Kate [redaction made for legal reasons] | Subjected to racially and sexually based harassment/derogatory comments by an allegedly off duty police officer in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

My boyfriend advised that the ‘friend’ (more about that later) with whom he was living as a tenant (of the friend’s parents who were the owners/landlord/landlady) had invited us to a small party at that tiny house. I did NOT want to attend but my boyfriend insisted that he would be going with or without me because in his opinion, his ‘friend’ was probably sorry for how he had treated me and this was his way of apologising and he had spent all day preparing the food. I did not believe that for one second but I also believed that I then had no choice but to attend, since in my opinion his ‘friend’ would again feel that he had successfully interfered in our relationship if I did not. His ‘friend’ had previously bullied and humiliated me on a number of occasions including in front of his own mother in his parents’ house (where I was living) who I also witnessed telling him to leave me alone.

Since then, his ‘friend’ had consistently done various petty things to annoy me, such as when visiting his parents, he would stay in the bathroom on the floor where my bedroom was for ages when there was a toilet on the first floor of the house.

My boyfriend was 36, his ‘friend’ was 30 and I was 22. Looking back, I clearly see that my boyfriend was a very sick narcissist (as was his ‘friend’) and I was being severely emotionally abused and was trauma bonded.

I came from a very middle class and very educated home. Again, looking back, I clearly see that both my parents were narcissists, especially my father. My boyfriend was from a poor family in Northern Ireland, and, according to him, his father was extremely emotionally abusive and physically violent. He had no job at the time, just like his ‘friend’, no tertiary education, just like his ‘friend’, and no trade etc, just like his ‘friend’. I was near the end of my first degree but had essentially run away from home (in Australia) and from a father who did not want anything to distract me from my studies, such as finding a boyfriend. I had been hearing that since I was still in school. I was never allowed to have an after-school job and now I was still not allowed to have a boyfriend at the age of 20. It had been my dream to live in England from the time I was about 17 so finding a boyfriend in the UK who had the same intention of getting married to the right person seemed like the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone. I was very naive and although I did not understand this at the time, I was looking for the unconditional love I had never had from my parents.

We had started out as penfriends and we corresponded for two years. It sounds so desperate, pathetic and naive when I look back. This was NOT the kind of person I needed to be wasting my time on in the first place but at the time, I felt sure I was in love with this person. I travelled to the other side of the world to be with him which is so cringeworthy because he kept spending all his money on international phone calls (which I never asked for and which he never asked if it was OK to do. He just looked up my parents’ name in the phone directory and called me out of the blue one day which became a regular thing).

On that first evening when I arrived in the UK, I was taken to stay at the house of the parents of his ‘friend’. The mother, on meeting me, told me that I was very good looking. I was astonished at how unattractive my boyfriend was in person. I remember looking at him while he was talking to her and thinking ‘What have I done? This is who I have spent two years on and an airfare on?’ As I said, at the time I was convinced I was in love with him, which is so cringeworthy because he was an abuser and never deserved my time. Within a couple of days, the devaluation stage by my boyfriend began but I did not understand what was happening. He told me, when I started reacting to the devaluation, which was completely the opposite of how he would speak to be before I went over there, that this was really about my relationship with my father. He was blame shifting and getting me to blame myself. I would wonder ‘Where is the person I got to know over two years?’ because I didn’t know it was all an act. I was the problem and I needed to change, according to him.

Within a couple of weeks, his ‘friend’ started insulting me when we’d run into him on our walks around town. I didn’t know how to handle this. I was very naive and had no experience of anything like this. It was then that my boyfriend told me that his ‘friend’ had insulted all of his previous girlfriends too. This was confirmed by the mother of his ‘friend’ who thought these other women did not appreciate what a ‘fine and wonderful’ man he was. That was her way of rationalising her son’s bullying of women who were in relationships with his friend. She and her husband had no idea what their son’s ‘friend’ was really like behind closed doors because he was so charming with them.

In the private conversation I had with my boyfriend immediately after his ‘friend’ had bullied me right in front of his mother in the house where I was living, knowing I was questioning my future with a man who has a ‘friend’ who bullies me, he said, ‘It’s not a friendship. It’s a use’. He went on about how he couldn’t have found a place like this to live for the price if he wasn’t able to use his friend for two places to stay, one for him with his ‘friend’ and one for me with the parents of his ‘friend’. I wanted to move out of that house ASAP but he refused to relocate us or even me. I was a 22 year old student with no savings and I did not arrive with a visa allowing me to work, only my passport allowing me to stay for 6 months.

My only option was to go back home which I didn’t want to do because I was trauma bonded to him and not ready to go home and face my parents who had opposed me going over there for a man with no job, no education and no trade. As I said, I didn’t know how to handle this. What I did know but never stated to him was that from the very first time his ‘friend’ insulted me, I resolved to not be in a relationship with him, once we did leave the area (and married, either in England – he had talked about living in London or Birmingham – or after we went back to Australia for him to meet my parents, which we had discussed before I travelled to be with him), if he maintained any contact with his ‘friend’. I never, ever contemplated a future with him if his serial woman-bullying ‘friend’ was to be in the background of his life and therefore my life. The parents of his ‘friend’ assumed that I was but I was simply biding my time until our relationship was established (I was not having sex with him).

