This is a guest post. The writer wishes to remain anonymous.
The saddest thing about this story, is that she thinks that many would not empathise with her situation. I certainly did, and I suspect there are few who would not.
I’d like to start by saying I never intended on becoming The Other Woman. I met P at my new job in Paris. We shared an office, and were both in relationships. There was a spark, and a few weeks after meeting we made a pact to break it off with our other halves, and start a new life together. I kept my side of the pact, and he didn’t. You’d think I would have walked then, but he had such plausible excuses, and I was suddenly on my own, in a foreign city, my friends there all having taken my ex’s side. And I was so passionately in love with P. I’d never experienced anything like it before.
The months went on, and I didn’t see the danger signs. I was the Other Woman, which was very frustrating, and I always gave him just one more week, one more month, to sort himself out or I would walk. But I never held him to it, despite my best intentions. I always took him back. When I met new people P always managed to stop me from going out with them. He was very persuasive, very charismatic. He persuaded me he was all I needed, and that one day we would be together. I sound pretty pathetic here, I know. I look back and wonder what on earth I was thinking. My family and friends back in the UK thought I was mad to stay with someone who was already attached. Some stopped talking to me. And the rest stopped talking about him.
So when he started pressuring me for sex, even when I didn’t want it, I didn’t say anything to anyone. He’d start by saying “oh we’ll just cuddle” and I would believe him. Every time. But then he would push for more, and soon I started dreading being alone with him, feeling I was just an object to be used. When I asked him to be a little more gentle, and stop pushing for more more more all the time he looked guilty and said “but sometimes no means yes”.
I believed him. Maybe I was giving off the wrong signals. I was trapped in my own little world which consisted of him, and me, and our secret relationship.
And that is how it started. He got worse. Something in him kind of clicked into place and he turned into a monster. Cliché I know. He would turn up at my flat unannounced (he had his own key, yes, I was that stupid) and raped me. Again, and again, and again, and again. Week after week after week. I didn’t call it rape. I was, after all, his girlfriend, of sorts. Girlfriends don’t get raped. The sessions got more and more brutal. At the end he would always lie back and say “that was the best time ever. Wasnt that the best time ever for you?” And then he would leave. He’d go home to his real girlfriend. I would cry alone.
At work we communicated by email. I had to pretend everything was normal, even though I had to take two weeks off once, unpaid, so that the bruising on my face would go down. After that I gained some strength. In one email I told him I felt violated. That evening he came over to my house as usual, and cried, telling me he thought I enjoyed it as much as him. I told him I didn’t, that it was rape. It was a moment of strength that didn’t last very long. By the time he left I was persuaded that he truly believed I enjoyed it as much as him, that I had shown him that I was enjoying it, that my cries were of pleasure, not pain, and that my tears at the end of every session were because I was overcome with emotion. He begged me not to leave him, that he would come to be with me soon, that our problems would be over. And we made love. Consensually. My resolve had weakened, and within days it was business as usual.
I started to wonder if it was me that was going mad. And I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. My friends would say “leave him” again. And I didn’t want to hear that. My family would be appalled. I couldn’t talk to our mutual colleagues. And I had no friends of my own in that city. And I truly believed that I deserved it. I was messing around with someone else’s man, which obviously made me a slut, and I deserved it. That’s what I thought. And what would the police say? You can hardly arrest a man for banging his mistress. How would I ever have proven that it was rape? Who would believe me?
They say that you can only sink so far before you hit the bottom and you have to start making your way up, or give up completely. I hit the bottom when we ent on holiday together. Just a week. I thought it would be a way of repairing the cracks. Yes, I was that mad. Yes, I still normalised his behaviour. That week I slipped and cracked a foot bone. Nothing major, but very painful. The same evening P went down to the hotel reception and collected some ice. He placed the ice over my foot, and then started obviously preparing himself for sex. “No. I’m in too much pain. Can we please just have one night without sex. I need to try and sleep. My foot hurts. It’s broken” Clear enough? It didn’t stop him. I spent the rest of the night in tears, from the pain and the humiliation and the anger. I was finally angry with him. Anger is more powerful than fear. The following night, the final night of our holidays, he did it again and this time I put up one hell of a fight. The first time I had really fought him. I bit, and I scratched, and kicked with my good foot, and I screamed. Loud enough for the guests in the room next door to bang on the walls. He threw me back on the bed, and did his head in hands, crying thing, where he tried again to convince me that he thought it was all part of the fun.
Those of you who have read that far will no doubt have little sympathy. I sound really pathetic. I would have been the same. I can’t believe that I allowed this to go on for so long. Our relationship lasted for four years. The final year was pure hell. But it is easy to sit back and judge, and say that you would never take that shit from someone. I would never have imagined I would let a man get away with even laying a finger on me .
That time in the hotel room was the last time. We went home, I changed my locks, and looked for a new place to live. We were still working together but I started to look for a new job. And found one, in time. A few months after I removed him from my life, I received a phone call from his real girlfriend. It wasn’t the first one – she had phoned before – I had always denied the relationship. This time I told her what had happened, reassured her that we were no longer together, and apologised. She admitted to me that he was violent with her. During our time together she had had a baby (I hadn’t been aware of that). Within days of her giving birth he was pressuring her for sex. He caused damage. I advised her to walk away from him, and reassured her there was no threat from me. That was five years ago. I get news down the grapevine. They are still together, she has had another child with him, and he has had a string of mistresses at work.
Maybe one will be braver than I ever was. I try not to feel angry at myself for having put up with it all. I still won’t admit to friends and family back home what an awful person he was. I am ashamed. I am ashamed that I wasted four years of my life as a mistress. I am ashamed that I allowed my body to be used in the way I did, that I didn’t somehow put a stop to it. I will never forgive myself for not holding him to account. I left quietly. I didn’t make a fuss. I let him get away with it. All that said, I am convinced the police wouldn’t have been any use at all. How can you explain to police that sometimes sex with the same person can be consensual, and sometimes it can be rape? It’s too late now. The damage is done. I am fortunate in that I met and married a wonderful man. He is understanding, and knows not to ask too many questions on my past. It took me a very long time to enjoy sex again.
Rape comes in so many forms. Yes, we can be attacked by strangers. But most rape victims know their attackers. And some of them, like me, believe themselves to be in loving relationships with their attackers. Writing this out has been pretty hard. I was awake most of last night trying to work out how to put it, honestly, trying not to sound pathetic.
I guess all I can ask of you, the reader, if you get this far is to please believe me.