We publish an account of a non-consensual sexual relationship sent by one of our readers.* It is a story of a young expat woman temporarily living and working in Estonia. When she experienced sexual abuse she struggled with finding legal and medical help due to language barrier and lack of information about Estonian laws about her options. She points out numerous issues that need to be addressed in Estonia, so that it would be safer also to the expat community.
Trigger warning: the text describes scenes of sexual and psychological abuse.
I’m a European girl in my 20s and I’ve recently spent a few wonderful months staying in Estonia for a work-related matter, where I’ve experienced many wonderful things and have made many happy memories. Unfortunately, not every experience was perfect. This is a story of one of those experiences.
In October 2021, I met this guy – let’s call him Deniz. He lived in the same city as I did. We met through a mutual friend. The first few times I saw him we hung out in a group. He seemed like a fun and interesting person and potentially a great friend. I had no intentions of sleeping with him or being in a relationship. The last time we hung out in a group was at our mutual friend’s farewell party. This was when Deniz suggested exchanging phone numbers. I agreed and we added each other on WhatsApp.
Soon I messaged a few people to ask if they’d want to hang out at Halloween. Deniz was one of them. I think he only replied the other day. We got chatting, I send him a picture of me from the night before, just a selfie of me sitting in a restaurant, nothing sexually suggestive. He suggests meeting up that evening, I agreed. We ended up agreeing to meet up at my place at his suggestion. He seemed like a trustworthy and good person at that time so I didn’t think much of it. We meet up at like 9:30 PM. and we end up talking for hours, until about 4 or 5 AM. The time just flew by because we were having so much fun. Nothing even remotely sexual happened and he only said one platonic compliment, something along the lines of “you’re fun to be around”. He ended up sleeping on my sofa that night. As he was leaving in the morning, he forgot his backpack, so we agreed to meet up and we hung out at my place again.
After that, we had short and seldom WhatsApp chats, usually initiated by me. We hung out once or twice, and I really started getting attached to him and seeing him as a dear friend. We would talk for hours when we met, we’d go for burgers at 4 AM, I felt safe telling him some personal things. Unrelated to this, I noticed that his behavior towards me started getting more flirty. He’d give me sexual compliments and would insinuate that he wanted to have sex with me more and more often. At first I kept laughing it off, because as I said, I was not attracted to him sexually, but at some point I started thinking that maybe I would actually want to sleep with him. I now realize that I simply failed to differentiate between liking getting compliments from somebody and being attracted to them. But oh well!
One evening, I messaged him to say I’d be interested in having sex with him and we agreed to “plan something”. We talked about what we’d want to do for a bit: I told that I’d like him to wear condoms and that I emphasized that I want to use birth control and condoms before any penetration, so that the latter could only happen another time. It was also because I wanted to get used to sex at first. Being with Deniz would’ve been my first time having sex.
Except we never ended up “planning anything”. One day I noticed that Deniz had blocked me: I can’t see his Facebook anymore, WhatsApp messages don’t go through. I was deeply hurt by this and I blamed myself. Maybe I was messaging him too often, maybe I was not messaging him often enough, maybe he wasn’t having as much fun as I thought he was when we hung out. Or maybe I didn’t “sign up” for sex fast enough, maybe he even got turned off by my lack of sexual experience with other people. I sent him an SMS saying that I’ve seen he’s blocked me and apologized if I’d done something wrong and that I’m open to being friends again. He didn’t reply. I told my then-coworker, who also knew Deniz that he’d blocked me and asked her to ask him if there’s something wrong. He replied to her something vague that “nothing happened, I just don’t want anything to do with her anymore”. Soon he unblocked me on WhatsApp just to send a series of messages with the same content. I asked him if he found a girlfriend, because my coworker said that he’d posted something about some girl a few days before on Instagram, but he only sent me an angry reply that he doesn’t “want to talk about anything” and blocked me again.
Now I mourned the loss of a friendship. On top of that, I’m dealing with the “joys” of being ghosted and not even being worthy of proper parting. Had it not been for my coworker, he’d have never given me any explanation at all. I cried for a few days but eventually started concentrating on other things and moved on. I accepted that I’ll never have the answers. I still thought of him from time to time and mostly blamed myself. I didn’t realize that he indeed found a girlfriend and was too chickenshit to tell me that, but aside from that, I lived happily.
Fast forward two months later, in January 2022 I got a WhatsApp message from Deniz. It was just a simple “Hey”. I was excited to have my friend back. Our conversation started out with a bit of small talk but then quickly turned to sex. He asked if he could come over and I, not picking up on the warning signs, such as him taking about 20-30 minutes to reply which was unusual for him, and some of his messages looking almost-gibberish, agreed. I was thinking we would just make out as I had mentioned to him that this is how I wanted things to start out.
