My chapter ‘what ifs’

I’m currently reading ‘Asking For It,’ by Louise O’Neill.  Its been a long time since I read a book with this subject matter (rape and subsequent suicidal thoughts).  I cant remember what made me pick this book on my Kindle, I’d read about it somewhere.  The book sees our protagonist, Emma, raped after a party where she took drugs and drank a lot.  She is 18, and the setting is Ireland.  The consequence to the rape is her repetitive thoughts of shame, self blaming and self hate.  And the small Irish town divided between her and the boys involved, as well as the subsequent trial.  The author has captured her jumbled and repitive thoughts extremely well, as well as the protagonist observing her family falling apart and blaming herself.  Her inability to use the word rape and her suicide attempts. With this level of insight, I can only assume the author did extensive research, or was a victim herself.  I have never read such an accurate portrayal of life after rape in the guise of a story.

Anyway, this blog post isn’t a book review.  I have only referred to the book as a premise.  I always find myself thinking about the way things should have been dealt with after my rape.  I can list the ideals in number and often do mentally.  This book reminds me of my contrast list of wishes if you like, and I can identify where it all went wrong.  So for the first time ever, I will write my list here.  My main objective is to bring it out into the open.  A document of things that should have been done, and if its useful to anyone else, than that is a bonus.

1, My friend at the time wasn’t equipped to recognise what happened, so I don’t blame her for that but she did have the knowledge to take me to a clinic – that’s a relief or else I may very well of had a child, as I certainly didn’t know about these thngs.The clinic should have discussed things with me in detail, recognised my state of shock and if I refused a medical exam (it wasn’t given at the time), given me the options available at a later date.  As I was under age, the proper authorities should have been notified, at least then I would have stood a chance of bringing charges forward sooner.

2, my parents should have confronted me about my behaviour.  Clearly something serious had happened (they later confessed in my last stint in the UK that they ‘had a feeling’ and my bed wetting and night terrors could have been helped.

3, my first suicide attempt.  No one really talked to me about it or addressed the issues.  Although family counselling was ‘forced’ on us – which my parents were none to happy about.  I should have had a safe place to communicate, but I felt like an inconvenience.

4, I was never talked to about rape, sexual violence or STIs, why??  Even I couldn’t identify what had happened was wrong.  I just had a ‘sense’ of it not being right.  Why wasn’t this mentioned?

5, moving forward, to the medical involvement, when I sought help.  Why wasn’t my testing reported to the police?  I was referred to an in-house counsellor that told me on my first visit she could understand why I was so upset, she likened my virginity to the time she lost a necklace that her Mother had given her and tried to hug me.

6, The signs were everywhere.  My behaviours at school,  self harming, nightmares, constant UTIs, why didn’t anyone address these issues?

7, the things I needed to hear: 

it wasn’t your fault, I believe you, you have been raped and you need medical attention, you may not want the police involved but now, but if you want to later it would be easier, you didn’t ask for it, you need a specialist counsellor – I will take you, it’s up to you whether you continue seeing her or not, you are grieving – take all the time you need, you will get through this, you’re not alone.

8, the police investigation came years later when we went back to the UK.  I wish there had been better practices in place, and more experienced officers.  I felt like I had to micromanage the whole thing.  Ultimately it led to a breakdown.

There is no right or perfect response to rape.  I could have had all of the above and still felt the terrible despair and self loathing.  But its identifying what could have helped that gives to discussion, that leads to openness and better support for people who need it.

I am scarred irreparably by the act and the subsequent lack of care.  2 decades on and I’m still fighting the aftermath.  The only solace I find is that my life isn’t a book that has ended.  I am still writing the chapters, and I hope that as my own protagonist in my book, I find the peace I so desperately need.





I have some wonderful followers on here that either come along to read, or post inspiring and heplful comments.  It makes me feel less alone, in difficult times.

As such, I’ve taken a leaf out of a fellow bloggers (epage!) and have created a Facebook page. Here you will find a (very) novice platform to contact me, create discussion or to find some agencies that may be helpful.  You are always welcome to contact me via that page or on here, and I’d be happy to locate more sources as needed.

The most important thing that this blog has created is a community in which I’ve been able to express all of my inner most thoughts, feelings, fears, symptoms and my life journey to recovery.

