I have wanted to write this for so long, and now I’ve come to do it I don’t know where to start. I guess the beginning is as good a place as any.
My reason for writing this is not for sympathy, or to talk exculsively about what happened to me. It is to raise awareness of a loophole in the law that is still protecting child sex offenders in the UK today.
So I’ll keep what happened to me brief. My story began in 2002, when I was 14. He was 32. We were in a band together, but I didn’t know who he was to start with. He started texting out of the blue. Friendly chit chat at first, then flirty. And then he started to top up my phone for me, so I could talk to him more. We soon started chatting in person, he’d give me lifts home, and hold my hand or stroke my back when he knew no one was looking. He got inside my head and, when I turned 15 and he was 33, inside my knickers. I was completely under his spell. We were in a ‘relationship’ for several years before I finally realised how emotionally abusive he was.
A year after I left him he invited me round to his house, I was in a low place so I went to have a few drinks with him, and stayed over. That was the night I woke up to him having sex with me while I was sleeping. I said stop. He didn’t. For a long time I pushed it to the back of my mind, trying to convince myself it was just a misunderstanding. But I can now see it for what it was. He raped me.
I never saw him again after that night, although I still have nightmares about it. I moved on, graduated, fell in love, got married, and had some babies. The more time passed though, the more I couldn’t bare that I was keeping quiet about what he had done. What if he did it to someone else? Wouldn’t I want someone to speak up if it meant protecting other girls like my daughter? I plucked up my courage and called him. I recorded him admit to grooming me, and having sex with me when I was 15 – and then I took the recording to the police. I did a video interview where I had to tell them everything in painful detail and was reassured that I had a strong case. They did tell me that the rape allegation was unlikely to go anywhere, as there was no evidence – but that the sex with a minor allegation carried a lot of evidence with it, and therefore we had a good chance of conviction.
The case dragged on for months. My mental health spiralled and I struggled, I mean really struggled – to the point I needed anti-anxiety medication and and anti-depressants just to get through the day without wanting to hide away and kill myself. Speaking out about it made the past and the present blurry, I’d get lost in the past and struggled to focus on things in my present. I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, never knowing when, or how it would end.
After 7 long months I was told the police had decided that there would be no further action on my case: they weren’t even going to present it to CPS. I felt hurt, angry and confused.
He had admitted it on tape, how could they not have enough evidence to take it further?
Doctors and school records supported my statement, as did witnesses. I’d put myself through all of this for nothing.
I was then told that the reason it couldn’t be taken any further was because the pre-2003 Sexual Offenses Act (which came in mere months after I turned 16), imposed a time limit on 14 and 15 year olds – that says they have just 1 year to report the offence of sex with a minor, or charges can’t be brought.
I felt numb. I still do.
How was that loophole allowed to exist, and how is it still protecting people who have committed historic child sex offences today?
In the time of #MeToo; People are being encouraged to step forwards and hold their abusers accountable for their actions – yet no one seems to be aware of the law that still silences a large group of them.
I know the law can’t be applied retrospectively, however, I can not understand why they still insist on upholding the time limit, especially in cases where it is so clear that a crime was committed.
I hope by sharing my story I can raise awareness of this abhorrent law, and help other victims of historic abuse go into reporting it with the full facts and their eyes open.
I guess you’re wondering if I regret reporting him? The answer is no. I’m glad I did it. I wish I’d known the facts from the start, and had been able to mentally prepare for the outcome. However, I am proud that I am no longer letting him silence me. I’m proud that I shared my truth. I’m proud that my truth may help one of his other victims (if there are any), one day to get the justice that they deserve.
Me? I’ll never get the justice that I need and I’m working on finding my peace with that. But for now, I know I’ve done all I can to stop others being abused by him again and I’m starting to realise:
I’m no longer his victim. I’m a survivor.
A note from Nikki at the Radical Self Love Collective
This post has been published anonymously, according to the wishes of the writer.
If you have been affected by the issues discussed in this piece, please seek support from the relevant services and support organisations in your area. We have some support service information available in our Directory – and you may find some of the links listed under Survivors helpful, if you too are based in the United Kingdom.
And, if you have been affected by this outdated law, or would like to support survivors of sexual abuse who have been;
Please follow the link here to sign the petition.
Additional information on the law discussed in this post, as covered by the BBC, can also be found here.