Frankie* was just 18 years old when she was raped in her university halls during fresher’s
week. As she prepares to return to her studies in September, she pens a letter to her rapist.
To the man who raped me,
I want you to know that I’m thriving now.
But I also want you to know that you kind of broke me. You kind of broke me for a long time.
I was so excited to come to University; it was going to be the best three years of my life.
You ruined that.
The night that it happened I got ready to go out with a couple of other girls from my flat. We laughed and chatted as we did our make up together and I remember thinking how we all got along so well, we’d definitely be spending the next three years by eachother’s side.
As I put on my favourite outfit, velvet flares and a black lace crop top, I glanced at my reflection in the mirror and I actually felt good about myself.
You ruined that too.
I was dancing with my flat mates when I first saw you. You were tall with some sort of hat perched upon your head of ginger hair; I thought it’d be funny to grab it. That small action meant nothing to me, but you took it as an invitation.
When I went to the bar you followed me, and when I headed out for a cigarette, you followed me again. You struck up a conversation and at first you seemed harmless. I thought you were just like me, a nervous fresher eager to make as many new friends as possible.
You asked me if I was here alone and I said no, then you asked where I lived and I told you. I assumed that you were just trying to establish some common ground.
When you asked me if I wanted to, ‘Get out of here’, I said no again.
Feeling uncomfortable around you, I went to over to chat to a girl nearby. I was relieved; I thought this was my way to get away from you.
But you followed me for the third time and asked again, if I wanted to leave with you. I said no.
How many times did I have to say no?
I thought you’d realised I wasn’t interested, so I went back into the club.
Inside, I was lost. I didn’t know the club well and the alcohol was beginning to make me feel dizzy.
When you found me again, I was alone.
You took my hand and pulled me along. I thought you were taking me to the bar, but you dragged me straight out the exit. I didn’t even realise we’d left until the cold air hit.
A taxi pulled up and you pushed me inside. My first thought was to give a fake address and go to somewhere busy so I could separate myself from you.
But I’d already told you where I lived.
As you instructed the driver where to go my heart dropped. How could I be so stupid as to tell a stranger where I lived?
You stayed silent on the drive. You didn’t touch me, not yet at least.
When the taxi stopped, I jumped out and walked quickly toward my block, conscious not to cause a scene.
You hadn’t even tried to touch me and you’d told me you lived here too, so I thought that maybe you really were just trying to make sure I got home ok. I’ve always thought the best of people.
If only I hadn’t thought the best in you.
I knew I needed to avoid being alone with you so when I spotted a group of people smoking outside I went over. I was stood in their circle when you put your hands on me for the first time, one hand on my waist, the other laid on my ass.
It was enough to make my blood run cold and I pushed you off.
I should’ve said something then, I should’ve have told these people that I didn’t know you and that I wanted to get away from you, but I didn’t know them either. Everyone finished their fags and began to head back to their flats, we were about to be alone again.
My heart was pounding as I blurted out that everyone should, ‘Come back to mine’. I was desperate and it was the only thing I could think of to avoid being alone with you. It wasn’t until we were upstairs that it struck me, I’d just let you into my flat.
I sat on the sofa and you put your hand on my leg before leaning over to ask if we could make everyone leave and go to my room.
I said no, again.
Does the word no mean nothing to you?
Eventually everyone got up to go; my head was spinning as I thought desperately about how I could make you leave too. I slipped out into the hall and knocked on the doors of the rooms closest to me.
One of the boys came out; he could see I was panicking as he spotted you through the slim glass window of the kitchen door. I told him I didn’t mean to bring you here and that I didn’t want to. He didn’t understand. If I didn’t want to sleep with you, why had I brought you back, he asked.
I didn’t have an answer and he shut his door.
I thought if I went to my room and straight to sleep there was nothing you could do; besides you wouldn’t know which room I was in anyway.
But you were quick to follow me and I couldn’t lock you out in time.
Then you started to touch me, just lightly, a hand on my leg then a hand on my back.
I pushed you off and told you to stop, but you grabbed me and ragged off my top.
I told you to stop again, but you tried to kiss me.
I refused to open my mouth.
When you pulled my trousers down I tried so hard to pull them back up.
But you were strong, and I was drunk.
