Warning: Content contains graphic description of sexual assault
Ally Sanford, 28, shares her true life story:
The music blared through the speakers and my sore feet told me I needed a break from dancing.
“I’m going to grab a drink,” I shouted to one of my friends.
We’d been at the nightclub for a few hours and I was having a great time.
After a recent break-up, it was just what I needed.
I made my way to the bar for my fourth drink.
As I waited to be served, a guy came up to me.
He was a bit older, tall with a ginger beard.
“You look beautiful,” he grinned, inspecting me up and down. “Can I buy you a drink?”
I’d always been cautious about accepting drinks from strangers but I was in full view of the bartenders.
I'd notice if anything dodgy happened.
Once it was poured, the guy paid for it and handed it to me.
"Thanks," I smiled, sipping from the small plastic cup.
We got chatting about our night and minutes later, my legs started feeling heavy.
Strong drink, I figured.
My friend came over to see if everything was okay.
“I’m fine,” I told her and she headed off into the crowd.
But a few seconds later, my head started spinning and my legs had turned to jelly.
The dizziness made it hard to focus.
I felt the stranger put his arm around me and lead me through the club.
As I stumbled towards the exit, I looked over my shoulder to my friends.
I desperately wanted to call out to them, but I couldn't speak and my body had gone limp.
Outside, his mates hailed a cab.
I couldn't think straight as I was helped into the backseat.
I tried to claw my way out, but hands on my waist pulled me back in.
Soon, we were outside an apartment block and several pairs of arms ushered me upstairs to the second floor.
Then, I was in a room, on the edge of a bed.
I had to call my friends.
I searched for my phone in my handbag when suddenly someone grabbed my wrist and pulled me back onto the bed.
I screamed for help as I could hear the guy’s mates in the next room playing video games.
But they didn’t come in.
“Please, stop!” I cried.
Then, his hairy chest was on top of me.
I tried desperately to push him off, but I had no strength.
Drifting in and out of consciousness, I kept yelling.
Couldn’t his friends hear me?
With his hands gripped tightly around my wrists, he raped me.
Then, everything went black.
When I woke up the next morning, I felt hands rubbing my skin.
The terror of the night before suddenly came flooding back.
Panicked, I reached for my phone.
Again, large fingers gripped my arm and I was pinned to the bed.
The guy was on top of me again.
This time, my screams for help came louder.
After he raped me a second time, he looked at me as though nothing had happened.
"I'll drive you home," he said gruffly.
I nodded, desperate to get out of there.
I looked at my phone.
My girlfriends had been messaging me all night.
He escorted me through his apartment, past his sleeping mates.
I couldn’t believe they’d been there the whole time, ignoring my screams.
Out the front of my dad’s house, he kissed me on the cheek.
A shudder ran down my spine.
He’d raped me twice and now he was acting like a gentleman?
I prayed my father wouldn’t see me.
I’d always come home after a night out and I knew exactly what he'd think if he saw a strange guy dropping me off.
Luckily, he was still asleep.
Battered and bruised, I snuck up to my bedroom.
One of my friends had stayed there the night.
She rushed over to me.
"Tell me everything," she grinned excitedly, thinking I'd had a steamy one night stand.
I shook my head.
I couldn’t relive the horror.
"I just want to sleep," I said, climbing under my doona.
Over the next few weeks, everything about that night replayed in my head and I began blaming myself, thinking of all the “what ifs”.
What if I’d said no to the drink?
What if I’d fought harder to get him off me?
I considered going to the police but I didn’t know how or where to start.
I felt like everyone would judge me for what happened so I called Lifeline for help and they talked me through my options.
Desperate to move on, I decided not to report the attack.
But I no longer felt like myself.
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But I no longer felt like myself.
Around one of my best friends, Jake, I tried to act normally but he could tell something was up.
He kept asking if I was okay and for two years I managed to pretend I was.
But one day, we were walking by the river when he stopped and turned to me.
"What's changed, Ally?" he asked, squeezing my hand.
Before I could stop it, everything came pouring out.
He wrapped me in a hug.
He encouraged me to speak to a counsellor, and, after a year of therapy, I managed to tell my mum and dad. They were shocked.
"I can’t believe you’ve been dealing with this alone," Dad wept.
Later, I met an amazing man named Martin and we got engaged.
He's been so supportive.
Ever since then I've been sharing my story to try to encourage others to speak out.
One in five Aussie women have experienced sexual violence and they often blame themselves.
But it’s never our fault.
We all deserve to live a happy, fulfilling life.
We don’t need to suffer alone.
If you, or someone you know, needs to talk to someone, call Lifeline on 13 11 44. In an emergency, call 000