asking for it.
I know I am exactly the kind of girl who gets blamed for her rape – and for years, I blamed myself. It’s only recently that I have realised that this was in no way myself and not something I have to be ashamed of.
It is never our fault.
And, there are so many of us. I know so many other people who have been raped on party holidays – and it’s something they ever show on Sun, Sex, and Suspicious Parents. However, it’s something we need to start talking about. Being sexually assaulted on holiday is horrifyingly common – and you’re away from your support network, normally you don’t speak the language. You tend not to research how to report crime before going on holiday.
I don’t think I even would have known who to go to about this if I wanted to – talking to the Greek police about this was not something that appealed to me. I have no idea how to legal system works there – and I could hardly report it to the UK police, even though he was British.
We need to move away from this narrative of the perfect rape victim, and the perfect protocol to follow as a victim. There’s this assumption that you should go to the police straight away, and that they are the best people to talk to. Not only is going to the police not always the right decision, but it isn’t always feasible. Of course I worry that he’s done it again, but realistically I know that there is no way he would have been convicted on the back of me reporting it – I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to discuss it, I felt responsible, and I didn’t have enough details to even begin to think of bringing it to the police.
There’s the belief that we should be ashamed and stay silent – but I am not to blame, I am not ashamed, and I think we need to start speaking up about an issue that affects so many people.
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