I have no idea, no idea at all why the events happened, why they happened to us, what the reasoning of those men may have been – all I know is that they happened, and in a way I give thanks that it was not worse than it may have been if they had been less considerate…
It was a cold December night, and the sun had already set as I walked up to the front door of the house I love in. I had spent the day at the call centre I work in, and just wanted to have a quiet night at home. Under my long padded coat, I was wearing a white sweat short with “New York” written in big letters diagonally across the front, dark blue jeans and white trainers. As always, my head was covered to show my modesty – on this particular day, with a white hijab that was wrapped around my head and neck, meaning I felt the cool air on my face.
Anyway, I got home, and then hung my coat up on the stand we all use it – my two housemates and the house mother. From there, I made my way to my room and walked in – and that was when it started.
I was grabbed from behind, around my waist, and a gloved hand was pressed firmly over my mouth. As I struggled, a young male voice told me to remain calm, not to struggle, and to do as he said. If I did so, I would not be hurt. The implication of that was clear, so I stopped struggling and waited, wondering what was going to happen.
He asked if I was going to do anything If he took his hand away, and I shook my head from side to side to indicate I would not. He then took his hand away and let go of me, but he also told me not to look round, but to put my hands behind my back. He was talking calmly, quietly, but when he said he had to make sure I stayed in the room and did not call for help, I was a little afraid.
As I move my hands behind me, I felt him putting the palms of them together, and then I heard a soft ripping sound. I realised what it was when I felt something stick to my wrists, and then my wrists forced together – some sort of tape. It made a funny noise as it was wound tightly round my wrists, and then I felt it on my fingers as my hands were taped together.
I heard another rip, and then the pressure as it was smoothed down, before it started again – this time I could see the roll of white, thick, strong tape as it was wound around my body below my chest, pinning my arms to my sides as it was pulled tight. Again it was torn free and smoothed down, and again another band was wrapped around me, this time above my chest, leaving me with my arms almost fused to my sides, and my sweatshirt stretched.
I was then turned and told to sit on the floor, and I got my first look at him – about the same age as me, tall, thin, and wearing what looked like a stocking pulled down over his head. I watched as he taped my ankles together, and then my legs below and above my knees, all the time talking to me, keeping me calm, telling me if I stayed where I was and kept calm everything would be all right.
My big fear was that he would use the tape on my mouth – I’m an asthmatic, and that would be dangerous. So when he instead rolled up a large white headscarf, and told me to open my mouth, I was actually relieved. I let him pull the silk band into my mouth, my lips closing over it as he took the ends around my head and secured them tightly together at the base of my neck, over my hijab.
With that, he looked at me, and smiled before he went out of the room, closing the door behind himself – but before he did, he turned my radio on, the music helping to keep me calm as well. It was a very strange feeling – the band of cloth kept my tongue down, but it was not uncomfortable, and all in all, as I said, it could have been worse.
What I did not know was what was happening to my other housemates…
“Take your boots off.”
That was the first thing the masked man said to me when I entered my room – take your boots off.” Now, given he was the one who should not have been in my room, I asked why I should do that. Then he replied “because I am going to tie you up on your bed, and you will be much more comfortable if you take your boots off.”
Believe me, I had no reason not to believe him – he was the one with the stocking over his head, and a selection of my jewellery in his bag. How he had got in, I did not know – but I knew I had no choice, so I sat down and pulled off my short black leather boots. I was still wearing the rest of my outfit – a brown long sleeved jumper, faded blue jeans, peach socks, and a black hijab preserving my modesty.
He smiled, and then told me to sit on my bed, turned with my back to him. As I did so, I glanced over and saw him removing from a bag several lengths of white rope. Well, he had said he was going to tie me up…
I stared straight ahead as he took my hands behind my back, crossed my wrists, and then started to bind my wrists tightly together. As if the fact he was wearing a stocking mask had not been enough of a giveaway, it was soon obvious to me he knew what he was doing – it was not uncomfortable, but as he pulled It tighter I knew I was not going to be able to bring them round for a while.
So when he passed a doubled over length of rope around my arms and body, pulling tight under my chest, I knew I really was not going to be able to go anywhere. He kept winding the rope around, above and below, each pass forcing my arms more into my sides, and – well, it felt nice. Strange, but nice.
I could see the way my chest was forced out as well – and as he tied the rope behind, then took the ends under one arm, up and around the back of my neck, and then under the other arm before he tied it off, I wondered what he was going to do next.