No one should be alone.

Thank to everyone over the last years that have held my hand and offered me words to think over, words to soothe and words to remind me that I’m heard.

The blog of course will continue as normal.

Penny Insane






Ground down 

At this stage, I’m feeling focussed on my immenient move, but frankly fed up and very lonely

S is focussed on his tax affairs. I’ve never seen him fight so hard for ANYTHING. Including me getting justice. And while I feel for him, a part of me feels even more rejected.

University is currently focused on all this drivel that is mundane and feels so trivial in the grand scheme of things. I fail to see how this bumbling old lecturer can possibly bring anything inspiring to the table when he seems to be stumbling his way through, like he’s been plucked out of an armchair somewhere and has no idea what’s going on in the real world. Certainly he’s so committed to his life in academia he seems completely detached from the real world.

My landlady at the flat has been so, I don’t know, essentially she doesn’t give a rats arse that I’m moving because the flat mate is so bloody disgusting. I returned on Sunday to get the rest of my stuff and there was grease all over the stove, dripped down the drawers, the place smelt and his room is even WORSE if it’s possible. I’d scrubbed that place clean just 2 weeks ago. I’ve been gone two weeks and there’s dirty plates in the fridge and some weird, gross bloody meat that’s gone off in the fridge. Why didn’t the landlady just chuck him out?!!

I’m really pleased with my place / don’t get me wrong. But I’m really starting from scratch and some acknowledgement from my old landlady would have been nice.

I’m at the house all the time now. Arguments brew under the surface. On Sunday – Mother’s Day we had a big row resulting in my throwing my kindle at S. He’s so detached and uncaring. As though our history together means nothing.

I’m moving house and there’s NO ONE to help me. Funny, when people need me they are all over me and I gladly comply, suddenly I need some help and there’s excuses.

Am I just plain unlovable? Just not worth a moment in time?

I’m fed up right now. I worked a long day yesterday, I’m tired, S met with his dad, good old dad to support with his tax stuff, as usual he gets support all the way through. I’m over here with nothing.

Just fed up. Tired of fighting for myself all the time. Tired of feeling lonely. And yet, when I get my place I intend to hide out there. I’m rushing around after the kids, all these drop offs. Trying to manage this house. I want a holiday! But most of all, I intend to embrace the isolation – fuck everybody!

Good day

Today was GREAT! Yesterday evening I was just so fed up, I ended up walking the dog late in the evening with my iPhone playing so I could escape the misery of homelife. My husband is struggling to tolerate me. I’ve felt like his arch nemesis most of the time. I could comment on the sky being blue and he’d accuse me of seeing things only my way, being self interested, selfish, etc, etc. I realised, the dude can barely tolerate me. And not only that but it’s making me feel shit. Although his response to that is, why should your self worth be based on what I think? But it’s pretty hard when the person you live with can barely stand to be in the same room as you. 

Anyway, I’m tired of being scared of saying the wrong thing and facing the wrath of years of pent up frustration and rage. And apparently three years ago I left the milk out and it went off – ok, that’s probably a bit too far, but you get my point. I’m a useless wife and a barely functioning mother. I’m selfish, stupid and inconsiderate. I get it. The constant reminders just make me feel like I’m living back with my parents again. So I decided to remove my wedding ring and tell him to settle on a neutral truce – for the sake of the kids and our sanity. Whether that ring goes back on my finger or not is completely unknown. But while the pressure is removed we can play happy housemates. 

Today I met up with my good friend L. We had a good chat over coffee and brunch and I mentioned a job that I’d seen advertised that I was interested in and I knew it was in her sector. Low and behold, L makes a call and we’re heading along to see the offices and meet some people. Thanks to L I have a better understanding of the role to make an informed decision and thanks to L, I was treated like a grown adult, with thoughts and opinions and a capacity to learn. The opportunity to be treated professionally and with common courtesy. A huge boost after a miserable week back. Reassurance that some people do have faith in me, and that I’m not a complete loser. I love that L places faith in me too. It feels good to get that from someone.

Then we walked the dogs, I miss the regular excercise in Cambodia, so it’s been good to experience achey legs again. Although my arm is playing up like a bitch.

