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Jun 20

Lindsay’s Story: from Valentine’s Day to Vagina Monologues

lindsay
I first learnt about WYR in February and it has taken me a few months to get the momentum to share my story. To talk about it in depth again brings up horrifying and a massive disconnect for me.

The assault I endured happened back in February 2007. The night started on a “fun” Valentine’s girl’s night out in Notting Hill in London. Because I had that association of Valentine’s day, I had avoided or wanted to avoid the entire weekend altogether. My assault happened in the early hours of the 15th February. I now celebrate Valentine’s Day and enjoy the time and let the 15th slip by with as little attention drawn to it. Until this year that is when I celebrated the 15th to mark the eight year anniversary.

In 2007 I was studying at a drama school in London, where I am from, for my Masters Degree. I was at the drama school of my dreams and even though it was a tough transition from my BA Degree and I was struggling financially I was still super proud of myself for doing it and managing. It was when I started my MA that I found out I was dyslexic and so my struggles were tough but I was learning to deal with them and I was catching up with my peers.

However six months into my degree my life got tougher and my world felt like it was crashing down. I had a girlfriend, S., staying with me, she was such a cool Australian girl I had meet years before when living in Spain on an exchange program and I thought we were really close but the more I got to know her later on in the relationship the more I realized she was tremendously superficial. Not someone I usually connect with. Any moment she got to put me down she took it. I knew she was a friend I needed to fizzled out of my life and that is what I started to slowly do.
S. had lived in Bermuda for a few years and she was staying with me while she was figuring out her next step.

Valentine’s day we meet up with some of S.’s Aussie friends and in the second part of the evening we meet A., a guy S. knew and I had met him twice before. A., a very wealthy Bermudian guy who owned a private members only club in the heart of London. We had partied with him before, one of A.’s friends, J., who I had meet the previous October was at the club this Valentine’s day. As soon as I saw J. my heart sank and as soon as he saw me he made a beeline for me. I immediately turned on my heel to talk to anyone who was around.

The first time I meet this guy J. he was attempting to dance with me and didn’t care about invading my space at all. He was all up in my jam even when I asked him to back off. I was getting the stink eye from a girl across the room, turned out to be his girlfriend! Urgh, Fast forward four months to Valentine’s Day J. no longer had a girlfriend as he started hitting on me once again. He gave me a drink that was so strong I didn’t even attempt to drink it.

I find the events leading up to the assault confusing because even though J. was in my space, he was very awkward to converse with. I attempted to get away from him multiple times but sure enough he would eventually find me again. But when he was around me it’s not like he attempted to really talk to me.

The club was closing and A. and S. wanted to head out some place else. I had to work at my retail job first thing in the morning and therefore I did not want to go. S. however begged me and I did not want to leave her by herself, I also did not want to travel back to North London at 3am by myself. Conundrum. I decided to stay with her. A decision I regret to this day.

S. said we were going to go to a casino in South Kensington that we had been to a few weeks beforehand. That was one of the only reason I agreed, I knew the place and I knew vaguely how to get home from there. As the taxi driver took us past Harrods and sites I knew and loved, J. kept turning around to stare at me and to try and get my attention. The more he did it the more I ignored him and wanted to just leave. The taxi pulled up and we were not at the casino but at A.’s apartment. Alarm bells are going off all around me and I am still so mad at myself. I had a gut feeling that I should not be there and it was incredibly strong but I did not listen to it. I was so focused on making sure my friend was OK as well as attempting to not seem like a stig in the mud, which apparently I was coming across as to S.

We are all just hanging out in A.’s apartment, I kept going to the bathroom to text my friend K. about how annoying the night was and how J. was being. I was sober and alert and everything leading up to the assault was so clear.

As we sat around a table A. and S. were flirting and J. kept trying to get my attention and eventually gave me a drink, which I took small sips of. S. wanted to play strip poker but it wasn’t strip poker it was, ‘whoever drew a high card had to take an item of clothing off’. The voice in my head was screaming at this point and I excused myself from the game, everyone including S., (who was already in her underwear), starting yelling at me to stop being so boring. I made a joke about taking out my hair tie and that’s as good as it got.

It wasn’t good enough and so I played, and I hate myself for playing. I hate myself because I didn’t listen to myself and at the age of twenty three I had always been to most straight laced girl. I got down to my underwear and I drew the line at that. I left the table and I walked upstairs to the balcony that was overlooking the table. I lent over and I started to quote Titanic to S. The last thing I remember was lowering myself to the ground, then blackout from then until about 11am.

