My first post, in which I overuse the word ‘I’.

I’ve been thinking about writing this for just about forever.  Most of this mulling over has been done at around three o’clock in the morning, where I composed sentences much better than those written here.  Although I’ve said all of this in my head many times over, it’s not a well-polished thing, so lower your expectations slightly on that account.  I’m not a writer, I’m not trying to be, this is just a jumble of sentences that whirr around my head on an almost daily basis.  If you know me in real life, you’ll notice that I don’t mention any names, places or times, I’d like to keep it like that.  Posting this may turn out to be a very poor decision on my part, only time will tell.

This story explains to a large degree why I have returned to medical school eleven years after I first got a place and bumbled off to university one September with some ill-advised clothing and the sincere expectation that I would flower into some sort of heavily-sexed, excellently accessorised, intellectual Bardot lookalike.  My usual explanation for the fact that I left after my first year and reapplied ten years down the line involves some stuttering, various airy hand gestures and vague references to past illness and personal problems.  There’s no handy sentence to sum up all the different experiences I’ve had during those years.  I don’t tell people I don’t like; sometimes I don’t tell people I do like because I worry that if they react badly, I’ll be left trying to make them feel better or remove any awkwardness, and that will make it worse.

So what happened?  I arrived in my halls, mum and I shedding bucket loads of loud, snotty tears as she prepared to drive away and leave me alone in my new home.  She left and I carried out my initial plans of crying some more, connecting my Boots-brand midi sound system and playing some really sad music.  I could flower later, I decided.  I sat staring out of the window, sporting a suitably tragic expression for the benefit of passers-by until a scruffy boy shouted up, “Do you want to come and get drunk with me?” DID I.

So within half an hour, I was having a very lovely time indeed.  Meeting people in my halls, drinking rubbish beer, pontificating about god knows what; I felt so bloody grown up and it was all wonderful.  Later I had the Medics event to look forward to, and was anticipating some sort of massive mind meld of young, earnest, do-gooding, well-rounded types.  Brilliant, I thought.  This is all going to be brilliant.

Well, by ‘later’ I was tipsy, flirty, and having a ball.  A third year pulled me to one side and told me a fifth year (a fifth year!) thought I was beautiful and wanted to meet me.  This was a fairly irregular occurrence for me in my teenage years, up until that point, people had only said things like that to me, well – precisely never.  This flowering business was going a whole lot quicker than I had scheduled in many detailed timelines, but I decided to just go ahead and accept my destiny of being fabulously attractive and popular anyway.

Well, this fifth year, of the omnipresent ‘big, will turn to fat’ rugby player type that do so well at university, seemed very interested indeed.  He was chatty and receptive to my naff stories, bought all my drinks, and looked after my stuff when I went to the toilet.  I had been at university approximately eight hours by then, and it was all going swimmingly.

Then, fairly suddenly, I felt incredibly tired.  I could hardly move my limbs, and within minutes I couldn’t walk, couldn’t speak.  Strong arms lifted me into a taxi; next they were dragging me up a flight of stairs.  I was a dead weight, so when he dropped me on the landing, I was pulled into his room by my hair and my shirt.  Surprisingly few items of my clothing were removed, loud music was switched on, and then that bastard started to punch me all over my body.  I was painfully, acutely aware that no-one in the world knew where I was at that moment, and I felt so terribly sorry for how upset my parents would be if I was ever found.  He told me I was going to die, and it all felt pretty bloody convincing.

For the next five or six hours he raped me in all the dreadful ways that there are, sometimes in a frenzied fashion, occasionally with a sort of bored attitude.  I remember very little, but was sure that I was going to die, and very fucking angry that I couldn’t do anything about it.  In a particularly evil quirk of fate, this horrendous experience was soundtracked by music that I had always detested, and goes some way to explaining why hearing that Take That were reforming was one of the worst pieces of news I have ever received.

To continue with the upsetting stuff, when this was all over, I was driven back to my halls, where I was dropped off somewhere near the entrance and rolled unceremoniously under a bush.  After a few hours, I staggered out of there and back to my flat, where I locked myself in my room and didn’t come out for several days.  Blood seemed to pour out from me every time I stood up, but mostly I just slept and slept and slept.  Everywhere from my breasts to my ankles was angry, purple, tender.  I don’t remember crying.

What happened next was not a conscious decision of mine, and I can’t explain it, so I won’t.  I just shut off from the whole process.  One day, I just got up, got dressed, and made my way into university for the first day of lectures.  I sat through an introductory lecture from the Dean who told us that not only were we smarter, better, more worthwhile than any other students at the uni, but that we had stronger morals, more integrity.  I couldn’t explain at the time why this had me running out of the lecture hall to be violently sick in one of the toilets; I decided I had a stomach bug.  In the medics’ freshers fair afterwards, I seemed to attract an inexplicable amount of attention.  Plenty of boys came and asked me if it was true I liked rough sex and was an easy lay, the horrendous fifth year who I only vaguely seemed to recognise was parading around with his top off showing scratches on his back that I feel fairly certain I wouldn’t have been able to give him, and there were posters with pictures of my face on and the word ‘Tiger’ written across them.

Probably my least favourite thing was a girl in the third year who came up to me and commended me on my ‘strategy’.  I’d made a smart move, she said, and if I slept with a couple more of the ‘influential’ fourth and fifth years, what with that and me being blonde, I stood a very good chance of being elected Secretary of the Medical School Society.  I couldn’t comprehend why I wanted to hit this particular girl so very, very hard, so I turned around and went home.

Beyond that, amazingly, life continued.  I don’t really understand either why I stayed, but I did, and although I thoroughly detested going into university and seeing anyone on my course, I made friends at my halls, some of whom are still very much in my life, I learnt to look after myself, had fun, went out a lot and would generally have described myself as happy.  I remembered nothing about that first night, and attributed my huge sense of unease about my course and everyone on it to it not being the right choice for me.  At the end of the year, I withdrew from medicine to the general amazement of my friends and family, who had always known me to be incredibly enthusiastic about my choice.

So there we were.  Three of four years passed with me attempting to study history but feeling lost and surprised that although I loved the subject, it didn’t feel right somehow.  I felt like I was having a reasonably fun time, although later analysis would show that I drank too much, didn’t feel particularly great about the way I looked, and slept with too many idiots.

I met my first and only real boyfriend when I was 21.  I maintain that I loved him from the moment I saw him, he recalls feeling incredibly drawn to my smile and my breasts.  Oh well.  It was wonderful though, I’ve never felt so clever, so beautiful, so happy.  We’d been together for about a year, spending every day with each other, when we had one of those late night conversations, ruminating on the issues of the day.  We talked about how dreadful it must be to be assaulted, to be attacked, to be raped.  What followed was a complete mental breakdown on my part.  It wasn’t the fact that all the brutal details of that night were suddenly uppermost in my mind, replaying endlessly, but the shock and horror that I had just been able to switch this off for all that time.  I felt sick, didn’t trust myself, panicked about what else I might remember.  I thought I was going insane, and wanted to bury myself somewhere before any other sick details forced themselves into my brain.

The next few years can be summed up as an endless cycle of feeling terrible, going to my GP, being offered anti-depressants, not wanting them, attempting to carry on with any one of a series of jobs I hated, interspersed with various periods of self-harm and suicide attempts.  My GPs were usually busy, harassed and frustrated because, whilst I understood all too well that I was depressed and crippled with anxiety, I didn’t think that tablets were the solution to my particular problem.  When I would be taken into hospital, the general psychiatric opinion was that I was not unwell enough to be referred to their service.  In essence, my self-harm was not harmful enough and I wasn’t swallowing enough pills.  People use the term ‘cry for help’ in a negative sense; but I think it is rather wonderful that despite longing so desperately for peace and a quiet mind, I could never quite overcome the part of me that adores being alive and has extensive plans to be an intensely irritating 120 year old.

Early on in this process, encouraged by my boyfriend, I told my parents what had happened to me, which is something I can only recommend you avoid if you don’t wish to watch the slow, agonised tearing of someone’s heart happening right in front of your eyes.  I’m crying right now thinking about it, it still feels like the worst thing I’ve ever done to anyone.  My poor parents, who had never pushed me into anything, would have been as delighted if I’d wanted to be a professional triangle player as a doctor, because their greatest wish was for me to be happy.  It sounds like such a simple wish, and I felt terrible that I didn’t seem to be able to give them that.

I was never very sure why those those people stuck by me during those horrible years, because I treated everyone like shit, would stay in the house for weeks on end, and generally subject them to some very low times indeed.  There is for me a very real fear that one day I will be called to account for begging those who loved me to help me die because I didn’t have the courage to do it myself.   That’s a hard thing to live with.  I continued to work, but was a terrible employee with an atrocious sickness record, and although some people were very kind when they realised what I was dealing with, no-one (me least of all) knew what I wanted, or what would help.  All I knew was that this was no fun, I had no concept of who I was anymore, I felt pretty much unrecognisable from the person I’d been, and I didn’t want to live my life.

A few things helped.  My boyfriend found details of a free Rape Counselling Service, got them to see me, and took me along.  I was terrified of being patronised, of being treated as a weak, sickly thing, and was disproportionately overjoyed to be told to ‘hit any stuff you like, we find it quite helpful’.  The women there helped me a lot, mainly by making me feel normal.  I’d never felt guilty about the rape, which a lot of people expected me to.  I knew it wasn’t my fault, but I struggled with the ‘why me?’ conundrum – did I somehow look more helpless than anyone else?  My main guilt concerned how I dealt with it – I felt dreadful for blacking out the whole incident, for the years of depression and anxiety afterwards, for taking so long to move on from it.  I hated to be seen as weak, when in truth I was probably the only person labelling myself as such.

It was normal, I was told, to shut out an incident like that until such time as your brain decided you would be able to deal safely with it.  Day one away from home when you are 18 and haven’t made any friends yet is probably not that time.  It was normal, for a person to mentally block this for so long, you would no longer be able to report the incident even if you wanted to.  It was normal, when faced with the amount of chemicals that flood your body in response to your impending death, to go absolutely batshit crazy afterwards, and unless you have experienced that particular level of terror, you can’t really understand what it’s like to be hard-wired to be constantly prepared for your own demise.  It’s not something that I would wish on anyone.

Later, I entered into a short relationship with anti-depressants, but I can’t say whether they helped or not, they didn’t seem to change very much at all beyond giving me an incredibly dry mouth and chronic insomnia.  What helped the most was the passing of time.  Boringly, and terrifyingly for someone who has been recently assaulted, that’s my top tip.  If you can stay alive in the interim, and have very little success in your attempts at ending your life, then one day it just doesn’t hurt quite as much.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still FUCKING OUTRAGED.  I’m cross that that bastard drugged me so I couldn’t put up a fight.  I’d have lost anyway, the fucker was a foot taller than me with a probable ten stone weight advantage, but I’d have liked to have had a go.  I’m fuming that my body, which I’d quite enjoyed up until that point, was used like an ugly, worthless piece of meat.  I’m livid that I have to listen to some medical professionals and plenty of young doctors-to-be chunter on about how depression is just a failure to get a grip on life, and that PTSD doesn’t really exist.  I’m cross that I spent so long being so incredibly, ruinously unhappy.  But often, I’m just very sad, and I cry fat, hot tears for that ridiculous little girl on her first night away from home.

It’s not all doom and gloom though.  I consider myself a very lucky person.  I’m married to my best friend and the kindest man I know (that’s only one person, just to clear up any legal issues), I spend a large proportion of my time laughing and am surrounded by wonderful people, family and friends, one of whom met me when I was about as broken as I was ever going to be.  She was busy being a very wonderful secretary whilst I was a piss-poor one but she never, ever treated me like the fuck-up I felt I was, and her eternal optimism that one day I would, quite simply, be better, was at first bewildering, then later inspiring.  I sometimes feel like I have, in my time, done nearly all the jobs that there are, but people keep reassuring me that this is excellent life experience, and so I’m choosing to market myself along those lines, rather than as ‘flighty’.  In addition, I’m now in my second year of my medical degree, back at university.  When I first attempted to reapply, initial conversations with medical schools around the country ran along these lines: “You’ll have to leave it to the younger ones now, with you being a previous student and choosing to withdraw, I’m afraid you’ve had your chance”.  I take it as a good sign of my recovery that my answer to this was, “No, I really fucking haven’t”.  In fairness, once I’d had a chance to explain myself, every place I applied to was incredibly helpful and positive.

All things being equal, in three and a half years I will qualify as a doctor.  I hope by that time I will also have been able to remedy the situation whereby, as my grandma put it, I seem ‘unable to keep a baby alive inside me.’ (Thanks Gran!)  I hope that I will be someone who people feel able to speak to when they’re feeling really broken, I hope I let them know that it’s okay to be broken, to not like your life, I hope I never trivialise someone having a bad day, a low spell, feeling lost, lonely, empty, numb.    I know that if anyone ever tells me they were raped, I will never utter the words, “I hope they caught him”, as it implies a sequence of events that may never have occurred.  I will never make anyone feel guilty for not reporting a rape; no-one who has endured that has anything to feel guilty about.  I hope I will focus on the person involved, not the crime or the person who committed it, they deserve no thought at all.  I hope I will be able to look at that person when they’re feeling so weak, so defeated, so powerless and tell them how brave and strong they are.  I’ll tell them that because I cried with happiness when someone said it to me.

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186 comments
  1. aynonnymouse said:

    It would seem patronizing to say how sorry I am that you went through this. After all I didn’t do it so I can’t apologise for someone else’s behaviour. What I would like to say is that anyone who can write it all down and hit post has to be brave, has to be strong and absolutely has to have all their shit together most of the time. I know I couldn’t do it. I don’t even bother telling people any more as it makes me feel more like I’m over it. One thing that anyone who goes through this has to understand is there’s no shame in being raped – which sounds like a ridiculous thing to say until you consider that its never going to be a choice you make, hell its never going to be a choice at all, so if you can’t choose how can you be ashamed of the outcome. People, especially women are looked at as shameful victims and while it is a crime and you are a victim of that you don’t have to be a victim of the consequences of that.

    What you have put out there in this post is a way to show that it can be overcome, you can find your goals and you most certainly can live your life, just as you want to. For that, and for the candour of your words, I applaud you

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Considering how often I doubt all the decisions I’ve made with dealing with this issue, and how much it is part of my life, to be described as having ‘all of my shit together most of the time’ pleases me intensely. It reminds me that it’s okay for me to feel completely rubbish sometimes, but in the main I’m fine and that’s brilliant. I think I’m going to write it out and pin it up somewhere!

      Telling people is such a weird thing. I’m not sure I would have written this had I not gone back to uni, where I have to introduce myself to about ten new people a day, who seem to want some sort of explanation for me being there, being older, having been before. I think the frustration just built up, I’ve never really felt the same need to explain myself before. People who know are usually those who have been in my life for a very long time, or who met me when I was having a bad time and received some explanation of that.

      I’m so grateful for you saying these things to me on here, it’s made me really happy.

  2. Me said:

    Hello. I follow you on twitter and think you are, funny and cool.

    This is a ridiculously brave and amazing and articulate and just wow first blog post. I was raped fourteen years ago now by my then boyfriend. It was horrible. I also blanked it for years. I also was a mess for a very long time.

    This helped me realise again (I need to keep realising and remembering) that it was okay to take that long.

    • Me said:

      P.S
      Was writing on phone on train so had to stop. I think you will be a fucking amazing GP. I’ve been told I’m not depressed our worth bothering with as even when I think I want to kill myself I know I won’t. And I’m squeamish so I don’t cut.

      Also as was on train a man was clearly reading this and my reply over my shoulder. He caught my eye as I got off the, train

      • Irregularly Irregular said:

        That sentence about needing to keep remembering it’s okay to take a long time to get over something bad sums up pretty much how I’ve felt for ages, it feels good to hear someone else say it. As if the experience itself isn’t bad enough, it’s too easy to get caught up in over-analysing how we’ve dealt with it, particularly when outside people don’t seem particularly inclined to help.

        I think it’s the most ridiculous situation that you need to somehow prove how bad a time you’re having in order to get help, and often your word isn’t good enough. People should be rewarded for managing to keep themselves safe when they are feeling so low, not have it held against them that somehow they weren’t sad enough.

        Thank you so much for talking to me xxx

  3. JE said:

    We don’t know each other. I followed a random link on Twitter to this.

    But I couldn’t read it and not say how inspiring you are, to come through all that and think ‘Fuck this, I’m going back and trying again.’ I think you’re amazing.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      I love Twitter for this, someone who I don’t even know can spend some time out of their day to read about my life, and make me feel so much better in the process. Thank you for your kind words, they really mean a lot.

    • Jacob said:

      Ditto. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I also followed one random link that led to another and finally here…
    Not many people would have the courage to go through everything you did and come back as strong and as hopeful. You are a true fighter and that’s incredibly inspirational.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      You wouldn’t make believe how good that makes me feel. I’m so glad I wrote it now, and kind people like you taking the time to give me feedback has pretty much erased all the times I felt terrible in the past when I confided in someone and they reacted in a bad way. You can really get put off sharing stuff like this if someone then looks down on you, or worse, feels so uncomfortable they ignore you. Thank you for reading and replying.

  5. I too came across your blog through Twitter and couldn’t leave without saying hello and leaving you a comment.

    Firstly, this might sound like such a strange thing to say, but I wanted to say thank you for writing this incredibly brave and honest post. By sharing your experience, it will undoubtedly help many women who have unfortunately been through similar experiences and I hope that in writing this, it has in some small way helped you too.

    You should be incredibly proud of how far you have come as you venture into your ‘brave new world’ and I wish you all the luck in the world for the future. Keep your fighting spirit strong and your head up high. You ARE amazing x

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Thank you! It’s helped me in a much bigger way than I thought it would, everyone who has spoken to me about it has been kind so far, and it has had a big impact on me. I know in our perfect ideal we only need to be happy with ourselves, and not worry what anyone else thinks of us; but I for one don’t work like that, and to get kind words from kind people is really helping me to let go of the idea that I responded to the whole thing badly, or have wasted a portion of my life. Thanks for reading, and for responding, I am incredibly grateful for everyone’s comments.

  6. OrdinaryJo said:

    I think your 18 year old self would be so very very fucking proud of your ‘now’ self. Doesn’t mean my heart isn’t breaking for that poor wee girl and all she went through, but you *did* come through it. I came on this post randomly through Twitter and I really hope that others who need to hear your story will find it too.

    (Also it’s good writing! keep doing it!)

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Thank you Jo! I really hope she would. This kind of feedback is starting to really convince me that I didn’t let myself down by the way I dealt with it, all those things were normal responses to an incredibly fucking abnormal situation. Sometimes I feel like the goal is never being depressed or feeling bad about it again, and I have to remind myself that that’s not an achievable goal for anybody. Feeling ok most of the time is good enough I reckon!

  7. Gdorean said:

    Truly harrowing, you are a very brave person for retelling this. I wish you all possible success in your career.

  8. Rose said:

    I’m sitting in a bus station waiting for a bus and started reading your post. The bus could have come and gone a dozen times and I wouldn’t have noticed. I am so stunned by it and by you: you are clearly going to be such a wonderful doctor, the kind everybody wishes they had. I’m sorry that that bastard did that to you; I’m so glad you are still here to tell us about it and about your so inspirational refusal to give up on yourself. Oh, and you said you weren’t a writer but you are.

  9. Katie said:

    I also found this through a Twitter link and I couldn’t leave without commenting. I am inspired by your strength and fortitude, and I am so grateful that you have felt able to share your story. I wish you every happiness in the future.

  10. I followed a retweet by Caitlin Moran to this article.

    I had what was, in many ways, a very similar experience during my Fresher’s Week, and I also had comments from people who just assumed I’d been a dirty whore who got into a taxi with a stranger. I’m in my second year now and those people are still none the wiser, and I still get looks of disgust off of them when they catch my eye. In fact, it happened today.

    But I know now that I am so much better than that. I spoke on the phone to people from “the Haven”, and just having the opportunity to talk about exactly what happened and how I felt lifted such a huge burden off of my shoulders, and I think it is so important to not be afraid or ashamed to talk about it.

    I think your story is inspiring. Getting on with your life is the most important step. I was fortunate enough to be able to get over it with the help of some good friends and an amazing boyfriend, and I’m on track for a first class law degree. Unfortunately, I’ve never told my family about what happened. When you spoke about your parent’s reaction, I cried because I know that would be exactly how my parents would react, and I just can’t bring myself to break their hearts; as I say, I am fortunate enough that I have the support network I do.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Rebecca, I’m so sorry you’re in this boat too, there seem to be lots of us about. I think I had this false ideal in my head about university; I thought it was going to abound with people being open and tolerant and non-judgy (had I just read the wrong books?!). Those horrible reactions are so uninformed, and so unfair; and can make you feel really crappy when you’re having a bad enough time anyway. Thank you very much for saying this, I think you’re amazing and I wish you all the best, I really do xxx

  11. I’m another person who came across a link on Twitter that lead me here.

    There’s nothing I can say that will make things any better for you but I needed to tell you how brave and inspiring you are for publishing this post.

    I wish you all the best with uni, I’ve no doubt you’ll be a great doctor.

    PS: you are a writer.

  12. Sky said:

    So, here I am sobbing away like an idiot and feeling ridiculously selfish as I’ve somehow managed to make reading your story all about me…. I have a successful career, people think of me as a success in general (apart from the ‘failure’ to hold down a relationship) and yet, the reality is that I’m pretty much a complete shambles. I was 13 when I was raped by 3 boys from school and apart from a night crying quietly in bed, shut it out and didn’t mention it to anyone for years. When I was 19 I met my first boyfriend who will never know just how much he helped me even though it all ended fairly acrimoniously. I was 28 when a different boyfriend raped me although he was polite enough to send me a text message to say sorry afterwards.

    The reason for my reply to your incredible post really wasn’t to make it about me but to say how much of it resonated with me and how I feel that anyone who has been raped might just breathe a sigh of relief reading it. I don’t know what it must be like for someone when faced with a close friend or relative telling them they’ve been raped. My experience of telling people have ranged from “are you sure?”, “it’s not like you were properly raped though?” to the ones that have damaged my ability to get close to anyone – a once very close friend telling me telling me that her experience was much worse as she got so drunk, woke up in someone’s bed and doesn’t know if she was raped or not and my last boyfriend telling me that “they probably didn’t mean it” and asking me what I had done to contribute to it happening. Just fucking unlucky I guess.

    So, I’ve made it all about me again. Sorry.

    You will be brilliant in whatever you choose to do, not least because when someone is telling you something difficult or traumatic you’ll be properly listening and not just thinking of a reply or solution.

    I think you’re fab x

    • Katie said:

      Those reactions are horrific, especially as they came from people who were close to you and should be best placed to support and understand. I know so many otherwise intelligent people who just do not understand rape, and trying to change their views leaves me frustrated and teary. I’m so grateful to you and the author of this piece for sharing your stories. Hopefully it will get through to some of the people whose attitudes need to change.

      In the meantime, I’m so very sorry for what you went through and I hope you have the support you need right now. I wish you all the best and every happiness in the future.

      • Sky said:

        Thank you. It’s the first time in 25 years (it’s been that long??!) that I have feel pleased I ‘talked’ about it. I will be raising a large glass of wine to your lovely self this evening x

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      I wish I could give you a big hug right now, I really do. Your story IS all about you, mine is all about me, and that’s the way it should be because it’s really fucking important. I’m so grateful that you told me some of your story, and sorry that you’ve had such terrible experiences, and such ignorant reactions.

      When you tell someone something bad, they so desperately want to fix it for you that they quite often seem to ignore what you’re saying, or don’t even realise that you’re not looking for a solution, you just want to share the burden a little. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve tried to explain that to a person. What’s good at least is you know that’s what you need, and I bet you’re pretty good at helping other people who need to offload, you’ve certainly been kind enough to listen to me and make me feel better about myself.

      I wish you all good things, and I’m so glad you wrote about it on here, you’re going to have had an impact on everyone who reads it. If you just want to talk away at me, and me do nothing but listen, I’m up for that. Much love xxx

      • Sky said:

        Consider your reply a great big virtual hug. I’ve just read your second post, started following you on Twitter and am beginning to feel a bit like a stalker 🙂

        I can’t begin to explain the impact your first post has had on me. I’ve been feeling every possible emotion – from brave and invincible to terrified and self concious and weirdly nervous about what anyone reading my comment might think of me. I’m 37 and believe me, you never stop ‘being a div’, in fact embrace it as without meaning to sound all fluffy, it’s a great way of reminding the person wailing in the corner that you’re as ‘normal’ as the next person. I love it when my friends laugh out loud at something I’ve done or said, I’ve spent so long being so incredibly self concious about myself that I only portrayed a calm and in control exterior and hated being mocked. Now I love it and it only happened after I sat next to a brilliant friend and told her that I was falling apart and that I didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t soon after being raped, it was a few months ago after breaking up with an emotionally abusive partner, having to move house, etc, etc. She didn’t try to fix it, she opened the wine whilst hugging me at the same time. That is why she’s my saviour and I hope you have yours, it certainly sounds like it.

        Anyway, I seem to have replied and commented on your second post all at the same time. I think your a bit more fab today and look forward to post number 3.

        Cheers x

      • Irregularly Irregular said:

        Hello again, I’m so glad you’re commenting, it’s nice to start recognising some signatures after the first bewildering moments! I’m entirely with you about being silly and how much it helps, in fact my best friends (Twitter, real life, wevs, I love them all) have been pretty amazing with this since I posted, and have been so funny and told me such daft stories I’ve nearly choked laughing. Much needed.

        Do me a favour would you, fellow div, and give us a nudge on Twitter? xxx

  13. Ella said:

    Beautifully written words by a beautiful lady. It’s OK to feel like you want to give up now and then. It’s OK to feel down and it’s certainly OK to want to punch things. A lot.

    I’ve not been through anything even remotely as harrowing as you and I have days like that myself. Allow yourself the space to be really fucking angry but never forget that you are never alone and that you are loved.

    Thank you for sharing and good luck in everything you do. You’ll make an amazing Doctor one day. xxx

    PS I also found this through Twitter.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      This is good stuff, thank you. I do need to remember those things. I can get very scared about down days, as I think they herald a return to the scary past, but actually, every bugger has them, and it’s got nothing to do with what we have or haven’t experienced.

      Aside from which, hitting inanimate objects can just be really fun xxx

  14. I’m going to be really inarticulate here, so i’ll apologise for that now. i just really wanted to leave a comment to let you know how moved i am by your bravery, not only to go through what you’ve been through, but also to share it with others. you talk about how you hope you’ll be an understanding an empathetic doctor, but i hope you realise that by just writing about your experiences, you are likely to help a lot of people. i also found your blog through twitter, and am so glad i did. your post was difficult to read, my heart went out to you and it made me so angry, but i’m glad to have read it, and by doing so to be part of what i hope is a cathartic process for you.

    you are very strong, brave, and insightful, and i’m sure your going to be and absolutely brilliant doctor. what’s for you wont go by you and i hope you love every minute of your training and your career ahead.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Not inarticulate at all! Thank you for reading and thank you for such lovely words xxx

  15. kw said:

    You are tremendously courageous and brave. I read your post and cried. It isn’t fair that as the ‘weaker’ sex we are blamed or labeled or ignored. You did a brave thing and you should be proud of yourself for never, ever giving up. I think you’ll make a flipping brilliant doctor!

  16. Truly brave to push through your fears and regain your trust in self. Your future of making a difference in the medical world seems to be destined for you. Your friends and family obviously hold you in high esteem and believe in you. Your partner is also your champion (yes watched eat pray love too many times!). You are evidence that life is shit sometimes it’s what you do next that counts. You give me hope in the medical profession to stop the all too easy prescription of drugs and move towards alternative help/therapy to deal with the cause of people’s challenges. Drugs numb the pain. They can help but on my experience they prolong the pain and keep you paralysed and in fear. Thank you for being courageous and being true to you! Enjoy the rest of your life. Hope you share some of it with us. Be well. Nicky x

  17. Nicole said:

    Thank you for sharing your story with the world – that takes a lot of courage. I, too, think you will make an amazing doctor; you are already an amazing person, just from what I’ve read here. (I’m another person who found this link on Twitter. I hope you’re not feeling overwhelmed by the response!)

    Best of luck for the future – and I hope you carry on with your blog. You write brilliantly.

  18. VW said:

    Thank you for writing this.

  19. Lisa said:

    I can’t add anything that hasn’t already said. It seems to me that there simply aren’t enough superlatives to do justice to quite how amazing you must be. To write with such honesty and self-awareness, and to have confronted what you went through by picking up your studies again… What courage, integrity, tenacity. I’m not even going to say ‘good luck’ for the future: you cannot fail to continue to be marvellous x

  20. F said:

    That was the most absorbing piece of writing I have read for a long time. I lost my virginity to a rapist at 16 and, like you, blocked it out for a long time. It all came flooding out if me at 21 when I met the love of my life and I think I must have felt safe enough finally to let it out.
    I’ve had counselling on and off over the last 20 years and I think I can honestly say I’ve dealt with it now and gave forgiven the 16 year old me for putting herself in a vunerable situation. It took such a long time for me to give myself a break.
    I admire your determination and bravery to reclaim the life you’d been driven away from. I think my experience has taught me that to fully recover from something so traumatic you have to ‘feel’ it to the extreme, wring out every last emotion from it and explore it to death.
    I think because I’ve examined it over and over for the last 20 years I feel like everyone knows that it happened but in truth I’ve only told a handful of people. I hope people gain as much from reading your story as I have. You are going to be a brilliant doctor.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Thank you for posting this. I’m feeling quite overwhelmed by people’s experiences, and some of the similarities in the way we have dealt with things. I agree with what you say about having to really feel something and get every last atom of information out of it; so often I’ve been upset about a given situation, and struggled to identify what exactly in it I have the problem with.

      I wonder if putting it off (unintentionally, I mean) means we take longer to process it when it does happen? Or is there just that extra feeling of shock, of feeling betrayed by our minds? Not sure what I think of this yet.

      Thank you again, I’m very grateful, I wish you all the best xxx

  21. F said:

    Oh, and keep on writing stuff – you’re good!

  22. talopine said:

    (Also here from a random twitter link.) I’m sorry such an awful thing happened to you and I’m so glad that you feel able to share it and talk about it now.

  23. Mark Moynihan said:

    I’m another one who found this on twitter.
    I just wanted to say what a heart-breakingly frank account this is. I can’t imagine how horrific your ordeal was but your bravery in, not just telling the story but going back to Uni again to get the chance you rightly deserve is truly inspirational. I can only pray that the fucker who inflicted that on you gets run over by a combine harvester.

    Do not sell yourself short. You are a wonderful writer.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Mark, you win a theoretical prize (this cushion?) for making me laugh a lot. Thank you very much for that and your kind words xxx

  24. meg said:

    Thank you so much for this post.

    I am currently wobbling my way through my twenties following being raped four years ago. It is safe to say that I am nowhere near coming to terms with it, and that it still impacts on all of my relationships.

    I feel very much that the trauma of the experience is something that may be with me forever, and that sometimes, I am going to be inconsolably sad at the memories stirred up by a cold December night, but I also think that it is absolutely fine to still feel low. There is no timeframe for recovery, there is no good time to tell friends and family, there is no easy way to open up dialogue about the experience, and reading your post has made me feel stronger in that. Telling my boyfriend was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but all of my fears of judgment were coming from myself and not from him, and I now feel supported in a way I haven’t before.

    I think it’s amazing that you’ve returned to university to study medicine. From the sounds of it, you will make a fantastic doctor.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Oh Meg, thank you for writing that. ‘Wobbling through my twenties’ has touched my heart, seriously. Do you think we assume people will react badly just to protect ourselves in case they do? I like the way you write, you seem very open about the realities of the thing. I truly hope that the ratio of good times to bad times continues to improve for you, I wish you all the best xxx

      • meg said:

        Thanks so much for taking the time to reply! I certainly know that for myself, I always expect the worse case scenario reaction to protect myself, despite the last four years of experience teaching me that the people I love have been nothing but supportive.
        The scales are a bit tipped towards a negative place at the moment, but I know that the balance will shift again in time. Not least because you have shown me that not only is it okay to not feel okay, but that the times when you’re totally dominating life are never far away. Again, thank you, you have no idea how much sharing your story has helped me and so many others. xxx

  25. I’m another who came vuia a random link (Caitlin Moran) on twitter.
    This is such a brave post, and a testament to how strong a person you are, to be able to write about it, to be able to go back to study, and to become a doctor.
    I wish that he hadn’t done that to you, and taken so much of the last 10 years of your life. I am so glad that you have a husband and family and friends who you love and trust, and I feel sure you will be a great doctor.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Thank you. I’m phenomenally lucky with the people around me, and to now get all this extra loveliness and support is great xxx

  26. harry said:

    I’m another reader who found this through twitter.
    I’m so sad that this happened to you but so incredibly inspired by the way you have dealt with it and by your decision to write this. I’m struck by your bravery in so many ways.

    You will, as others have said here, be an amazing doctor. And you are an excellent writer (I hope you are planning to write more)
    I wish you all the best x

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Thank you so much. It’s quite nice to think that the next time I feel bad, I’ll be able to say so without any huge explanation first! Thanks for making me feel so good about it xxx

      • harry said:

        Really glad you are feeling that way. It’s clear from reading these comments that you’ve given others the opportunity to tell their stories too. That is such a wonderful thing.

        What you say about not having to explain the way you are feeling – that must feel like a weight lifted.
        all the best xxxxx

  27. Anon said:

    Thank you.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      You’re welcome xxx

  28. C said:

    You are a light xxxxx I’m sorry you had to go through such darkness to get here.
    I have a story too. My PTSD took a year to show up when I finally couldn’t get out of bed one day. I had to quit my job, move back home and stay at home for over a year till I could find myself again. There was a lot of self destruction. Then I managed to find my way back, with support and therapy and determination not to be robbed any more.
    I am happy, married with 2 daughters.

    “The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief”. Othello Quote (Act I, Scene III).

    With warmth x

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Thank you! How very kind! It’s been explained to me how we push these things to the back to protect ourselves at the time; but I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for the moment when they come rushing back, do you? I’m very glad to hear that you have coped so well with a horrible situation, I wish you all the best xxx

  29. Emma said:

    I just know this personal piece of writing has made a huge impact on some peoples lives…and even saved some. X

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      People being kind enough to take the time to read and leave me lovely feedback like this has certainly made a massive impact on me, I’m feeling pretty good about it all and I’m very grateful, so thank you xxx

  30. Lily said:

    When I was 18 my friend and I went home with two young men we’d been talking to in the pub. One of them was very attentive and I was flattered. He asked if I’d like to listen to some music in his room. I naively went up there, we kissed and then I asked him to stop and he didn’t. I felt so stupid and ashamed for being so utterly gullible. I said ‘no’ quite clearly, but he didn’t take any notice. When he was done he told me that he’d slept with another friend of mine and that she was a ‘slag’. A real charmer of a mysogynistic bastard! I suspect that it may never have occurred to him that he did anything wrong. I expect he thinks I ‘wanted’ it.

    I think about this often, although I wish I didn’t. The thing that I can’t forgive myself for is that there were other people in the house and if I had shouted for help, I might have been able to stop what happened. I didn’t though. I don’t understand why I couldn’t. I lay there and waited for it to stop, too horrified to move.

    I never told anyone until years later, when I told my husband. He was very angry that this had happened to me, but has supported me fully. He is a very caring person and we are very happy together. I am lucky.

    I still feel stupid and guilty and ashamed. I have heard people saying that it is the fault of the girls who get drunk or whatever. I know it is not, but a part of me burns with shame. This is the first time that I have told anyone else, in spite of two friends who have told me about their own rapes. How many of us has this happened to?

    More than 20 years later and I am still coming to terms with this. I have also been sexually assaulted on public transport three times. I must look have looked vulnerable, like a victim? It makes me fucking furious now to look back on what happened to my younger self.

    I am very happily married now. I have a lovely daughter and one day I will tell her to be careful because some men go out of their way to make you trust them, so that they can pounce. Most men would never treat a woman like that though!

    Thank you so much for sharing your very moving story. I hope that telling it helps your healing process to continue. It has certainly helped me.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Oh Lily, you poor, poor thing. I’m so sorry this happened to you, and sorry for the way you’ve felt afterwards. Shame is horrid, isn’t it, just a terrible slow-burning anger we turn in on ourselves for want of something better to do with it. I’ve struggled with the ‘why me?’ aspect, and can’t imagine how that feels once you multiply it up. You’re very brave. It was a great/shit moment for me when I decided (for me anyway, don’t know if I’m right on this) that it was nothing negative about me that made this happen; but probably there wasn’t anything positive about me that made me be chosen either. I really think it was just because I was THERE. I’m not sure in that instant if much thought was given to us as individuals, with personalities and insecurities. We have meant very little to them, I just hope that one day we don’t really give a fuck about them, either.

      Thank you very much for saying this to me, these stories are reinforcing the ‘normalness’ of how people have reacted. I’m finding that quite comforting, I hope you do too xxx

      • Lily said:

        Thank you so much. It feels really good to hear you say these things. I think that you are right: that person is so irrelevant to my life now in all truth. Much love to you and thank you for helping me by sharing your story. XX

    • DD said:

      There is so much I could say after reading your incredible story but the main thing is that I am so so sorry you went through this awful awful experience. I have deep admiration for you in ‘coming out’ and I hope it further helps you to heal, you have come so far. I bet you have helped a lot of other raped women by sharing your story.
      Go forth with your life you beautiful, brave, tender hearted woman.

  31. Bunnylover said:

    I am so proud of you, though I don’t know you. Thank you for what you wrote, you have helped me more than you can know. I have had 20 years of on-off mental illness which I know is a form of PTSD from an abusive childhood. The ability we have to block things out and disassociate from the trauma is what keeps us alive in the moment, but there is a terrible price to pay.

    I found the worst part when you are seeking help and support is the denial you encounter, that you’re not sick “enough”, suffering “enough” to justify treatment. Then there are the “was it really that bad?” reactions from friends and even some psychologists who seem to think that because you can speak articulately, dress yourself properly and have brushed your hair, you can’t really be suicidal. If you’re not rocking backwards and forwards in a corner, catatonic, you’re not suffering. To hear doctors say that depression is weakness of character or that PTSD doesn’t exist is shocking but reflects more on them than you.

    To relate, and hopefully help you remember your reaction is a normal one (and to help me feel the same way), I also had to leave university mid-way through my degree because I began to understand what had happened to me at home. I tried to complete my degree again but had more mental breakdowns. I think I probably went back to it too early, it is only now that I am really beginning to heal. I also had a string of jobs that I was incapable of holding down due to my mental health, with poor attendance and performance at work. Your response and the time it took is natural, and feeling guilty and weak and useless and a failure is natural too, because the feelings and memories are so overwhelming. The guilt for not coping ultimately became more crippling for me than the memories of what had happened.

    I commend you for forming and maintaining relationships, for me, that’s the hardest part. I have not been able to open up to many people and have found those I’ve told to react in ways that left me feeling more alone, until I met my husband who has shown me what love is.

    As so many others have said, you will be a wonderful doctor. Please keep writing, it will touch and change so many people’s lives and I also think it will help you remind yourself of how far you have come.

    I send you my love. xxx

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Thank you so much for writing this. I’m trying to stop myself going through it sentence by sentence and just saying ‘I completely agree’ over and over.

      The blocking things out: my thoughts now are that this is a pure survival instinct, not the ideal. In the same way you can survive massive blood loss, but still manage to run for help; but you wouldn’t recommend anyone actually did it as a workout. There’s definitely a price, the least of it being that you don’t really trust yourself, and severely doubt your mental health. Guilt for not coping: I’m with you. I’m not sure how we set that bar in our head, but it’s pretty bloody high.

      Thank you so much for making me feel I reacted ‘normally’ – a strange concept but one I value a lot. I hope things continue to improve for you, lots of love xxx

  32. Katy said:

    Also found your blog post via twitter. You are an amazingly brave woman and I wish you so much luck for your course xx

  33. BukowskiBitch said:

    I’ve followed you on twitter for a while & always thought you a witty clever tweeter. I now realise you are a fantastic writer & a fuckingly( is that even a word? It is now!) amazing person too. Clever warm witty & brave beyond measure. I don’t even know you & I’m proud of you, your mum dad husband & friends must be bursting. I wish you luck in all you do, although I already know that you’ll do whatever you want to do as youhave shown you are master of your own destiny & will make it happen through your strength of will.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      I approve this tweet, and I adore the word ‘fuckingly’. Let’s get this out there! In more serious news, thank you, this is brilliant to hear. Those people are definitely proud of me, but I think this might be the first time I am. It feels fuckingly spectacular xxx

  34. Trosie said:

    Wow, a true inspiration to so many people. I came across your fabulous scribblings through a friend who works at a rape crisis centre and am another who has been reduced to a tears through your bravery and candidness. Thankfully I have never been through such a horrific experience, but have suffered a fair few tragedies and can honestly say that whatever a persons
    reaction or however they deal with it is ok

    because it’s their way! A very close friends onc

  35. christine said:

    I just had to tell you how amazing you are. I can’t imagine anything more horrific! This post is will reach out to all women. Congratulations on winning your life back. We don’t often encounter truly courageous people! Through this post I have. Thank you! Wishing you every happiness for your bright future! xxx

  36. Trosie said:

    Somehow my techno self has failed miserably and I apologise profusely if you have a half finished message somewhere in cyber space! Tried to say well done you for being so utterly brilliant and brave…… a wonderful friend once said to me “after any tragedy life will never be what you know as normal again, you just have to find your new normal however long that takes.” These words have stayed with me and are just oh so fucking true!! You are an inspiration, well done for doing it your way and keep up the scribblings….brilliant xxx

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Thank you to you and your friend for some very sound advice! I’m overjoyed to think that someone who works in a rape crisis centre has read this, I really hope they reacted favourably and know that I’m so grateful that they even exist.

      Your techno self did pretty good really xxx

      • Trosie said:

        Oh she definately reacted favourably and linked it through her FB page which is how I came upon it! Once again I salute your very courageous self, please keep strong and take heart and be proud that all of these beautiful people are truely finding comfort and hope through your story xxxxxxxxxxxx

  37. Catherine said:

    Thank you for writing this, because nearly twenty years later I still can’t. What my then boyfriend’s best friend did when I was 18 will never be forgotten or forgiven. It’s scarred my life and my mental health, but I agree that you just have to put 1 foot in front of the other until enough times passes that you remember to live. Good luck and thank you.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Oh Catherine, I’m so terribly sorry. I wish I could give you a hug. If you want to talk about it, I am on occasion capable of being silent, and would willingly listen. If not, that is equally ok. I wish you all the best xxx

  38. It genuinely made me cry to read your story.

    I’m glad you found the words and the courage to tell your story, and to tell it in such a evocative way. I hope this is a post other victims will find when they go searching to find that they’re aren’t the only one to feel the way they do, because this post will inspire and comfort them.

    And also make them cry. It’ll definitely do that.

    Thank you for writing this.

  39. Emma Jay said:

    God, you’re so fucking incredible. The feedback you’re getting is just awesome! And rightly so. You’re a special one kiddo. Very special indeed. Big hugs to you and hope to see you very soon. I might even buy you a cocktail. xxxxxx

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      CAN WE DO THIS RIGHT NOW PLEASE? xxx

  40. Found my way here from Twitter & just have to say what a star you are for surviving and for writing about it and for going back to med school. I don’t doubt what you’ve written here will help many and maybe even save lives, as others have said.

  41. thescribbl3r said:

    I can’t thank you enough for posting this. I am not as far along the healing process as you seem to be and find myself stuck in the quietly losing mind stage. But your post gives me hope that even though I’m a mess at the moment, one day I might not be. Thank you. I think you might have saved my life – or at least my sanity – tonight.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      You’re lovely, and if you don’t mind me saying so, your blog title made me giggle. I’m not really sure what stage I’m at – one week I would tell you I was fine, a month later I might feel as if nothing had ever changed. Being a bit of a mess (as we all are, really, deep down) is a bit of a fluid business I reckon. I hope you have more good times than bad, and that you manage against the odds not to give yourself too hard a time, wherever you’re at. Big hugs xxx

  42. What a brave and incredible post. I think that all young people should read this or something like it before going off to college. Perhaps the girls will understand to be on their guard, and maybe a few boys will even see how horrible their actions could be.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Thank you. I think I know what you mean, but I do think it would be rather lovely if no-one had to be on their guard ever, and not worry about what might happen to them.

      • It absolutely would be lovely…but I’d rather my daughters were safe, and unfortunately we live in a rather imperfect world. Thank you again for putting your story out there.

  43. Laura said:

    okay, i have no idea how I’m even writing this right now because i’m just crying and crying but I wanted to say thank you, so so much, for writing this.

    There’s a comment somewhere that apologises for taking your post and making into themselves, and I’m afraid I’m going to have to do the same.

    I ended up moving in with my first boyfriend. He was great at first, y’know? Charming. Loving. And of course, he was my first boyfriend so I thought that everything he did was the most the wonderful thing in the world. My mum had moved to the other side of the world and it was just me and him and it was fine because I had him. But it was a slow decline, I think. It went from ‘feeling loved and wanted’ to ‘feeling trapped and alone’. He was never physically violent in the sense that he left bruises, but he spat on me and I will never forget that time when he backed me up against the sofa and I ended up having to sit there while he leant over and yelled in my face. But the thing I remember the most is the way that he just wouldn’t accept ‘no’ for an answer. Of course, I’d say it, but he’d keep pushing and pushing and pushing and in the end, he just wouldn’t leave me alone. I gave in. Is that consent? It didn’t feel like it. I remember I’d stare at the ceiling and just wait for it all to be over but the stupid, stupid voice in my head would say ‘at least it’s not violent’. I hated myself. I hated him for what he was doing to me. And it was the way he was so…. loving afterwards. ‘are you okay? was that good?’ and he’d cuddle me like he did when we first got together and I’d doubt myself all over again. I’d think to myself ‘you’re in a relationship with him, he loves you, it’s okay.’

    Those six months I spent alone with him… I can barely remember them, it’s only certain memories I have that really stand out. I ended up moving to Australia to be with my mum, but I didn’t have the strength to leave him myself. It was my mum that booked the ticket, it was my uncle who drove me to the airport.

    It’s this part that really, really strikes me: “It was normal, when faced with the amount of chemicals that flood your body in response to your impending death, to go absolutely batshit crazy afterwards, and unless you have experienced that particular level of terror, you can’t really understand what it’s like to be hard-wired to be constantly prepared for your own demise.”

    I understand. I really do. I just didn’t realise at the time that that’s how I was living my life.

    I came here, and I ended up in therapy and on anti-depressants but they just gave me horrid, vivid dreams and nothing else, but I’m doing okay now. I have friends and a job and I’m at uni.

    I’m angry at him too. As you put it, I’m fucking outraged that he thought that it was okay for him to do what he did to me. And to this day he still pretends like he did nothing wrong. It doesn’t matter about him now though.

    I guess you’ve been told again and again how brave you are for writing this, and I agree. It took me two years before I’d even begun to accept that what had happened in that relationship wasn’t healthy or consensual. I really want to thank you for writing this. Thank you for making me realise that it’s okay to still feel like this, and letting us know that we really aren’t alone. It sounds so contrite but I don’t really know what else to say. I’m here, you’re here, we got through and there were some really smashing things waiting for us on the other side. Again, thank you.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Laura, thank you for taking the time to read, and then write this. I was having a moment just then, feeling quite odd about my little story bouncing around the internet and wanting to hide in a hole, but now I’m feeling like this is a good thing, because we get to tell each other our stories and hopefully all feel a little bit saner, if not better.

      I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’m sorry for the way it’s made you feel. I hope the therapy worked better than the anti-depressants, which don’t sound like they helped you out very much at all. The things you’ve written in your last paragraph are what I want to say back to you – thanks for writing it, thanks for making me feel normal, and I’m glad we’re both doing a bit better these days. Much love xxx

  44. Jo Leigh said:

    I’m 57 years old and I’m just now coming to terms with my sexual abuse, and recently I’ve found myself wanting to share with others. I wish I had had more information growing up. I wish I had understood what it was to disassociate, that I subconsciously pulled people into my life who would confirm the very worst of what I believed about myself. I have years I can barely recall, even though I was able to function, and work. I made jokes about my promiscuity, not realizing that I was recreating my trauma over and over. Finally, I’m getting the help I need, and the overwhelming sadness is how cheated I feel. I was robbed of so many experiences. If there was any way sharing my experiences would help someone who has gone through rape or abuse it would make a difference to me, as well. Some good things need to come out of this. You sharing your story was very empowering. Thank you for being an example of finding strength in being authentic and taking such a bold risk.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Hello Jo. Thank you for saying this, a lot of the things you say resonate strongly with me, and I’m sure with others too. I find it hard to look back on cycles of the same behaviour, but I’m trying really hard not to think of any of it as wasted time. I’m angry about a lot of it, but can’t really find it in me to regret any of my life. If you feel you want to share, I hope it works out for you – people are so very kind. I wish you all the best xxx

  45. sarahderrig said:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I think you are truly a brave and remarkable woman and I wish you nothing but success for your future as a Dr.

  46. L said:

    Reading through your utterly inspirational story and the overwhelmingly moving string of shared experiences and thankyous, I’m thinking about those who are reading your words at this very moment and have had similar experiences, but who will never be able to share them as you have. Many of these people will remain forever silent. Alongside empowering those who have found it in themselves to speak out, you have also given those who will not or cannot express themselves an immeasurably important gift – that of letting them know they are not alone. You’re probably shitting yourself with all this exposure right now, but I suspect you’re helping the silent and voiceless more than you could ever know – you’re an absolute star x

  47. Cat said:

    Thanks for being so honest about your story. It sounds really grim and like you’re hard as nails now, in the best sense. I think you’ll be a really empathetic doctor who will be able to listen to people’s stories of suffering without dismissing them. Your post is exactly the reason why we need more graduates in medicine. All the communication skills training in the world can’t give you the experiences which mean the only important voice is the patients.
    You’re sounding more balanced than me in your head. I was raped too, but now I’m wondering if I really am over it. Thinking about it causes something like the incredible hulk to burst out of my chest with rage. But perhaps this is the thing I’ve made to protect me from anything on that level in future. I found my diaries from around that time (12yrs ago) and was surprised to read I’d been been strangled during it, and threatened with murder. Funny what you forget isn’t it!
    Sorry to hijack your comments box. But i think you have got the fighting spirit and know you can survive any arseholes you meet! Best of luck and hope you don’t let that w****r keep you out of medicine any longer.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Cat, are we related?! it’s like reading my own words! Thank you so much for saying this, thank you for making me feel strong and not like someone who is brave but a little bit fragile. Amazing what you said as well about forgetting – our brains are so oddly, weirdly powerful, it’s quite bloody intimidating to think how they compartmentalise all these things, and obviously tuck some pieces of information (that seem, y’know,fairly important) away, often never to come out again.

      Comment all you like, I hope you continue to do so, I’m hugely grateful and feeling pretty surrounded by ace people right now xxx

  48. Steff said:

    Thank you for writing this. As a childhood abuse survivor I completely understand why you held the experience in for years – the feelings and words go round and round and round in your head and are so coloured by feelings of ‘why me’ that it is hard to articulate what has happened to yourself, let alone anyone else. Like you I wobbled for many years – careering around my life, until – eventually – the therapy that i dropped in and out of finally stabilised me. The anger is still there though, but I have put it into the context of the rape culture that we live in – a culture that accepts the simple fact that no woman is safe walking down a street on her own at night ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. And this simple fact deserves our anger. By writing this piece you have allowed others to also articulate what has happened to them/us – and shown us that we are not alone, and what happened to all of us is wrong, wrong, wrong. You will make a great doctor: in the future lots of women will appreciate the luxury of seeing a female MD who is compassionate and strong. I too wish you all the best. xxxx

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Steff, you gem, thank you so much for talking to me. You mention some of the big problems we all seem to face and you do it brilliantly. You’re right, it is always wrong that this happens to anyone, anywhere. Big hugs xxx

  49. Hello – thank you so much for writing that. Your story is very powerful. We run a rape support helpline and have a small website – http://www.idas.org.uk/rapesupport. Would it be possible for us to put a link on our site to your blog? I think it will help give a voice and strength to other people who’ve been through similar experiences. All the very best, Sarah

  50. Kerri said:

    Wow! Now there’s a first blog if ever I read one! Putting aside your bravery and courage for writing about something so private and life changing, you have written it in such a heartfelt, beautiful and bittersweet way. Thank you for sharing – we could all learn from your strength. May I also add, thank bejaysus for ‘mature’ med students.. You don’t know how happy this makes midwives 😉

    Big hugs to ya,
    Kes xx

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Really? I hope so! Hospital is my happy place actually, I don’t feel like I stand out so much because of my age. It’s the one time I actually feel it’s an advantage, it’s easier to make patients feels comfortable and staff react well – if only because sometimes, I’m the only one who bothers to turn up! xxx

  51. Michelle said:

    I followed a couple of links and ended up here. I never comment on the musings of a stranger normally but I just felt you should be made aware of how much this (probably cathartic) post affected people. I haven’t gone through a similar experience but my goodness you should feel proud of yourself for coming out the other side of it because I’m not sure I could have.
    And FYI, most people who haven’t gone through something so awful are only ok most of the time so if you can get to that point, you’re doing more than just ok.
    All the best!

  52. Bella said:

    Such an amazing post. I’m astounded by your courage, honesty and openess. I think you’re an incredible woman and am sure that what you’ve written will help others who have been through similar experiences. I happily haven’t, but you still remind me of how strong us humans are and how loving life can carry you through the hardest of times. Thank you. Wishing you continued love and laughter… X

  53. k said:

    Firstly, I’m going to agree with every other comment here because I don’t think that it can possibly be said enough how brave and inspiring and utterly brilliant you clearly are.

    I want to share my reaction with you in the hope that it may be helpful in some small way (maybe not? I don’t know). The part of your story that resonated with me was when you described telling your parents. When I was thirteen, my mother and one of my aunts told me that their father had sexually abused them as children. I was, of course, horrified but unable to fully grasp the reality of it, both being so young, and never having an experience like it.

    I only fully understood it two years ago when I stood beside her in the courtroom and held her hand while she read her victim impact statement at his sentencing. It was (by an incalculable margin) the most difficult thing I have ever done. That said, I would do it again. A hundred thousand times. I would rather have stood beside her, and borne it in any way I can because I can see now just how heavy a burden it is.

    The other reason I wouldn’t trade the experience is because it gave me the chance to understand, as much as I ever will be able to, what she went through and how it shaped who she is. Suddenly, all of the principles that she had forcefully raised me with made so much more sense; my independence, my conviction, and stubborn opinions on gender equality had been gifted to me by a woman who had to learn the hard way.

    She always taught me to stick with my beliefs, to never compromise. It’s probably that which makes dealing with my own experience of ‘consenting’ because I knew he wouldn’t take no for an answer so difficult. I was, and still am, so ashamed and disappointed in myself. I know, intellectually, that if any other person was to tell me that story, I would have no trouble ensuring them that they were, in fact, a victim, but I still have trouble staying in that frame of mind for myself. Because it’s so much more difficult to be rational when you’re inside the fishbowl I think. I feel like you hit the nail on the head describing it as fluid. It really is.

    The point that I’m probably failing to make is that as awful as it was to hear what my mother and my aunt went through, I would rather know, than not. And I NEVER, not for one second want them to feel bad about sharing it with me. As a confession, though – I’ve not told my mum about my experience. Again, fishbowl.

    SO, that’s my piece (short novel), I hope it might give you a chance to see the other side maybe? Even if it doesn’t – I wish you the very best and that the laughs and good times continue ❤

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Hello K, well wow! Blimey! (see my famous ability to articulate, right there). That’s an amazing thing to read about, thank you so much for putting it on here. I haven’t been on that other side of it, and I’m very grateful for your perspective. Can I ask, did the way you experienced being told affect the way you’ve told (or haven’t told) other people? As always, feel free to tell me to naff off when I ask questions.

      Although my family all know about my experience, I haven’t shown them this blog, and I don’t know if I will. My husband has read it, and has said he found it really hard. It is graphic, and given that my parents know what happened, I’m not sure I want to force the details on them. I’ll have to figure that out with a bit more time.

      Thank you for commenting, I hope you continue to do so, I wish you all the best xxx

  54. JR said:

    I couldn’t not comment on this after reading- partly to tell you that because of you this morning i’ve had a good cry at my desk (much to the bemusement of my colleagues. My new colleagues. I only started last week- i think they’re wondering what they’ve got themselves in for)

    But also to join the hordes of people in admiring your bravery and strength of character – i have experience of breaking parent’s hearts- i had to tell mine that i had been abused by their eldest son- and it is a feeling that i will never forget. But to get past that, as you have done- as well as all the other elements that go alongside this sort of experience – and not just be O.K but to be absolutely bloody marvelous, and be the strong and brave person that you know you are- is …well, it’s just brilliant isn’t it.

    I don’t think life is brilliant despite the horrible stuff that happens- i think it is brilliant alongside the horrible stuff if that makes any sense.

    – I’m really pleased that i got to read your post – thank you sincerely, for sharing.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Hello JR! Firstly, commiserations on the crying at work thing, I did that once on my first day at a new office, and it’s never exactly what you’d hoped for yourself, is it?!

      Big hugs to you though, both for the tears and for sharing that on here, I’m so sorry that you and your parents had to go through such a terrible experience. What you say makes perfect sense, and at risk of overusing a word, I think you’re absolutely brilliant too. Lots of love xxx

      • JR said:

        Oooh you are nice. much love to you xxxx

  55. Melanie said:

    I too found your blog randomly via Twitter. I would like to say thank you for writing it. Like another commenter, I would like to keep it for my daughter to read before she leaves home, but I hope that maybe, just maybe in the intervening ten years we might make some progress in changing the attitudes that say that this is what women are for. Good luck with all you do.

  56. Mike Atkins said:

    Came to this via Caitlin Moran tweet. Your words do not fail you – may they be inspiration to yourself and others. Time the healer, and the kindness of strangers – not just sayings. Good fortune for the future.

  57. Cat said:

    Thank you for writing your story, and giving hope to so many women living with, and fighting against, these kinds of horrific experiences. I hope you can forgive me for using your post to advertise, but with a good cause.

    Lots of women find, as you did, that they are struggling to continue living and working after rape and abuse, but are not considered ‘ill enough’ for local mental health services. The service I work for helps women at that point, rather than waiting for it to get worse.

    Based in London, Eaves’ Scarlet Centre provide group and individual counselling, advice on issues such as housing, drug and alcohol problems and mental health issues, and The Amina Scheme – a befriending service where women can meet and talk to specially trained volunteers who have experienced similar things.

    We’re happy to help anyone commenting here who is struggling, and where we can’t help we will do our best to find a rape crisis service in your area that can.

    Nobody should have to face these kinds of issues alone, so please get in touch. 🙂
    http://www.eaves4women.co.uk/Scarlet_Centre/Amina_scheme.php
    020 7840 7142

    PS Congratulations on getting into university, I think you’ll be an awesome doctor!

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      You people, I’m so grateful for you people, I really am. What a wonderful scheme – I love the idea of your approach – get stuck in there when you can, not when you reach a pre-ordained trigger point.

      The only thing I really wish is that people who present at GPs or hospital and say that they have been raped were given information about centres such as yours as a priority. So few health professionals mention them, but they are really the only specialised services out there. I will try always to point people in the direction of your care.

  58. Richard said:

    Got here via a twitter link and just wanted to say what a powerfully moving post this is. It inspires both anger and hope. Your bravery in finding a way to deal with your experience, pursue your medical career and post this is phenomenal.

  59. Karen said:

    Hi. I found this via Twitter. Thank you, thank you for writing this. I was raped by an ex-boyfriend who got me really drunk and then called me the next day to check on me like nothing had happened. That was over 10 years ago. I’ve finally decided to try and deal with the fucked-up-idness that caused in my life instead of the shoddy state of moving on (i.e. pretending it never happened) I’ve failed at. This post is such an encouragement and a reminder that it’s ok all of it, the confusion, the anger, the hurt, the sadness. Thanks so much.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Hi Karen, thank you for commenting on here. I hope you’re in a good place to deal with fucked-up-idness, I really do. All the comments on here reinforce that it’s all normal, a normal response to a shitty situation. Advice is shit, and I’m in no place to give it, but I also want to say that if you’re just about to get into it all in a big way, it’s also normal for it to get a bit worse before it gets any better.

      Good luck, massive hugs, keep talking, if you need someone to listen I’m here. Much love xxx

  60. mrs_msk said:

    I read this last night via Twitter – such a powerful piece of writing. Your bravery and insight are inspiring.

    Thank you for sharing your experience, I have no doubt it will give comfort and strength to so many.

    You are amazing, I wish you every happiness.

  61. Sarah said:

    Hi Tallulah, I work for Coventry Rape Crisis, we support around 3,500 people every year and I’d like to thank you for writing this blog. We work with anyone who has suffered sexual violence from the age of 5 years old onwards.

    It’s the best job I’ve ever had, stimulating, enraging, heartbreaking, inspiring and humbling and that’s pretty much every day and people come to us because we’re a safe place, confidential and believing. To be able to create that environment from one blog post is a gift. Please dont stop writing, you’ve got something to say and us women at the Rape Crisis Centre in Coventry are all ears. x

    PS The Rape Crisis Helpline number is 0808 802 9999, open 12 – 2.30pm and 7 – 9.30pm every single day of the year.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. People like you give the best support and help there is, bar none.

      The rape centre where I got help were the only people who didn’t treat me like I was poorly, delusional, paranoid, weak-willed or to be pitied. They were the only people who didn’t mind that I was depressed, or angry, or acted irrationally. All those things were just fine by them, normal, and to be accepted.

      Waggle those ears, women of the Rape Crisis Centre, because in making us feel safe and normal, you save us, if not our lives then a little piece of our souls. I can’t really tell you how grateful I am. What I will say is that when I’m qualified, if someone feels able to confide their experience to me, I’ll be referring them on ALL OVER THE GAFF xxx

      • Sarah said:

        Ha! what’s ‘normal’ I’d like to know… it’s a massive privilege to work here, if you’re ever in Coventry (hum) then come and see us. We’re @CRASAC on Twitter but no pressure at all. x

  62. Laura said:

    Thank you. I’m sorry.

    I’m in 3rd year as a mature student too.

    Only in the last year or so have I finally felt that I’m a full person. That I don’t have to make excused for who I am and why my life went the way it did.

    I hope you get as much out of your second-time-around uni experience as I am getting out of mine!

    x

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Hello Laura, so nice to hear from you, I’m very grateful to get feedback, and it sounds like you’re in a good place right now. I am enjoying myself more now, yes thanks, getting more time in hospital and with patients and that’s when I feel most like our age and experience might not be the worst thing, hope you find that too. Big hugs xxx

  63. bowiegal said:

    Think we’re all running out of superlatives, there aren’t enough!
    I always knew you were brave clever and funny (from Twitter) now lots of other people do too!
    I still haven’t told my family what happened to me. I wasn’t raped. I guess they’d call it “inappropriate touching” by my brother and his friends. They were teenagers, I was 5.
    I only remembered it about 10 years later, but it has still affected me. I find it hard to trust, when your own family lets you down is that a surprise?
    This is the first time I’ve publicly acknowledged it and I can only do so because of you.
    So thank you again xxx

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Hello Bowiegal, I think you’re hit the nail on the head there, of course the way you react is not a surprise, and that’s a strangely good thing to hear – when you think about it none of our reactions are particularly surprising given the circumstances. Normal reaction to abnormal situation – best thing anyone ever said to me.

      Thank you so much for saying it on here, I think we’re all feeling pretty privileged and safe and unjudged on here at the moment, and it’s a really great thing. I think you’re amazing, and I wish you all the best xxx

  64. There’s something quite pointless and self-absorbed to tell you I’m crying and that I could keep crying, but I can’t avoid saying it anyway. No one, not one woman, one little girl, boy or man should have to go through what you went through, or the millions of horrific variations of abuse and fucking inhumane levels of disrespect and basic feeling that you endured. I’ve worked with it, I’m aware of it, I’m not naive, but Christ, you wonder how this can ever happen, what on earth makes any *thing* think this is even barely possible, that it would ever be a thought that cropped up in their heads let alone a crime they would commit. I suppose there’s no answering that here, but it’s an incredibly important thing in itself if it is ever to be reduced (or in a utopia, stopped). In the meantime the focus is the survivors – and you are, exactly that, even in the darkest times, if I may say. God it feels so bloody patronising to say I’m thinking of that little 18 year old too but I am, and I am just so sorry you had to go through anything close to that.

    I wanted to say, on a personal level, I’m really glad that you got help from a counselling service. I’d urge anyone – when they felt ready and safe to – to do similar. Be it Childline (up to 19) or Rape Crisis or the several other key organisations, the people there are waiting and they want to listen. And you can call and hang up. And you can call again. Then the next time hang on the line and sit in silence for a bit. When you do feel like talking, someone will be there again. No one is truly alone in this, no matter how much it feels it.

    I hope you never regret posting this, even in the moments you naturally doubt it. It was fucking brave. People will automatically talk about going to the police as the most use (and of course, that makes sense) but this way of ending the silence should never be forgotten – sharing, talking, letting others know they are not alone in it. By its nature, you keep quiet. But when you feel you can talk, it’s amazing to – hopefully for yourself but the others reading, trying to cope themselves.

    I’m really glad you’ve gone back to do the course you wanted and that you have your family and a good man – the only sort worthy of the name – to support you. You’ve done amazingly and I hope there are only good things for you in the future. Thank you for sharing this xx

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Hello Frances, thank you so much for taking the time to write something so kind and comforting. You’re right about those organisations, and I’d say the same for the Samaritans as well. They’re incredibly services, but I wish Rape Crisis Centres in particular were more publicised, and that more health professionals passed on their details.

      I’ve had my weird moments about posting this, but no actual regret as yet, and I hope that it doesn’t come. There are some unhelpful comments, but I’m binning them and focusing on the good stuff, people’s amazing stories, and how bloody privileged I’ve been to get so much support.

      You speak sensibly and powerfully about this stuff. It’s very good to know that there are people out there who can. All the best xxx

      • It was nothing, really. I’m just glad you’re focusing on the good stuff and are doing well.

        Rape Crisis is wonderful, as are Samaritans I’m sure. My personal experience is Childline as I’m a counsellor for them.

        If anyone reading this is under the age of 19 and wants to think about talking, the website is here http://www.childline.org.uk/Pages/Home.aspx

        Call us on 0800 11 11. You can also ‘chat’ through the website, which is essentially like talking to a counsellor on msn messenger etc or even email. Some people find those ways of talking useful, it might even work a bit like a blog. Everything – unless your life is in immediate danger now or you ask us to contact someone – is confidential at Childline. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, someone is waiting to listen.

        Take care, okay. Everyone. You’re all brilliant.

        xx

  65. Leeds said:

    Hi,
    So again, stumbled here randomly from twitter. Just to say, as many have before, this post shows immense bravery on your part. I am a medical student myself, on the verge of graduating (argh). The profession has a lot of wonderful people in it, but it could always do with a few more. The NHS (assuming your are British) will be most pleased to have someone such as yourself who clearly possesses bags of empathy and emotional intelligence amongst its ranks. From someone a wee bit further ahead than you may I say if you keep that, and learn to read an ECG (particularly important that) you will be fucking brilliant.

    Best of luck with your studies and remaining positive. Maybe I shall see you around!
    X

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      ECG – that’s the thing with the lines on, right?! Thank you so much for your incredibly kind words, they make me feel a lot better, they really do. Also, any more study tips are gratefully received.

      Lots of luck to you too and thank again, you’re clearly one of the good ones xxx

      • Leeds said:

        Well- I have a lot of computerised notes handed down through the ages by wise and kindly junior doctors, so if you want ’em you can have ’em! They have helped me through many a lazy patch. May be a bit Leeds-centric in their layout but bodies are the same wherever you study right?! You can see my university email address so message me if you want them 🙂

        Best of luck medicin-ing!

  66. Will said:

    I’m floored by this story, moved beyond words, and by the fact that so many people seem to have had similar horrors inflicted on them at university. What bastards the world can produce, jesus…

    You’re so brave for writing this. You’re also very funny. Being very brave and very funny looks to me like the perfect recipe for a fantastic life – and for making other people’s lives better too. All power to your elbow. No, BOTH your elbows.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      *attempts to kiss both elbows, hurts eye* Thank you, you’ve made giggle xxx

  67. Kerri said:

    Now having had the time to read through the comments, one can see how many women have been through similar situations. You have opened the door for them to talk about it. It amazes me how we make excuses for people. Many years ago I was in an abusive relationship with someone who screamed & swore at me, pushed me about and didn’t allow me to have friends. For some ridiculous reason, because I was never punched in the face (like on the telly) I didn’t consider it domestic violence. Another occasion I swept under the carpet was a time I was locked in a man’s car & subjected to a minor (ha!! What does that even mean?) assault. I never discussed these things with anyone because the media taught me that only fools stay with bullies or get into cars with men. In effect I was too embarrassed to say I’d put myself in these situations for fear of eye rolling and sighing. Unfortunately sometimes it feels easier to deal with it by yourself, although I’m guessing it’s a much longer healing process. You have helped others immensely with this blog. Be proud.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Hello again Kerri Midwife (as I refer to you in my head) – they’re great comments aren’t they? Thank you so much for talking about this and for being so honest, I think the hardest parts for me to articulate were the thoughts inside my own head, rather than the physical side. So strange that we can judge ourselves before anyone else can, but again, looks like pretty normal behaviour from all of the comments, hey?

      I am proud. This bit right here where we’re all talking to each other and no-one’s being horrid, that’s brilliant and I love it.

  68. CaroGold said:

    Stumbled upon your blog by accident and am stunned at your honesty, strength and above all your humour. So sad to think that there are such bastards in the world. I wish you every happiness with your life and your work. I think you will make a bloody brilliant GP! Rock on, lady!

  69. Misha said:

    I don’t really know what to say to this, except that something very similar happened to me, except i’d been away 3 days. It happened again living at home, which I guess goes to show that it means nothing, but I am. Proud seems the wrong word, that you’re going back to uni. But it’s the only one I can think of. I’m going back too, somewhere completely different this time. I intend not to drink with people I don’t know at first. I wouldn’t feel safe.

    *hug*

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Big hugs to you too Misha, I really hope it goes well for you, I think it’s brilliant that you’re going back. May you feel safe, and happy, and have a very lovely time xxx

  70. em said:

    I too followed a twitter link. I have no words for how much I admire you for posting this but as a fellow med student (final year, 4 months to go, oh god) I do want to say two things.

    First, if you have the level of compassion and determination and general togetherness that is apparent on this page, you’re going to be an amazing doctor. Whatever specialty you end up working in will be very lucky to have you, as will your patients.

    Secondly, I hope the “depression is just a failure to get a grip on life, and that PTSD doesn’t really exist” contingent are in the minority, both in your class and in general. They do seem to be, in my experience. In our houseful of medics, the head doctors are spoken of with respect and awe because we’re all fairly sure we couldn’t do what they do. I think your classmates will have a rude awakening when they get as far as GP and psych placements.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Hiya Em, thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate them. I hope that it’s a minority too, I try not to make sweeping generalisations, and I’m aware that people are quite different (and usually nicer) in a one-to-one situation than they tend to be en masse, when the bravado and going for cheap laughs kicks in.

      Four months left?! Blimey! Big hugs to you, you sound like quite a (doctory) catch yourself xxx

  71. Jeremy said:

    This is one of the most powerful, harrowing, heartbreaking, enraging, and ,finally, inspiring pieces of writing I have read. It left me upset, shocked and wanting to write to you.
    I know very little, if anything, about what survivors of rape have to endure, and I say survivor, because you are right, you should not be seen as a victim. But I do know that what you have written and the responses you have recieved have made every word you have written worthwhile.
    There is such a strong message of hope, hope for you and for others who have suffered in private, in silence and in public, like you have.
    Thank God you wrote your story – so that others know they are not alone.
    I am a journalist and urge you to carry on writing.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Thank you so much, I will certainly try.

  72. P said:

    I’ve written and deleted this a few times. Right.

    Firstly, thank you for sharing. I hate the word brave, but it’s the only one I can think of!

    Secondly, we have a mutual friend on twitter who shared this, and from comments on it from my other friends, I am astounded and appalled at how many of my friends have been raped or abused. I spent a day or two being so fucking angry at a universe that could produce such evil cunts who would hurt my friends, who are good honest kind and decent men and women. I wanted to simultaneously hug and punch every-fucking-thing.

    Thirdly, I read the comments. And had a little bit of an epiphany about something that happened to me. Or nearly happened to me I guess… We’d slept together before, several times consentualy. I had a bit of a reputation for sleeping around (even though he was only the second man I’d slept with) which added to issues. We all went out drinking then went and stayed at his flat, we did it all the time when a group of us went out in London as he lived near a station. Convenience. He insisted I sleep in his room rather than the living room with everyone else. I went to lie down on the floor to sleep, and he came over and tried to take off my top. I told him to stop, and he didn’t, he tried to kiss me. I put my hands out to stop him, and we had a physical hand-to-hand grapple for a few seconds. I had a terrifying split-second where I realised he wasn’t listening, and he was stronger than me, and why want he listening? Then he just stopped and went to sleep. I laughed it off. I made SO many excuses for him: He was drunk, it was a big birthday and he was still single and all alone, and besides we’d slept together before, so he knew I fancied him and he wasn’t out of order to expect something on his birthday. I believed them too. Now I am unsure whether I made these excuses up as an after thought to make myself feel better about it.

    I know nothing happened, but for a second I REALLY thought it was going to, and I know I wouldn’t have been able to stop it. There were others in the house and I didn’t think of shouting out, after all we’d been together before, would I just be causing a scene? Everyone knew of my reputation after all, it made it so much more shameful. Did he expect this because of how I was perceived?

    I don’t think he even remembers. It was just a fumble to him. Well not to me…

    It is weird because I only had thoughts creep in about something not being ok with this situation over the past year, but I am ok. Helps that I have a lovely husband! Every time I see mutual friends talk to/about him on twitter though I get a bit angry. That they can’t see he is NOT just a fun cool guy. He tried to force himself on a drunk 18 year old girl.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Hello P! Right, well, the old ‘hug and punch’ I can relate to – any of these stories, mine included, can make me feel any of a range of about 31 emotions at any time, but usually all together. It’s a bit full on really isn’t it?!

      I’m sorry that you had this horrid experience, and all the endless questioning, thinking and rehashing of events that come with it. As you said, a fairly brief moment of that person’s life; big bloody part of yours.

      It is odd how we can go from being ‘fine with it’ to ‘really fucking cross’, from my perspective I do that dance a lot, and it seems like lots of other people do it too. So if you feel like being angry, I guess that’s ok, or if you find you haven’t thought about it for a few weeks, that seems ok too. Fluid crossness/mentalness – works for me.

      As you’ve seen from the comments there’s a lot of sharing going on. If it makes you feel too weird, then just step away from it, but if you’ve got more to say, it looks like there are lots of lovely people around who won’t judge you for any of it. Big hugs (no punches) xxx

  73. Emily said:

    This is one of the most humbling and heartbreaking things I’ve ever read. I’m so sorry you had to go through that, and I wish you all the best in the future. I know these are such pointless words but I couldn’t help leaving a comment.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      I will never describe people saying kind things to me as being ‘pointless’! I think it’s all bloody lovely and I’m very grateful xxx

  74. Jo said:

    Adding to the pile-on (in a friendly way!) of internet strangers. Incredibly moving post. Thank you for writing it – it brought me to tears.

    Trauma reactions do not follow neat rules. Traumatic memories are not like ‘normal’ narrative memories – they stand out in the landscape of your past life like jagged mountains, unrecuperable. Notice how – when recounting a traumatic memory – you start to use the present tense, as though you’re back in the moment? It’s why it’s such a bugger to deal with the effects of trauma – and why listening to survivors is so goddamn important. Trauma affects everyone differently – there is no rule book, no guide on how to be the perfect survivor. Anyone who says otherwise is, well, wrong, and to be avoided. Do what works for you, and give haters the middle finger.

    You are not alone. You are strong. You are a survivor. You are an inspiration.

  75. suz-lou said:

    In response to “where I over use the word I” . I just want to say thank you first of all for putting such an honest and emotion piece of writing out there for all to share . Secondly my first thought as I was reading this was this is me , not to details , family member younger age but the emotional fallout . I spent years saying everything was fine and holding on and holding and them in my 20’s just completely fell apart . Depression , eating disorder self-harm you name it I did it and hated myself for it. Oh and the every hour wishing that I could kill myself cause all I wanted was some quiet and then I hit bottom. Being lucky enough to have a great GP who listened and got me into counselling got me back on the slippery slope to my life , but this time the climb was up not down. Two things made the difference to me in the counselling and they were the realisation was that I was a victim and that being a victim did not make me weak or pathetic or to blame and that I could be both a victim and a survivor. The second thing was I had to let go of the hate I had for the way I coped , bulimia , self-harm etc may not have been the smartest way to do it but they got me to here . As you so eloquently put the only thing you owe yourself in these circumstances is to SURVIVE in what ever way you can. Again quoting you but the people who stick through this stuff are amazing and worth more than I will ever be able to say . I’m sorry for rambling but just wanted to say that although I’m doing great there will always be that part of me that goes back to those moments and reading writing like yours while making me feel a bit raw and emotional also makes me feel I’m not feeling that way alone. From the bottom of my heart thank you , and good luck with everything you do .

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Thank you Suz-Lou, what a very kind thing to say. So many things from sharing these stories seem to resonate with all of us; like you said that can feel a bit strange and invasive, but also quite comforting as well.

      I think you’re wonderful to write on here about what happened to you, I’m so sorry you had to go through that, and I hope reading the things on here hasn’t hurt you. It’s hard to tell the truth about something knowing that the details are going to ring bells for other people, and I wish there was a way to get round that, but I haven’t figured it out just yet. In the meantime, thank you again, and much love to you xxx

      • suz-lou said:

        Hi again I think you are right that writing on here is going to ring bells (it really did for me ) but I truly think that is a good thing . Once I got over the crying jag reading your blog provoked I was left with the feeling of its not just me . And I think that is a wonderful thing because there are a lot of us out there and feeling like your not alone, its like getting a hug . Much love and thanks again and if I could I would send you both a large cocktail and a warm chocolate brownie .

  76. Irregularly Irregular said:

    Hi Jo, it sounds to me like you know what you’re talking about (or are you just speaking loudly and confidently? – I do this in class sometimes and it seems to work!)

    This is good stuff for people to read, thank you very much for taking the time to comment.

    • Jo said:

      Well, a bit from column A, a bit from column B 🙂 I’ve done a fair bit of reading on trauma and memory from a literary studies perspective (“Tu n’as rien vu à Hiroshima”), and I’ve read an awful lot of blog posts by/about rape (and other trauma) survivors.

      I’ve read awful pieces about how rape survivors who don’t act like “perfect victims” are not believed, and it makes me so very angry. See, for example, how Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel maid who accused DSK of sexual assault, was vilified in certain quarters for going back to work and waiting before she informed supervisors of the assault – when, in fact, it is common for survivors to “act normally”, on autopilot, as they try and process the trauma they have undergone. (This is also common when survivors are asked why they didn’t try and struggle, and shout for help – in stressful situations, the brain can shut down as a protection strategy, making it impossible to cry out or resist. Survivors often talk about “freezing up” and being unable to react, but all too often juries see this as a mark against their credibility, which is just so bloody infuriating.) Shock very often leads to an initial reaction of denial.

      Thank you again for writing this, and for your kind response to my comment. 🙂 Hugs, if welcome, to you currently and to your 18-year old self. I thought I was invulnerable at that age; I look back and shudder at some of the narrow scrapes I had. It breaks my heart that you and so many others have suffered so much. ❤

      • Irregularly Irregular said:

        Hi again Jo – really good stuff again, from the little I know, this seems to be stuff common to people experiencing any trauma, not just rape. Those things that kick in straight away to protect us physically obviously preserve us in the short term, but I think are quite difficult to handle as they unravel in the long term.

        Hugs are always welcome xxx

  77. Spent the last 10 minutes thinking about what to comment. I have nothing to say that could make the slightest difference or come close to expressing my own anger at what you’ve been through. I just wanted you to know i’d read and been moved by your writing. Chris

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Chris, I’m grateful and I’m glad x

  78. peejaybe said:

    You are so incredibly brave to write such an honest piece on what you have experienced, it must be such a help to anyone else out there who has either been in that situation or finds themselves struggling with something similar.

    It makes me ashamed as a man knowing that there are those out there that can sink to such levels.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Hey Peejaybe, I really hope so. Please don’t feel too badly – there are some bloody awful humans out there generally, let’s just none of us feel represented by them xxx

  79. Millie said:

    This is amazing. You are heart rendingly brave.

  80. Mondo said:

    Hesitated for a good thirty minutes before pressing post. Here goes.

    As a guy reading this, I feel guilt on behalf of my gender. It was incredibly difficult to read but I’m glad I did. I feel angry that it appears there’s been some injustice but I agree that closure should be measured from the victim’s perspective, not how it is dealt with as a crime. Unfortunately this still hasn’t stopped me feeling frustrated. I think I just wanted to share my reaction, I imagine I’m not alone in feeling this way. It is the first emotion that is conjured up, despite my efforts to quell it.

    You deserve every praise for finding a way to deal with your experience and to share this with others in such an honest way. I, like many others, are now in awe of you. This whole comment makes me feel like I’m saying something inappropriate, or that I’ve been able to fully comprehend what I’ve read, from your post and the comments that followed. This is not my intention. You’ve all added perspective to a topic that is for most people an unimaginable experience. It is us, the fortunate majority, that need to acknowledge bad things happen and to make sure we’re supportive when they do, if we are able.

    Take care,

    Ray

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Ray, I’m ever so glad you did post that. I find it helpful, I think others who has posted on here will as well. It’s good to acknowledge that people can listen, and respond well, but still be upset or angry xxx

  81. Eleanor said:

    I ended up here, washed by the tides of Twitter as well.. I just want to say that I am so so glad that you came out the other end of this. I salute you.

    For what it’s worth, I can partly understand the pushing things out of your brain, and not wanting anti-depressants. I’ve lost roughly a year of my life that I can only relive through other people telling me what happened. It sounds a bit dramatic, but I was very ill and couldn’t cope.

    Thank you for sharing this. I hope it wasn’t too horrible typingt it out there.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Hi Eleanor. It does sound dramatic, but not in a strange way. It’s pretty bloody powerful, the stuff in our heads. I know when I’m very bad I feel like a completely different person – one day all active and involved and probably a bit annoying; the next I can’t get out of bed and hurt all over. In that situation, I can’t and don’t cope either – if there wasn’t someone to look after me, I probably wouldn’t even eat. Horrible, isn’t it?

      Thank you too for saying this, I’m very grateful. It was quite sad to write, but I’ve felt such solidarity since that I’m glad I did xxx

  82. Anon PA said:

    I’ve been tapping my pen on my dull desk trying to think of how I should refer to you and I have decided you are an actual GENIUS!!! Yes also brave, inspirational – but we need people who have had these awful experiences to tell their tragedies in a real voice. Stats and politicians just won’t get the message across in the way people who have been through it can. I am giving you a standing ovation… over the internet if there’s such a thing… for not dressing this up in anything other than your own voice which comes across loud and clear in your words.

    Sincerely, thank you for telling it. xxxx

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      You’re incredibly welcome, how very nice of you to not only read it but take the time to comment – I’m really very pleased you think it’s a good thing xxx

  83. Cat Elliott said:

    So, so moved by your post. And so many parallels to my own experience, which began six years ago this month. I sat at my desk trembling as I read, tears flowing. So many of your words could have been my own. Thank you for putting this out there. I wish you were my GP. Thank you, good luck x

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      I wish I could give you a hug. Don’t know about you, but it’s harder for me around ‘anniversary’ times. Much love xxx

      • cat elliott said:

        Yes, very much so xx

  84. Anonymous said:

    Thank you.
    You made me cry, but you also made me realise that I didn’t die. I am here, I am hurt and broken, but I too am still alive.