That was, however, not what happened. What happened wasn’t what I consented to. I was dirty talking in chat that night and I was foolishly under the impression he’d get the point. He showed up some time past 4 AM and we kissed as we met. I was nervous and hesitant and not really sure if I actually wanted him at that moment or at all. He started making out to me in the elevator. I didn’t really like it and struggled to kiss him back, but I chalked it up to the nerves. I thought that once we’re in the bedroom, I’ll have more control and will get to enjoying things. When we were in my apartment I told him to go to bed and undress. I went to the bathroom to undress myself. After exiting the bathroom, I went up to the bed, where Deniz was waiting for me, already naked. I crawled up on the bed as well.
Here comes the worst part. “Come here”, Deniz said, getting on top of me and pulling a blanket over us so quickly I could barely register what happened, let alone say a word. Before I could blink, he was already kissing me sporadically everywhere. Things were not going the way I wanted them to go and I felt powerless to stop them. I felt like shit. “Missionary?” Deniz asked, staring at me from above. I wanted to say “no”, I wanted to tell him to stop, but my head was spinning and my brain was overloaded with conflicting thoughts and feelings. “Would he even listen to me anyway?”
“Yeah” something takes over my body and mouths out on my behalf. For a moment, I feel like this is not reality, that it’s only some kind of fever dream, a fiction created by a madman. But this was very real, unfortunately, and the near-instant, all-consuming pain that overtook me as Deniz was trying to penetrate me – against what we had discussed before – quickly reminded me of that. Any leftover hope for being listened to flew out the window. I was still dissociating at times and I felt like a fly on the wall, watching something happen to some girl or a violent porn film. There’s an immovable lump in my throat that prevents me from saying “stop”, or tell him anything at all.
At first, my instincts would try to make me move away from Deniz and his unrelenting advances. Deniz, however, did not care and continued his “missionary”.
“It hurts…” I managed to blurt it out.
“It has to hurt.” Deniz brushed it off, without even making much of a pause. My pain was my own problem. A part of me was shocked at how careless and insensitive he was, but that part of me was not in control.
After this, the part of me that was in control wasn’t trying to escape anymore, it was only trying to minimize the damage. I’d put on lube in hopes of relieving the pain and I’d do whatever he’d tell me to do just for this to end quickly. I’d desperately try to persuade him to at least try to be gentler to me, if not stop entirely, weakly muttering out things like “I’m not sure this is getting better”. Despite this, Deniz pressured me, telling me “hold on a little bit and you’ll be over the moon soon”. A part of me thinks he might’ve taken his condom off at some point, claiming that he “can’t do it with a condom on”. Again, I was powerless to assertively resist. This moment is blurry in my memories, but the thought that he did that is frightening and enraging.
Looking back, it was basically a battle between Deniz and I, where winning for me was not an option. At some point, he started having erection problems and just got off the bed and walked away. I was feeling a bit numb inside. After taking a shower he told me that he didn’t “work because I love another”. That’s when I realized he had not cared about being my friend but he was using me as a rebound to get over his ex. He also told me he was drunk and on drugs.
I felt even more hurt by this. I felt as if he treated me as an object instead of a human being. If I knew he was looking for a rebound and not friendship or that he wasn’t sober, I would have never invited him. When I tried telling him all of this, he got angry with me and accused me of “making things emotional” as if we had a relationship. His reasoning was that he never said that he loved or liked me and therefore I cannot be angry that he was using me as a rebound. Yes, he didn’t promise me a relationship but that doesn’t make this would be fine! I’m 100% OK with casual sex but I did not agree to with being a rebound. He also invalidated me and made fun of my feelings – when I told him that I cried for days after he had ghosted me, he acted all dumbfounded and proclaimed that I cannot cry over someone I knew only for a few weeks. He also complained about my body hair, the mess in my room and generally did everything he could to make me feel bad. He told me I could still “message him with friendly stuff” after I said that I knew he would just block me again. By this point I had no desire to be his friend anymore. He also told me things like “you’re a woman now because of me” and kept mentioning the “virginity” thing for some reason, which I found to be extremely disgusting. I never saw myself as a “virgin” and never believed in the concept of “virginity” and he knew that, so why would he say that? Why would he try to make me feel even worse?
Things ended with me telling him “we’re strangers now, don’t come back” and shutting the door to his face. I messaged a friend about what happened and slept for a couple of hours. After that, I checked WhatsApp and saw that Deniz had no profile picture. He always had one. I wrote something along the lines “lol you blocked me again” and sent it, being sure it wouldn’t go through but it did. He just took his profile picture down for some time and he put it back on later. We had another argument where he told me that it’s all my fault that I’m feeling shitty and that I “created all this drama” for myself. He also told me not to cry for days and that I was being unreasonable. I told him to stop gaslighting me, to which he replied by saying “I wish you success in your life”. That was the last I heard of him for a while. At the end of the weekend, I noticed he had blocked me again, just like I predicted. The next two days were hell. I had no appetite and I had to force myself to eat something. I cried almost constantly. I started getting better in the coming days but I was still in pain and rage and cried sometimes. I still sometimes cry because of that although less frequently.