You threw me onto the bed and pinned me down. You pushed one hand down on my chest, the other round my neck as you fucked me.
What was going through your mind as I struggled? Did you block it out, or is that part of the enjoyment
You choked me so hard I couldn’t even breathe, let alone scream.
I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t know if it was ok or not. I didn’t know if it was my fault or not.
All I knew was that I wanted to get away.
After about five minutes you loosened your grip round my neck and I managed to let out a scream. There was a knock on the door and my flatmate asked if I was ok.
Were you scared by the male voice? Is that why you finally stopped?
I grabbed a t-shirt and ran into the hall and he told you to leave.
Why did you leave when he asked, but you never stopped when I begged you to?
When you left I was furious with myself, how did I let this happen?
I’m not stupid and I’m not weak. How did I allow this stranger into my flat, and my bed, and my body, and not manage to stop it?
I couldn’t comprehend what had happened, so I drank. I passed out in the kitchen, and when I woke up, I drank some more.
What you did had affected me more than I thought possible.
The following night I drowned my liver with another bottle of vodka, cut my right arm and took a few packets of paracetamol.
I can’t explain why I did this. I knew that what I had was nowhere near enough to kill me so it wasn’t a real suicide
attempt, but I wanted to try and see.
My head was all over the place. I didn’t know how to feel or how to react and it was so much easier when I was blackout drunk or passed out. I thought that maybe if I could kill myself, I could make it stop.
That night I ended up in the hospital.
But all I had to do was promise the nurse that I would never harm myself again and they let me go. So back to the flat I went, back to the room where you had taken everything from me.
I was told that I should report what you did.
Were you scared that I would? Or did you go home that night and never give a second thought to what
you did to me?
I knew I would never report you, I didn’t think I’d tried hard enough to stop you.
There are so many things that I wish I’d done things differently that night. I shouldn’t have cared whether I caused a scene, I shouldn’t have cared what people would think of me and I shouldn’t have worried about being, ‘the girl that called rape’.
Even if I did contemplate going to the police, I wasn’t sure if what happened was reportable.
There was absolutely no evidence that anything that went on in my room was non-consensual. But there was evidence of me leaving the club with you, and there was evidence that I had let you into my flat.
I know the percentage of rapists who get prosecuted or taken to court, or who even just get kicked out of university and the statistics aren’t on my side.
Did you know that the statistics are always on your side? Is that why you did it, because you knew you’d get away with it?
I couldn’t even think about having to desperately justify my actions to anyone, for what was likely to be no outcome.
All I wanted to do was drink and sleep.
Three days after you raped me, I dropped out of university. The fresh start I was supposed to have there was gone.
You took that away from me.
When I got home, I was between numbly depressed and completely chaotic with no desire to make things better.
I would sleep until 2pm, shower, throw on a big jumper, make pasta, walk my dog, watch TV and go back to bed.
I felt purposeless and guilty about dropping out of Uni.
I started going out again. I started drinking again, a lot.
It took until January for me to get out the cycle of going out every weekend, getting wasted, and fucking anybody who asked.
But then I got help.
I was put on medication for depression, and I went to see a counselor. I stopped drinking and sleeping around and I threw myself into my friendships.
I began to see the light again.
When I think of you now, I feel anger.
I’m angry that you felt entitled to me and my body, and that what you did altered my actions for so long.
That what you did made me leave university, made me allow people I didn’t know and didn’t like to use me however they wanted, all because you made my body worthless.
September to January was dark, but these last four months have been different. It took me a while to sort myself out, but since March I’m the best I’ve ever been.
I’m coming back to university in September. I’m coming back to the same city, to do the same course, in the same halls.
You may have broken me for a while, but you couldn’t break me forever.
I know that you’re probably still here and I think about what would happen if I passed you on the street.
Would you even recognize me?
I want you to know that you really fucked me up for a long time, you completely changed my life and how I thought this year was going to go. You knew that I didn’t want to leave with you, and that I was never willingly going to. You let me tell you over and over to stop whilst you choked me and held me down, and I don’t think that means anything to you.
But even though you completely fucked me over, I’m the best I’ve ever been. I wouldn’t have the majority of things that I have now if I hadn’t have left University, and I did that because of you.
So fuck you, but I’m thriving from this.
The girl you could never get the better of.
*Name has been changed for legal reasons.