I felt unable to post this until I had finally escaped the place where this happened. We sued the associates of the perpetrator who were harassing me since I reported rape and sexual assault, driving me out of my former home and we won the case.
This, my account, was published 2018 in the anthology “To Report or Not to Report: Survivor Testimony of the Injustice System.” Released at the House of Lords, Westminster, London UK, on the centenary of the Women’s Vote feb 6. You can buy the whole book from Amazon. it contains testimonies from survivors including contributions from well known activists Winnie Li, Madeleine Black, Alys Coudrey, Emily Jacob and Dr Nina Burrowes. All proceeds go to charities which support women and girl surivvors. This chapter is “Naming It ” By Anna Juliet
I reported sexual assault and rape (against me) in January 2017. It has been a horrendous ordeal. Since the perpetrator sexually assaulted then came back and raped me in my home. I am a singer songwriter. I wrote some poems. This one, “Prayer for my Room. “ is about how the perpetrator violated not only me but my home. Since this I learned that the majority of rapes happen at or near the victim’s home: (rainn.org). Research has found that the vast majority of rapes are planned. Realising I had been set up, I have found so devastating. The poems touch on some of what happened when I did report this. How the myths that police are sensitive and all have special training, from where I am standing, are actually just more myths. And then attitudes from wider community and society- expands this beyond just me and my room.
I could not sleep and people told me to go away for a while or redecorate etc. None of these would help. I slept in on the floor in the room where I was raped. In my beloved music studio. My safety was shattered. I was numb. Sometimes I felt the rapist had killed me inside. I began to visualise the room as like another person, who had also been injured and needed healing. It took the guilt away from staying there and just being… It helped me deal with this massive violation of spirit and physicality and what goes way deeper than can be explained.
This (Prayer for my Room) was the second poem I wrote after what happened. The first was a visceral account, which appears on police video. So I am not sharing it here. I will publish it later.
“I Couldn’t Name it” poem three, came from the moment of taking a shower/ washing over and over after the rape, while the perpetrator was still in the flat. Trying to act normal because I was so scared. It was about saying “This. is. not. happening.” when it had already happened. And me, the survivor, telling myself I could stop it being rape, by not naming it. The horror of what had happened and what could unfold if I report this. Not being able to face the enormity. On your own, how can you? I said, “I’m not having this.”Realising now this was an extension of not being able to stop the rape. The freezing. even before- when you sense danger – but see no escape route. The blocking out starts during the assault. The shock and horror of the pain.. It is automatic. I had no more control over that than the sexual violence. my body tried to shut down. to just trying to leave your body – trying not to feel and to rise away from the repeated hurting. When you get to the point of just waiting for it to be over. It continues through the aftermath.
Intimidating masculinised police officers. All the times you were petrified into saying nothing. And being intimidated into silence, even when in the act of reporting the assault. Giving a police video when you are in fact too afraid to speak.
I lost my voice for six months. I could not sing – sometimes I could barely speak. I have had a continual sore throat. Sometimes just from having to justify myself to people patronising and talking over me. Rape is a crime of your voice being drowned out – while somebody does stuff to hurt you, he knows you did not and would never agree to. The perpetrator enjoyed my fear and my realisation he had trapped me. Since speaking out, my overriding experience has been of being shouted down- and spoken to as if I am a child who did something wrong, often by authorities who have a remit to help survivors. Instead you are being punished for daring to say “I.” I could not bear to listen to music, let alone mix music: I went from being a productive music producer, to a little shadow.
The disregard of the police: from officers devoid of understanding, or interest to understand, what it is like to go through rape and sexual assault. The silencing never stops. “I couldn’t name it” comes from being afraid to say the word “Rape” due to repercussions. From perpetrator, friends of the perpetrator and ultimately my own community. The only reason I ended up reporting, was I had injuries and had to register to get emergency meds and care- e.g. the abortion pill. I would never have consented to unprotected anything, with anybody, especially not to violence, which the perpetrator inflicted. Then came fear for my safety. The horror of being told you wanted somebody to inflict injuries and swear at and degrade you while you were screaming in pain, that you would invite this type of abuse on your own body, to me is so ludicrous. I can’t believe this is still said or implied to survivors.
The whole step of having to do anything about it, is life changing. you don’t want that when you are feeling awful and traumatised and disheveled after a rape. A year ago I would never have believed at this point I could be facing a dilemma of leaving/ being forced out of my home because of no longer feeling safe there. I relied on promised police safety measures (to protect from the perpetrator returning), so I could make choices, not flee out of fear.
