Before, I begin this blog I would like to note a couple of things, I am at the moment in a fragile state, this blog won’t be perfect, I’m not focused on the right things to say because there is no right thing to say. What I will tell you is my truth. My side of the story. My story. If at any time, you feel uncomfortable, triggered or angry please feel free to not continue reading and to click off. I understand what I’m about to speak about is a sensitive subject and I understand that because I’m very sensitive about this subject.
Wednesday, the 28th of March started off just a normal day, I got up, got dressed, went to college, began my normal day. I had a bit of excitement in me as me and my college pals were heading out for one final night for our first year of college, so I was excited for some dancing and laughing. That was the only difference.
Whilst sitting in class, someone adviced that a verdict for the Belfast trail had been realised – acquitted. Here’s a link to an article in case you are unsure of this case.
Inside Court 12: the complete story of the Belfast rape trial
I wasn’t an expert on this case, in fact I stayed away from it. Ever since the #MeToo movement I’ve been struggling with finally open up about my stories and my experiences with sexual abuse. This has been no walk in the park and I have experienced more breakdowns in the last five months than I have in the five years I kept it a secret. Why? Because I was admitting it happened, I was admitting it to myself.
So, instead of diving into this case and getting way too emotionally involved, I stood back and tried my best to focus on myself and dealing with my emotions around my experience.
So, I’m sitting in class and people start having a debate and saying things about the case and for some reason I feel like they are talking to me, that I’m on the stand and everyone is shouting different things at me. Not believing me. Confirming it was my fault. Confirming I was asking for it. I was completely overcome with anger and sadness. People were saying things that were completely wrong in my head and I couldn’t answer. I had to walk out of class. I wasn’t the only one.
If I had a counsellor where I live, then I would have done my best to book a counselling session ASAP. To me, it all became this sad reminder as to why I kept my story to myself for 5 years and why I wasn’t alone in this situation.
My family group chat was blowing up as my family couldn’t believe they hadn’t been found guilty and they couldn’t believe what people were saying online about this girl. It was safe to say they were furious.
There is five woman in my family, my single Mother and us four kiddos. I told one of my sisters what happened me late last year, none of the rest knew, not because they wouldn’t believe me, because one I didn’t want to admit it and two I didn’t want to see the pain that they would go through finding out the truth, because it would affect them too and I know that for a fact, because, if it happened them, I would be destroyed, I would be heartbroken.
I was in a complete panic and I wasn’t sure what to do, every time I looked at my phone there was something about the trial and if I didn’t reply to my family they would think something was wrong with me.
I had to say something. I messaged them saying something like ‘this topic is very close to my heart, I’m finding it hard to think of the right words to say, I have an experience like this and it’s a tough day’, I also explained how I was supposed to be heading out that night and alcohol, me and not expressing myself was not a good mix so I just needed to say something. I needed them to know in that moment. I was fed up keeping it a secret – I didn’t go into details but they now know it’s happened.
Trying to deal with everything, I kept myself off social media and decided to go on my night out but not drink too much. The sad thing is I knew I had to go out because if not I’d be alone in my house with my thoughts and the nasty comments online.
I found myself returning to social media the next day and I was overcome with emotion, there was a lot of positive messages online but the negative ones, they were cruel. Really harsh nasty words. I thought what I thought about myself was bad, I thought your mind was your worst enemy but the trolls online saying their opinions of this poor girl were awful and things I would never imagine anyone saying. How could these people say these things about a human being?
The worst for me was the excuse ‘lads will be lads’ when did lads become an excuse to be an asshole? You can just say and do whatever you want. ‘Being a lad’ is now an excuse for really horrible things. It’s just not good enough.
At the end of the day you can believe what you want about the verdict but none of us were there on that night. However, I’m going to pass onto something my lecturer told me from a psychologist’s view “if that girl was in fact lying and not feeling one bit guilty about bringing these four guys up and dragging their names to the ground – she would be a clinical psychopath and you’re telling me that ruthless defence team wouldn’t be able to find that out? She wasn’t lying. That’s her truth. I believe her.”
Psychopathy, sometimes considered synonymous with sociopathy, is traditionally defined as a personality disorder characterized by persistent antisocial behavior, impaired empathy, impaired remorse, bold, disinhibited, and egotistical traits. That description is from Wikipedia. Here’s a bit more information, again, this is my story and you can make up your own decision on it all
I will note my lecturer is a genius and incredibly emotionally intelligent, he has an open mind and a big heart. He knows what he’s talking about. My research might not be the best – but his is legit.
