On Monday, the police reached the decision to drop all charges on the grounds there wasn’t sufficient circumstantial evidence which would lead to an 85% chance of conviction in court, which is the minimum they require. Despite all the evidence they did have and despite the police believing me. Since then I’ve been deliberating whether to take to my laptop and tell the full story of what happened that night – something I’ve so far only divulged to a hand-full of people. In lieu of proper counselling (which the police have kindly said they would sort for me) writing this blog is pretty much the only form of catharsis I have. So. Here’s my full story.
Friday 13th November, I had my car packed ready to start a new job and a new life, leaving behind recent dramas of bad jobs, bad housemates, ready to stick two fingers up at the world and prove myself in the job of my dreams. This job as restaurant manager would have not only made my career but also sorted out my finances for good; allowing me to make the big changes and live the life I wanted to. In the weeks leading up to this date, after I’d accepted the job, the main advice people had given me was “Don’t fuck it up”….all the drive up there, this resonated in my head.
Before leaving I was told I’d be contacted by the current Operations /Restaurant Manager (I’ll refer to him as OM) who was due to leave the following week; I’d be shadowing him for my first week, training me and he’d be taking me out for dinner that first night to welcome to me to the hotel and show me around Ambleside – rather a lovely way to start a new job! I felt welcome and part of the team before I’d even left home! So, I left about 2pm and landed at the hotel about 4pm, to be staying in one of the hotel rooms for my first week until a space in staff accommodation was available. Once I got there, I was given a quick tour around and met a few of the other staff before settling back into my room, freshening up for dinner and reading over my menus and training notes. About 6.45pm there was a knock on the door and OM introduced himself, apologised for the delay. He said he’d quickly freshen up and book a taxi. A few minutes later he knocked at my door again; the taxi was here and a bottle of beer was waiting for me. I went down, drank about half the beer and got in the taxi to town.
We headed straight to a little Italian restaurant, which was heaving. We had a wait of about half an hour at the bar so had a gin and tonic before being seated. 3 courses of dinner, sharing a bottle of wine followed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a prude and given I’ve worked with chefs for 12 years I hardly have the mind of an angel – but there’s certainly an appropriateness required. The conversation that flowed made me feel very uncomfortable; heavily laden with sexual innuendos, heavily flirty. No matter how hard I tried to keep things as unassuming as possible, he managed to twist whatever I said into something creepy. If this was a normal situation I would have said things weren’t appropriate, and looking back maybe I should have. But given I’d just moved to a new job I didn’t want to rock the boat and seem like I was being difficult and stuck up from the offset. I also kept in mind, I’d only have to work with him for the next week and then I’d probably never have to see him again.
The meal ended and although I was tired, full and ready for bed, OM insisted on going for another drink. So we headed to a bar round the corner where a shocking open mic night was playing out. On the way round I was discussing the on-goings of my last job, the unnecessary drama that played out. He felt this was an opportunity to try and hug me, in some form of comfort – but my story wouldn’t have warranted comfort from any of my closest family or friends, let alone a stranger who was my manager for the following week. I shrugged him off and asked for him to not touch me again. Reluctantly, we continued for another drink. The bar was packed and I really wasn’t in the mood – I just wanted to get back to the hotel so I could get a good sleep ahead of my first day. We sat close to the bar on a small tall table on our own. The level of heavy sexually orientated conversation from his side continued, and I was getting fed up of it, so I was being pretty short – something I really don’t like being. At one point my shirt dress folded open more than it should due to how I was sat, revealing the inner slight edge of the cup of my bra. He saw that as an opportunity to lean over the table and grab at my boob, joking about how heavily padded it was – definitely not appropriate behaviour. Again, I told him to get off me.
