It makes me feel sick reading through all these. The last few weeks have been hard for me. I cannot avoid the fact that something i have been silent about for 28 years is all over the news, is happening to so many of us and that you are all brave enough to write here when i don’t know if i am yet even though i am forcing myself to type this because I want to be brave too even though it is making me shake and cry. I wanted to be brave enough to walk down queen street today holding a sign that ends my silence but i couldn’t do it. Even writing this feels too hard and it would be easier to stop, as someone else said it is easier to live in denial and have past trauma locked up tightly in a box in your head. But here you all are and i can’t believe there are so many of me. My heart hurts for you, for us. I have 2 daughters and my heart hurts thinking of the world they are growing up in but this unlocking of silence is the only way to stop this evil. So i will add my voice to this long sad list. I was raped at 16, in the house i grew up in, by my boyfriend of 21. I was so naive. Looking back now, unbearably and painfully naive, so unprepared for a world full of men. I didn’t name this as rape for years. I laid on my bed with him, my parents were out, my little brother downstairs. I was a virgin. I didn’t want sex but after we kissed, thats all he wanted. I said no many times, i said he was hurting me many times. I didnt want to make a noise and have my 7 year old brother come upstairs. I gave up, i sort of went blank. I remember biting my hand so hard it bled, i dont know why. Just to make another pain that i could understand better to distract from the pain that i couldnt. The room had just been plastered and to this day that smell makes me ill and triggers terrible feelings. Afterwards he left. Without anyone speaking i knew he was not my boyfriend anymore. The days and months  that followed were messy. He gave me a sexually transmitted disease. I thought i was pregnant when the usual period did not arrive. I wasnt. I had been a ‘good girl’. Quiet, good student. Overnight that changed. I drank a lot for a long time. I behaved recklessly, travelling alone, hitchhiking. I cried and cried and cried and cried and cried. I could not sleep. Yet it took years to call it rape. I told my mother about 3 years afterwards. I was suicidal by then but she didn’t know that. Almost the first thing she said was, we mustn’t tell your dad. I felt more shame after that. I knew i held a secret that would cause pain to people i loved. I could see this caused pain to my mother, and i wish to this day i had never told her. Afterwards she never spoke of it again and i could not. And most of all what still haunts me is that i feel guilty that i felt so bad for so long about something that i always felt was not ‘real’ rape. He was my boyfriend (of 2 weeks). I laid down with him, of course it was my fault for being so naive, and young and foolish.

Ten years it took to be able to want to live again. I’ll never forget those years of suicidal thoughts and black depressions and all that helpless anger directed at only myself. What a waste! It took the love of a good good man to save me. He never gave up on me and we have been together almost 24 years. He brought me all the way here, 12,000 miles away from the place i was raped and he has looked after me ever since. In fact i have been so well looked after i had pretty much felt that i was done with all of this. even though november 10th is the anniversary of the day i was raped, i now feel happy when that date just slips past instead of the years i spent dreading the memories. But not this year, this year it is everywhere and there’s no escaping this for people like me. It’s hard to have it all dragged up, but i am glad that we are all speaking out. I have felt so alone with my painful shameful secret. But i don’t know what is worse, to be alone with this, or to find i am one of thousands. That my eldest daughter is almost as old as the young victims of the roastbusters puts my radar on high alert, we can’t let this keep on, we must all find our voices even when it’s so painful because this rape culture only thrives on silence. Today i listened to Brave by Sarah Bareilas. It helped me find the courage to write this and for someone who has taken days to begin, i seem to not be able to stop.