I woke up naked in a bed covered in red liquid. It went over my head to my crotch. I thought I had wet myself but it turned out that it was vomit. My clothes were next to the bed on the floor. I went to the bathroom and when I went to pee I had a burning sensation, it was so incredibly painful. I was so embarrassed, I thought I had passed out and made a fool of myself. Then I remembered I only had over half a drink, how had I been so drunk? I got dressed, saw my phone, S. text me to tell me that she “thinks I had been sick” and that I should the sheets in the wash. S. had left me? As I made my way down stairs and I saw a timid looking A., S. called me. She then told me that J. and I had had sex. What?!?! I couldn’t even talk to him! I denied it and she said that her and A. had heard us. I crumbled to the floor in front of A. and started whispering how I couldn’t have and how she must have been wrong.

I left that apartment so fast after I thought I had been rude to A. – totally British reaction. I called my work, who had left voice mail after voice mail, I told them I was on my way. I went via my drama school to get a change of clothes from my locker and to Boots a pharmacy to spend thirty pounds on a Plan B, that thirty pounds ($60) was two weeks of food money for me.

As I arrived to work, my manager, a cool Australian woman asked what had happened as it was out of character for me to be four hours late for a shift. I told her what had happened and broke down. I had no fucking idea what had happened.

She told me not to trust S. as friends don’t just leave you like that. She also told me I should go to the hospital. Shit was getting real. Why would I go to the hospital? What would happen then? I didn’t even know this guy’s last name.

S. was waiting for me at home and all I could do was be silent as I took a shower. As I got out I showed I found scratches on each side of my hips and one of my neck shoulder. S. took my shoulders in her arms and told me “you need to forget about last night, it never happened, block it from your mind”. Forget what happened? And why was S. being so blunt about it all?

I curled up into a ball and I cradled my knees to my chest and sobbed on my bed. What was I missing? Why could I not remember anything? Was this my fault? Why was I shaking and feeling physically sick?

S. slept on my floor as I lay awake all night. I went into the kitchen and called my friend K. again, she told me like my manager had done, to go to the hospital first thing in the morning. I woke before S. and left to go to the hospital in Hampstead Heath, close to my drama school. There was no way I was telling S. what I was doing. I had a gut feeling that she would try and stop me and I already dismissed my gut feeling and look what happened. It was time I had to trust myself.

As I walked up to the hospital I called my sister who yelled at me as I had woken her up and she had just come off a twelve our shift working as a paramedic. I couldn’t stop my trembling lip and I told her what had happened and silence. This was getting more real by the minute. She told me to go to the hospital, which I was at by this point and to go to the police. As I hung up to go into the hospital the receptionist was being awkward and saying there were no openings. I said it was an emergency and she again made a snide remark until I slammed my hand down on the counter and by this point the tears are pouring, I cannot talk properly and I told her that I had to see someone right now. To which she sent me in to see the Doctor right away.

It is as if I were the only one who couldn’t see what had happened, I was trying to deny what had happened but as soon as I told the Doctor she made an appointment for that evening at the Haven Clinic in Paddington. At this point I had not uttered the words rape, the doctor said it for me. She examined my body and she didn’t doubt it. So now I had to get through the day until 6pm to go to the next clinic. My day was a blur, the tears wouldn’t stop and all I remember was that I was in a motion and I couldn’t stop. I knew what I had to do and I knew how to do it and nothing else seemed to matter anymore.

I went to the clinic and I sat there and talked to the two women who were helping me. I apologized for what I thought was “wasting their time”, I told them I had played “strip poker” even though I was still in underwear and whatever had happened I must have deserved it. They both looked at each other and dismissed what I said and cuddled me as my body just collapsed. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before, why was it happening now? I kept asking, “what had I done that was so terrible that I deserved this?.” The women were so utterly amazing, I send them amazing thoughts and vibes as I possibly can.

Time for the physical and two hours of prodding and touching, measuring my scratches and how deep they broke the surface. The pain was unbearable. I had never experienced such pain before. What the fuck had this guy done? Was it just him? All these questions and I had and no answers. The women from the Haven told me to go to the police first thing in the morning, the exam was done, there was no doubt that this was non-consensual sex.

The emotions I felt were so great I had no idea how to digest them. I had just been raped but I don’t remember any of it. What the fuck !?!? My sister was about an hour and a bit away on the train, my friends were scattered across London and my mum and dad were living in Spain. For the first time in my adult life I felt well and truly alone.