Then coffee with my friend S that popped around to catch up. She’s been very supportive of me and reminded me of my worth and that I deserve to be happy. I find her strength very inspiring.

Finally I messaged another friend, R, and she called me immediately to chat. It was a good chat, warm, friendly and even she went on a random spiel about how I was one of the most gentle people she’s met. 

In all, my friends have provided a sympathetic ear, good advice and shown belief in me. It’s what I’ve needed. Having felt like a frumpy, useless, worthless unattractive mum.

I’m so grateful to have these people in my life.

Tomorrow I’m taking my daughter Jess to catch up with my friend and her daughter for dinner. She’s the friend that has survived breast cancer as well as all the other shit life has thrown at her. She’s incredibly inspiring and strong and we always manage to have a good laugh.

I’ve always tried to shut people out of my life, I keep them at arms length, but I realise at this point of my life, I can’t do it alone. And where my husband has lost belief/interest in me, my friends have stepped up to the plate. Maybe I can’t be such a rotten shit of a person if I have such good friends after all?

This week has been testing and inightful. Helped and made enjoyable by my friends.

I do feel more refreshed by being around other people. And I also feel that by telling my husband – in effect, giving him permission to lose that sense of obligation which I know he feels pressured over, has helped us move forward. Although I anticipate still being the butt of jokes and outlet for his stress.

But I’m just going to swallow it and carry on for the kids sake. 

I’ve been liaising with my lawyer and frankly it all sounds contradictory and too vague. So I’m not sure at all what’s happening there and I don’t understand what’s going on. It frustrates me and hurts me grately.

I’m looking forward to a relaxing weekend. In particular watching the All Blacks smash the Wallabies on Sunday!

Not required

I found a bookshop today. Phew! Of course the books were used but charged as new, but my desperation to lose myself into the chapters of other stories was of higher importance. Feel different emotions, become almost addicted to the reel that shows in my head like a movie, and the satisfaction to reach a conclusion. An end. And there’s something endearing about used books. When I buy books new, I’m careful not to crack spines, I don’t bend pages, I use bookmarks. They look unread, untouched. So when I read a used book, I consider the other people engrossed in the same story, wondering what they felt, how it related to them, if at all. If they were disappointed or enthralled.

I sat by the pool and began my journey. The heat simply got too much, and I started to feel sick from the intense heat, no breeze, the smell of sewage or something, maybe left out garbage adding to the queasiness.

I retreated to my air conditioned room.

Odd messages sent between myself and my husband. His responses obligatory, short, unemotional, so detached I could be messaging an acquaintance. Not the man I’ve spent most of my life with.

The man that I’ve seen cry at the birth of our children. The man that’s held me while I’ve cried, soothed nightmares. Enjoyed many dinners with, travelled with and accumulated stories and anecdotes that we usually regale over evenings together. Laughing so hard. Knowing each other’s habits, our pet hates, our quirks.

The man that once told me that he was asked to draw the perfect woman, then added so genuinely, well, it was you! The man that drove to One Tree Hill and wrote, I LOVE YOU PENNY in big rocks that could be viewed from the top of this huge hill. The man that buys my favourite flowers (sunflowers), that has stood by me unquestioning and unwavering. The man that once told me I was the most courageous person he knew.

Now I pass emails to him from my legal team, he does as requested but does it in autopilot. Mixed with work files and tax reports, ‘wife’s rape case paperwork.’ A kind of repitition to the chore. Words, statements blending together. Could be anyone now. Not the wife he proposed to over ice cream in our barely furnished little house in Australia – because we couldn’t afford to furnish it and relied on borrowed bits and pieces. Not the wife he referred to as his best friend. The woman that he used to look at with undying love and affection. That would always open the door for me, always give me his jacket when I was cold after a night out. The couple that’s slept in cars, tents, dodgy backpackers, fantastic local pubs and some of the most amazing luxury accomodation.

I am now the annoyance. The one asking for clarity, needing to find my place in my family. Although the mere fact that I had such a horrible motorbike accident didn’t spur him into action or emotion. Would he have gone through the motions then if I’d died? Do tax returns, get body back, attend work meetings, call a funeral place, drink coffee, reports to colleagues, set funeral date, arrange insurance payout.

