Ethan's story

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Up at uni, Ethan’s first lecture of the day was starting, but he stayed curled up under the covers, staring at the wall. Trying to make sense of what had happened.

Try as he might, the memories just wouldn’t come together. Ethan lay there for hours, sweating and trembling. Heart racing, dry mouth.

He’d swiped on a cute looking guy on the app. That much he remembered. They’d chatted, flirted and agreed to meet up for beers. So far, so good. But everything after the bar was fuzzy and disconnected.

He remembered being helped - forced? - into a taxi. Then stumbling home in the early hours, shaking and in pain. But what happened in between? All he had to go on were brief, scary fragments, and the deep pain in his body.

Not knowing what else to do, Ethan flipped open his laptop and started Googling.

He ended up on the Rape Crisis NSW page.

He saw the button that said ‘online counselling’. It seemed easier than phoning, somehow. There were words it was just so hard to say.

The counsellor was called Angela and she was awesome. Straight away, she believed him. No blame, just reassurance and practical help.

What had happened, she thought, was that he might have been drugged and sexually assaulted. The racing heart and dry mouth, the shaking and confusion, were all normal impacts of the trauma caused by a serious crime.

Ethan and Angela talked through his next options. Did he need to go to the doctor? Who else could he ask for support? They agreed he could call back on the phone in a few days and do a role play of how he’d chat to his uni supervisor and get extension on his assignments. He agreed she could store what he’d told her so he wouldn’t have to tell it all over again.

Angela let him go at his own pace and work out what he wanted to do for himself.

She gave him the email of the police LGBTQI liaison officer for his area. When he was ready, he could email them and they’d take his report forward with him.

When he hung up, Ethan felt less shaky and a bit stronger - more in control. He told himself he’d get everything sorted out step by step.

It wasn’t going to be easy, of course - but he wasn’t by himself any more.

NSW Rape Crisis
NSW Rape Crisis
Available 24/7.
Sexual Assault Counselling Australia
Sexual Assault Counselling Australia
For those affected by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Available 24/7.
Online counselling
Online counselling
Online counselling is also available 24/7.
*To protect confidentiality we have changed the names of the people in our stories and testimonials, and used models in photos.