shelter from the storm….

October was a rough month.
I was sexually assaulted by a complete stranger in a branch of boots,
this really shook me.
I already have difficulty getting on my own at times.
The assault increased my fear.
I had experienced almost an identical incident about 10yrs ago.
The repeat left me wondering if there was something about me that invited this.
It didn’t help that my breasts were the target of both attacks,
I have a very large bust
And
Since my teens they have attracted a lot of unwelcome attention.
It’s something I have come to live with,
I ignore the comments
I refuse to restrict my wardrobe
I am not going to hide.
In short, it has become just a part of my life.
However, a stranger actually touching me is more than I can deal with.
I began to doubt my stance
And considered covering up.

I know it’s not my fault.
I am constantly railing against victim blaming.
I am entitled to wear whatever I please & remain unmolested.
I know this.
The problem is my head is faulty; I have this nasty habit of assuming blame.
That of course feeds into my huge guilt complex.

All of this means I was partly furious. How dare this man grab me without permission? I was upset, I cried in public (something I just don’t do) because I was shocked & disgusted.
In the days after the incident fear kicked in.
Along with the afore mentioned guilt & doubt.
My panic attacks returned with gusto.
Going out alone was no longer an option.
The fact that my assault took place in my own neighbourhood made matters even worse.
I had no confidence in myself
And
I was scared of everyone else.

I did all the right things.
I spoke to the staff in the shop, who witnessed the incident,
I reported the matter to the police.
Despite there being CCTV as it occurred in a chemist, the police were unable to get a clear picture of his face
As of today, they have yet to identify him.
I doubt they ever will.

In the aftermath of this event, I stayed at home.
I cancelled appointments, closed the curtains & hid.
I needed time to regroup.
Locked inside my house I felt safe.

That is until one night about a week later, I heard someone in my back garden.
It was around 5am.
My garden is enclosed, so there is no reason for anyone to be back there.
I was immediately alarmed, but frightened to open my curtains.
Instead I made my way from my bedroom through to my living room
Switching on lights as I went.
I hoped that whoever was out there would see the lights,
Know someone was awake
And
go.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
As I entered my kitchen there was a figure at my french doors trying to force the lock.
I flipped the kitchen light & froze.
I was terrified.
Luckily, seeing me was enough to make him run.

I basically had an enormous panic attack on the spot.
I couldn’t move
Was struggling to breath
I didn’t know what to do.

It took me a while to collect myself & call my brother.
He told me to call the police straight away.
The police attended very quickly. They were incredibly reassuring.
It turned out the man had actually broken into a number of homes in the area.
They had a suspect who fit my description.
They returned shortly after with mugshots & I was able to identify him.
Thankfully he was apprehended that day.

Although, I was relieved that he had been arrested, I no longer felt safe in my home.
It suddenly seemed very easy for someone to gain entry.
I live alone & due to my health, I am not always in a position to defend myself.
I was now left in the unfortunate situation of being scared to go out & equally worried about staying in.
My insomnia got worse.
I couldn’t sleep at night at all.
It felt much safer to be awake & prepared for any intruders throughout the night.
I caught as many hours sleep as I could during day light hours.

Everything felt dangerous
And
I was unable to cope.

Yet again Australia saved me.
It came at the perfect time. A break away from my normal environs was exactly what I needed.
Far away & with my huge big brother upstairs I felt protected.
I slept, I built myself up,
I came home in good shape.

I’ve been home about 6 weeks now.
I had been feeling relatively in control.
Sure the the old issues & insecurities are bubbling away underneath
But
I was keeping a lid on them.

Last night disaster struck.
In the middle of night I heard movement in my garden.
I have tried in vain to convince myself it was a fox.
I don’t believe it.
Tonight I am too scared to go to bed again.
My house doesn’t feel secure.
I don’t feel ok.

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