When I got home from the clinic S. didn’t even ask where I had been, she was pissed as I had the key and she had missed a date. My feelings of distaste were surely growing and growing for S. Who was this girl? Why did she not seem to give two shits about me and what had happened? It messed my head up so much that someone could be so carefree about something so huge. S. made me question what was happening. She was acting like nothing had happened, should I have been acting the same? But how could I when I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t sleep and stop crying? What on earth was happening to me? Was I overacting? Did I just have my first one night stand and I was ashamed of myself? Is that what happens when people have one night stands they just don’t remember? I was so confused my brain couldn’t handle it.

The next morning I got up after a sleepless night and I got the bus ten minutes to Golders Green Police Station. I was very matter of fact when I was talking to the policeman and I was telling the story as if it had happened to someone else and not myself. I was very stone faced about it until the officer asked me, “what do you remember?” and then I lost it. I cried and cried when I said I couldn’t remember anything. Today was the day S. was moving out of my flat too.

After an hour plus the policeman told me to go home and wait for a call. Two police women were coming to pick me up. When they collected me they drove me the forty minutes to South Kensington to where the assault happened. I was fine talking to them, until we got to the apartment building where I saw the David Lloyd gym that was attached to the building. I lost it yet again. What was going on? It’s as if I couldn’t control my emotions. The police women drove right past and then again assured me that what had happened was wrong, this was an assault and that I was correct in reporting it. What was I reporting? I was so lost. So terribly lost.

I confided in one of my gay male friends at drama school and I ended up staying at his flat in Kilburn for almost two weeks. I couldn’t bear myself to go home by myself to an empty flat. S. had also left a bag of her stuff at mine. I didn’t want to see anything relating to her. I was so angry that she had left me and that she had been so whatever about everything after that I could not be around anything of hers.

The following day, now two days since the assault, I got a phone call from a policewoman saying that they had gone into A.’s apartment and taken the bedding that I had washed, gone through all his stuff, basically turned his place upside down while he was out. He got back from clubbing to find the police waiting with the apartment staff there apparently. S. called me yelling at me down the phone. This made my spine stand tall and for the first time I got mad at her. What the fuck was she doing?

The phone calls back and fourth to the police were insane. The women I was talking to told me, J. had denied we had sex, I then broke down and said “who had sex with me then?” then he had said later that we had had sex but neither of us came. (?) So that makes it ok? What did that even mean? Then he said we had been making out on the sofas in the living room below. So I would have had to have gone back downstairs to then return back upstairs? None of this was adding up. I also had heard that when the police went to A.’s apartment again to speak with A., J. apparently hid upstairs until they left. J. was later arrested and questioned.

I finally made my way to Notting Hill Police Station. Notting Hill station was taking over as it was in their borough. I went in and I now had two set officers, M. and H. dealing with my case. M. was young and super sweet. H. was a big fierce bull and her and I butt heads multiple times.

They told me that S.’s stories had changed a few times. Apparently she had said she couldn’t remember anything like me. She then said she heard J. and I have sex, then it changed to she saw us have sex. That made my stomach churn. This was getting seedier and seedier and the thought of someone watching something like that disgusted me. Who were these people? What was their deal? I had previously thought that S. was not telling the whole truth and this made me think she knew more than she was letting on. It wasn’t adding up. It was as if we were best friends and after this she had turned and all she cared about was that the two guys were ok.

J. I found out later was an investment banker for a well known firm. Urgh. Everything I disliked in guys, he was the walking, talking, breathing of it. A., I knew was the son of a Bermudian billionaire, but for me there was no attraction. S., I had always known was obsessed with money and getting a rich guy. I just always thought it was a phase as she was never rich. Now I was thinking deep dark thoughts, for example somehow she was involved?

In this time I found out that A. and J. had gone to Jamaica for two weeks. There I was, back in my flat in North London putting chairs against my door being scared when I heard a knock on the door and here were these two guys, one who was arrested for rape, in Jamaica! It made me feel like the biggest piece of shit. I felt that S. didn’t care what had happened and that I was slowly going insane.

A month passed and my case was finally dismissed. J. had been arrested but nothing had come of it except a very stern slap on the wrist. H. turned to me and said, “in my opinion, I had been too drunk, in her opinion I had consented.” I had kept my shit together through the majority of this case but when H. said that to me I lost it. I got so mad, I was crying and yelling at her, what about the scars that I still had a month later? How was it that I still couldn’t urinate without having pain? How could she explain any of it? She couldn’t.

Amy saw me to the gate and as she let me out she said, “it’s not that we don’t believe you, it’s just we don’t have enough evidence.”

I made a formal complaint about H. and took it as far as I could.

