His hands were all over me, touching me, kissing me, I did all I could to push him off, but he was stronger than I was. The word ‘no’ stuck in my throat, as he pushed me into the living room, and continued his attack.
I closed my eyes, doing my best to block it all out. I lay crumbled on the floor, as he stood, done, and told me not to mention it to anyone, or next time it would be worse. I did not dare to open my eyes until I heard the door click shut. Even then, I did not move from the floor. I had laid there all night, not daring to move in case he did as he said he would, and come back. Every noise, made my heart race, my skin crawl. I stood, finally and checked the front door, and put the chain across. Not that it made me feel any safer.
I then climbed the stairs and took a long hot shower, as the first sprinkle of water hit my head, did the tears fall. I sat in the bath and cried until no more tears were possible to leave my body. Scrubbing my body raw, did nothing to make me feel better. I know my friends would tell me to report this attack, but I was too scared to tell anyone, to ashamed.
I unplugged my phone, removed my battery from my phone, climbed into bed and hid beneath the covers.
I don’t know how long I was there, minutes, hours, days, but I refused to move from the cave I had hidden myself in. When I heard hammering on the door, I hid further in my cave. He was back, to do it again, or worse. What was worse, than violating me?
Then I heard his voice, calling I can only assume through the letterbox. I wanted to go down, let him in, tell him everything. We were only just starting a relationship, and now I was too scared to let it happen. To let my love for him show. I wanted him to go, leave me alone.
I closed my eyes, pulled the duvet over my head, and hid away from the sounds of his voice.
Until I felt a presence in the room, and then someone removed the duvet from me, I screamed, scared he was back, telling him no, not again.
“Julie, it’s me, Natalie…”
I opened my eyes, saw her face, she took one look at me and pulled me to her.
“What happened, Julie please tell me?”
I couldn’t speak, the words I wanted to say, were not leaving me, I could only cry. It was then I saw him, Ben in the doorway, tears in his own eyes. He knew something had happened, but not the what.
“Please tell me,” Natalie repeated.
I shook my head. “I can’t, he will come back.”
“Who, who will come back.”
I threw my hand over my mouth, I had said more than I meant, now I had begun, the words tumbled from my lips. The name of my attacker, the man who raped me.
“I’ll kill him,” Ben said, not sure whether to comfort me, or not.
“We need to call the police, Julie, he needs to pay for what he has done.”
“I know hun, but it’s for the best, where are the clothes you were wearing.”
It was then I had to admit I was wearing so little, it was my fault.
“It is not your fault at all,” Ben began.
He held me, but I pushed him away, it was far too soon. I heard Natalie tell him, to give me time.
Everything that came next happened in a blur, the police, the invasive prodding, pictures and telling the same story over and over again. Days passed, sleeping did not come easy, I could not go back home. In fact, Ben insisted I stay at his place, which felt odd at first, since he lived at home with his parents. They were understanding and did not want me home alone either. Meeting them for the first time under these circumstances was not exactly how either of us would have planned it.
They insisted I stay for as long as I needed. I knew I never wanted to go back to that place again. I had not wanted to leave Jessie, but Ben went back every day to feed her. Work were good about it all, understanding, but I was worried, that they would believe his word over mine.
I had to go back, but when, when would I feel ready to go back to the same place he worked. I knew he was still there walking the halls like he owned the place and had done nothing wrong.
Ben’s mother sat me down one afternoon and told me we needed to talk. I felt shaky, she wanted me out of there. I had out stayed my welcome, waking up in the middle of the night screaming, must take its toll.
“Julie, don’t look worried, I am not kicking you out. I would never do that to you, I do have something we need to talk about.”
“Yes, it’s been two months since…and honey, there is something I think you need to think about.”
“Yes, I want to ask you something.”
“When was your last period?”
I frowned at her, that was an odd question to ask me, why would she ask me such a thing. I had not even thought about it. I couldn’t recall the last time.
“You know why I am asking you, don’t you?”
I shook my head, no.
“I think you do.”
“No, I don’t.”
“I think you do, but I can understand why you wouldn’t want to.”
I shook my head again.
“I think you need to take a test, it could be stress of course, but I think you already know deep down, it’s not.”
“If and I mean it, if I am, I don’t want it.”
“I can understand that, but what if, and I mean it’s a possibility that if you are its Ben’s.”
“I don’t know if even that would make me keep it.”
“Julie, let’s worry about that once you take this test.”
She nodded, opening a cupboard beside her, she removed a box and handed it to me.
“You know what to do.”
I took the box, and thanked her, for everything. I really hoped that the test was negative. The next two minutes were the longest of my life, and waiting to look at the stick, my fear was there, in two pink lines. If I had not been raped the feeling I should be having was not of sadness, but of happiness.
