When I read Michelle Solomon’s tweets after the 1in9 protests, I replied that I hoped to one day have the courage to stand up and tell the world that I am also a Rape Survivor.

I was raped just before my 16th birthday.

Like many other girls, I blamed myself. I am thankful that I now have the sense to know that there is no way it was my fault.

My mother had gone away for the weekend it happened and this is a big reason why I didn’t tell her, because I knew she would blame herself.

I was working at a fish and chips shop (of all places) with a bunch of guys who were older than me. After our ship we would go home and meet back at a Mexican restaurant for drinks. While the guys I worked with knew my age, the barman didn’t, and so they let me drink there.

On the night in question, I had been drinking. Reason NO.1 why I blamed myself.

We left as the bar was closing and the barman said he was walking in my direction and would walk me home. Usually one of the guys I was working with would walk me, but they lived in the opposite direction, so I was thankful for the offer.

Once we got to my place, he started kissing me. Being a young nerd who hardly got any male attention, I was a little flattered. Reason NO 2 why I blamed myself.

I have blocked what happened next out for so long that I don’t really remember the finer details. He did force himself on me and he had absolutely no interest in the front of me.

I remember the burning pain and the taste of my tears. I was silent out of fear and shock. I remember how he casually got up afterwards and had a cigarette on my balcony before showing himself out.

I was too young to know about going to the cops or anything (like I said I was a nerd, it was a wonder that the guys at work even let me hang out with them)

I remember spending hours in the shower, trying to scrub “him” off me.

And I kept quiet, partly because I was embarrassed and felt like a slut, and partly because I had no idea what to do.

Four years later, I spoke about it for the first time. I told my friends and my mom found out by accident after reading my notebook. We have never spoken about it again because I have told her that my way of dealing with it is to block it out, but truthfully, I have no idea how to talk to my mom about it.

Years later, I dated a guy who happened to work at the same Mexican restaurant. While the guy was no longer there, he was still part of a friendship circle of people who worked there. Knowing when he would be around and being able to successfully avoid him made me feel in some sick way, like I was in control.

I think what hurts more than anything is that the one or two times we have seen each other since in public places. He does not even know who I am. How can he not recognise the face of someone whose life he significantly altered?

While I don’t want my rape to define me, I do want to be able to live in peace with the fact that it played a huge role in shaping the person I am today.

Women24 applauds our reader (who has requested to remain anonymous) for speaking out, and for helping other women realise that rape is ONLY the fault of the rapist.We invite any other brave readers who want to share their stories to write in. (Please indicate whether or not you would like it published on the website.)