After seeing the “slut deserved it” comment × 10,000 and way worse than that too many times, I decided I was going to take a break from social media and focus on my mental health.
When I found myself alone on Thursday, I just cried. I kept reliving what happened me over and over again. I kept thinking about the girl.
I kept thinking about what she experienced and everything she’s been through. Where was she? Was she ok? Is she safe? Did she have family and friends around her? Does she know that she’s my hero? She’s all our heroes? She knew she wasn’t going to win, but she got up and fought anyway and that makes her one the bravest people in Ireland right now, in my opinion.
When I experienced sexual abuse, which was twice, by two different men, I was terrified. Each time, I found myself frozen. Unable to move or think. The first time was the worse, I just kept telling myself it will be over soon, it will be over soon, breathe. The second time, I pushed him away and he stayed away but he still slept in my bed. The first time I pushed him away, three times. The second time, I was asleep, I woke up to him inside of me.
When it was over, I lay there in a state of shock. Terrified, exhausted and morified. I would question all the things I did before hand to give the men the impression he could do this. I would think about every outfit I’ve ever worn, every sexual partner I’ve had, every time I spoke about sex, every time I got too drunk and every time I could think of that could possible give these guys the impressions that I would just take it. Because I knew these guys, they weren’t strangers.
The last thing on my mind was getting right up out of the bed to call the police because let’s be honest how do you prove it? I wanted to leave the situation and get in the shower and scrub my skin until I didn’t feel dirty anymore, I wanted to get out of my clothes and destroy them. I instantly knew that what had just happened me no one would believe me. Everyone would think I was being dramatic or I’m only saying that because I was ashamed. I knew that would happen, I could have put money on it. How sad is that? How terrifying is that? I just let it happen, I just let them get away with it because I knew that if I went any further, I’d be on trial not them. What is it Louise O’Neill wrote? “They are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me. I am a liar until I am proven honest.” That is from her book Asking For It, I completely recommend reading it.
This week was a busy week for me, on Friday I had to get the bus back from Limerick to my hometown to celebrate my best friend getting engaged. This was such a happy time for me, I loved this couple and it was the first of my friends to get married so I was over the moon, before Wednesday. I didn’t want to go anywhere, I just wanted to lie in bed and cry. I was doing only one thing, listening to three things on repeat. Three songs, Fletcher – I believe you, Kesha – Praying and Lady Gaga – Til it happens to you. I couldn’t listen to anything else because they were the only three songs that were connecting with me.
When I sat on the bus I said to myself ‘Ok you need to stop this, you’re crying in public, your body is weak and your mind is going into dangerous things let’s stop thinking about it for a little while.’ It was like I gave myself the OK to be OK. So, I put on my favourite podcast – Blindboy’s podcast.
It worked, I found myself laughing, really laughing. I found myself getting lost in his descriptions and stories. However, it was his message at the end that saved me. Before he finished the podcast, he talked about Spring and the beginning of Spring and how we should stop and be in the here and now. He spoke about being mindful and acknowledging the nature around us and the changing of nature at the beginning of Spring. To be in the moment. So, I opened my eyes and looked out the window and the nature around me was beautiful.
As we drove by, I took in the beautiful fields filled with beautiful cows all together as if they were all at a restaurant, eating the grass and sitting with friends. I noticed the beautiful trees that stood in each field. Big trees. I noticed the light that comes through at the top of the trees, trying to escape through the leaves. I thought to myself what a wonderful world. I thought what a picture this would all make.
There is beauty in taking your head out of your phone and looking around you. That saved me. I went home and went out with friends and even though I wasn’t 100% myself, I was able to go there and for moments I was able to take my mind in other places by just listening to others.
Being honest, after the meal, I was ready to go home, I didn’t want to be there, not because I wasn’t around people I wanted to be around, because I wanted to be at home. We found ourselves in the smoking area chatting when a group of boys walked in shouting, one boy walked in screaming “I believe him” referring to the the trail, he was making movements to show he had someone bent over in front of him and he was having sex with them whilst also spanking them, shouting “I believe him”. I seen my friends look at me. I remained silent. I told myself, he was nothing to me, I am here with friends, I am ignoring that asshole. I am not letting him in. So, I didn’t but I couldn’t close my ears or eyes to what he was doing.
