Stacey Woods has been raped and now she has to go through a different ordeal – the court trial. But nothing in life it seems is black and white and life is not always fair or just. Suddenly it seems that she may not be believed and that the man who attacked her may be found not guilty . . . if so Stacey will ned to find a way to rebuild her life again…
No Shame releases on October 19 from Hot Key Books.
I am Girl X and I was raped. My real name is Stacey Woods.
It happened in an apartment near Oxford Street, in London. The man who did this to me was arrested and charged. That was nine months ago and now his trial is in seven days and I am dreading it. Patrice, my closest friend, wants me to write about it so she bought me a beautiful book. It has got a purple leather cover and creamy lined paper and I was to use it when I was away from my laptop. It’s just for notes, Stacey, she’d said, bossily. The real story you put onto your computer. The notebook had a leather marker for me to keep my page and it fitted into my bag perfectly.
Patrice also bought me a heart‑shaped pendant from eBay. She loved to buy things that other people had already used. It has a history, she said, holding it up for me to see. The silver chain was resting on her fingers and the pendant hung in the air. It was lovely. The heart was just an outline, so I could put my finger through the space in the middle. This is to show that you have people who care about you, Patrice had said.
I’d worn the heart every day since.
The man who raped me was looking after the Poole Place apartment for someone else. I had fallen out with everyone in my life and I found myself staying there – just for one night. I hadn’t met him before. As I was getting ready to leave he came into the bedroom and forced me to have sex with him. Afterwards he gave me money to get a taxi home. I took that money. I know that was wrong but I was confused and shocked. Perhaps he thought he had paid me off and the price of forced sex was a taxi ride home. He was wrong, but I still took the money, so I was wrong as well.
I tried to picture what the courtroom would be like; the judge and barristers in wigs and gowns and the jury sitting on straight‑backed chairs deciding whether or not I was telling the truth. I had a vision of myself on the stand being questioned and shrinking a little each time I gave an answer until I was a tiny girl peeking over the wooden bar barely able to see anyone.
My rapist kept his shirt and boxer shorts on. He’d pulled my pants off and then lay on top of me. The buttons on his shirt dug into my skin and he’d reeked of cigarettes. When he finished he let out a cry and rolled to the side. I slid out from under him, picked up my pants and scurried away to the bathroom like a frightened puppy.
Now I sat in my room and thought about what was to come. I had lots of people on my side; my mum and dad (and Gemma, my dad’s partner), my sister, Jodie (and Tyler, her baby son), and Patrice. I had Annie Mulligan, my personal policewoman, and Mr Parvez, my solicitor. There would be a barrister too but I hadn’t met her yet.
In among all this there was something else on my mind. A boy that I had been thinking about more and more as the trial got closer. He had given me a heart once. He’d drawn it onto a card and handed it to me. I’d thought it meant that I was special, but I wasn’t the only girl he’d done this for. This boy had given his heart all over the place. I just hadn’t realised.
I fingered the pendant around my neck. It had been a long time since I’d seen this boy. With the trial looming I found myself longing to see him again.