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Sunday, 6 February 2011

My darkest Hour: What it feels like to have been sexually assaulted

I wanted to write this post, despite it being quite upsetting for me, to bring awareness to something that is actually still rarely spoken about and also even considered less traumatic than rape. Having been sexually assaulted, it is awful. It shatters your self confidence, your trust in men, your ability to ever truly let your guard down. When the guy who assaulted me touched me, he affected my life forever.
I was working in London on my placement with a catering and events company in June of 2009. I was commuting each day from Bournemouth to Wimbledon and it was really hard work! My manager managed  
view from hotel room
to get me and my friend Sam a hotel room for the night of the staff party, on the middle Sunday of Wimbledon, so that we could go out with the rest of the staff. I had barely eaten all day as I found it hard to  
hotel room
eat whilst working. This meant that by the time I got to the hotel and we had a pre drink with the manager of champagne, that I got drunk pretty quickly. The night out was in Clapham, not the best of areas, and the hotel was a premier inn which was in Putney.

We got a taxi to the bar and I continued to drink. I had been quite shy at work and there were a lot of firemen working with us who were on the night out so in order to be able to talk to them, I drank quite a bit for confidence. I started loosening up and we moved bars a couple of times. We ended up in a club called Revolutions and I ended up kissing one of the firemen, Jason. I don't remember much for a little while. I was pretty out of it and soon after I ended up getting a taxi back to the hotel with 
on the night out with Sam
 Sam, who I was sharing a hotel room with.

We went to bed but an hour or so later, I got back up, drunk and disorientated, and managed to lock myself out of the room. I wandered aimlessly around the hotel, getting more and more lost, trying in vain to open any door on my way down each hallway. Somehow, I then managed to lock myself out of the hotel completely, by going out a fire door, which then closed behind me. I was only wearing a black vest top and a tiny pair of shorts (my pyjamas). There I was, in the car park of a premier inn in Putney, London. In a way I was lucky that the night porter came to the fire door and let me back into the hotel....

I told him I was lost and couldn't find my hotel room. He told me to follow him. We ended up in a stairway somewhere in the hotel and that was when he backed me against the stairs and put his hand up my pyjama shorts and started touching me. I remember telling him no, quite loudly, and he did stop at that point. He then took me to my room, which he somehow knew even though I didn't recall the number. He even knocked on the door and Sam saw us standing together there and let me back in. I went into the room and just went to bed.

It was only when I woke up in the morning that I remembered what had happened. Sam rang our manager, who was staying in the same hotel, and I got dressed and went to speak to him about what to do. I decided I did want to take things further and to get the police involved as I didn't want the man to get away with what he did to me. He was in a position of power and had abused this power to abuse me. My manager warned me that it may end up never getting taken to court and might be painful for me to talk about it with police etc. But I knew it would be ten times worse trying to forget it never happened.

So, my manager told the hotel manager what had happened, and the police were called. We had been meaning to go home that morning, but ended up having to stay until the afternoon to talk things through. Despite it being my manager's only day off for weeks, he stayed with me and Sam throughout everything. I was so grateful for that.

The police wanted to know everything and so I had to relive the night before which was painful. They also asked me how drunk I was on a scale of 1 to 10 and interviewed both Sam and my manager as well. They then asked me for the pyjamas I had been wearing, as well as the underwear, as they needed to check them for the guys DNA. They said that if the guy claimed he hadn't of touched me, but his DNA was on my clothes, that he would most likely be sentenced in court, but that if he admitted to touching me but said that I had wanted him to, that the case would probably never make it to court. This was a horrible thought and so unfair.

I was then taken around the hotel, trying to piece things together and find out where I had been attacked. It was awful retracing my steps, and I found the place he had touched me after looking around once. The place he actually assaulted me in had no CCTV cameras, the police said this was not surprising as he worked at the hotel in reception, so would have known where to avoid cameras. They said they would be taking the CCTV footage anyway to check over where I had gone when I was lost etc.

I was then allowed to go home, being assured that they would keep me up to date on all of the proceedings and with any results that came back. I was really shaky driving back and ended up staying in Southampton with Sam instead of going the further 45 minutes to Bournemouth to get home. All I wanted to do was hug my mum but I couldn't. I was shell shocked and felt dirty and used and like I was being punished for having got drunk and kissed a guy I was working alongside. I spoke to my mum, but didn't want to worry her so held most of what I was feeling inside.

