That is my wish. All I want this Christmas Day is to spend my first Christmas Day safe, and not get raped for my ‘present’ or indeed for the entertainment of others. It would be the first ever Christmas day for me where I didn’t get raped….
I totally loathe this time of year. Last year I insisted on going back home, partly because I missed my siblings…partly because I wanted to try and sort my parents out…partly because my now-ex heavily persuaded me it’d be a good idea, for whatever wacky reason. I had just interrupted my degree. When I arrived back home, the realisation hit me – when would I get back? Would I ever? Would I have to stay there until September? Could I survive? It was terrifying, and I felt very isolated and frightened by the situation I found myself in. The ‘holiday’ was horrendous, and although I did get back in mid-Jan, I returned with my a body strap around my ribage and a strapped up wrist…skinnier, traumatised, withdrawn and yet trying to plaster on a big smiley ‘life is great’ face. People asked what had happened. “Fallen down the stairs.” People saw through the lie immediately, but I at the time hadn’t started speaking out about the abuse, and felt too scared to tell the truth.
The memories still haunt and torment me, leave me reeling with shock and heartache. This year, I am not going back. This year I fully intend to spend Christmas day hiding under my duvet, trying my best to sleep through the memories and ignore the world for 24 hours… so that on the morning of boxing day I can wake up and go – “oh my god. I didn’t get raped this Christmas. I didn’t get hurt. I was safe. For the first ever Christmas, I was safe.”
What sounds such a simple right – to just be safe for one day of the year – and yet it’s what I want more than anything. I am struggling with grief and pain and feel I deserve to be…but just for Christmas day I don’t want to get hurt… just to prove to myself that it’s possible. It’s possible to not be afraid at Christmas.
Everywhere I look there’s decorations, santas, festive clothing, christmas dinner events, christmas concerts etc etc. I just try to get on with it and ignore what connotations and memories the different things trigger. I love seeing genuinely happy families preparing for christmas with an excitement I just cannot empathise with. I also hate seeing them because it’s a taste of this world I have never had, and I hate feeling jealous…so then I feel guilty, and so the cycle continues.
There’s something undeniably sad that at the age of 20 the concept of a completely safe Christmas day where I’m not raped is just so alien to me. There’s something even sadder in that I know I’m not alone, and know there are many more returning home to danger this Christmas because they don’t know where else to go… or younger children who’ve never had a taste away from home in the first place. University halls, for example, are great…but if they’re catered, you have to find somewhere to stay during the holidays. If you’re an average student, you may not be able to afford a B&B for 3 weeks…so home is the only option. If you are anyone who is feeling they must go home at Christmas but to do so would endanger you, then please call for help. Please phone a helpline, or talk to your doctor or a friend and explain the situation – even if you can’t say anymore than “I have to go home, but I’m scared.” It’s really not worth it. I realise you may have been threatened, and blackmailed… it took me going back several times and going through brutally horrific things before I finally realised the blackmail was just a tool to get me back…
You deserve better. I promise. Please try and spend Christmas somewhere in a place where you won’t be bullied, beaten, raped, sneered at or otherwise abused. Christmas is about a time of love, isn’t it? So why should we spend it in fear? I’m spending this christmas safe, for the first time in my life.
Get yourself safe too… even if you’re like me and don’t feel you deserve to be safe, or you feel you deserve to be punished…just set yourself little goals to try and keep you afloat – my little goal is just to get through Christmas Day in one piece, and celebrate sometime far far later in January when all the festive crap has GONE 🙂
This Christmas will be the first Christmas I spend safe. I hope others in danger can join me, and get yourselves safe too.
And to those who’ve had a normal childhood and upbringing, please take a second to bear in mind those who dread Christmas…who don’t have the happy family to have a huge christmas dinner with, who may not even know if they’ll spend Christmas day on the streets, tied to a bed, or being bullied. There’s a lot of people who need the world to open their eyes, so that the door is open for them to shout. Open the door for them, please.