I am a lot of things. I am more than the part of me that will come to light through what I share here. We all are.
I am an optimist. Reader. Investigator. Lover of life. I tell jokes. I am a clown. I am a dork. I am someone’s mother. I am a sister and eldest daughter. I am an advocate. I am a seeker of knowledge. I cry a lot, when I’m touched by life’s beautiful moments and when I am aching inside. I am passionate and silly. I am encouraging, peaceful and independent.
I am someone who needs to say something. I am choosing at this time not to reveal identifying details due to ongoing legal issues.
Because of this, I am also a bit broken. I am scared. Smaller than I was. I am quieter. More shy. Wary. I have been depressed. I have harmed myself. Nothing too serious, but more than I should have. Preparing my legal statements and enduring assessments and counselling has become my full time job. I really hope I can quit soon. I used to want to be Prime Minister of Australia. Now I just want to be able to meet people without wishing the floor would swallow me up. I want to reclaim an identity other than this one. My secret. But it is a part of me now. It won’t go away entirely. When I have taken this as far as I can go I will put my experience to good use and make a noise for other people. Because this sucks alone!
I was preyed upon, raped, sexually assaulted and stalked by one of my bosses when I began working in an industry I believed to be my vocation. Someone else was in the room when he overpowered me and made jokes as I tried to fight him off. I struggle with her actions (and inaction) perhaps more than with his. I lived in denial for some time, continuing to go to work with them every day. I was good at my job and I was making a positive impact on the community. But I lay in the bottom of the shower at night and cried. I was so disappointed in myself that I had fallen prey to someone with such manipulative, dark motives.
My previous study and employment had centred around advocacy and and policy making with regard to protecting and empowering children. A couple of years before my nightmare began, I researched and prepared a document on dealing with sexual offenders. I’d studied their behaviour and modus operandi for the best part of twelve months. And I didn’t see that it had been done to me. As an adult. Wasn’t I supposed to be smarter than this? Why the hell weren’t people who knew checking if I was ok? Why did they call me a slut? Warn that no one likes a ‘dobber‘? All the rhetoric about staff well-being and guidelines for behaviour. How come this wasn’t working out like the poster in the tea room suggested? Ah, such a predicament for a giggly, gregarious optimist with a unionist, political brain. I couldn’t process my experience in reality when I knew that laws and supposed protections were in place; in society in general but with particular reference to my occupation.
I was made to feel isolated. I was threatened and bullied. By my rapist and the others in management. No one likes a dobber. I was told that I could not sit with my friends in the tea room because the bullies thought I was ‘talking’ – that they were in danger of being found out. So they isolated me. I was told I could have no conversations with the door to my office closed. That if I could not work ‘professionally’ with the man who raped me and called me and followed me that I had to leave my job. That it wasn’t fair to make all this work for them if I couldn’t ‘get on with it’.
Eight months down the line (and down is where I was) I met an amazing person. This person challenged me to ‘slay my dragons’ and fight to make the world a better place. I thought, mate, you don’t know what you’re about to unleash…and he sure was pretty surprised when I eventually forced out the words.
You should dob in bullies. You must. But you must have someone like this person to confide in. You tell the wrong person and they join the bully, make you feel worse. Or do nothing. In my experience such a trustworthy person took a long time to find. He saved me from my own disintegration. I felt gagged and crushed but he lifted me up. What he said wasn’t even that poignant, nothing profound. He just heard me. And said, That’s not ok. I will help you. I would do anything for this person.
And so began the battle to be heard. The Police, may I say, were amazing. Painfully thorough in their details but ass-kicking like Stabler and Benson. Just who you need at a time like that.
It has been five years since I first met that horrible collection of people. I have had good and bad counselling, a wonderful GP and the women in my family are great. But the reactions and needs of a victim (yuck) of sexual violence and stalking as are individual as them. It has been hard for the few I have kept close to understand me. Why after choking on the enforced silence and turning the hatred onto myself I am now desperate to externalise it. I don’t want to own this shit. It isn’t my fault. It’s theirs. And I’m fighting to deliver it to them so that I may move forward unshackled. I know I deserve that but I know the world isn’t always fair so I’m taking a risk. But if it takes me, you will all know that I pushed and pushed to stand up for myself. Mostly for myself and my sanity, but also in the hope that anyone else who found themselves in a similar position might decide that they will fight also. That they can see there’s a community of individuals who have been through this, experienced all the clichéd responses and pressure to stay quiet or simply go away. No one likes a dobber. But if the community of voices gets louder, it will be easier for the next little voice to speak up. They will know they’re not alone.
I would stand out on the street and say this stuff if I could. But the multi-layered investigations and organisational politics require that I do not do that yet. They’re not finished their fact-finding. Even though the perpetrator pled guilty after he heard me tell every word of the truth to the Court. He knows he’s guilty. No one else is sure yet. It’s a mystery to me.
I want a life. I want to feel lighter again and be able to walk into a room without medication to deal with the anxiety I feel when someone sees me. Men, don’t look my way. I cannot have your eyes on me. Women, don’t judge me. Nobody ask more than my name. You don’t want to hear the answers. I want to be invisible. Like I said, I don’t want to own this bad stuff any more. And a blog seems to me the only way to share and connect. Maybe I can feel better. Maybe I can say something that means someone else feels better. That would be a true gift. At the very least, I want to make a point. I’m nameless at this stage but to those people who hurt me and nearly killed me, I say this:
You can’t hurt me anymore.
You can’t scare me, threaten me, belittle and bully me anymore.
You can’t stop me from saying things out loud.
You can’t gang up on me and intimidate me with your numbers.
I will use my voice and repeat what you did until it is heard and taken seriously. I can keep going. Nothing else is as hard as the humiliation and guilt I endured whilst going along with your shame tactics.
The world is bigger than the group of you who have worked together and blindly backed each other. Normal people do NOT think that what you did was ok.
I am proud to be me, of how far I have taken this already, and how far I know I can go.
You will not defeat me.
So for now, this is my forum to reflect and prepare to fight again. I appreciate every single person who takes a moment of their time to see what I have to say and contribute their thoughts. People NEED to talk about these issues to lessen the burden on those who are suffering in silent anguish. We need to change the balance of power away from the predators and bullies. Away from victim blaming.
I would really value your thoughts, experiences and feedback on anything posted here. It will help me build a better blog and encourage others to talk about the hard stuff. Thanks 🙂
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org