When I told about it to the coworker who know him, she looked at me and said “girl, that is rape!”. As strange as it might sound, this was a very uplifting moment for me. It finally started to make sense. Me being myself again, I started thinking of filing a police report. I had a lot of doubts – I didn’t go to the hospital after what happened and so on – and I was scared. But I finally pulled up the courage and sometime in late February 2022, I filed the report. Meanwhile, Deniz had got back with his ex and went away to live in Tallinn with her – I learned this from my coworker. Now he blocked my co-worker on Instagram, too.
I spent 4 hours at the police station giving my testimony. I had to tell them everything. I’m not sure if I managed to tell them everything I wanted, as the questions just kept coming but not letting me make the point I wanted. It was very hard to talk about what happened.
About two weeks later, I got an SMS from Deniz asking me if I had “done something stupid”. I didn’t reply, and about 5 minutes later, I got another SMS: “why don’t you answer?”. Soon he tried calling me and messaged me on WhatsApp from his Turkish number – he’s from Turkey. I finally blocked both his numbers and blocked him everywhere else as well. I screenshot all his messages and call history and sent them to the police investigator. The police investigator emailed me back saying that “he was probably just worried because I called him”. Despite the soothing tone of this response, I spent the next two nights at the office.
Late April 2022, I got an email from the police that the criminal proceedings have been terminated because no evidence of crime was found. I kind of anticipated this might happen but I still bawled my eyes out. I felt re-traumatized by this. All the pain that I thought was behind me came back in full force. Why does Deniz get to go on and live his best life? That’s not fair. I obviously decided to appeal, even if I knew I had little hope, but I wanted to find a lawyer first. I contacted a lawyer and agreed on a video call. She spoke little English, but we managed to agree that I’d request the case file from the police for her. As I did that, she responded that I hadn’t sent her “all the materials”, so she could not appeal. When I asked her which specific materials were missing she never replied to me but as I was re-read the non-reasoned order from the police I realized that I needed to request a reasoned order for the appeal. Luckily, I still had time for that and I did just that. I felt so dumb for not realizing this earlier.
In the meantime, as I posted my story on a few Facebook groups, one commenter suggested getting tested for STDs. I realized that even if Deniz was (probably) wearing condoms throughout the entire thing – and even assured me that he was “not sick” afterwards, I got tested. I went to the city hospital’s sexual violence center. After struggling to explain what I needed through the language barrier, I was told that since it was months after the incident, they’d book me a gynecologist’s appointment. I ended up paying 35 euros for the appointment. I only later learned that the tests for the victims of sexual violence at the sexual violence center were supposed to be free. I had no idea how anything was supposed to work, so I just did what I was told to do.
The gynecologist did not speak English either and I was typing things into Google Translate until a hospital employee came in to act as an interpreter. I got very nervous because I had not done a test like this before. I did not realize they’d be sticking up a large instrument into me. As I was hyperventilating from the familiar triggering painful sensations, the interpreter asked me if I agreed to continue. As I calmed a bit, I agreed and the sample was taken.
It was only after I put clothes on when I was informed I’ll have to pay an additional 130 euros for the tests. Had I known this before, I’d have probably looked at other testing options. I gave them my contact and they promised to call me within a week in case any of the tests return positive. I never received any calls. I should have asked for any paper/electronic records of the results, but I was too distraught after being recently triggered to think of anything.
Sometime in early or mid-May, I got the grounds for termination from the police. I wrote and emailed my appeal to the Prosecutor’s Office. Almost a month later, I received their response. Predictably, it mirrored the police’s. I felt totally crushed by this. The Prosecutor’s Office’s response stated that I have a month to appeal to the Tallinn Circuit Court, but I’d need a lawyer for that. Weeks of searching began, but all lawyers turned me down, saying there’s no case to be made. Finally, I just emailed the court myself. I’m yet to receive any response. So this is where the story ends for now.
Firstly, I feel betrayed by someone I considered a friend, and secondly, by the law enforcement. I hate how nobody seemed to care about my pain. Even the police officer wrote the phrase “because it was my first time, I was hurting” in the interrogation report, not before hand waving my pain verbally – I did not have the guts to argue. I hate how nothing I did was recognized as a non-verbal “no” that it was. The most brutal is the crushing self-doubt. “Maybe he really is a saint and did nothing wrong and you’re just a stupid inexperienced bitch who doesn’t know how things work” is a though I have to battle way too often.
* The author is known to Feministeerium editors.