You always think it will never be you, you always feel some sort of sympathy towards victims but you can never relate, until the day the unexpected happens.

I have always been a very head strong girl, nothing ever scared me. I packed up and moved my life to another city to study my dream degree with no friends or family to fall on. I had the time of my life, as I knew I would. I studied full time and worked two part time jobs, I was always out and about.

One night about 1am walking home from work the same as I did most nights of the week, my whole life was turned upside down.

Carrying some very expensive equipment in my bag, I was very aware of anyone around me as it was quite a popular road. I noticed a man ahead of me keep turning around on the opposite side of the road, but being my carefree self I didn’t think too much of it. He then crossed to my side of the road and something triggered in my mind to cross the road. He turned left after a pub and that was that. I carried on walking and suddenly felt my heart sink to my stomach as I felt someone grab me from behind and pull me towards a dark alley. The only reaction my body could do was freeze. I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t do anything but stare. He pinned me against a wall. There were cars driving past, pubs a few feet away were open. If only I could scream or make some movement to show I was there it might have been different. He began to grab me and put his hands in private places, but even at this point I thought I was being mugged I didn’t realize what was going on. I was only there for around 30 seconds but it felt like a lot longer. Suddenly he backed off slightly and I felt the strength to push him and run. I was only a few streets away from my house, as I ran I turned around to find him following me. And at this point all I could think was he is going to know where I live, I have nowhere to turn. I ran straight into my bedroom where my house mate followed me and as I broke down, she persuaded me to ring the police who advised us they would send an officer over.

2 hours we waited, there was no sign of the police and thankfully no sign of the man in question so I tried to get some rest.

The next day, lunch time the police knocked at the door. Still at this point, I thought I had been attacked, it wasn’t until I relayed it to the police officer that she told me it was sexual assault and I was very lucky to get away when I did. They gathered any information possible from me and took the clothes I had been wearing. I was also told that after my phone call there was two more calls of similar assault in my area. Which made me heartbroken as if this was addressed when I first made a call, maybe the two others could have been spared. A week passed and I still couldn’t leave the house. I decided to go back home to visit my parents for a while to get away from where this had happened. Sadly, I did have to return to finish my university studies.

I found myself return a complete different person. I quit one of my jobs as I couldn’t bear to be out the house. I was missing lectures in the fear of walking up that road and not having a clue if I was walking past the man who had done this. This had destroyed me. Months had passed and the police made no progress. Despite three descriptions of the same man and CCTV around the place of the attack, they couldn’t find him. This absolutely destroyed me. Was I walking past him on a daily basis? Did I know this person? The case was closed and I was left to get on with it.

I went to university a strong, confident, happy girl and came back broken. To this day, I can’t have anybody walk behind me. The night still haunts me, but I have a lot of good in my life to be thankful for and it gets me through my life. It never leaves you. You will never forget what happened, but you can learn to live with it and that’s what gets you by.