The truth is, I didn't know how to start speaking about how I was feeling. I also told my dad which was even harder. I spoke to my friend who was training to be a social worker with abuse victims and she was great. She told me to phone the assault victims helpline, which I did, and they spoke through things with me. I also spoke to a woman at the police station who said that she would be my contact for the case in future.

I was due back at work the next day, but as I was about to get in the car with my manager, Sam, and another girl I worked alongside, I suddenly felt so panicky and scared that my manager told me to stay off work and for Sam to as well and for her to look after me (paid). We drove back to Bournemouth and went shopping to try and take my mind off things. I also managed to get the number of Jason, the fireman, and text 
my flowers
 him apologising for my behaviour on the night out. By that point, the people working at Wimbledon had been discretely told about what had happened and so he was more worried about me than what had gone on whilst on the night out. He was really sweet texting throughout the day and checking I was alright. We ended up going out for 6 months after that.

My manager sent me a big bunch of flowers from all of the staff at Wimbledon which was so nice. I was allowed to stay off work for as long as I needed. But after only a few days at home, alone, thinking about things, I decided to go back. I didn't want to be in London though, so instead I was able to work where the company was based in Southampton instead, on a few of the smaller events. I had to go back to Wimbledon for the last Sunday, though, as it was the busiest day of the 2 weeks, and I was an assistant manager. It wasn't too bad though as it was quite busy, and I also got to see Jason again, who I had been texting all week. Everyone there was really nice, and didn't bring up what had happened.

I found things difficult for a long time after the attack. What made things worse was that the case was  
Me, later that summer
eventually dropped, after a few months. This was because, when looking at the CCTV footage, they saw me and the night porter come across each other on more than one occassion. As I had said in my statement that I had only seen him once, they said I must have been too drunk to remember things logically as they happened and so due to inconclusive evidence, they were dropping all charges against the man and dropping the case.

What really upset me about this, was that I will never know what happened on the other times I saw the guy, as I only remember seeing him once. More worrying is that at one point I remember wandering the halls, wrapped in a duvet, but when I returned to our room, the duvet was still there. This means that I had someone elses duvet on me, and I don't know how I got it. I could have been raped and will never know. I suffered from panic attacks and nightmares for months afterwards. I am also still affected by the incident as I can no longer fully let my guard down, on nights out or with men in general. I have no trust in men and am scared they will hurt me. I also have panic attacks still, and don't like going out and being around drunk men.

I feel that sexual assault is a really serious crime and should be taken more seriously. It is little wonder that the majorty of girls who are sexually assaulted, never even report the crime as they feel nobody would listen or nothing would be done. In the end, I have been left feeling that the system let me down. The guy is most likely out there now, he could be doing it again for all I know. I will never completely get over the attack and for this, I hate the man that did this to me.

If you have been sexually assaulted, I would still urge you to contact the police and report it. But, more importantly, to speak to a doctor or a councellor as that is how I have finally managed to move on from my attack. Keeping something like that inside can really destroy you.

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7 comments:

  1. awww Emma im sorry that a convo earlier reminded you of what happened, but im really glad you wrote this, will make you stronger, I hope karma gets that guy really bad, he deserves every bit of it, xx love charl

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  2. Emma, this is a really good written post and it must have taken you a lot to have the guts to write about this. I haven't spoken to you many times and I must admit I was a bit intimidated (in a nice way!) by you on the More! fan page as you are so opinionated and so popular! But after following your blog I can see why you are so popular, you're such a lovely person who has been to far too much.
    It's great as well that you're willing to write posts like this to raise awareness of issues that could affect the readers of your blog.
    I agree with some of the points you said as well about how its a shame sexual assaults are rarely taken seriously especially if someone has been drinking! Anyway, this is a bit of a long comment but well done for having the courage to post this and I have a lot of respect for you :) xxx

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  3. Thank you Louise, that's really nice. xx

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  4. This must have been really tough for you to write Emma - it makes me admire you even more though, you're such a strong person.
    The laws around sexual assault really do need to be changed, as guys like that think they can get away with it when the girl's had a few drinks, and that needs to be stopped.
    Think it was a good idea for you to write this tyhough and get it out, it will help you deal with it all.
    Love you! Flik x

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  5. Very brave post, you are a very brave woman.

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