My Christmas wish: not be raped for my ‘present’.

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get back in mid-Jan, I returned with my a body strap around my ribage and a strapped up wrist…skinnier, traumatised, withdrawn and yet trying to plaster on a big smiley ‘life is great’ face.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.

 

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4 thoughts on “My Christmas wish: not be raped for my ‘present’.

  1. I am so sorry that this has happened to you and I pray that you will find a safe and secure place, where you will be protected and nurtured, not tortured. I am attaching the National Domestic Hotline number for you to call for assistance. They will have resources in your area. Also, Mercy Ministries has a program that women can apply to for transitional living to obtain safety to get their lives together and move forward. Please check into these resources and I pray that God will guide you and protect you.
    National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-SAFE (7233)

  2. I wish you all the best on your Christmas. I do hope you can be safe this year.

    I am also reminded of how grateful I am that, once I decided not to go back to my parents’ house, I never had to. Somehow, there was always someone willing and able to take me in. I did go back at Christmastime for a week or so my first year at university, and I went back for a few days in the summer (I brought a friend). And I never went back again.

    Your advice to others is sound. People are more willing to help than you realize. Ask and keep asking until you are safe. Someone will want help you.

    One thing I’ve done is chosen other holidays to celebrate aside from the ones with all the baggage. I can’t stand my birthday for example, but Independence Day is awesome and totally memory-free. I have mixed feelings about Christmas, but New Year’s Day is wide open for doing something special. Your life is different than many people’s (as is mine), and in many ways it sucks, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something to celebrate, or that you should never get to have any fun. Maybe everyone else is gorging on chocolates and gift-giving while you have flashbacks, but Epiphany could be available for some festiveness. Know also that a lot of other people are plastering on their happy masks at this time of year also, for a whole variety of reasons. You aren’t alone in that.

    Take care.

  3. I don’t know whether this would be of any help, but many students who are in private accommodation have spaces in their houses over the Christmas period. Would it maybe be worth talking to the university about setting up a scheme in the future whereby people who don’t want to return home for whatever reason would be able to stay in someone else’s house? Obviously it would have to be very carefully vetted and regulated but for some people it might be better than going home. I’m sure lots of people would be willing to offer a spare bed.

    • That’s a really cool idea, thank you for sharing… I will talk to the uni in the new year and see if this could possibly work in the future, do you know who I should talk to? (Email me that bit). Thank you so so much… x

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