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Raped by a Premier League footballer, too scared to report it, for eight years, Chloe lives with her trauma…

Nineteen year old Chloe, (not her real name), reveals how after she was raped, she has lived in pain as she decides to speak about things.

‘In his mind,’ says Chloe, ‘I’m probably some girl he slept with. That has never been how I viewed him. He has always been a rapist. I think about him every week.

‘He wouldn’t even remember my name or know who I was if we walked past each other in the street.

‘I’d love to know what he thinks happened that night. I would love to know.’

Chloe wants to talk. She has thought long and hard about doing so because, even though we are not using her real name, this deeply scarring moment is immensely painful to relive.

Eight years ago, when she was 19 years old, Chloe was raped in her own bedroom at a house party. The offender was a footballer who now plays in the Premier League.

They had never met before. They have never met since.

She has not told the police. Her parents don’t know and neither do her friends or family. It was only because she was suffering panic attacks, five years after the assault, that she told her boyfriend. 

She has battled demons alone, lived with denial, shame and guilt. But now, unable to escape news of alleged sexual violence within football, she wants to speak out. Indeed, she says, football urgently needs to address the problems it has around the very concept of consent.

Anonymity is important to her and the reason for it is compelling. ‘This is the only way I would do it,’ she says. ‘If you come forward about someone in the public eye, it’s a guarantee that people instantly say you just want fame or money.

‘And you’re already asking yourself if the police, your boyfriend, sister will believe you. Will they think it’s serious enough? Bad enough?’

The footballer in question, she says, was at the time breaking through in the game after a successful spell at an elite academy.

‘That he played football was one of the first things he said when he walked in. But I had zero attraction to him whatsoever. Not even on my radar. I thought he was a d*** when he came into the house.’

Back then she was at university and lived in a rented house with other students. There were often parties before the housemates headed into town to go clubbing, and that night was no different. Friends of friends arrived and the house quickly filled with young people.

‘People were drinking,’ she says, but she ‘literally had one double vodka’ after the footballer arrived. ‘By that stage of my life, I could very much handle my drink,’ she says.

At one point during the evening ‘three of us were in my room — me, him and a girl I lived with,’ says Chloe. ‘The door was wide open. My housemate left the room and I said, “don’t shut the door” because nothing was going to happen. I clearly didn’t want anything sexual.

‘From that point, things are quite difficult for me to match up — and I hold on to that comment about the door for reassurance.’

What happened next is hazy, either because the trauma has clouded her memory or because she was in some way incapacitated by the footballer.

‘The next thing I remember is my housemate back at my room, banging on the door, asking, “What’s going on?” [The footballer] had a pillow covering himself and let her in. I’m surprised he even opened the door.’

Chloe’s housemate had been made aware of a video that was quickly circulating among the footballer’s friends who were also at the party. Horrifyingly, he had filmed himself assaulting Chloe and immediately shared the footage with other partygoers.

‘I was on the bed, completely unable to move,’ says Chloe. ‘My dress was hoisted up but still on. That is reaffirming because why would I have my dress like that if I wanted sex? I didn’t understand what had happened.

‘He had filmed it [the assault] and my housemate, who had heard what was in this video, had come to ask what was going on.’

Chloe herself has never seen the film and has no idea whether it still exists in any form.

‘I don’t know exactly what was shared. Part of me wishes I’d seen the video, so I had some form of evidence. I don’t think I had any idea what was going on. It’s still there in my mind, but how it got from him being sat in a chair to that . . . if I was with it, I’d surely remember him filming.’

Did he walk into that party with an expectation of sex?

‘One hundred per cent,’ she says. ‘He absolutely did. I had an opinion of myself at the time. I was quite sexually promiscuous and comfortable with that. If I had wanted to sleep with him, I would have. I would have said shut the door.

‘You have to reinforce this with yourself to accept that it wasn’t right and it wasn’t my fault. There are parts of it that I will never get clarity on, like if there was spiking involved. If he’s doing that, it’s beyond predatory. If there was no spiking involved, it doesn’t matter, it’s just as valid.’

She is certain, however, that she wasn’t drunk — and that at no point did she consent to have sex with him.

‘There is no way in hell that I could have been drunk enough to black out. Either something else was involved or trauma took over.

‘How I felt the next day was so different from a hangover. I was overwhelmingly confused and tired more than anything.’

A few months later ‘someone who knew him made a comment to me about how much I like a drug I’d never heard of before,’ she says. Although she can’t now remember the name of the drug, she was baffled and scared by the comment. ‘Did they know?’ she asks.

After the assault, Chloe went out to a nightclub. She remembers queueing but little else. The footballer also continued the night elsewhere after the house party.

‘How have I gone on a night out after that?’ she asks. ‘But it’s even more validating in a way. If I’d willingly slept with someone before a night out, I’d have gone to a club with them. We’d walk in together.’

Scarily, the footballer came back to her house in the early hours after she and her housemates had returned home. He was given her number by a friend and began texting her incessantly, then ‘banging’ on her locked door. Chloe made sure the door was secure and told him to leave her alone.

‘This was the moment it felt really weird and that I didn’t really know what had happened,’ she says. Eventually he gave up and left.