His parents are helping with the children, supporting him. So I’m kind of a spare part. Waiting in the wings. Scared to push too hard in case I get shut out, scared not to show my need to make things right, not let my family down. Trying to find a balance.

I am feeling the brutal force of his boundaries – whether intentional or subconscious. 

I like his opinion on things. He’s the considered one, I’m the spontaneous one. Of course we have argued in the past because of my tendency towards knee jerk reactions and his need for time and information gathering. But it’s worked in the past, he became more assertive and spontaneous and I became more able to research something or consider more facts.

But now my friends message with tenderness, care, concern and interest. My husband only responds and it’s usually when I’ve been direct about the travel insurance or money. The business exchanges.

When I’ve had bad nights, he’s heard it all before. When I’m sad, it’s too much for him. When I’m confused, it’s not really his problem.

He’s not being a dick. He’s tired. Tired from my issues, tired from fighting, tired of my anger bursts.

I’m not the person I used to be. I’ve let things corrode me, make me bitter, make me angry. Left me feeling that everything is unjust. Almost personal against me.

He quite rightly needs space from that. Time to consider his own feelings, as opposed to preempting and reacting to mine.

But these blows, they strike and they hurt. I can’t get used to this new demeanour. This new way of communicating. I want a glimpse of the old husband I knew. That connection. 

I’m not really needed at home. I tell myself I am, to look after the kids, to support him. But he’s fine without me. They all are.

I built this expectation of detachment around me and now I’m horrified that it’s all I have.

I’m on a journey of self discovery and I don’t like what I see. I don’t like the damage I’ve created. 

Long but great day!

Yesterday I had this ‘urgent’ meeting at the Head Office at the NGO I work for in relation to the issues that have arisen. The morning started well when I bumped into my good friend, the American journalist in the hotel lobby. She had just returned from a religious thing in Singapore. We agreed to catch up for lunch, as myself and the volunteer coordinator usually based in Kratie took me to the office. I have grown very fond of her. She’s very sweet and genuinely of good heart.

I presented everything in the meeting. How I enjoyed the role, but the politics had frustrated me. I gave good solid reasons for my observations and also offered feedback on how well the organisation was received in Kratie and it would be a shame to see it go under. In all the attendees seemed interested in what I had to say, indentified the issues or weaknesses in the team and said they would very much like me to stay and asked what they could do to make me reconsider my stance of not returning. It was nice to be heard and acknowledged. To have a professional exchange, not all this trivial bullshit. It was a positive meeting, but I asked for consideration and to see their planned strategies before I committed with a decision. Then to lunch with the volunteer coordinator whom I very much consider a close friend now and the journalist. It was nice. Normal. Refreshing.

Straight onto the Dr after that. Previously she’d put these six little squares on my arm to absorb blood and weeping, but the squares had quickly embedded into my wound. Hence the reason I had been in so much pain. It took a while for her to painfully remove the squares. The weakness remains but at this stage I’m not sure an x-Ray is necessary. But it’s on the cards if the weakness continues. She also replaced my pain relief. And told me if I was in pain, it was ok to remove the bandages and reapply antibiotic cream. What a relief! It’s amazing how the bandage adds to the discomfort.

I was with her for over an hour and had mentioned to another friend based in PP what time I’d be back at the hotel. I arrived to find him waiting.

Initially we caught up on the teaching, how our places vary, any gossip and of course, the accident! I was feeling very tired, but I was keen to see Phonm Penh at night. In particular go to the foreign correspondence club.

It was amazing. The view was breathtaking

And the bar itself was different with its grandeur design and interesting posts and quotes around the room

We enjoyed trying the different cocktails – starting with a Phnom Penh sling!

The atmosphere was really nice. A complete contrast to the quiet of Le Tonle in Kratie. There was a buzzing. A vibrancy.

We took a walk along the street and observed the Royal Palace and gardens 

Although marred by the constant asking if we needed a tuk tuk. We do like to walk sometimes people!

My friend is diabetic which is really an illness I know nothing about. I asked him about symptoms and warnings previously because I always like to know what to do and how to assist/when to assist if necessary. Good job I did, he quickly became increasingly unwell because there had been too many sugary cocktails and to negate that he had taken too much insulin. 

