Content warning: This article will discuss sexual violence.
My grandmother used to say to me, “Don’t ever worry about the things you’re already worried about, it’s the things you never thought possible that get you.”
I could never fault her with this quote, I still can’t.
Everyone has an identifier in High School, we can’t help but label people, I know I still turn to my friends and say, “Hey remember that really sporty girl from high school? oh what was her name?” and in 2 seconds flat my friend will blurt out the name. The “Identifier” list can go on from that popular girl, that was the most beautiful person you had ever seen, the smartest person in your year level, that cute guy who had the most charming smile, the person who was an asshole, I could go on for ages.
My identifier was the girl that got raped.
Listed below are diary entries I wrote. I’ve never shown them to anyone, they sit in a black box labelled DO NOT OPEN.
I was 2 weeks off being 15 when I got my first partner. He had a smile that could stop a truck and beautiful big brown eyes with a tiny bit of green in them.
I was a plus one at his party, he had got a scholarship to a prestigious Melbourne High school.
I only knew my friend at this party and she informed me it was a “Dress to Impress Party”.
I remember running home and telling my mother about it I was that excited, I borrowed my aunt’s dress, she came and did my makeup and for the first time in my life I felt really pretty. I was so ready to go to my first teenager party, I was ready to go an hour before it even started. (I was so am lame)
Diary Entry 26th September
The party was everything I imagined and more, I met a guy! He is a few years older than me. I will let myself fall in love this one time. Cause I think I have found the one!
He is so handsome and he was so nice. I was such an idiot and didn’t realise it was his party, we talked about all kinds of stuff for ages. I hope I get to see him again.
The following Monday, my friend ran up to me, he had asked for my number, my friend had already given it to him because he was the most handsome guy. My friend had also invited him to my 15th birthday party. Cause what best friends are for.
Diary Entry 3th October
My birthday party could have not been more perfect! I now officially have a boyfriend! He came with flowers, and gave me a silver bracelet and engraved in French is “I love my beautiful girlfriend”.
I can’t wait to show everyone from school!! Even my parents liked him!!! It feels just like a fairy tale.
Then on the 16th of October I made a decision that would change the course of my life forever.
I went into his room alone.
Diary Entry 22nd November
Who will I call, I have gone completely through my phone, no one will understand. I’m alone with my thoughts about him. He is a good guy, he made one mistake, just one. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I’m sick of school, but I can’t stand being in my room. Monday I’m going nowhere, I’m getting on a train and I don’t care where I go, I’ll just go. I want someone to call my mobile, I don’t care who just someone please call. I still love him with my heart, but now not with my head. I want to be a child again. If this is love, I hate it. I don’t know whether it’s good I can’t feel anything anymore.
I don’t want to talk about it with my parents anymore. I just want it out, I just want it to go away. I wish it never happened. Mum was right & God she loves telling me she is right. “I told you not to go into a boy’s room”. I am a fucking idiot. How am I going to tell my friends at school?
Diary Entry 23rd November
My best friend said, “Why didn’t you just try to enjoy it, you have ruined everything we worked for, he was so much more attractive than you!” Maybe she is right, maybe there is something wrong with me. Maybe I’m just over-reacting.
Diary Entry 1st December
I can’t open my curtains, won’t turn on the light, I sit alone in the corner. Getting smaller, everything drains. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to hear. I really want this life to end, but I can’t do that. I can’t think what to do, there is no way out. I see there is no way out. I told my parents and showed my emotions, but look where that has gotten me now. I feel like as if everyone I love is getting cancer from me. I am toxic. I don’t know who to trust, who to tell, where to hide, where to live. Every bit of warmth is gone.
Diary Entry 12th December
I just want someone to hold me and say its ok everything will be okay, don’t worry about it, I got you.
Kids can be cruel, you are absolutely fucking right. School was pure torture, now as an adult I realised a mixture of ignorance and youth came in the form of waves of in-person and online gossip about what happened to me. I got called everything you can imagine. I got told it was a lie, I had the counsellor tell my parents I was to stop talking about it and push it aside. I did confide in one teacher, a day after I told her she took 6 months emergency stress leave, I’ve never made that mistake again. Years later some people from high school have contacted me and apologised, some through texts, some needed a coffee or two and a box of tissues. After the 12th person I started to sound like a broken record, “It was not your fault, no one knew any better and you are such a brave person for owning your behaviour”.