Throughout the following days and weeks, none of Chloe’s friends mentioned the incident. She wore tracksuits to cover up, suddenly ashamed of her body and plagued by flashbacks and questions. She blocked the player’s name on social media and tried to avoid any mention of him.

It was only the decision to see a therapist for something entirely unrelated, five years later, that prompted a proper examination of that night.

Chloe realised, too, that she needed to tell her new boyfriend, Sam. He wanted them to go to the football together — ‘it was a nice thing to do as a couple’ — but the thought of it brought on panic attacks. 

Again, she began having flashbacks, as if floating outside her body, above the attack. She couldn’t sleep properly and had nightmares when she did.

‘I had completely buried it and shut it off in my head,’ she says. But now: ‘I look back on those years and realise I wasn’t all right. I couldn’t even say the word “rape” for a long time. The anger came through therapy and how that was impacting my life. I met my boyfriend, who loves football, and I was exposed to stuff that I hadn’t been before.

‘It got to the point where the footballer who assaulted me would be playing against the team my boyfriend supported in the Premier League. By this point in our relationship, Sam couldn’t touch me intimately without me having a panic attack or getting upset. It was impacting our relationship. It couldn’t not.

‘I was supposed to go to the match between my boyfriend’s team and the team [the footballer] played for but I started making excuses not to. I couldn’t bear that Sam was going to watch him. And then if he found out later, he would hate the fact that he’d gone. So I wrote a letter and . . .’

She turns to Sam, who is sitting beside her and has supported her throughout our two-hour interview, and says: ‘I can’t even remember how much you know.’

‘This is the most you’ve spoken about it to me,’ he tells her. ‘I don’t know the finer detail. I don’t want to ask and you don’t want to talk about it. This conversation right now is definitely the most we’ve gone into it.

‘I might watch Super Sunday and an advert with his face would pop up for an upcoming match he is playing in,’ Sam goes on, slowly. ‘I now have the remote control in my hand at all times, just in case I need to switch the channel.

‘I’d love nothing more than to name him and put him in the paper. But I’m not stupid. I know it doesn’t work like that.

‘I said go to the police, but your reasons for not doing that were sound; it’s your word against his. There is no evidence. It’s a losing battle. You might be able to say you tried, but it’s not worth going through that pain.’

Just 1.9 per cent of reported rapes resulted in a charge last year, according to Home Office figures, and it takes an average of two years for a charge to reach the courts.

‘Honestly, why would I consider the police when I know how incredibly difficult it is to even get it through the Crown Prosecution Service?’ asks Chloe. ‘Even if there were five others [victims], the first thing a defence lawyer would do is try to separate those cases.

‘If it gets to court, you are completely annihilated by a lawyer who makes you feel worthless. The system isn’t there to protect victims of sexual violence. What other crimes do you report and you’re instantly accused of lying?’

Sam describes how this has affected the balance of their relationship.

‘The hardest thing for me is knowing but not being able to do anything about it,’ he says. ‘Chloe made me promise I would never contact him and obviously I never have. I’ve thought about it when he scores goals. You think, “I’ll bring you down.”

‘I feel like I’ve not fulfilled a boyfriend’s duty. I’ve fulfilled the duty of keeping the promise, but I want to protect her.’

Chloe reaches over to his hand for comfort. She talks about the perpetrator’s character, how she has read stories that reinforce her view of him as ‘violent, aggressive and above the law’. 

Writing to him has been ruled out for fear of the reaction. Instead, she channels energy into her career, which is dedicated to helping victims of sexual violence.

‘How he treated me in that situation — aside from the actual rape — speaks of someone who is very confident doing that stuff and doesn’t view it as sexual violence. He’ll just think the video is banter with the lads.

‘I’m not stupid; this will have happened to someone else, too. His behaviour since, from what I’ve seen, is not nice. He is clearly not the type of person to take accountability.

‘I wouldn’t want him in prison. I’d want him to acknowledge it happened. I’d want him to explain to me why it happened. Why has he turned out like that? Why does he continue to engage in stupid behaviour?

‘This sort of abuse is more prevalent in certain arenas — like football, or the Navy recently. Nobody knows why for definite, but look how they are brought through academies. 

‘Where is their guidance, when role models are constantly accused of domestic abuse or sexual violence? It’s absolutely no surprise that it feels like it’s getting worse.’

Academies and governing bodies argue they do educate teens around issues such as consent, but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that not enough is being done.

‘Football has so much scope to bring these players up to be good human beings,’ Chloe adds.

‘Every footballer I see, I think, “What have they done?” That’s horrible — and wrong. Some are amazing and are using their platforms for good. They are the role models. But the whole sport is tarnished for me.

‘Look at the #MeToo movement. It might be an actor who’s in their 50s and you aren’t massively surprised. I feel like that with football.

‘I’ll never get to a place where I am who I was before. But I’ve got to a place where I can talk about it and acknowledge what it was. I’ve worked so hard to accept what happened and even to say the word “rape”.

‘I’d love to be that person who says, ‘”They did that to me” and not worry about the repercussions. I have so much admiration for people who do it. This [interview] is me being able to do that in my own way.

‘I’d probably rather be dead than have people say that I’m lying.’



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