After I was attacked I didn’t really have the option to move out. I had little to no money and still hadn’t paid off my deposit on the room. I hadn’t even been living there for a month before this happened. The housemates weren’t aware but even so it wasn’t easy to live with them. Prior to the attack I had started to keep my distance because Ahmed was getting too hands on with me. Although I tried to remain civil with everyone to avoid suspicion and any problems, where my position there was so precarious the last thing I wanted to do was appear as snubbing them. So I avoided them whenever I reasonablly could, but I had a hard time when everyone was downstairs having fun. I would get invited and I would I use generic excuses such as having work, or coursework or just plain old tiredness, but I still kept getting invited to communal dinners. They knew I was broke and had very little food. Myra nad Ahmed would use this to their advantage and it was tempting, I was starving and some days would only have a yoghurt while babysitting. They would say they had vegetarian food just for me, or there were chips that I could eat. They would insist more so if it was a weekend or a public holiday the following morning. I was still trying to deny what had happened, I was trying to convince myself it was a misunderstanding or something. Sometimes I am good at putting on a fake smile and I managed to bluff my way though it, but I played the past depression card too. I thought by saying that I used to suffer from depression I could get away with being unhappy. I was obviously grateful for the food, but I didn’t really want to participate. I would mainly keep quiet or only talk about my work or studies. I would nervously act through it and hope for the best. Although, I was suspicious of Myra at one point because she would either put me next to Ahmed or ask about other things he’d done with other people. She was making jabs and would always say not to be jealous, that I could still make a grab for him. At one point she was flirting with him in front of me trying to entice a reaction. In reality I would have loved for him to have moved onto someone else as selfish as that sounds, I just waned to be alone. My secret was heavy and on evenings like these there was normally alcohol around, beer or sometimes vodka, I didn’t care. I noticed that the booze made it easier to put up with, it made the time spent with them less awkward. I took to always having a bottle of something alcoholic in my room, originally I started buying a bottle of off-brand martini from Lidl every week or two. That way if anyone came knocking I would ask for a few minutes to get ready or tidy up, but really I’d be drinking something. I had a pitifully low alcohol tolerance back then and it would just make me sleepy and I could claim I was overworked and I needed to go to bed. It worked every time.
“Are you coming down for dinner?”
“Yeah, give me five minutes.”
I would down a large glass of martini and fake that life was great while the alcohol kicked in and numbed everything. I didn’t want them finding out what had happened so I would just shut off and get on with it. Survival isn’t fun but rapists are more supportable when you’re tipsy. That made it more bearable and from there the drinking slowly spiraled out of control. I think the alcohol just made me more comfortable when I was around my monsters. Avoidance was a very good technique and I relied heavily on it, but the Martini was a good back up for when avoidance wasn’t possible. I had some really messed up reasoning at the time, things like if he didn’t like me it wouldn’t have happened. I also tried saying at least someone found me attractive. It didn’t help that I had a friend who tried to make that joke, had I not been raped I’m sure I would have found it hilarious. Sadly I was trying to use that excuse to justify his actions.
I got really bad flu not long after. I probably shouldn’t have been so happy about that as I spent my nights wheezing in bed, severely asthmatic, clinging onto my Ventolin for comfort and hoping it didn’t run out. I didn’t have access the French heath care system thus paid all my own bills, this meant that getting Ventolin could easily cost me 30€ or more and I got nothing back from the state. I was so sick that I almost collapsed while in the fast train to Paris, there were too many people, it was boiling hot and there were no seats. The whole train started spinning round and I just sat down on the floor clinging onto the vertical handrail with both hands for support. Getting off the train a woman tried nagging me to go to the police post that was in the train station, because they could call an ambulance and get me to hospital I said no. I reassured her I was fine, and I was simply too hot. She called me an idiot saying that people like me go on to collapse in the metro and cause lengthy delays. I told her very bluntly I was on my way to the doctors, not true I just didn’t want to go home. I got the kids from school, we watched a movie and I said I was pretty sick, so I couldn’t do much. The parents were okay with it but understandably not ecstatic, at least I was dedicated to my job. That night almost as soon as I got home I decided I was going to bed, I prepared my things to have a shower. I kept everything in my room to avoid problems and I took it all down in a carrier bag. I had a towel that I kept on the radiator, my pyjamas and a bag of toiletries. I would look the door behind me to avoid any unpleasant surprises. I was worried because I could hear a lot of noise downstairs, so I knew I was going to have to see the housemates. It was a party night again. Myra had loads of friends over for a birthday and as soon as she saw me she asked what was wrong. I said that I just had a bit of flu, but I was fine. This was when one of her friends started shouting hysterically that she was on medication to suppress her immune system after having an organ transplant and that I had to leave straight away. honestly I don’t believe this was true, surely she wouldn’t have been allowed out of hospital if that were the case. I was just happy I didn’t have to participate in the atmosphere that evening. I was not expecting to be shunned so violently, I didn’t even want to stay with them. I was actively avoiding everyone at this point. I brushed it off and said it was fine, I was on my way to have a shower. Myra yelled at me to wash my pussy, which I found really out of line. I went off and had my shower trying to be as quick as possible, the whole room was still spinning around and I was freezing. When I went past to go upstairs to bed the sick girl glared at me. I never chose to have flu, I was at least grateful for the excuse to be segregated for a week or two. Sadly during this time I kept getting messages from Ahmed asking if I was okay. It was annoying because I couldn’t just tell him to fuck off and he kept asking if I wanted to do anything with him again. I laid it on very thickly with the flu for about three weeks.
By the time I had recovered everyone gave up knocking on my door apart from Myra who was too lazy to buy her own cigarettes. She would try to send me out with 20€ to get two packs saying I could keep the change. The thought of going out to buy her cigarettes always triggered my anxiety so I always said no, and she used to ridicule me for it. I used the excuse of being a non-smoker and not knowing the words for it. In reality Myra just wanted to make fun of me for something again. Ahmed sent the occasional text but much less than he had sent before. I was in a group Facebook chat called “Big Brother” but I never sent messages. I didn’t feel it was right to, I didn’t understand half of what they said and the bits I did understand were either racist or anti-Semitic. At least that’s what I understood from them. Myra also made the jab that I was in love with Ahmed, sending both of our names surrounded in hearts. I was disgusted. Emily was in the group but was kicked out because they didn’t want whores in there. Early March I was kicked out of the group too, that’s when I knew something was wrong.