I sparked up conversation with a local lady who was there with her husband and friend. Her husbands friend was wearing a Liverpool top so I was talking to them about that, and conversation about my new chapter in life followed. At this point OM got protective and almost possessive, not happy I wasn’t giving him my full attention and not happy I was speaking with others (“look what you’ve done, you’ll never get rid of them now”). The locals I was speaking to tried to engage him in conversation, instead he stood up to go to the bar and made a reference to me being his girlfriend. I couldn’t quite believe what I’d heard. My new friends took one look at me, one look at him and another look at me. They asked to check “you’re not his girlfriend are you? that’s not right is it?”. I explained I’d just met him and his behaviour had been making me feel on edge all evening. Instantly the lady I was talking to gave me her number and asked me to message her when I got back home safe and also to get in touch for a coffee and to show me around – make sure I had some friend’s outside of work. After he returned we swiftly went as he was on night manager duty at the hotel. As we left the bar I text a few of my friends, including the guy I was dating to let them know how relieved I was to be going back to the hotel, because OM had been such a creep.
Walking down the street, again he tried to hug me and again he was told to get off. Getting into the taxi, he tried to kiss me and again he was told no. Conversation on the way back was solely between him and the taxi driver. I was tired and starting to be apprehensive about the new job and the move I’d made. Getting back to the hotel, he insisted on showing me to my hotel room, wanting more wine. He showed me to my door and I did not let him in. He joked, a recurring joke he’d made throughout the night, that it didn’t matter if I locked my door as he had access to the master key. What a way to make a girl feel safe! Feeling very awkward and uneasy after turning him away from my door, I took my make-up and jewellery off and got into bed how I did back then, which was naked. Tired from travelling and the new situation, I fell straight asleep.
In the morning I woke, and straight away I could tell something was wrong. I woke up to a ridiculous amount of missed calls of my guy I was dating, wondering if I’d got back to the hotel safely – I ALWAYS wake up when he calls, so he’d been panicking something had happened. I went to the bathroom, put on my shirt dress and got back into bed to give him a call. It was then, the penny started to drop. The toilet lid and seat where both up when I got there, as if a man had used it – I have never left a toilet in such a way. I then found a condom on the side. In it’s packet, unused. But I don’t carry condoms and it definitely hadn’t been there before. I felt so tingly and uncomfortable and could smell the stench of a rubber condom on me; I’m sensitive to them so I could instantly tell. My stomach somersaulted, I felt sick, and not hungover.
It was obvious what had happened but I gave OM one chance to confess. I text, asking what had gone on “nothing” was the original response, then with more digging and after drawing his attention to the condom, the toilet and “I didn’t consent to this” more details followed which didn’t add up and then a hurried offer to meet me in the office to discuss things. I thought I was going to throw up. He’d done something terrible to me and was trying to convince me I’d let it happen. Without any hesitation, I phoned the police and pulled a dresser in front of the door.
Waiting for the police to arrive was the most agonising 30 minutes of my life. Pacing the room, going over all of the details in my head. I felt rotten, a lot worse than I had in a long long time, in no way correlating with the amount I’d drunk the night before (1 beer, 1/2 bottle of wine with dinner, 2 gin and tonics all with a hearty 3 course meal in the middle…..and it takes A LOT more than that to make me feel that way). I tried to cry and couldn’t. I kept replaying the night in my head. On so so so many levels I wouldn’t have let this happen
a) happily dating someone amazing back home. Even if I’m dating I’m 100% loyal, wouldn’t have dreamed hook up with anyone else
b) I’ve moved away from drama, why would I jump straight into bed with someone I’d just met on my first night, jeopardise the fantastic opportunity I’d been given, bringing drama to my door again?
c) professionally – I’d never involve myself with anyone from work, let alone before I’d even started work there – what impression would that make!?
d) Bottom line – He was really unattractive. No….just no
11.00am I should have been starting my first shift of my new job. The police were with me at about 10.30am, taking initial reports, taking some of my clothes and bedding for investigation as well as a sample of my wee and the tissues I’d used to wipe. I was told to get my things together, pack them into my car ready for later as I wouldn’t be able to stay back at the hotel that night – I’d have to go back home where I’d only left 20 hours earlier. I was taken to the local police station and was told I’d have to wait there until a safe centre in Preston was ready to conduct all of the examinations on me. I was in so much shock, I could barely react, almost making light of some things; I just shut down.
