When i was 18, about 6 years ago, i went out to a local pub with a friend. We got speaking to a small group of people who seemed nice and funny. One of the men in the group, his name was Matt, got interested in talking to me when i told them what i was studying, we started discussing the subject and got on pretty well. Ironically the subject was criminology.

We moved to another pub all drinking along the way, especially the guy i was talking to, and we ended up at my favourite bar in town.

The guy i had been getting along well with all night started becoming very aggressive. He started to feel me up and telling me to come home with him. I was moving around the bar trying to get away from him and his two friends clearly noticed; one of them said they would keep an eye on him.

I was standing nearby the entrance to a small corridor leading to the toilets, when i felt the air being knocked out of me. He had slammed into me, shoving me through the door to the corridor. Before i had even processed what the hell was going on he had me pinned up against the wall. He shoved his tongue down my throat and forced his hand down my jeans. I kept moving my head from side to side to try and avoid his mouth from meeting mine. I tried pushing him away from me, but he was a foot taller and much stronger than me. I gripped his wrist and tried to pull his hand up from out of my underwear but he was too strong, i squeezed my legs together as tight as i could to stop his fingers from penetrating me. At some point one of his friends came out of the men's room and saw us, he looked shocked, my attacker smirked at him and the guy just left. I stared after him, i don't know why i didn't say anything, i wish id have asked him for help, but i doubt he'd of done anything, perhaps he thought it was consensual That thought sickens me.

My next memory is standing back outside of the door to the corridor, and even now, i have no idea how i got there. To be honest, that's the scariest thing for me; that there is a period of time that he could have done other things to me, he could have done things to my body that i don't know about. And i'm not even sure if id want to know.

I can remember staring at the exit doors and trying to calculate how far i could get if i ran. I badly wanted to run. But i'm not a fast runner, certainly not drunk, and what if he caught me? If he would do what he had done to me in a bar with people in it, what would he do if he caught me on an empty street in the dark?

I scanned the room and saw a wood pannel that partially separated an area of the bar. I crossed the room, with the eyes of everyone in the bar on me but no one saying anything to me, and i hid behind the panelling. I looked up at the television on the wall for what only felt like a few seconds, then i turned my head back and there he was, standing in front of me, smirking at me. An evil sadistic grin.

I opened my mouth but before i could say anything he clasped his hands around my neck and began to squeeze. He started choking me tighter and tighter, and to this day my most vivid memory, is my eyes rolling up so i was looking at the ceiling and thinking 'oh my god, i'm going to die'.

Right when i felt like i was going to pass out he let go, i took a deep breath and before i could take another, he grabbed my neck again. I cant remember how many times he made me feel like i was about to die, before letting go, and then starting again. But eventually, the owner of the bar, who had been bartending that night, tapped him on the shoulder and whispered something in his ear. Without even looking at me, my attacker walked out of the building.

No one said anything to me. I stood in shock for a few seconds, then walked to the corner of the room where my coat and bag were. Whenever i looked up people were staring at me, whispering. No one asked me if i was ok. I texted my partner at the time to come and pick me up. I didn't call because i knew if he'd heard my voice he'd know there was something wrong and i didn't want to frighten him.

He picked me up shortly after and i told him what happened on the walk home.

I knew someone who was in the bar that night. He was actually a flat mate who i was living in halls with at the time, and i thought he was a friend, i also knew the bartender. I got the courage a few days later to ask my flat mate why he hadn't done anything to help me. He said "honestly, i thought you were enjoying it". I managed to get out 'oh' before i started crying and went back to my room where i broke down.

I have PTSD, anxiety and depression. It's been hell. I became terrified of everything. I still don't like going out at night. For years afterwards the smell of a bar or pub would make me feel sick. I cant stand the feel of anything near or around my neck. After multiple courses of counselling, EMDR, antidepressants etc. im much better than i was but even now, i struggle, and i'm currently on a wait list for CBT.

I would just like to say, if a person tells you that they have been the victim of sexual assault or abuse, believe them. I had a doctor ask me if it was a "real" assault because "loads of girls go out and sleep around and then when they regret it say 'oh it was sexual assault'". That doctors words almost stopped me from seeking help again when i needed it. Please do not be that person. Your reaction can be the difference between someone opening up and getting help, and them suffering in silence. I would be dead if it wasn't for the help and kindness that some wonderful few people have given me.

Z. Gordon

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