Saturday, 12 September 2009

Sexual Assault sounds so clinical

Each time I type in ‘sexually assaulted’ it feels so strange. It feels distant. Clinical, in fact. It didn’t happen to me, surely? I will admit I only started explaining it this way after I was matter-of-factly told that it was indeed sexual assault. It still feels like something that only happens to other people. I can’t relate. Not yet, anyway. I can say those words, but it feels like I am lying, even if I know I am not. Clinical.

It’s odd, scary even, the way I have been thinking and feeling. I’ve had this before in different circumstances, although for whatever reason I can’t remember what. By this, I mean that I am thinking and feeling things that before it happened, I could not understand. I couldn’t figure out why victims of things like this thought the things they did, and then I find I am doing the same. The same, even though I didn’t understand before, and I’m still not sure I do, but I no longer trust my thought patterns.

Whilst it was happening, I mentally put up the barricades, and hid behind them whilst they attacked. I disengaged, because the alternative was terrifying, and all the while my primary thought was ‘save yourself’. If they’d tried grabbing my BlackBerry, I may have let them, just to keep myself safe, to give an example of what I mean. I was prepared to be hit, expecting the sudden blow, even as they touched. The route the bus took was one I have taken many times, usually twice daily every weekday for six weeks, and I can name all the stops in all order. Whilst it was taking place, I had no idea of time or where we were, and only when they left the bus spitting and swearing at me did I grasp a glimmer of where the bus was – the metro station, where they were presumably heading into town. The rest of the route – I don’t know. I don’t remember things in detail, even afterwards. I do remember looking out of the window, seeing the bus stopped at a bus stop, but I only recognised it from the street sign, and couldn’t remember the bus journey there, nor the journey after, alighting at my stop only out of subconscious habit. When I stood up, first time since, I lost my balance totally, and tripped out of the bus. There was a youngish guy approaching the bus stop, and I got terrified and rushed away, even though he looked normal, and I was jumpy walking back to the flat, not letting my breath out until I was on my bed, in a ball.

Only five minutes (about…I have no track of time from last night) later did the tears come. I wouldn’t let them before, but then they didn’t stop.

Sorry guys, but I’m not feeling very comfortable around men right now. With one or two exceptions.

I feel fragile. Weak. Small, even at 5’9”. Moreso than before. I don’t feel as strong as I am told I am, but nevertheless I strive to be.

A stupid thing is that at darker times in the past months, I had almost longed for a rape-like situation to happen. In my imagination, it was a sign that I was desirable, that people could want me (I know, I know!). But as soon as it started happening yesterday, I just wanted to get away, it was cold and ugly and dirty and I just wanted me to be far away from there. I mustn’t get hurt, I mustn’t get hurt. This was not a jolt in a lift shaft like earlier this week, this was a serious instinct to get the hell away. Except, you know, I couldn’t.

I was at the supermarket checkout buying a pizza and bottle of blackcurrant wine for the evening, to have a relaxing evening in before the packing began in earnest. There was a commotion behind me, and these guys pushed past me to the checkout. I caught one of them referring to me as “he” although they used “her” a number of times after, and they were rude and sniggering seemingly at everything. I noticed them outside the supermarket afterwards, between me and the bus stop H, so I turned around and walked in the opposite direction, something I had done before to avoid teenagers being stupid. They called out for my phone number, and I shook my head as I kept walking. A little shaken, I soon relaxed in the dusk (it was getting pretty dark), and made my way to the local station, where my bus starts from. It was waiting there – I considered taking the train and boarded the bus. A few old people got on near the front, and so I went to the back, where there was more space, and sat where there four seats, giving me room to put my bag and shopping down. I opened a bottle of lime juice I’d bought and began to drink it. And at H, the old people got off, and They got on, immediately noticing me, and occupying the surrounding seats, leaving me with nowhere to go, not even a window to look out of.

I found that bottle of lime juice about midnight last evening, half-full. I don’t remember stopping drinking, and I was confused when I found it. I drank it, when I woke up from another nightmare, and tried finishing that pizza I had earlier in the evening, that was so delicious but I simply. Could. Not. Eat.

And so it began, and I have no idea how long it lasted. I was in another place. Their words were in a foreign language, which helped in that I didn’t catch everything, but also the fact I didn’t understand what they said as they leaned in was deeply unsettling. I did catch “hey sweetness”, “want to suck my cock? Please suck my cock”, “hey do you like to be fucked in the ass?”, “I’m gonna’ fuck you in the ass until you bleed everywhere”, “do you have a boyfriend?”, “answer my questions bitch!”, “no it’s a she not a he”, “come home with me”, “you better stop ignoring us, or we’ll” and “you know we’re going to visit his mum in O (where the bus ends)? We’ll be here the whooole journey”. They laughed, they made threatening gestures, I wondered why no-one else on the bus was doing anything – looking back they may not have noticed me surrounded, or maybe they didn’t want to get involved, or other things I don’t know…I clung to my BlackBerry, whilst one looked at the screen, stopping me from writing anything, not that I could, I couldn’t type the letters in the right order when I tried…one of them grabbed me, and I wondered if I should try and fight him off, but these guys were stronger than me, much so, and I wanted to avoid confrontation. The same reason I didn’t look at them. I still got to witness one masturbating in his jeans right in front of me while sniggering. And they touched. Cold, dirty, ugly, no no no no no. “whore!”. I am NOT. I AM NOT.

…writing that part was not easy. I cried again.