The tears fell and I could not stop them, two taps on the door, alerted me, Ben’s mother was on the other side. She told me it would be okay, everything would be okay.
She knew, she knew I was.
“Come on out Julie, there is no need to hide away. Let’s take this one step at a time.”
I opened the door, and she held me as I continued to cry on her shoulder.
“Should we tell Ben together,” she said.
I did not want to tell anyone else. I told her to not say anything, I needed to go to work, see them first, talk to them about more time off. I was not ready to go back.
His mother said she would come with me, and I could not thank this woman who had taken me into her home and taken care of me. Having no mother of my own, she took on that role. She was an amazing lady, Ben and I were not even an actual couple, or were we. We cared deeply for one another, but I did not want him to feel that he had been stuck with me.
The corridors seemed longer as we walked down them; I felt eyes were on me, but not sure if they really were. Then I saw him, walking towards me, smiling. He was smiling at me, he had the nerve to smile at me. I wanted to go over there and wipe that smile off his face.
He moved towards me, closer, until he was in my personal space.
“You won’t get away with it, you know, Julie! I warned you,” he said, leaning in towards me.
“Get away from me,” I screamed.
“Is that him,” Ben’s mother asked, as she stood between us. “Get away, how dare you speak to her, you will pay for what you have done.”
“Done, I did nothing, she has been the one harassing me.”
“That’s a lie,” I said. Tears falling freely once again, it seemed all I did was cry.
“Don’t let him get to you, come on.”
I was glad his mother had come along, I was not strong enough to do this alone. The look on his face. He lied to my face, but tried to scare me, which he did, but now I was pregnant, something in that moment changed in me. I did not want to keep it if I could have guaranteed it was his, but she was right, it could also be Ben’s. I suddenly felt very protective of this baby growing inside me.
The door to the office of my boss was there before me, I knocked, and was soon asked to take a seat.
“Julie, are you ready to come back. Has this whole situation blown over?”
“Blown over, no, not until he has paid, been sent to jail for his crime.”
“Julie, are you sure you want to go down that road.”
“Yes, I won’t let him get away with it,” I said.
“Right, okay, we will back you all the way, I just needed to make sure you wanted to do this.”
“I do. He cannot get away with it.”
“No, you are right there. I want to let you know there are some that think he is innocent, and others of course that believe you.”
“And you, you don’t believe.”
“It’s not my place to say which one I am, I am your boss and will support you all the way. My opinion does not matter at all.”
“But it does, if you and others do not believe me, how am I going to get others to. I am and never have lied, not about something like this.”
“Can I be honest?”
“He came to see me, told me, you have been following him, trying to get him to go out with him. So this is why you made this lie up.”
“I see, and he sweet talked you, made you feel special. So it must be a lie.”
“I didn’t say that, but he looked me in the eye and told me, that he did not do it.”
“And I am doing the same, and telling you he did it. He did rape me, and I am not going to go away and hide, not any more.”
“Good for you,” I heard Ben’s mother say.
“Return to work when you are ready, but I also have to tell you, that you only have so much sick pay left.”
“I know, I just need a little more time.”
“Okay, I am just a phone call away.”
We left her office, and walked down the corridor, a woman passed us, looking directly at me, I frowned. That was odd, maybe she was one of the ladies who did not believe what had happened. I could only guess that the story of what had happened was all around the hospital.
It did not matter, not any more, I knew the truth and he would pay.
I returned to a week later, I needed to get back to some kind of normality. I had a lawyer and my case would be going to court. He wanted justice, as much as I did. He did not believe a word Richard said. I was worried about seeing him in the halls, but I had to go back, I needed to work. I had to find a new place to live, I had boxed up my place, and planned to sell it. I could never live there again.
Ben agreed, he wanted us to find a place together, but I was not sure about that, all I knew was, that I did not want to live on my own. I had no idea if we were a real couple. We had not really spoken about it, but I still had to tell him my other news. I did not want him to feel we had to be a couple because of it.
My first day back, I sat in my car, looking at the hospital, when I heard knocking on the window, for a moment I was frozen in fear. Until I looked to my left and saw a woman, she looked familiar. I rolled my window down. She lent down and asked if she could get in, there was something she needed to talk to me about.
“Get in,” I said.
She was trembling, and she started to talk, words tumbling from her lips. Her story so much like mine, it seemed I was not his first victim. She knew no one would have believed her, so she had kept quiet.
“Will you come forward?” I asked. “It will help my case.”
“I want to, but I am scared.”
“Yes, I am.”
“Me too, but I won’t let him win.”
“No, me either, okay I will come forward. I wanted to come forward before, I saw you in the corridor, I wanted to tell you I knew the truth.”