There are many kinds of thieves. The kind that steal your bag in a club. The kind that break in to your house and steal your stuff. Pickpockets, burglars, anyway you want em, thieves. Thick as thieves. And there are comedy thieves too - the vodka thieves that steal your inhibitions. The tequila thieves that steal your memory of the night before - leaving you helpless to friends pointing and laughing and starting sentences with *Do you remember doing X....last night?* The thieves that steal the good hair days, the skinny days, the bus/tube/train arriving on time days, the not-saying-stupid-things thieves.
And then there are the kind of thieves that steal your life, insidiously, piece-by-piece, through a single action. And it can take forever to get it back. The thief that stole part of my life is now in prison. And he stole pieces of many other women's lives too. Pieces that they are working hard to get back and put back together.
I was sexually assaulted. By a serial offender + rapist. The assault happened around 18months ago. But he's only just been found guilty - of over 24 attacks and 2 rapes. And they had almost 61 cases in total they could have brought against him. It's just terrifying to know that there are men like this out there. And although it is rare to be attacked, the number of people that confided in me with their own experiences after my attack was shocking.
When are some men going to realise that violence against women, and terrorising and threatening them is just not acceptable goddammit. It's just ridiculous. And the number of convictions is pathetic compared to the number of assaults. No wonder women are afraid to come forward. Its terrifying enough being attacked, without having to subject yourself to the humiliation of being intimately examined in an area you'd like to forget existed. To be treated like some kind of strange exhibit. Having to describe your every movement. The humiliation of remembering how much you drank or didn't drink, what you were wearing, where you went. And to be interviewed almost aggressively. Yes the police are just doing their job. But it would be good to have some empathy, to try to understand what someone might be feeling.
And then after the police side of things, after the statement and the photofit and the promises to call and let you know how the case is progressing. Then nothing.
And you are left to continue with a partly broken bit of life. The feeling the morning after when you first wake up - and you know something isn't quite right - and then you remember. The feeling of wanting to hide from the world. Of never wanting to wear anything that shows more than your ankles and wrists ever again. Of being unable to be alone in a room/bus/train carriage/shop with a man you don't know. Of being unable to look the world in the eye. Of panic attacks and terror. Of scuttling into your flat when you come home late. Of constantly looking over your shoulder. Of spending an evening out with your friends - supposedly relaxing - but instead fretting about how to get home. And having a constant tumult of emotions inside you. Anger, sorrow, fear. And shame. Shame over how much I drank. Shame over wearing basically lingerie as a top. Shame for putting myself out there.
And then anger. Because I didn't ask for this to happen to me. No matter what I wear or do or say or act or drink or feel I didn't deserve to be attacked. No-one deserves to be attacked.
But although that man tried to steal my confidence and my guts and a piece of my life, i'm clawing that piece back. And his conviction says that I didn't imagine the attack. That I didn't make it up or hallucinate it. That it was real and it did happen. And the knowledge that he was wrong and I was right - and the confidence that brings, that's the piece of my life I'm getting back. The ability to look the world in the eye again. It doesn't happen over night but I'm bloody getting there. Thank you and good night.
Stupidgirl has left the building.