The insults directed at me by my boyfriend’s ‘friend’ were designed to make me feel that I was actually unattractive and it was clear to me, from what was said by him and by his mother about these other women, that very similar insults were made to my boyfriend’s previous girlfriends. He basically liked to point out anything about a woman’s appearance that he felt they might be insecure about and magnify it, trying to make you feel like it ruined your appearance. It was clear to me that he was an unhappy, insecure and unintelligent person whose life was going nowhere fast and he needed an emotional punching bag. At the time, I could not see that my boyfriend was pretty much suffering from the same problems.

So, by the time we were invited to this party, I had been living in the UK for about 5 months. I had not been bullied by his ‘friend’ for about 4 months although my boyfriend would tell me about the constant tension in the house he was living in because his ‘friend’ wanted him to spend time with him rather than with me and was continually pestering him to do so. But I had done my best to stay out of his way (he would come over to his parents’ house about once a week, usually to bring his laundry for his mother to do or to sit in the dining room, staring into space or teaching himself Gaelic) and I was civil to him at all times. In the week or so prior to being invited to this party, he had asked me about my father’s heritage. His parents ( a clerk and a barmaid) knew that my father was a lawyer (he was a one time Crown Prosecutor but I don’t think I had ever mentioned that, just that he was a solicitor and barrister educated in England). I replied that my father was Chinese on his mother’s side and English on his father’s side. This is relevant to the racial insults made to me at this party by the person I was told was a police officer.

I am Australian by birth. My mother’s heritage is Australian (Anglo Saxon – from South Australia and so she is not descending from convicts but from free settlers) and my father’s heritage is Chinese and English and he became an Australian citizen around the time they met.

When we arrived at the party, there was no music, no party snacks, nothing resembling a party and there were only two other guests who were already there. I was very apprehensive when I walked in and saw all this but my boyfriend assured me that he knew these two brothers, one was a police officer and the other was unemployed and their surname was [redacted for legal reasons]. No one else arrived. We sat down and we were all served a bowl of some kind of pasta. Then the purpose of this ‘party’ became apparent.

The skinnier one, who was apparently unemployed, didn’t have much to say. The heavier set one, who was apparently a serving police officer, did most of the talking. It’s a long time ago and I don’t remember the majority of the comments and commentary. I do remember that he opened the discussion.

He looked me up and down and then with a blank expression stated that he had recently met a young woman who was a ‘half-caste’. This last word was spat out with venom and contempt. He stated that she was very attractive but that she was a ‘half-caste’. This went on for some time. He kept repeating this word, using it in different sentences. He was staring at me the entire time. He then smirked and started talking about ‘people who think they’re English’ coming to the UK, emphasizing the word ‘think’. He stated that ‘half-castes’ are not and will never be English and will therefore never be welcome in the UK. He spouted other ‘England for the English’ and National Front type of comments. He kept staring at me.

He then turned his attention to my nationality and, predictably, went on about convicts being sent to Australia. When I replied that my mother’s side of the family goes right back to the settlement of South Australia (well-known to students of history as being the one convict-free state in Australia) and there are no convicts in my family history, he replied that all white Australians are obviously descended from convicts. I replied that an uneducated British person would know nothing about the actual history of Australia and that I didn’t care what he chose to believe.

He continued to insult me about my heritage and my nationality as an Australian. He also spent a lot of time arguing with me by telling me that Australia is rubbish and then told me to get on the next plane back to Australia.

My boyfriend had said not one word in my defence.

Then he started making a lot of sexually explicit comments about women in general, including how he wanted to get some nurses around and what he would like to do with them. At this point, his brother and my boyfriend’s ‘friend’ joined in and made similar comments about their sexual fantasies with women generally, and especially with, nurses and women dressed up in a nurse’s uniform. Still my boyfriend said nothing.

At various points during this incident, he repeated the sentence, ‘Come on, fight back!’ and laughed, looking at me.

Suddenly, this ringleader, who was apparently a serving police officer, looked directly at me and with a smirk on his face said aggressively ‘Get your kit off’. He then stretched out his arm in my direction (I was a safe distance from him so he had no chance of making contact with me) and made groping gestures, stretching his hand in a claw shape over and over again. Then he said aggressively, ‘Say hello to Mr Tickle’. Finally, my boyfriend spoke up and said in a flat tone of voice, with no aggression at all, ‘Say hello to a kick in the bollocks’. He then stood up and told me that we were leaving. As I stood up, the ringleader made ingratiating comments to my boyfriend while at the same time insulting me about the colour of my very modest clothing even though we were both wearing all black.

Once outside, my boyfriend said ‘Sorry’. I replied ‘I can’t wait to be back home’ (I had already booked my flight about a week prior to this) which made him angry and I hurried back to the house of the parents of his ‘friend’.

To wrap up this story, I will add that not only did I dump my boyfriend when I discovered him sending a letter to his friend once he was in Australia and staying in my parents’ house (this was about six weeks after this party) but I later studied law.

I cannot at my age now relate to the person I was in relation to my failure to think of going to the nearest police station the following morning to make a formal complaint about the incident. Looking back, that is obviously what I should have done at the time. I have often wished that I had, as much for my sake as for the sake of any woman who might have made allegations about his conduct while on duty.

Constabulary: Staffordshire Police

Timespan: 1994

Did you report it to the police?: No

Do you want to revisit this with the police?: Yes

Your ethnicity: Mixed/Multiple Ethnicity

Have you experienced suicidality due to this?: No

Are you disabled as defined under the Equality Act 2010?: No

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