I received bullying phone calls from police, letting me know they intend to speak to friends of the perpetrator with no assurance of my safety, obviously putting me in much more danger. Further police communications argued the perpetrator’s “right” to enter my building and visit the residents complex where I live, even suggesting I move out. I was told if I encountered the perpetrator inside the building, police “hands would be tied. “ A disturbing email the rapist wrote within hours of assaulting me, was also ignored.
It takes time to realise, not naming it, changed nothing. It still happened. Not naming it, or calling it something else is a lie. Survivors of sexual violence, need support from the off, to be in a safe and confidential place to disclose and understand the enormity of what has happened to you, get safe medical care, a safe place to stay and take appropriate action: to be offered options. None of these were available to me.
In writing these poems and speaking out, I am naming it. We need to keep naming. By naming it now, I found other survivors. The tragedy of realising you are not alone in what you are going through, as well as the beauty and validation of meeting other courageous people prepared to stand up for our rights and stop rape culture.
If I’d had the right support upfront: 1. the perpetrator might have been prevented from taking advantage when he did and he might have been apprehended already before he even got to me, from what he said and did, he’d done it before. 2. I would have had no qualms about going straight to the police. People need support and to know their rights. In this country there is no legal representation for rape victims. You are meant to be allowed an ISVA (independent sexual violence advocate) but the waiting lists in London were over six months.
The perpetrator has automatic right to a lawyer. I ended up alone in the police station. Police would not allow me to have a friend even wait for me in the building. The sexual assault centre manager, who stood up for me, had gone. The injuries the perpetrator inflicted, left me in too much pain to sit up. It was a number of days before I eventually found out where I could go to get any tests safely done. Then the sexual assault referral centre called police in. I just did not know to go there.
The national rape crisis helpline constant voicemail, did not give out the number of the Havens, the suicide helpline number was on there instead. I had the most gruesome misogynistic things said to me by people on that line. I went straight to hospital after the rape and they literally ignored me every time I said ’traumatic incident.” I was in extreme pain. and terrified. Later when I complained, there turned out to be other women’s complaints who had been sexually assaulted, posted right on their website warning “Do not go there if you have been sexually assaulted”
. The never-ending nightmare started with the first approach of the perpetrator. In fact it started with the approach of a (female) friend of his who introduced him to me and brought him to our building and then proceeded to try to cover for him afterwards which left me feeling unspeakably betrayed. I since found out she directly lied to the police, which left me speechless. I no longer understand the callousness of this mentality. This has been one of the worst aspects. The brutality and impact of this and police behaviour, upon all the violation and trauma which assailant put me through, decided me, I must look for a new home in order to heal.
These untruths and deceptions helped collapse the police case against a rapist they originally told me looked like a serial perpetrator- and stopped me getting justice or even the right to protection. The Havens are filing a formal complaint against the police on my behalf, with direct statements from me. I am struggling to even look at the documents. My first appointment with the ISVA was this week. I was unable to read the papers in their office, as I cried all through the meeting. The case against the rapist is due to be reviewed. I do not regret reporting. Reporting is not only about the police. It is about everybody. However appalling and unhelpful the response. I have spoken out. In making the statements, I pray I can get the words down. The pain is too much to bear. We have to turn this around. Silence keeps enabling rapists and abusers.
Girl Survivor logos by Siobhan Sands
Click Links below for Poem pieces that are published with this chapter in the book:
You can find them in the archive list on the right hand side of this site where they were first published : go to August /September 2017.
Thank you for reading and for your support. If you are a abuse or rape survivor , sending you big hugs, strength and all the respect there is. Please join Girl Survivor on face book and twitter and subscribe here to keep in touch. Let me know how you are doing. Never give up. xx
Inside the House of Lords where our book was launched
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One thought on “Naming It”
I hope you are doing much better now.
I still think of you & am soooo sorry that I was not able to be more successful in my attempts to help you. However, when you had originally reached out to me I was trying to recover from a heart attack and dying twice: ALL WITHIN 5 days.
I fought for you as much as I could within the limits of my own poor health and the backstabbing from the wicked tenants we lived with at the time.
I can’t seem to find your book on Amazon yet, but will try and look out for it.
Take care of yourself.