Here’s an odd thing. My memories of this are distant, incomplete, but yet I have relived it a large number of times already, starting from when I could swear I still heard them laughing when I got off the bus. Last night, I had a waking dream where the whole thing was happening again, only the bus never reached the stop they got off at, and so it just went on and on. I can still feel their grip, ghostly but there, tainting. I still see that guy doing that in front of my face, urgh. And although I’m feeling up to going out again, just, I feel if I get on that bus again, they will be there. Thank God that I no longer need to. I don’t want them to catch me again, especially not somewhere quiet and dark, because I have little doubt they’d have carried through with what they were saying, and I’ve had nightmare visions of that too, all with the same laughter. It’s like being crazy, but nowhere near as fun…

Because I chose to go to that supermarket? Because I didn’t take the train instead of the bus? Because I didn’t sit at the front? Because I was wearing my chequered blouse, black layered skirt and stripy socks? Because I didn’t try and run away? Because I’m trans? Because I’m trans and look trans? Because I’m a woman? Because I’m foreign? I am told because of them, because of the people they are that did this to me. But I keep asking questions.

I know I should report this. It’s the right thing to do, right? I’m a coward for not doing so? I’m sorry. I’m a coward. I justify it with it not having been rape, no beating was involved, I don’t remember their faces, I’m leaving this city soon, I don’t want to have to deal with it all in a foreign language, that being trans might come into it, that I’m scared. I hate myself for this, but I can’t. I don’t want people to know. I know I posted the details on twitter, but that was literally in lieu of breaking apart mentally on my bed in the curled-up ball of tears I was last night. My landlady doesn’t know, I’ve bluffed her. My parents don’t know, and I don’t want them to. I don’t want people to know. I’m ashamed of this, ashamed of what happened, and I want it dead and buried. Except, I can’t do that with *myself*. Not for a while, I suspect.

Okay, so I was aware of the risks women, and trans women in particular, have, that things like this happen. But there’s a difference between being aware, and knowing, as I now do, and it’s made me so scared. Their comments definitely indicated my trans status played into it. I’ve long abandoned the idea that I totally ‘pass’, although something like this had not been anything I’d been expecting. Clearly, I look worse than I thought, and made myself an easy target. Or something like that. People after this have told me I’m beautiful, but goodness, I have trouble believing it after what happened. Really, I wish I could, but I do.

It’s part of the reason I felt like tearing at my skin, like I threw off my clothes as soon as I got home to get rid of them, get rid of that. But it lingered on my skin. Sitting in the shower crying hoping it washes off. Hiding my tears from my landlady in the spray. I can only wonder in fear what I’d be like if things had been worse. If, say, I’d not walked the other way out the supermarket. If they had truly stuck with me to O. Part of me still expects it to happen. I just don’t want to hurt anymore.

I can’t escape being trans. But I just want it to die away as much as possible. It wouldn’t stop things like this happening, but it’s just hurting a lot afterwards as a result. I want things dealt with as soon as possible.

And I’m alone. I’d have given so much for a shoulder to cry on last night, but given my mindstate then and now, I suspect only a few specific people’s shoulders could suffice.

But I’ve received so much support over this, and I am so thankful for each and every word and distant hug that has been sent my way. It means a lot to know people care so much. I feel almost as if I am over-reacting to everything though: it could have been worse, and for so many people it has been worse, in some cases much much worse. I ask myself what right to I have to make such a fuss? This happens. But I was hurt, so I am going to write about it anyway and hope that you understand.

I will be okay. I fall down easily, but I don’t stay down. With this too. It will take a while I expect, but I’ll keep going. But goodness, I hope and pray it does not happen again…the fear is now there.

“Sexually assaulted”. Clinical.

But true.


  1. Not reporting it? It isn't cowardice. It's instinctive to try to get away from that. I know, I did the same thing for the better part of 6 months.

    You'll heal over sooner than you think but you'll be scarred. Be prepared for harsh reminders but keep in mind that you truly are beautiful. And no matter what people do to you, they can never change that.

  2. You have every right to feel the way you do dearest. The fact that other people have and do go through similar experiences, sometimes different, sometimes worse, does not in any way lessen what happened to you. You were in danger. You were victimised. You were assaulted.

    You are strong though. I've seen it in everything you write, in how big and warm your heart is, in how you interact with strangers who need help ... help you are so free and quick to give. You are resilient and strong and you'll get through this, of that I have every confidence.

    And no, it's not cowardice. Realistically, all it will achieve is to put you in harm's way again, be it from unfeeling cops in a foreign country or cold, hard process, or of your assailants themselves. I would do the same sweetie.

    Insanity-Junkie has the right of it though - you are truly beautiful, and that cannot be taken away from you. Hugs, and I hope you can feel safe again. :(

  3. just know that you are not alone, dear. here for you if you ever need to talk, okay?



  4. Babe... I can't begin to describe how horrified I am reading this. I'm having trouble stopping saying "Oh my God, oh my God."

    I have no idea how to ease the damage they have done to you. I wish I could see their faces and know them on the street to kill them if they ever pass by me. Nobody should touch you that way, nobody should DARE speak to you that way... and I wish saying that people shouldn't do things meant they didn't do them. Most attributes I see in people just points toward "THEY SUCK" flashing in big neon lights, and there's no real way to get past the pain of that reality. Just please, please tell me if there is ANYTHING I can do to help, anything I can say or do to comfort you or give you support. I wish I could kill the bastards.

    Consider me your new guard dog.

  5. Reporting it or not is your decision, and it's not for anybody else to tell you what you "should" do. You're not a coward. And you are absolutely not over-reacting. What they did was revolting, and I am so, so sorry that this happened to you.

    (and you *are* beautiful, and insanity-junkie and mina are right that nobody can change that.)

  6. Please email me on if you want someone to talk to on the phone; I work for a phone company, so there's no worry about the cost of international calls.



  7. Wish I could have been there to be cried on. I honestly considered trying to find a flight out there at 11 at night when you told me. *hugs*

    I'm so proud of you for being brave enough to write all this.