It was so quiet. The kind of quiet when the house is empty, the windows are closed and you’re alone, just breathing. Only I wasn’t alone. He was there. All 6ft 2in of him with his strong muscles and broad shoulders. He was there, above me, around me, inside me and the only response I had was the slow trail of quiet tears falling down my cheek, onto the pillow.
Seventeen years later I can still remember how the room looked. It was fairly big with large windows along one wall that looked out of a car park surrounded by tall dark trees. The sky was a dark black. I remember it as black, not as a dark blue like it can sometimes be, but truly black. Without light, without warmth. In the room itself the main light is on and I squint as it blinds me with its brightness. The floor is a blue lino and the furniture is a hodgepodge of old wooden furniture in various shades of brown. The bed we’re on is a futon that has definitely seen better days. The mattress is thin and the springs beneath it, unrelenting in their desire to poke through the surface. There’s no sheet, just a few blankets and two thin, cheap pillows. It is not a room of luxury but a room of essentials, necessities.
In the movies these events are always physically explosive. There’s pushing, shoving, ripping of clothes, bruises and cuts, there’s screaming and yelling. This wasn’t that. This was quiet.
At first I said things like ‘no, I’m not in the mood’, ‘not tonight’, ‘maybe tomorrow’, ‘please, let’s just go to sleep’. But he wouldn’t stop. He kept begging, telling me I’d enjoy it, that he could get me in the mood, that he’d had a hard day and just wanted to feel better. When that didn’t work he just started to manhandle me. Not aggressively, just sort of gentle but insistent. He opened my legs, lay himself between them, lifted my knee up to his hips. I said ‘no’, I’m sure I did. I asked him to stop but he didn’t and then I gave up. He was so big, he was drunk and I didn’t want a fight. Where would I have gone if we did? We were in a foreign land and I had no one to run to. He knew that. So I stopped saying no and just went quiet.
It took a long time. He was struggling to find his rhythm and a position that he liked. He kept moving me like some old, long forgotten rag doll. I just kept looking out of those windows, at the black sky while quiet tears continued to fall. His hot alcohol scented breath hitting my cheek and the occasional grunt as he finds his pleasure. After twenty minutes he was done. He mostly rolled off me and fell immediately into a drunken sleep. I crawled out from under him and walked slowly to the bathroom. As quietly as possible, so as not to wake him, I ran a scalding hot bath and climbed in. I sat in that bath until the water was cold and I was shivering. Then I climbed out, walked back into the room where he snored, put on my old pyjamas and quietly got into bed next to him because where else was I going to go?
In the days and weeks after this happened a few more times but by then I was nothing more than a shell of myself. I allowed him to do as he pleased, counting the days until we would be returning home, to my mum. I never told anyone, I just stayed quiet.
It wasn’t like the movies. It was so much less physical and loud but for all that, it still felt violent. I had been violated and not just physically. My whole self had been hollowed out and it felt like I could never be myself again. He took something from me that first time. He took a piece of me and he didn’t even have the decency to carry it with him. He just tossed it aside as he denied what he’d done.
I have had no contact with this man for seventeen years and yet I still have a worry inside me that someday I’ll turn a corner and he’ll be there. I have no proof of what happened to me. My life choices since and the memories I hold inside are the only proof of what happened. In the eyes of the law he is and always will be innocent, but to me with only myself as a witness, I know he is guilty and that is a heavy weight to bear. I will never get justice, I will never even get an acknowledgement but I am not going to be quiet anymore. I am going to talk. I am going to talk to my children, I am going to talk to my friends, I will even talk here in my blog for anyone to read should they stumble upon it, but I will not stay quiet anymore.