I used to torture my mum with 'would you rather?' questions. You might know the game. Would you rather be invisible or be able to talk to animals? Would you rather be 10 foot tall or five foot wide? The possibilities are endless. But you have to choose an answer. No cheating.
At primary school another girl once asked me, 'would you rather be raped or murdered?'. I remember deliberating for a while: neither sounded like much fun. But you have to choose an answer.
I chose murdered.
Ironic then that I was raped.
It happened during a time when I was deeply unhappy. A boyfriend I thought would never leave me had just ended things. We'd been on and off for years, but until now it had been me doing the breaking up. A tsunami of repressed pain crashed over me. My dad had left abruptly several years earlier. He never wanted kids, he'd said. This new split confirmed my darkest fear: I wasn't worth loving.
To make matters worse, I hated my job. It was dull and unfulfilling. I didn't need to be in good shape to get through the tedious tasks.
So, I went out too much. I thought if I pretended hard enough to be happy it might just come true. I danced, I drank, I laughed, I flirted. When I really needed to feel wanted, I had sex with someone who I didn't care about and who didn't care about me either.
There was one guy, a friend of a friend - let's call him Dan. From the first time I'd met him, he'd been all over me. You know the type: all hands and sleazy comments. I found him creepy and brushed him off each time. But he was often around. And I couldn't let him ruin my relentless pursuit of an escape from myself.
That night lots of us were out; Dan was there too. We'd gone to from a pub to a bar to a club. Eventually we ended up at someone's house. It was late, I was tired, I decided to stay the night.
I went to sleep in the spare room dressed and alone. I woke up with my knickers on the floor and Dan in the bed.
I was so horrified, so disgusted, that I didn't even challenge him. I just got dressed and got out.
By the end of the day, I could no longer pretend nothing had happened. Hazy memories had penetrated my armour of denial. He'd come into the room in the middle of the night. He'd pulled my clothes off. He'd pushed inside me. I'd tried to stop him but I was half asleep, confused, still under the effects of alcohol.
I was too scared to go to the police. What if they blamed me? It was bad enough that I blamed myself.
I became fixated on not letting the rape change me. But the more I fought to be the same, the harder it was. The nightmares were the worst: I'd wake up every night shaking and crying. One day I saw Dan. I broke down on the spot.
Eventually I was referred to an incredible clinical psychologist, a specialist in sexual trauma. She helped me put myself back together again. It took a long time and a lot of work. I fixed my life up. I found a job I loved doing. I dumped the friends who weren't friends and embraced the ones who were. I started looking after myself properly. I found someone I loved who loved me right back. I learnt to enjoy sex again. It's been a difficult road to recovery. I'm still not completely there but I'm a lot, lot better. I have a good life now.
I still get nightmares, but not nearly so often.
I still hate Dan, but I no longer hate myself.
If someone asked me now, 'would you rather be raped or murdered?', it would be an easy decision to make.
I'm forever grateful to my husband, family, closest friends and the amazing NHS psychologist for all their support. I'd also like to thank two wonderful women who helped me overcome my fear of sharing this story: Kate at Pouting in Heels and Tamar at The 5 Percent Club.
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