Content note: the following contains a detailed description of rape and its aftermath (including medical details).

“As the morning dawns, I begin to calm down. I slowly stumble back to bed but cannot sleep”Sophia Luu

“(1) A person (A) commits an offence if—

(a) he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with his penis,

(b) B does not consent to the penetration, and

(c) A does not reasonably believe that B consents.”

I don’t remember meeting him or where he came from. Vague recollections of straining to hear him in the smoking area of Cindies, him teaching me his name. A kiss or two that I didn’t like – too aggressive – but before I knew it we were walking back to his room.

His room. It’s big and nice. I compliment him on it. He tests me on his name, and I can’t remember it. We both know I’m very drunk but we laugh it off.

Soon, we’re kissing again. I still don’t like it, and I’m not sure in the moment why I go along with it. Some of my clothes come off, and we move to his bed.

His hands are heavy on my body. He kisses my breasts and it hurts and I want him to stop. I tell him I’m too drunk for this and he tells me that I’m not. He remarks on how ‘not wet’ I am.

I’m not sure exactly what happened in his bed. He tries to have sex with me. I do not consent – and I am clearly too drunk to consent. It hurts. I think I tell him this.

“I begin to appreciate the emotional manipulation”

After a time, I start to cry. “I can’t do this,” I tell him: I don’t really understand what’s going on, but I know I don’t like it. He gets upset at me being upset. “This must be the worst one night stand of your life”, he says with remarkable foresight. I remember being confused by what looks like blood on his sheets. “I’m not a rapist, am I?” he asks.

I want to leave, but he persuades me to sit on the sofa with him and calm down. He puts on his favourite romcom and covers us both in duvet. After all of five minutes, he’s trying to finger me again. I tell him no, and have to forcibly move his hand away. The second time I get up to leave.

He sulks at me as I hunt about his room for my clothes and my pants, refusing to help. I try to be friendly and I think I ask him to add me on Facebook. God knows why. His last farewell: “at least give me a blowjob”.

It takes me a time to work my way out of his building. Then, I’m walking in the cold streets and beginning to realise that I’m upset. Friends, a hug.

It isn’t until I’m in the safety of a friend’s room that I break down and begin to appreciate what has happened. My thoughts are all over the place, pulling in past upsets which aren’t to do with this as an attempt to explain why I feel this bad. I am in shock.

I go to the toilet because I’m hurting and see the blood – from what I later realise is a bite mark. “I feel like I’ve been raped”, I remember saying. “I don’t understand how it hurts this much.” I am startled when I look in the mirror: the love bite on my neck is aggressively red and bruises are forming across my breasts already. I begin to appreciate the emotional manipulation.

“I already have a strong gut feeling that I want to keep this as much in my control as possible”

As the morning dawns, I begin to calm down. I slowly stumble back to bed but cannot sleep.

The next day is a parade of telling people. I use the label sexual assault because I do not yet – cannot yet – remember it as rape. The responses vary. Upset, anger, shock. Someone brings me frozen peas and I lie in bed, sprawled, peas on my groin, in blood-stained sheets. Movement is not on the agenda.

As the afternoon rolls slowly around, the carousel of story-telling lessens but the pain doesn’t, so I begin to think I need to go to hospital. I have no idea what one does in this scenario, and dealing with the immediate physical wound is easier than beginning to unpack the emotions.

At the hospital, I tell the A&E receptionist I’ve been sexually assaulted and am almost immediately whisked into a private waiting room and attended to by patient, sad-eyed nurses. “Did he rape you, sweetheart?” They try to convince me to report it, but I already have a strong gut feeling that I want to keep this as much in my control as possible. I need to be selfish, and reporting is not the right choice for me: I do not want to recall his face, to remember his name. They want to refer me to the local Sexual Assault Referral Centre, but I ask to be examined in the hospital.


Mountain View

Building a culture of openness about sexual assault

I break down at the physical examination when the nurse’s fingers start probing where his were, and another nurse squeezes my hand. They call the violent blue swelling a vulvar hematoma, an injury more commonly acquired in childbirth.

Blood test for HIV, Hepatitis B vaccination – precautionary measures because I can’t remember if a condom was used – more painkillers, antibiotics, blood pressure. Finally, I’m discharged, and I have to work out how to begin to recover.

I was a Weinstein era rape. When #MeToo spread to my Facebook newsfeed, I was still lying in bed, not really mobile. As celebrity after celebrity became engulfed in the scandal, I was working my way slowly through a list of milestones to tick off. It’s three months later and I’m still hurting – but also angry – and also kind of ok, surviving.

So this term, let’s talk about rape. Let’s talk about what it actually means to be raped, to have your life torn apart by someone else taking ownership of your body in an act of violence. Let’s talk how it feels to have the things you enjoy taken away, your sense of humour, your appetite – and how you begin to slowly reclaim your life after trauma. Let’s talk about the broader issues surrounding rape: the terrifying picture of sexual harassment and sexual assault, an inadequate justice system, and what we can do about the estimated 78,000 victims per year in England and Wales alone.

If you are affected by any of the content of this article, Rape Crisis England & Wales provides useful information and resources, as well as links to local support (including the Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre)