Hello, my name is Mary-ann! I had the idea of writing this blog after finding it really hard to find someone who has been through a violent assault and would talk about it openly. Although there are plenty of official resources, I couldn't really find any first hand accounts on how to cope after becoming a victim. So, even though I'm still trying to find a way to cope myself, if anyone could benefit from my sharing, I would be the happiest person alive. There’s nothing worse than feeling isolated.
This first post is just my story. I hope I can inspire at least one person to open up about their experiences.
I had a job I loved, working twelve hour days in a local pub as a waitress, yet never complaining. This particular day was the eve of our local carnival and in a town as small as Bakewell, this was an important event. The atmosphere was buzzing, I was run off my feet collecting glasses, watching the bar and delivering meals. It was so much fun! However, by midnight my eye were itching from tiredness and my feet ached. I never usually worked this late but we were so busy my boss asked me to stay. The pub had emptied so I grabbed my bag and started walking home. It was the 3rd of July so the night was balmy, I didn't need to wear a coat.
I had to walk up a steep lane that was out of the way from the main town. I had been walking up that hill late at night for years. I had to, the only other way added an extra 15 minutes to my journey.
My feet hurt so bad I stopped half way up and sat on some steps, having a cigarette and texting my two best friends. I did not see him approach me as the light of my phone blurred out the night-time surrounding me. He said my name and I looked up, still not recognising him. "It's Dave," he said casually.
Dave was a 19 year old man who lived in Bakewell and went to my school. I had never really spoken to him before about a week ago when he joined some friends I was having a drink with after work. That when he started texting me, having got my number off one of his friends. He wanted to meet up with me but I kept saying no. I didn't like him at all. He was inappropriate and a little creepy.
So, we carried on walking up the hill, Dave carrying a large plank of wood he said he had tripped over on the way up. I thought nothing of it, my mind set firmly on getting home to bed. After a couple of minutes of walking, he sat down again, wanting me to join him. That is when I said no and continued to walk home. Less than 30 seconds later I felt as if my mind had exploded as the plank of wood he had been holding came in contact with me head. I fell to floor in agony. At first I thought it was an accident. He even asked me if I was alright. When I said no, he swung the wood like a baseball bat and hit me around my head again. I think I passed out for a second by then. This is the part I struggle to remember the most. The next thing I knew he had pulled me up by my throat and had me pressed against the wall, his hand suffocating me. I couldn't breathe or think. My head hurt and my lungs were burning. I tried to hit him, kick him, scratch him so he took his hand from my mouth and held my wrists together. So I screamed and screamed. Sobbed and sobbed.
"If you don't stop screaming I'll kill you," he kept saying, holding my wrist so tight I thought he'd crush the bones. I begged him to let me go, telling him I wouldn't tell anyone what had happened if he went away. This is when he said something which terrified me to my soul.
"Just come to the woods with me for a bit. If you don't I'll kill you." I knew what he intended. I also knew I would rather he killed me than raped me. So I kept screaming, hoping someone from the houses nearby would hear and come to help me. I’ve never screamed so loud in my life. No one came, even though I know they heard as I found out the next day someone had rung the police saying they heard a girl screaming. I pleaded with him not to rape me, I told him that I would rather die. That didn't work so I kept hitting him as he tried to stop my shouting for help. I vaguely remember cutting my hand on the wall behind me as we struggled. I thank God for that as it was one of the key pieces of evidence.
Something happened, a dog barked or a window opened, I don't know but he got scared. He was gripping my throat so hard. Then without warning, he ran, throwing the piece of wood that nearly killed me into some nearby bushed. For a second, I just froze, watching him sprint down the hill. I tried to run but I kept slipping ever so slightly in and out of consciousness. But I was afraid he'd come back and this time drag me back to those woods, so I just kept going, forcing my legs to move even though they felt like they belonged to someone else. Grabbing my phone out of my bag, I tried to ring my home phone but accidentally dialled the number of one of my friends, Sam. I cried down the phone to him but he couldn't understand what I was saying. I couldn't understand what I saying, my words were jumbled and slurred, not to mention the fact I was wailing. I hung up from him after a second as I needed to concentrate on walking. The pain was agonizing. I remember reaching the top of the hill, crossing the road and then collapsing between two cars. After this everything is fuzzy. My hair felt warm and as I touched it, my fingers emerged covered in blood. I was still in a daze but I finally managed to ring home. My mother answered and all I could say was 'he hit me, he hit me'. I was only about 30 seconds from home so my mum ran down and found me semi conscious on the pavement. I tried to walk but kept falling over. She had to almost carry me to get home. My step-dad had rang the police and ambulance. My head was bleeding heavily but none of that mattered to me. I cannot describe the pain. There was so much blood. All I kept screaming was that I thought he was going to kill me. I still thought he could get to me. I was terrified in my home. The police and ambulance arrived minutes later. I told the police man what happened and even as they stood there, they received a radio message saying they had found Dave. Apparently, he had run home, got changed as my blood was on his t-shirt, got in bed and pretended to be asleep. He was arrested on the spot.
I had to go to hospital in an ambulance. By this point, I had stopped crying and the numbness had stepped in. I felt like rubber. Like my body didn't belong to me. Although, my head and the cut on my hand hurt, it was more like an throbbing in the back of my head now. My mind was slow and sluggish. I knew what had happened but couldn't quite believe it. Like it had been a particularly horrendous nightmare. They took my blood pressure, pulse, medical history. They tried to make jokes but I couldn't laugh. The sound of the wood hitting my head reverberated around my skull and I could feel the blood seeping through my hair. At the hospital, they glued my scalp back together, dressed the cut on my hand, and gave my painkillers.
And this was when I was sent home. Becoming the hardest part of all. Carrying on with your life after a violent attack can be almost impossible. You never feel the same again.