While school was a battle ground every day, the relationship with my parents broke down, whenever I get asked the question, “Why don’t you fix the relationship with your parents?” to this I always answer,
“Kids are like wine glasses, some parents leave finger prints, some a crack and some parents smash the glass all together and I’m sad to say to this day, we have never been able to pick up the broken pieces”.
So I made the 2nd biggest decision of my life, I took what happened to me to the police, then a year later on the 10th December to court.
After the court case was finalised, living with my parents became so toxic I knew there was no place for me in my family anymore.
So I made the 3rd biggest decision of my life, at the age of 16, I moved out of home and was legally/financially independent.
My final years of high school pushed me beyond what I thought of my limits.
I slept on a yoga mat on the floor for 6 months until I could afford a bed.
Every day I would get up, scrub my skin raw in the shower and say to myself,
“If one more thing happens, I’m giving up”.
I continued to say this until I graduated high school.
Half way through year 12, when I was a frightening frame of 49.2kgs, smoking a pack a day and drinking 2 cans of V, I went on a Legal Studies trip to the magistrate’s court in the city.
On this day everything that happened to me became worth it.
I was paired up with the popular girl from my high school. She was beautiful, she had long brown hair and skin so delicate, I thought if I touched it I would leave a mark.
Due to the location of our names on the roll call we were paired together.
We were walking through security at the magistrate’s court when I turned to ask her something of no importance, and tears were streaming down her face, she was shaking so violently she could have been on a roller coaster.
She whispered only this, “I can’t be here again”.
For the first time in what felt like a long time I understood.
I hugged her, took her hand and turned to the teacher and said, “We aren’t going inside, fail me, I don’t give a fuck, we aren’t going in”.
We sat out the front and smoked my entire deck that day.
We never spoke about what happened that day, she went back to ignoring me in the halls and the first time we spoke about it was 5 years later. I bumped into her catching the train one day and she said something that changed me forever, “You don’t understand, you understood, you listened to me and said all the right things and for the first time I didn’t feel alone, thank you for that day, you saved my life”.
I found my silver lining in what had happened to me, cause if it hadn’t have happened, it doesn’t matter how kind a person I am, I would have said the wrong thing.
I know this probably doesn’t apply to anyone other than me, I know this probably won’t make sense to a lot of people, but if you have read this far maybe you’re willing to read a little more.
When I was a kid something terrible happened to me, and it was something I never thought could possibly happen to me, but in a fucked up way it taught me so much. I spent a long time wishing it didn’t happen, wishing I never went to that party, but you never understand until it happens to you or someone you love more than you love yourself.
I am not faultless in all this, I’ve made many mistakes, I’ve hurt a lot of good people and for that I will never forgive myself. I’ve lied, twisted the truth. I told the truest thing that’s ever happened to me and I lost my family. I’ve lived many years trying to live a fake life behind lies, my want to be “normal”. This is no one’s fault but my own. It has taken me years to begin to piece myself back together, the person I was before and after it happened have nothing in common but a face. This has lead me down many dark paths to substance abuse, self-harm and self-sabotage, I took all the wrong roads to get to the acceptance stage of what happened and proud to say the dark days grow further apart but as my best friend jokes to me, “Next time can you please give me at least a two-week notice period for your next break down schedule? So I can have the pizza and ice cream already stocked in the fridge, Jesus you’re so inconsiderate”.
I will never say I’ve gotten over it, time doesn’t heal everything, but it teaches you how to manage your pain. I am one of the lucky ones though. On the 10th of December 2010 I won my court case. A lot of people don’t get that kind of closure. I forgave him, I felt sorry for him, no one is born a monster and he was unwell to think what he did to me was an act of love. I also made one other good decision, I started self-defence through Boxing, Thai Boxing and Jiu Jitsu and I got some of my confidence back. It continues to be a daily struggle to have anyone touch me, but with self-defence you are in a safe environment and slowly it’s becoming less jarring.
I am extremely lucky, I’ve had friends who took on the roles of mother & father, who took me bra shopping for the first time and taught me how to drive a car.
If you work out who I am, please be kind, I am only keeping this anonymous to protect people I love as it still hurts them. I know them watching me suffer for so long broke their hearts. They are truly the brave ones, they never failed to cheer me up, to come into my bedroom at 3am after I had a nightmare, to listen to me cry just one more time, even sometimes when there was nothing they could do, but sit there, they saved me every day.
I guess I needed to write this more than you needed to read it, but if you take anything from this.
Please just be kind to one another.
- Erin Mahoney
Sexual Assault Crisis Line (Victoria, Australia) 1800 806 292
Watch my video response to "Why Didn’t You Just Try To Enjoy It?" below