    Hang in there, I’m told it gets better.

    xx

  85. Aprfil said:

    Thank you so much for being brave enough to share both the terror of that young girl and the learned strength of the woman you have become, and for understanding, accepting, and explaining that both sides – the scared girl and the recovering woman – are both brave and wonderful and able to survive. I’m sorry, I know that makes little sense; I’m finding it hard to be eloquent because this resounded so deeply with me that I can’t help but cry.

    But for perhaps the first time, I am not ashamed of myself for these tears, and I will always be grateful to you for this.

    Again, and forever, thank you.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      You sound pretty eloquent to me, Aprfil, I’m sorry for your tears but I’m very grateful for you talking on here. Big hugs xxx

  86. Inspiring reading. A crushing story, full of hope and bravely told.

  87. S said:

    I think you are amazing. I may also steal ‘I have my shit together most of the time’, I love that. But your post… wow. I was raped 8 years ago and also blanked it. Thank you for writing all of that down.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      ‘Most of the time’ is pretty amazing hey? We’d be doing quite well on that. I’m sorry that happened to you, I really am. Big hugs xxx

      • S said:

        Yes it is, it seems so to me anyway! I am far far improved and much more stable now, which is good. I have a partner who is amazing and I’m having counselling. It was 2 years before I even acknowledged it, so it’s reassuring to hear what you had to say. It is very hard not to feel like I am taking too long, but I know that I’m doing pretty well really. I also appreciate especially what you said about reporting it, few people understand how impossible that can seem at the time when you can’t cope with thinking about it and now maybe more will, thanks to you. *hugs* back xxx

  88. juju said:

    Hi all (this is beginning to feel like an extremely warm and supportive community),
    I also work in a rape crisis centre and feel privileged to have found your articulate, moving and inspiring story. Having the courage to share your most vulnerable parts with others is incredibly generous act which has let to people feeling more connected and less alone in the world. I have hesitated to share the link below because I do not want to be a patronising “expert” sharing theory rather than responding as a human being, but I personally have found comfort from knowledge and if the articles on this website help just one person to understand and normalise what they are going through then i think it is worth the risk. Of course it is just an offering that can be ignored. With enormous admiration and respect to all who have shared so bravely here.

    http://www.zoelodrick.co.uk/

  89. I, too, followed a Random Twitter Link, and was glad I did – as upsetting as this was to read, I was glad I could share your story and want to add my congratulations on your effective writing and on your bravery & endurance. I’m happy for you & for your readers, too, that you were finally able to get down in words what you’ve been writing in your head for so long… feels good, doesn’t it? Another exorcism…

    My sexual assault experience – many years ago, in 1981 – was less violent and intrusive than yours, but I can still relate to the PTSD; it obviously *does* exist (bless you for knowing that, in spite of the naysayers) – there are therapists who specialize in helping folks through recovery after physical & emotional trauma, even many years after the fact.

    You are brave, persistent, smart – and I’m *sure* you are beautiful.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Hey quotergal, thank you for commenting. I think the feelings that so many of us have experienced, and in particular the linear fashion in which they occur is pretty good evidence that this sort of thing leaves a mark on us all, a way of dealing with things that so many who have suffered trauma seem to follow. Anyone who thinks it doesn’t exist can (well, let’s not get nasty, let’s just say I’d kick their arse at Scrabble or something equally humiliating). Thanks again for your kind words, I’m truly grateful and I wish you all the best xxx

  90. Sophie said:

    I cannot begin to tell you how much I admire you for writing this piece. I’m sure it must have been difficult to cope with, let alone write about. But I couldn’t leave without writing this to let you this; you have inspired me to go and speak to the rape counselors that I had been putting off for so very long, and for that I wholeheartedly thank you.

    Strength and love,

    Sophie

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Oh my word Sophie, that’s amazing, thank you so much for telling me, it means a lot. I hope that seeing people works for you; and whilst I’m doing my darndest not to give advice but support I hope you won’t mind me saying that sometimes it gets a bit worse before it gets better, and whilst sometimes I left those sessions feeling great, other times I came out a wreck. I guess what I’m saying is know how you’re getting home afterwards, and ditch any mascara beforehand. Much love xxx

  91. xiij said:

    I follow you on twitter and enjoy being entertained by your twitterings, so when I saw you had a blog I thought, ooh that’ll be fun to read.

    Thanks to twitter introducing me to things like your blogpost here and the #ididnotreport hastag my understanding of a whole big horrible part of the world has “deepened like a coastal shelf”.

    When I was 15 I had what was a lucky escape / close shave, one which I didn’t really begin to fathom until recently. I was too selfcentred to realise that I wouldn’t have been the only one he attempted to prey on – let alone that some of the others won’t have got lucky. I did not report, but I’m trying to, now.

    So thank you, and people like you

    (ps am a m not a f)

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Hi there! Well, it probably wasn’t as fun as you’d hoped, but I’m glad you appreciated it. Lots of luck to you, wish you all the best xxx

      • xiij said:

        I finally managed to bring myself to tell my story to people who can use it, hoping that it might corroborate someone else’s case. When I was 15 (over two decades ago) a BS story was spun by a teacher who took me away to Jersey for a week, drenching me with alcohol all day every day (and playing me hardcore porn). Fortunately when he came to move in on me I had just enough reason left in me to push past and run away and lock myself away for a while and he wasn’t violent. Though he did leave me with the indelible feeling that I’d done wrong. It seems the teacher is still working with children.

        The reason I’m writing this here is to give this reassurance: the seriousness with which reports like this are taken is not diminished by the length of time that has passed since the episode. (Nor was it by the fact that in my case I escaped unharmed). The people I have been in touch with have been polite and attentive, keen to do their best to investigate and do what can still be done, and are making sure that the information has ended up with the authorities that can make the most use of it.

        (ps this piece of writing has haunted me constantly)

  92. Thank you for sharing this story. You are a very fine writer and a very brave person. Well done on persevering with your medical studies, You will be a fantastic doctor, I am sure.

  93. Neepsntatties said:

    I read this yesterday, I never usually comment on blogs but this one has been haunting me, I even dreamt about it last night.

    You’re very brave. I am glad you went back to your studying. I had to drop out of college after I was raped. Just this week I had an awkward interview where I was grilled on the gap in my CV from when I was busy falling apart.

    You will be an amazing Dr and I feel thankful that you will be there one day when a survivor comes to ask for help.

    Best wishes

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Thanks for writing on here. I still struggle to explain to people I don’t know why my timeline seems bizarre, and why it’s taken me so long to essentially get back to a place I was ten years ago. Not that I regret the intervening time, but still, it’s strange isn’t it, still jolts me. Hard to explain it in one or two coherent sentences, especially in a formal situation.

      Also, I really love your username on here! Excellent choice! Wishing you all the best xxx

  94. me said:

    Hi.

    I’m noseycow and I follow you on that there Twitter.

    I’ve just read this now, having read today’s blog. I’m so sorry for the horrible, horrible experience you had and the aftermath.

    However, I would never have guessed that the bright, funny, bubbly girl whose tweets I read had such a bad time of it. That is the biggest compliment I can pay you. That person and situation has not broken your spirit nor your motiviation and that is purely down to you and your strength of character. Others may have helped you along the way but it has been you and your bravery that survived it.

    You will be an amazing GP but, more importantly, an amazing mother.

    Much love and many hugs. Xxxx

  95. Sam said:

    I came across this reading the #ibelieveher tag on Twitter today following the Michael Le Vell verdict. I’m sorry to jump onto this so long after it was written but I couldn’t just read and leave.

    Thank you for writing this. I am horrified that you had to go through any of it full stop but thank you for your bravery and your honesty.

    I wish you all the luck in the world with everything. I’m devastated the world can be so horrible but I’m so very pleased that you’ve survived and gone back to what you clearly loved.

    I too follow you on Twitter and would have had absolutely no idea that this together, witty woman had experienced things so unspeakably awful. That you’ve dealt with it (no matter how long it took you) so wonderfully is testament to just how strong you are. That can never be taken away from you.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      Thank you Sam, I’m very glad you read it and very grateful you took the time to comment, it means a lot to me. I think at verdict is going to be tough for a lot of people. Important for everyone to remember that just because someone wasn’t found guilty, it does not make the defendant a liar either. Much love x

  96. What a harrowing, brave and, in its way, beautiful piece of writing. I have just found this having followed you on Twitter a month or so ago.

    This isn’t the first time I have found a post like this from someone’s Twitter profile, but that doesn’t take anything away from its impact. Once again it is a sobering and (for a man) slightly shaming experience to realise what some people have come through, and what an achievement it is for them to live life in the way others take for granted. It’s also hugely impressive that someone can go through all this, write about it so eloquently and dispassionately and then turn up to Twitter to be funnier than most.

    Well done for writing this and best of luck with your medical career.

    I also enjoyed the pieces on internet shaming and pain but I’m not going to comment there too for fear of seeming a bit over-friendly…

  97. Anon said:

    I’ve only just seen this, following a link from the learnaholic’s blog. Thank you for writing it, it’s lovely. And sad, and so very very real. The sad thing is, I don’t think this is unusual. It’s something that’s just so terrible that its victims are ashamed to speak about it, and the perpetrators are so very sick and evil that they know who to target – people who’ll never speak out about it afterwards. When sexual harrassment and assault happen in the workplace, people who do speak out are crushed by those who want to bury bad news. I hope you don’t mind me telling you an experience I had in my first registrar post. Its not the same as your experience but the implications are similar.

    I relocated hundreds of miles for a competitive ST3 number. I sold my flat, left my life behind, and moved to a new region for the sought-after training number. A few months into my attachment, my educational supervisor started perving on me. He’d whisper filthy things in my ear at work when he knew nobody else could hear. In theatre he’d wait until I was scrubbed up then stand next to me or behind me, rubbing his erection against my body and moaning quietly, sufficently subtly that nobody else in theatre would ever suspect. It made me sick and scared but there was nothing I could do. It went on for months. He found out I was presenting at a conference and he booked onto the same conference. He asked me if I’d drive him there and I said Yes, of course. He asked me whether I’d stay in a hotel with him and I said no, I wouldn’t. His reply was that if I didn’t do as he asked, he’d destroy my career before it had even started. I hoped it was an empty threat, but over the next few weeks he kept up his sexual comments and erection-rubbing against my scrubs-clad body. He started walking out of theatre whilst I was operating way beyond my ability. He concocted complaints about me, from patients and nurses. He accused me of awful clinical errors I had never made. It affected me mentally, I got so stressed that I was sent on sick leave and quietly redeployed to another hospital. I was told I had to ‘forget it happened’ if I wanted my career to continue. I was told that an internal investigation had revealed that nothing untoward had ever taken place, but I was never asked what happened. Nobody EVER asked me. The culprit was allowed to continue supervising fresh registrars. He sits on our ARCP panel. When I see him or hear his voice, it makes me panic and cry, involuntarily. The few times I’ve seen him unexpectedly it’s made me vomit. Six years down the line, nothing has changed. What a pathetic being I am. I haven’t been through even half of what you have, but I’m still an emotional mess because of it. I don’t even think the penis-rubbing was the main problem, it was the fact that I’d had my career threatened for sexual reasons, and although a number of people knew what was going on, not a single person chose to admit it, or address it.

    • Irregularly Irregular said:

      I’m so sorry this happened to you, how bloody awful, and what a horrid individual he sounds. I’m not surprised you still feel the way you do and react like that when you see / hear him, it’s a totally reasonable response, just a shame you have to experience it. Sending you love and thank you for reading and commenting, it was very brave of you to do so xxx

  98. hoskas said:

    I read this today, with mounting horror and rage that turned to sadness, followed by respect and admiration for your resilience, your determination and your bravery and I wept big fat salty tears. I can’t add anything to what has been said above, so eloquently.

    You will be a wonderful wonderful doctor, a caring and empathetic and genuinely concerned and kind one. I was never more certain of anything.

    I am so glad that, through the power of the internet, I know you a little and love you a lot xx

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