I took him to my hotel and a blood test revealed his sugars levels were dangerously low. He was drowsy and becoming less responsive. So I was forcing him to drink coke, eat what I could find and making sugary tea. Ongoing monitoring with blood prick tests showed no improvement. I sat with Google and read all I could. I finally let him sleep and paced my hotel room, unsure how to manage the situation aside from waking him and have him drink more sugary things. Convinced I might push him the other way, I tentatively dozed off, but awoke periodically to check he was basically still alive. In morning his blood sugar was dangerously high so I got him food while he took his insulin.

Finally we saw the number we needed – he was good. But it’s such a complicated illness and requires so much thought and management. 

So I will probably catch up with him next week, but this time not try to kill him!

Today it’s raining hard. I feel tired now too, I will sleep and watch movies today.

It was so great to feel supported yesterday in the meeting and I’m sure I got my grievances and suggestions across in a fair and calm manner.

Being amongst good, genuine friends was really conducive and I felt relaxed.

In all a great, busy, varied day.

I have heard my lawyer a few times requiring random bits of paperwork. I’ve had to forward this to My husband as I wouldn’t have resources.

So lots going on! And I’m currently managing everhthing, although at the moment it amazes me just how much I’m handling it all so calmly!

Life will never be the same

Life will never be the same.

I thought during the police investigation – reliving my trauma and fighting to be heard was the worst time of my life.

I thought this subsequent trial was going to take everything I had. Reliving it again and again. The paper work, the red tape, the slow processes. I thought I was doomed to live with my past around my neck like a noose. The consequences, the side effects. The pain and the unrelenting nightmares.

Coming to cambodia was an opportunity for a break from that. From the pending trial. The frustrations of daily routine, the expectations, the demands of family life. An opportunity to give my husband and I time to reflect on the last few months, since the trial preparation began and his own legal stuff threw its full force at him.

Since being away I have missed my children painfully everyday. But the feeling of making them proud and doing something different has spurred me to go on.

My husband hasn’t spoken to me, he has talked about our marriage being over. But I have no updates about him, and conversation has been scarce.

This afternoon when he told me he didn’t love me and has in fact been unhappy for the last few years – I felt a pain in my heart I never thought possible. I have made my husband miserable and turned him into a person he doesn’t like. I knew we had problems but to know all these resentments he’s harboured and for so long were awful to hear. I’ve often suspected he hasn’t been happy or doesn’t love me, but he’s reassured me to the contrary. 

When I suggested returning for the kids sake, so I could help lighten the load of managing them while he works and does his own stuff, he was very passionate about his desire for me not to return. Passionate to the point I questioned if I actually had a home anymore.

When I reiterated my need to be with my children, that I’m struggling without them and that we could surely work through this. His thoughts turned to logistics about moving out. About making our separation official. Final.

There seemed to be no feeling there. No hesitation, no regret. I am nothing more that a subject to be managed.

I have spent the day shut away in my room. 

It didn’t occur to me that I wouldn’t have a home to return to. And I’d always imagined the support of my family.

If I can make my husband bitter and twisted – what’s to say I won’t fail my children and turn them the same way.

For the first time I felt the full force of the situation. I am a burden to bear and I have destroyed my husband. Who feels so little for me now, he can barely look and speak to me. He wants me to stay away.

My children are emotional every time I speak to them. I feel I’m letting them down by not being there. Letting my family down by not helping when the stress is clearly high.

But the fear and the reality that I’ve destroyed everything is too much.

I considered just taking my own life today. I am of little worth or consequence. My passion for this time here has been ruined by the reality of my home. 

At least I can disappear like a dog into the wilderness and my husband and children can stay together. Happier and safe from my ability to ruin them. My husband can meet someone else, and the children will flourish.

The things my husband said were excruciating to hear. It’s like he’s never really known me at all. Like I’ve never known me. 

I really am a bad and unworthy person. The times when I thought we were actually happy – he wasn’t. How long has this facade been? When did love turn to hate?

When did he begin to just tolerate me?

I don’t know what to do anymore.

I’m afraid of my future, I’m afraid of my past.

My present is completely obscure and really epitomises my life right now.

I took a handful of sleeping tablets and briefly when I woke, I thought everything was ok and it was just a nightmare.

I am so confused and alone right now. I don’t know how I will ever make it through.