After the case was thrown out I walked from Notting Hill police station through Hyde Park to Oxford Street. It was overcast out but I was wearing sunglasses because I didn’t want people to see my tears. I stopped in Hyde Park and for the first and only time in my life I contemplated suicide. Who was I? Who had I become? Never in a million years was I someone who even thought about suicide. I disgusted myself. I didn’t recognize myself anymore and I didn’t like who I was anymore. I wasn’t eating, I had lost 14 pounds in less than a month, I was never hungry however food was something I had control over and so I controlled it as much as I could. I also felt so much guilt and I think subconsciously I was punishing myself.

My family at this point were all behind me and so were the friends I had told but it didn’t seem enough anymore. My parents couldn’t discuss it with me, my mother just started to cry any time I bought it up.

S. attempted contact a few times and I did see her maybe twice after this and then never again since. She seemed too transparent after this event. Turned out S. had been working as an escort and mutual friends of ours helped me through it. Both of those mutual friends had been raped too.

I started the journey of therapy and talking to friends, for the next six years I didn’t stop talking about it in therapy.

After I finished my Masters in comedy acting, I didn’t feel very comedic after this however I still managed to pass, I moved to LA and feel in love with the comedy scene out here. When my visa expired I made it my goal to move back. In the time I was working on my visa I travelled to Australia and finally made my way back to London. Panic attacks started as I returned to London and I started therapy once again. As I settled back into London life for the next year I meet a bunch of new friends and many who had been through assaults. We are still close friends to this day. Turned out that year in London was one of the funnest years I have had. It was so much fun. I did however have struggles, I was still thinking about the assault everyday and I found J. on Facebook and I had bombarded him with email after email I never received anything back but it was an outlet that I gave myself until one day I didn’t feel the need to write to him any more.

Through the years my emotions have been so weird, I honestly turned into someone I did not recognize. I tried every single day for about two years or a little over. I had to talk about the event to my whoever would listen besides my therapist. I talked and talked and talked. Until six years later I bored myself. I realized I had been walking through life doing great things but being a zombie about it. I was there but I wasn’t, I wasn’t 100% present in anything I was doing. My head was so messed up because I didn’t know what happened, I didn’t have answers and I had three people just tell me it was ok, J. had also told the police I was a slut, yes because that was true…not. That comment made me so angry because it made me realize, it doesn’t matter about your past. I had only slept with three guys, all in long term relationships, but that didn’t work in my favor. And who’s to say if someone with a long sexual history it is ok to get attacked? That’s OK then? Of course it’s not. Rape is rape and it’s a life changing experience.

In 2010 I moved back to LA and even though it took me about a year plus into the trip to really put it to rest I slowly started to become happy again. I wasn’t thinking about it 24/7, I started dating and eventually married and now the assault seems like a lifetime ago.

I still did from time to time look the people up on Facebook or Instagram and then blocked them completely to stop myself doing it anymore. I think the thing that always got me so mad is that, and this is mainly to do with my friend, is that S. just has everyone fooled. It took me longer to get over that aspect of the assault than the assault itself. The assault I don’t remember, I don’t know anything of what happened. That was a major head fuck in itself but all I keep saying to myself is karma will eventually find J. if it hasn’t already. With A., he is a just a spineless twat. S. however is living a life that is a lie, they all are. But I have had to stop thinking about them, not worry about what life has in store for them. I have had to purely focus on myself and being in the present, yoga has played a huge role in helping with this process.

I recently put on a performance of the Vagina Monologues and we performed it on the day itself of the assault. What a huge and amazing release that was. Since the show, I have started to help other women come to figure out their own assaults. All I can offer is an ear and advice but everything these girls I have been talking to have gone through the exact same emotional process as I had and that I still go through from time to time. I have made some more amazing friends through the process and the last few years I have become so pro active in my career as I feel like I have needed to make up for the six years I wasn’t 100% present and simply going through the motions.

In the past year and a half I have started immersing myself in comedy again and I laugh every single day to the point my stomach hurts. There is so much shit in this world and there are really shitty people who do bad things for no reason. Then there are some amazing people in this world who do good things for no apparent reason. This experience has taught me which one of those people I want to be and now I want to conquer and heal the world. Life is really too short to waste time on people like J., A. and S. They took a great deal from me and I let them take more of my time by thinking about it. Yes I do think about it from time to time and yes when I start seeing Valentine’s Day cards in the shops I start my mental prep up until the day but now I celebrate it. It’s in my history and there is nothing I can do about it, but it has made me so much stronger and for that I am grateful.

About the author

WYR

When You’re Ready.org is a community for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories.

Permanent link to this article: http://whenyoureready.org/lindsay/