Sex

“I lost my virginity to rape — and I’ve never been able to truly escape since”

For Ellie, a traumatic first experience of sex shattered any trust she might otherwise have had in the opposite sex.

Ellie* was in her late teens when she met her first boyfriend — the man who would later rape her and destroy her trust in men.

"I met James* on Tinder and we started dating. Our first date was at the zoo; it was lovely, he was so nice and gave me butterflies. He was sweet, but quite full on.

James wanted to have a relationship and move quite quickly. When we met, my mum was in hospital for surgery on her knee. I kept telling him I was focusing on my mum at that time — and since I'd never had a boyfriend before I didn't want to rush into it. But he still tried to push the label of girlfriend on to me too fast.

I waited as long as he would let me before I finally gave in and allowed us to become official. He instantly changed after that.

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James become protective - very protective. The first signs were there when I planned to go out to a club for my birthday. For an entire week before I went he was on at me about how he didn't want me to go; how I wouldn't be safe; how I shouldn't drink; how I shouldn't dance with anyone; how he was going to be watching my social media to see what I was doing. I just wanted to look forward to my night out.

I told my friends how he was behaving, but everyone thought it was 'normal' jealousy and insecurity. We all thought he would grow out of it — but he never did. It only got worse.

James' behaviour became random and passive aggressive. He would check who I was following and who followed me on social media, and if he saw someone he didn't recognise on there, he would confront me about them. It was constant, everything I did was monitored. If I posted a picture of myself he would ask what attention I wanted, and who I was posting it for. My social media became inactive very quickly.

I began to feel like every move I made was wrong. I felt terrible and suddenly very paranoid about the intentions of men online. I was programmed to think I was being unfaithful, and it made me worry that he was being unfaithful too. But I could never do what he did; I would never confront him or get angry.

It got to the point where I was shutting out any male friends I had. I would change their names in my phone to girls names, put their notifications on mute, and would tell them not to message me when he was around. James made me feel like I couldn't have both him and them in my life.

It went on like this for months, but like many victims of emotional abuse, I didn't leave. Instead, I blamed myself.

As our relationship progressed, James wanted more — to make our relationship sexual — but I wasn't ready for that. I told him over and over how I felt; that I didn't want to rush. I just wanted more time. In response, he would get frustrated. He would grab me so hard I'd be left with visible bruises on my thighs and arms. He'd brand me a cheater and scream that he knew I was 'getting it elsewhere' — just because I didn't have sex with him. My mind would race, it just wasn't possible — where, when and who would I be having sex with? I had never had sex. I found myself crying and apologising for something I hadn't even done.

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My reality had shifted. I didn't know what was real anymore. I believed him more than I believed myself.

And then, one night, he raped me.

My mum came home from a night out and passed out on her bed — she'd had way too much to drink. I was in my room watching a programme when he came in, even though he was meant to be sleeping downstairs that night. He asked if he could watch the programme with me, so I let him climb in next to me.

After a few minutes, James paused the screen and we started kissing. That was fine with me, we'd done it before, but he was more persistent than he'd ever been. His hands were exploring too far. I was wearing a night dress, which he kept sliding his hand up. I told him to stop — but he wasn't listening, so I pushed his hand away.

He became more aggressive, so I yelled at him to stop, but the noise from the fan in my room meant my mum — fast asleep in the other room — couldn't hear me.

Eventually, James let go, and I thought it was over. But when I turned away from him, he grabbed me; pulled me by my waist into the centre of the bed.

He laid on top of me — a 6ft MMA fighter on my much smaller frame — holding my my hands forcefully above my head, kissing roughly. Through the kisses, I was still saying no.

James held me down with one hand as he used the other to pull off my underwear. I screamed no, begging him to stop, but he was strong and he wouldn't get off me.

After it was all over — the grabbing, the forcefulness, and the pressure — I sat on the toilet. I was bleeding heavily.

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Desperate to wash it all away, I had a shower and cleaned everything I could. When I returned to my room, he was asleep on my bed, like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Like he hadn't just violated me in the worst way possible. I collapsed on the floor and burst into tears.

Everything after that night changed. I told friends and family, who were supportive, but what hurt so terribly was the guilt in my mum's eyes; knowing she was in the house but didn't have a clue what was happening to her daughter.

I ended it with James immediately, but he continued to harass me in any way he could. He begged for me back and claimed he never knew I didn't want to have sex. He made fake social media accounts to stalk me, he would try to catfish me; he was relentless. He was like a horror story I couldn't escape. Even to this day I fear answering the phone to an unknown number. It sends me into a spiral of panic and fear.

The police passed off his stalking and harassment as 'normal ex-boyfriend behaviour'. He was cautioned when arrested, but was never convicted of rape due to lack of evidence - even though I had unwashed bed sheets which the police didn't collect for over a month.

I felt like the air had been kicked out of me. I was told I wouldn't win. I was told it would be too difficult to proceed. I was exhausted, so I gave up on the case.

Years on, I haven't trusted a man since. I question every compliment, wondering what they want, what they are going to use me for, and what cruel intentions lie beneath their normal exterior.

My first relationship may have shattered any trust I might otherwise have had in men, but all I can hope now is that another woman in the early stages of a similar experience will read this, and recognise the warning signs. That she will find the strength to leave before she is seriously hurt."

For help and support with sexual violence, contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or Bravehearts on 1800 272 831 for specialist and anonymous advice.

*Names have been changed. As told to Danielle O'Brien.

Via: Cosmopolitan UK