I lost my virginity when I was raped by two of my friends
This story contains a graphic description of sexual assault
Let’s talk about rape.
You might flinch, you might get that horrible sickening lump in your throat, or you might choose to turn a blind eye and shut off your ears.
Sadly, I’m not a stranger to these reactions. When I talk to you about rape, about sexual assault, about disgusting predators taking advantage and abusing someone else’s body, I can almost certainly guarantee that you have a fixed picture in your head.
The picture is far from a beautiful Dali masterpiece. It’s probably not as complex and it certainly doesn’t generate or deserve nearly as much respect. The picture in your imagination typically follows a standard, yet ignorant formula – girl goes on a night out, girl is vulnerable, girl bumps into sexual predator, girl is sexually assaulted.
We hear it all too often and so we shut ourselves off to the reality – that the majority of rapes and sexual assaults are committed by attackers known to the victim. Whether that means a long-term partner, a friend or just someone that bought you a vodka lemonade on a night out. You can shake your head, shrug and tell yourself “surely not” – but it happened to me.
I was 14, frolicking around with a combover that I liked to call a fringe and dangling a Primark handbag off my forearm – like every single 14-year-old girl.
I had a lot of friends, I went to those tragic noughties house parties where your mum would pack you off with a bottle of Blue WKD and you’d take a million pictures giving your friends piggybacks, showing off your New Look heels and probably flashing your knickers by mistake.
You get it, I was a normal 14 year-old girl. What’s not so normal is that two of my friends raped me, taking my virginity.
And now what? I’m in my early twenties and you’re wondering why it’s taken the best part of a decade for me to open up and talk about it.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock this year, you’ll have seen the internet blow up about Brock Turner, about the Brooklyn gang rape.
Like me, far too many other girls don’t come forward right away. We didn’t speak out, we didn’t open up, we didn’t cry to the world.
We kept quiet because who would trust our word over someone else’s? Over someone so manipulative?
Why would I shout about something I was so ashamed about? Why would I tell anyone the “special secret” that I had with those boys?
Maybe the world, my friends included, is in a better place to understand now than they ever were then.
I’d love to say that I barely remember what happened that day, that in my mind it’s an amalgamation of haziness, confusion and disjointed memories. But I remember it all. Every. Single. Second.
It’s like a storyboard for a film pitch, each frame slightly disjointed from the next but perfectly pictured and entrenched into my memory.
It was just before midday when, the boys, my “friends”, who I’ll call T and N, met me. They were drunk, I was sober… as any normal person on a weekday morning would be. You’d think they’d have at least tried to flirt, flatter me, make me feel wanted. But they had intentions, they didn’t care.
T grabbed my bum straight away and N sat and watched. I was oblivious to what was about to happen so I laughed, which was clearly permission to pull up my dress and push down the back of my knickers.
In the space of a few seconds, I went from feeling special and wanted, from feeling like a friend, to feeling abused and completely on my own.
I couldn’t stand there and let T touch me up, so naturally, I screamed at him, took his hand out of my tights, picked up my bag and the little dignity I had left, and went to leave.
It was apparently N’s turn now. He leapt up and stopped me in my tracks, while N took my bag and ruthlessly emptied its contents everywhere. And so, like what can only be described like someone searching for their glasses on the floor, I scuttled around picking up my things.
And that was the perfect opportunity.
T pushed me over. He pulled up my dress again. He pulled down my tights. He pulled down my knickers and started to touch me up. N went back to his seat on the log and watched one of his best friends abuse me.
I obviously struggled out of his grasp. I did all I could, I told him no, I hit him, I tried to call for help.
But before I knew it N penetrated me, while T stood watching, playing music.
And in that moment, any innocence that I had left was gone. I didn’t know I’d been raped, in fact I didn’t know for a few years. Instead, I just felt ashamed. I felt ashamed because everyone knew. I was branded a slut, I was told no-one would touch me again – no-one realised that it wasn’t a choice.
Sex should be a thing of intimacy, of love, even fun. I saw absolutely none of that and I always feared that I’d never see that side, and it pains me to think how many other girls have the same problem. Often it’s the people that you least expect that could put a six foot hole in your life, and not enough people know that.
But years on, it hasn’t consumed me. I got rid of the people who refused to understand that I wasn’t a slut. I got on with school and uni, and while there I campaigned hard for rape prevention.
I didn’t let what happened stop me feeling love, from finding new friends and having fun.
It was the worst thing I’ve ever been through – but I’m through it now.
For any information or help with sexual violence, contact Rape Crisis on 0808 802 9999.
Related stories recommended by this writer:
● A 16-year-old boy posted on Facebook for helping finding his missing friend. Then he got charged with his rape and murder
● Keira Knightley says she only does historical films because women are ‘always raped’ in modern movies
● Everything you need to know about reporting your sexual assault