Sunday, 4 September 2011

GUEST POST - My Darkest Hour: How it Felt to be Sexually Assaulted ♥

Hello to all of Charlotte’s lovely readers,
my name is Emma-Louise and I write the blog From Fallenangel to Yummymummy:
I am a single mum to a cheeky little 11 month baby boy called Cameron and have just finished a four year event management degree, hoping to set up my own wedding and event business in 2012.
My blog is about all things in my life, there is a bit of mummy stuff but I also have lots of beauty, OOTW, reviews and general ramblings along with updates on my life.
I was so pleased when Charlotte gave me an opportunity to write a guest post for her as I love her blog, it is one of my favourites and she always has so many interesting things to say.
I hope I don’t bring too much gloom to the page with my post!

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, and your ability to ever truly let your guard down.
When the guy who assaulted me touched me, he affected my life forever. 
Now, over two years later, I am only just beginning to put the incident in my past. 
Two summers ago, in June 2009, I was working in London whilst on my degree placement with a catering and events company.
The company itself was based in Southampton but we were working at Wimbledon so I was commuting from Bournemouth each day and it was hard work and very long hours.
At the end of the first week the companies had a night out planned. My manager managed
 to get me and my friend Sam a hotel room for the night, so that we could go out with the rest of the staff. 

View from Hotel Room
Hotel Room

I had barely eaten all day as I found it hard to eat whilst working.
This meant that by the time
I got to the hotel and we had a pre drink of pink champagne, with the manager, and 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 at the venue, 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. 

On the night out with Sam 

We ended up in a club called Revolutions and I ended up kissing one of the firemen, Jason. I don't remember much after that as I was pretty out of it, and soon after I ended up getting a taxi back to the hotel with Sam, who I was sharing the 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 of 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. I don’t live in London and I was terrified of what might happen to me in the situation I had got myself in.
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 up 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 without speaking.
I am still not entirely sure how he knew which room mine was, as I didn’t know the number myself.  He didn’t seem ashamed of what he had done, or worried about the consequences, and he even knocked on the door and waited for Sam to let me back in the room.
When I got back in the room I just lay down in bed and went to sleep.

It was only when I woke up in the morning that I remembered what had happened. I told Sam and she 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 had ever 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, especially as I would never have consented, drunk or not, to letting him touch me.

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, previous to my attack. I spoke to my mum on the phone, 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, which was lovely of him).
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
  him apologising for my behaviour on the night out. B
y 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.

My flowers  

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, so needed. 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 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 occasion. 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 else’s 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 drunken men, thinking the worst of all of them and making me seem unfriendly. 

Me, that Summer, ready for a night out with a friend
I feel that sexual assault is a really serious crime and should be taken more seriously.
It is little wonder that the majority 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.

It has now been just over two years since I was assaulted. 
This year, on the same day, I gathered up the courage and went out on a date. It helped take my mind off memories, and it was a nice night, another step in getting over my fear of men, but it didn’t go anywhere and I am still single for the time being.

Recently there was an event called ‘Slutwalk’, after a comment was made that women dressing provocatively is an invitation for a man to do as he pleases. 
As I was wearing very little when I was assaulted (due to being in bed previously), I felt strongly against these comments and am pleased so many others feel the same as me and stood up for women wearing what they want, without it meaning a free pass for men to take advantage of them.

If you have been sexually assaulted, I would urge you to contact the police and report it, however little faith you have in the system, as it could prevent the same thing happening to another woman. 
But, more importantly, I would encourage you to speak to a doctor or a councillor as that is how I have finally managed to move on from my attack. 
Keeping something like that inside can really destroy you.
Emma-Louise Parry


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