I don’t want to remember it but I have to let it out. You always think this is something that happens to others and not you. You read it in the papers, you hear it in the statistics. Until it’s you.
I feel guilty although I am the victim. I did nothing but I keep asking myself what I could have done differently to prevent it from happening to me. I’m finally in my hotel room. I can’t look at myself in the mirror. Because I was weak and I don’t want to meet my own eyes. I want to take a bath and wash away the dirt. Because I’m disgusted. I finally throw up. Something I wanted to do when I was still 30 000 feet in the air, where it all happened.
I can’t name it. I don’t want to. But I can’t keep it for me either. It’s too heavy on my chest.
I can’t help blaming myself. Were my lips too red, my perfume too sweet, the way I walked in that aisle, the way I said chicken or fish? I wish there was something I could do differently.
I wish I had fought, I didn’t have time to resist… They took me by surprise. I want to cry but I feel something died inside. I feel empty. I am nothing.
I couldn’t hide in the lavatory for too long. I would have to come out sooner or later because it was top of decent. I still had to clear the cabin and stow the headsets.
The thought that it would soon be over helped me come out. I wanted to tell someone. But who would believe me.
It started with a glass of water at boarding. How could know it would have escalated to this point? I wish I was more alert and had recognised the signs. The way he looked at me, his voice, everything he said. Everything was there. But there is no absolute formula. There are no symptoms, at least nothing we’ve learned during training. I would have left the plane. Even if it meant being fired. I would still have my dignity. I tried to talk to a fellow crew about it, but she didn’t want to listen to me. She ignored me because she knew what had happened…
The moment the fasten seat belt sign was switched off I had the feeling something was about to happen. Only I didn’t know what it was.
Their hands were all over my body. They poked me. Smiled viciously. Their voices overlapping into a sick grin like hyenas enjoying a dead corpse. Honey, sweetheart, darling. They called me all these names while they abused me. I couldn’t distinguish from which seat it was but does it matter now?
I tried to shield myself with my cart but they kept coming after me. I tried to resist but I couldn’t do much. In the end I surrendered.
I screamed but I was the only one who could hear my voice. I felt so stiff at one time I thought I heard the coroner pronouncing the time of my death based on my rigor mortis.
But I wasn’t dead. My mind was protecting myself from the reality. I felt like the little match girl. The more the pain, the less I was there.
Looking at myself in the mirror I’m all covered in bruises. Hopefully they will be gone but I don’t need to see them to know they are all over me. I feel each one of them when I close my eyes.
I talked to one crew girl about it. She told me it was nothing. She had been through it too. I can’t believe the way she said it. She tried to reassure me that its something normal, that many before me and her had been through it. But it doesn’t make sense. She advised me keep quiet about it or I would get in trouble. There was no point in fighting. Because that was part of the ‘job’.
I called the Purser from my hotel room and she called me a lunatic. That I was a liar. But then she told me the most shocking part. That I knew what I was signing up for. That this was part of the job and I couldn’t complain now. That everything came at a price. The travelling, the fancy hotels, the crew discounts didn’t come for free.
I have the bad feeling it will happen again and I have no choice but to keep my mouth shut. The purser was right. I chose to be an air hostess. Only I didn’t know instead of a being a host to them I was an air hoe-tesse.