I found myself only drinking three cocktails and choosing to drink water because I wanted to be sober, but that’s because I didn’t really want to drink this year anyway, but I appreciate a cocktail. However, when I started drinking the water – my night got a lot better. Although, we were trying to dance, a group of five girls and we ended up having to leave the dance floor because there was a couple of guys who wouldn’t leave us alone. But there was one, who really wouldn’t stop, old enough to be our Dad’s, trying to grab us in areas and my friend asked him to please stop and dance somewhere else, what did he do? Pull her in for a kiss. The mood was definitely ruined, so we went back and sat down and danced around in our seats.
Saturday, the next day, I needed to get up at 8am after going to bed after 4am – which made me very glad I was not hungover. I was still a bit all over the place because there was a reason I was getting up so early. I was getting up to March. A little bit about the march..
Thousands March In I Believe Her Rallies In Belfast And Dublin
I was very unsure about marching, not because I didn’t believe in the cause, because I knew I still wasn’t completely facing up to what was happening to me and I was afraid I would be surrounded by the word ‘rape’ all day which may turn into me having a breakdown. Thinking about the march was giving me anxiety like I’ve never felt before. I was really unsure what to do.
But I got up and went, I’m not sure why but something inside of me said ‘go’. I got there with my Momma, my sisters and my cousin and once we arrived at city hall and seen people standing there with their signs in solidarity with each other I felt empowered. I felt that it was very important I was there. My sister made me a sign that said ‘Girl, I believe you, me too’ a lyric from Fletcher and someone handed me a sign that said ‘Stand with Survivors’ so I stuck that to the back.
I seen someone say on Facebook before my break complaining about the march saying the verdict was out and we can’t change the justice system. They were missing the point, the march was for her but also for every survivor who has come forward and being treated like a criminal and for every survivor who never told their story because of fear. As a survivor, it was the first time since it happened that I didn’t feel alone.
Since, what happened me I have been screaming on the inside, on Saturday, I was silent as I stood beside people who believed, who believed in equality. Who believed in ending rape culture.
As we listened to the speeches, I took in every word as they spoke, as people stood up and told their stories, tears fell from eyes, we were in this together. One said “On the days you don’t believe yourself, I believe you”, another one said “tell your story, tell it, say it out loud” and I heard every word.
We want to end this. Time is up. A woman or a man should not be afraid to walk places alone, of what they are wearing incase someone believes it’s an invitation or they should not be afraid of telling a court of law what happened and be treated like they were lying. They also should not be treated by other people on social media like they are less than a human.
The march was sending a message that we stand with survivors and to please not be afraid to tell your stories. It was a plead that we need more education about consent from school onwards and we need that education now. If I had of know more about consent, I might have done more, I could have had the information to go forward with my story. But, also, it may not have happened because the boys would have known what they were doing was not ok and they could have asked me and I would have said no. Who knows, but if education stops this happening to people, that’s all that mattered. If I could know that people won’t have to live with the fear that lives instead me, then I would live in a happier, safer world.
I want to bring children into the world who know that they have the right to their body and that if people take advantage of them, they can seek help and justice and people will not slam them.
I’m still going through something very hard and I’m being more in the moment and connecting with nature and healing my soul. I’m staying away from social media and baring my soul in writing.
This is my story. This is my perception. If you have followed the case and believe the boys and have no empathy towards the girl, I’m going to ask you one thing and you can choose to ignore me but I need to ask.. Please choose your words wisely. When you choose to leave a comment online or say something to someone remember kindness is the best way, remember you don’t know what someone has been through and you don’t know what they’re going through so remember that before you say something negative.
If you are reading this and you have experienced some forms of sexual abuse or harassment, I am here with you. I stand with you. You are not asking for it. You deserve better. I believe you.
I’m not over it, this week has showed me that but Saturday was a reminder that I’m not alone in this world and I feel that a change is coming. People are done screaming on the inside and they are screaming on the outside. Please listen before you disagree. Listen to the pain.
Thank you for reading this. Thank you for your constant support. I wrote this blog as a therapy session. I wrote it to express myself. I hope you don’t mind.
Lots of love. X