Rapist. It's a word that, even years later, seems too dirty to say. Rapist. The two syllables that i have replaced his name with. Rapist. The man who fucked with my head more than any part of my body.
I was 16 years old. The 2012 Olympic games were taking place in London. My quaint little hometown of Weymouth hosted the sailing events, and I ended up as an Olympic attendant, serving food to athletes and their crews. Not a bad first job, I guess.
Sixteen is an awkward age for anyone, let alone those within the LGBT community. Having to deal with all the spots and hormones is hard enough without also having to come to terms with your sexuality.
While working in Weymouth, I befriended a guy a couple of years older than me. We used to get the same bus into work each morning. He looked and acted like a nice enough guy. He was always smiling, and popular with our other colleagues. As a shy and closeted teenager, I looked up to him as a friend.
We were both working a later shift when he asked if he could come round beforehand for an hour or two. He was my friend; I said yes. Before I knew it, my trousers had been pulled down and he was on top of me. All I remember is the pain, and my vision becoming blurred by the intense fear that swept over me.
It was my first ever sexual encounter.
I left the house to go to work, but he stayed inside my room. I was terrified at the thought of still finding him in my room when I got back from my shift. This was a nightmare that haunted me for weeks after: walking into my bedroom at any time, and finding the man who raped me sitting there.
Typing about what happened still feels me with an indistinguishable sense of fear, doubt, worthlessness and discomfort.
I was trapped within what my rapist had done, and unable to reach out to anyone for help. I thought I'd be outed as gay and rejected. I know this sounds silly. But it was what I thought, and I know it's the same for others who have been sexually abused. Since the incident, I’ve had to overcome a number of mental health issues, all of which inextricably link back to that day.
I know people who've been subjected to similar incidents. They've been drugged by their best friends, forced to have unprotected sex with their former significant other, tricked during a one night stand. I could go on.
Consent couldn’t be easier to understand. No means no. So why do people still ignore it?
According to Rape Crisis, 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales every year. For women this number is a shocking 85,000, and needs to be tackled with the greatest urgency. While this is happening, we should make sure that we're addressing the issue of male rape too. Only15 per cent of women report their sexual attacks, yet this remains significantly higher than male victims.
Survivors UK believe that 97-98 per cent of men don't report what happened to them – and I'm included in that figure. Unless such issues are spoken about and understood more, I doubt this statistic will ever change.
In writing about this, I'm coming to terms with what happened to me for the first time. I'm talking, because I know it's the right thing to do. No one should let their experiences rot away within themselves.
No means no, no will continue to mean no - and male rape needs to be spoken about, urgently.
If you need to report a sexual crime, need advice, counselling or of the likes, please contact Survivors UK at https://www.survivorsuk.org/ or the Victims Support Helpline on 0808 1689 111