It was 1995. I was 14. I met him in Meadowhall, he called out to me and said I was beautiful. I was flattered as he was older. If an older man thought I was attractive, then I must be pretty cool, right?
He caught my hand as I walked past him and his friends, pulling me towards him. I blushed and looked at the floor. He called me gorgeous and said all the things that men in movies say to women.
He asked for my number and I got flustered, I told him I was 14 and he couldn’t call my house as I’d get in bother with my mum and so he gave me his and told me to phone him.
I did phone him. That means I wanted it, doesn’t it? He said he was glad I called as he’d been thinking about me all day. I was flattered.
He asked me to his house, I asked if his mum would be in and he laughed and said he lived alone. He was 20, he said. I told him again I was 14 and he laughed and said I was really mature. I felt proud.
I got dressed up. I wore a short skirt, a top and my denim jacket. I put on make up. I want to look pretty for my date.
I went to his house alone. I wasn’t dragged or threatened. I’m a stupid girl, aren’t I. He had a room in a shared house and so we had to go to his bedroom. I thought we were going to talk.
He pushed me back on the bed, I panicked and tried to sit up. He tells me that I’m gorgeous. He says I came for sex. I’ve never had sex before, I snogged a boy once. I’m scared. I try to act like a grown up in a film, I toss my hair over my shoulder and laugh. I say let’s take it slowly. Let’s go out.
He gets angry. He says I’ve led him on. What am I? A dick tease? He thought I was a proper woman, not a stupid little girl. Why did I come there if it wasn’t for sex?
I’m scared. I start to cry and try to get off the bed but he pins me back. He says I’ll enjoy this. He is on top of me, pulling at his jeans as he pulls up my skirt. I freeze. I don’t fight.
Before anything else can happen, there’s a knock at his door, it opens and his housemate laughs and says he’s sorry to disturb us. I get up and run.
I run out of his room and down the stairs. I run out of the house and down the road. My chest hurts but I don’t stop running till I’m home.
I don’t tell anyone. I’m ashamed and blame myself.
I talked to a stranger. I phoned him. I wore a short skirt and lipstick. I went to his house. I went to his room. I didn’t fight.
I never knew I’d been sexually assaulted. Because I was taught that rape was a scary man in a mac who drags women off a street corner. I always believed that I’d made a huge mistake, I blamed myself entirely.
It was only recently that I could actually accept that this man had deliberately used me as a young girl. Isn’t that sad. I didn’t know. I thought it was just a rubbish experience that I had put myself through.
I read about Adam Johnson and that he has been found guilty of sexual activity with a child and hear he will be imprisoned and I sigh, thankful that life is getting better.
Then I read the comments in the news and on social media. That girl was asking for it. She got in his car because she wanted to. She was loving it. What was she wearing? What sort of girl is she? And I realise that we still live in a world where victims are blamed. Where children are used by adults yet we still look to the actions of the child.
Where thousands of girls in Rotherham were groomed and abused, brainwashed and hurt, yet society didn’t protect them because they weren’t women dragged off the street, screaming and fighting by a man in a dirty mac.
We need to open our eyes, see the many shades of assault, that it’s rarely black and white. That although no always means no, sometimes it’s too scary to utter that word because you’re frightened of what will happen.
For years, I carried this with me and always blamed myself for putting myself in that situation. I didn’t tell anyone as I was sure they’d say I was stupid.
Enough. I wasn’t to blame. I was a child taken advantage of by an adult.
Let’s speak out and end the cycle. Teach our children that they aren’t to blame and they can speak out.
No more silence.
If you need support, get in touch with The Survivors Trust.