8 hours I waited at the police station. 8 long, agonising hours. Not able to shower, brush my hair, put make-up on. Nothing. I was walking, talking evidence. I felt horrific. Inside and out. The “hangover” was getting worse and unlike anything I’ve ever felt; I knew something wasn’t right, it wasn’t just alcohol I’d consumed, I’d been drugged. If it hadn’t been the guy I was dating’s dad’s birthday he would have been right there with me, but as it stood, I was alone. I didn’t want to tell anyone until I knew exactly what was going on; and what would I tell them anyway!? It felt like I’d lost a battle before it had even begun, like I can’t be let loose out of sight for 24 hours without something horrific happening. Those 8 hours in the police station were the most horrible 8 hours of my life; I’ll never forget how lonely I was, how much I craved a hug, a cry, any form of humanity. Because I lacked this, I closed myself off from everything, probably why I’ve still not reacted and still struggling with my emotions. Sadly, my phone charger was in my car, 2 hours into this wait, my phone died. Nothing but the posters in the police station and the odd stranger who came in to pass the time. It’s not like I was in the mood for talking either. All I could do was replay everything, over and over and over in my head; it was torture.
Eventually my time came to be taken by a female police officer to Preston safe centre. It was about 8.00pm. I felt so sorry for the poor woman taking me. I had no conversation at all. Shocked, numb, confused, still feeling rough as anything, just focusing on getting these horrid examinations out of the way. The two ladies at the safe centre could not have been more lovely, kind, and gentle. They made the whole process so much easier. Normal questions answered about medical and sex history, swabs taken of my nose, mouth, neck, groin. I had a mouthwash to spit back and return. I had the horrid internal examinations; swabs, pictures. “do you want me to do the back passage too?” is something I never want to be asked again. I had to put on a loose gown, allowing the doctor to fold back one area at a time, keeping the rest concealed while she checked for bruising and marks. I was given an injection for hepatitis and a selection of tablets for HIV that make you feel horrific. Finally, bloods were taken. As I got dressed, my dressing from the blood test bled and I nearly fainted. I think the adrenaline of the day had worn off and as the last of the personal examinations were over, it had all started to drop into place.
Waiting after my examination to make sure everything had been done properly, I phoned my mum from the police officers phone. It was 10pm. 12 hours after I’d reported it. I’d been on my own this entire time. Just hearing a friendly, familiar voice broke me. The hotel had made arrangements with a taxi for me to go all the way back home – they didn’t want me driving in the state I was in. Once back at the hotel, I was informed the police of the bail conditions OM had been put under, I’d be summoned to give a video statement over the next week. I had time to hurriedly pack a bag from the belongings in my car, frantically grabbing at things in the rain and dark (when I got home I realised I’d packed my laptop but no charger, 3 jumpers, no bottoms, no knickers and still no phone charger, you’ve got to laugh!) Before I knew it my Lake District adventure was over before it had begun, and I was on my way home.
In shock at how rapidly the job of my dreams had unravelled before my eyes. I’d moved to the Lakes to get away from the drama and within 24 hours of leaving home, look what had happened!?
It was gone midnight when I got home. Everything was so familiar, but at the same time it all seemed so surreal and life as I knew it had changed. Craving a hug, and a cry I dumped my things in my room and popped my head round my mum and dads ajar door. Lights on, TV on, both of them sat upright in bed, fast asleep; I didn’t have the heart to wake them. Broken, lonely, numb and feeling pretty empty I climbed into bed.
The only comfort I had that day was the hot water bottle and flask of hot chocolate my mum had left for me.
“Don’t fuck it up” still resonating with me….
As deflating as it is there won’t be a conviction – which feels like could only have been possible if the whole thing was caught on camera and I was covered in his sperm, I’m glad I can move on with my life. I don’t have a horrid painful trial to go through which wouldn’t even guarantee conviction. The police are being amazing helping me put counselling into place, because they believe me and can see how much this has changed me; which is positive. I’m grateful that because I was spiked I don’t remember anything and other than a pair of bruised bum cheeks I wasn’t hurt
Two things this has taught me though, is how strong I am – I’ve really surprised myself in how I’ve dealt with it. And also just how many bloody amazing people I am ridiculously lucky to have in my life. I wouldn’t have this strength without them.
Now to move on…