There was a guy who lived next door to us when I was 14. He was about 25 and friends with my mum. He was a bit cocky by friendly enough, and it was a small village so we often ended up talking at gatherings because we were both nerdy and into computers. I was already out as an openly gay woman, and he knew this. However he started questioning it more and more and getting angry when I brought it up. I confronted him about this, and he admitted he had feelings for me and that was why he found it uncomfortable.

I told him firmly that I wasn’t interested, and that there was no chance of anything ever happening between us. He agreed to accept that and move on, and we remained on friendly terms. He offered to take me to visit his brother in law (who I had met a few times and got on with) and sister, who were both photographers, as I had expressed an interest in photography. He drove me over there and I had dinner at his sister’s house. The plan was for me to sleep in their daughter’s empty room while he crashed on the couch. He asked if I wanted to watch a film, and I said okay. He set it up in the room I was due to sleep in, which seemed a little strange but I wasn’t too bothered. He sat on the bed and I sat at the other end and we watched the film. I didn’t sit close to him, and I don’t recall him being overly close to me either so I wasn’t uncomfortable at this point.

When it ended I said I was tired and was going to sleep. He said okay, and went out of the room, but a few minutes later he returned and set up a camp bed a few feet away from mine. I asked what he was doing, and he said the sofa was too small for him and asked if he could crash on the camp bed. At this post I was knackered and just said “fine. Night then.” And turned over to sleep. About 10 mins later I was drifting off when he called my name softly. I was so tired and so close to sleeping I didn’t answer and just pretended I was already asleep figuring he’d leave it. He called my name quietly a few times more before going quiet, clearly thinking I was asleep. And then I heard it. The creaking camp bed. The sound of skin moving fast against skin. The panting. The moaning. Saying my name over and over. I was fourteen and in a strange house likes from home in the middle of the night with a grown man whom I had trusted masturbating over me just three feet away. I felt terrified and sick and confused and I had no escape. I didn’t know what to do so I just laid there motionless until I heard him finish. He cleaned up and sighed and then said “Goodnight X”. I nearly threw up. I laid awake until I dropped off from exhaustion at 8am. I got dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. I had a t-shirt on that said “I’m still drunk because you’re still fit” and his sister smirked and asked if “that was for her brother” and winked at me. I realized I couldn’t tell her what hadn’t happened. I had to get out. I wandered around a few shops with them that day before saying I felt homesick and asked them to take me to the train station. I rang my mum and asked her to wire me the money for a train home and hopped on the next one. I got in and went straight to my room. I never told her. I couldn’t bear to see the guilt on her face if she blamed herself for trusting him. I knew how that felt and I didn’t want it for her. The only person I’ve ever told is my partner, 6 years afternoon it happened. It still sickens me to think about it. But breaking my silence, even to one person, gave me power. I’m working up to telling my mum. One day I might confront him, but for now it’s enough to be released from the guilt and to have validation from the person who loves me most. That’s priceless, and he can’t take it from me.

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