I should not have asked. As I tried to move, he took a fresh length of rope, doubled it and then passed it around the rope at the back of my neck, making me yelp a little as he did so. The then fed it down under the other ropes, passed it around my wrists and forced my arms up so that my hands were parallel to each other. He then fed the rope back up, before spiralling it down the length that ran up my back, and finally tying the whole thing off. I knew now it would be best not to move my upper body, except for when he helped me to lie face down on the bed, my chin resting on some folded towels.
He then took another length of rope, and started to bind my legs together at my ankles. I asked where my housemates were, but he said nothing, he just kept wrapping the rope around from my ankles and slightly up my legs, before he tied it off. He then pulled them back, and used another length of rope to link them to my wrists.
Well, now I knew I was not going anywhere – which was when he told me to open my mouth. I did do that – to ask why – but before I got the chance he pushed something into it. It took me a minute to realise he had pushed some sort of sponge ball in, and it was expanding inside, pressing my tongue down, stopping any noise. The noise I did hear was a strange peeling and ripping sound – before he pressed a long, wide strip of tape firmly over my mouth, sealing it and covering my lips as it was formed to the contours of my chin.
All I could do was raise my head and look at him, as he walked off, my radio playing – and it was not the only one. I could hear two others – and I knew now my housemates were in the same position as me…
“You’re hurting me!” I felt the rope forcing my wrists together, as the masked woman – WOMAN – said “if you stop struggling, it won’t hurt. I need to make sure you stay in your room, so let me do this.”
I had walked in to find her waiting, smiling as she stood up. She wore a black jumper and jeans, with a clack stocking pulled down over her head – and a hank of rope in her hands. Before I had a chance to say anything, she had walked behind me, crossed my wrists, and started to tie them together with washing line.
I had come home when it was dark, and taken my leather jacket and boots off in the hallway, slipping my feet into the tartan slippers I kept by the door before coming up to my room. I had been on a course all day, and was casually dressed – an old lumberjack shirt with a blue check over a grey long sleeved t-shirt, old jeans, and as always my dark grey hijab over my head and shoulders.
And now here I was – my wrists forced together behind my back, as she pulled the cords between my arms and secured the ends. She then doubled over a long length of rope, passed it around my body under my chest, and then pulled tight, my arms forced into my sides, my chest forced out, my shirt forced to the sides…
Despite all that, it felt strangely comfortable, as the rope went above and below my chest, and I could not figure out why. I wasn’t scared as such – given it was a woman, I felt the worst that was going to happen would be that I was tied up, and probably gagged, but not much more than that.
I felt her tugging at the ropes behind me, and then she made me sit on the floor, kneeling beside my legs as she doubled another length of rope over, and bound my ankles tightly, wrapping the rope around them and forcing them together before she passed the ends between my legs, making it even tighter. She kept the rope over the cuffs of my jeans but it was still effective.
Another band went round my legs below my knees, again with the ends taken between them to make it tighter, and then finally around my thighs. As I looked at them, I knew I was going precisely nowhere.
She then pulled out a roll of brown tape, and held a folded cloth in front of my mouth. I asked if my hijab would remain, and she assured me it would. So I let her put the cloth in my mouth, and then she wrapped the tape around my head, keeping the cloth in and redesign anything I wanted to say to a low whimper.
I could hear music coming from the rooms of my housemates now, and she turned my radio on as well, as I sat there, still not sure why what was happening was happening – or how they had managed to get past our housemother.
“Did you have to make sure my three residents were tied and gagged as well?”
“There is no other way,” my husband said as he wound the rope around my crossed wrists, securing them firmly together at the base of my back, before he used the ends to tie my thumbs together. I was wearing a knee length pink dress with a white crazy paving style pattern on it, and a pink hijab. My steel rimmed glasses were still on as I sat on the edge of the bed.
As to what was going on – my husband was wanting to do something, and he told me the only way it would work is if it looked like a gang had broken in and robbed our house. Which, given we have three Muslim female students rooming on our upper floor, is a bit of a problem. So he had got three friends to make sure they stayed in their rooms as well.
He knelt in front of me, and tied my ankles tightly together with more rope, before helping me to lie across our bed and securing those bound ankles to my wrists with more rope.
“You’ll all be all right for the time it will take me to do this,” he said, “now, open your mouth.” Well, he is my husband – he had tied a knot in a long brightly coloured scarf, and that was what he pulled between my teeth before tying the scarf around my head, the end hanging down as I looked at him.
He and I were going to have words when he got back – which would probably be in a few years. After all, the police were waiting for him. And his three friends were my friends as well.
Thinking I would let him do this to me… He was a fool. With him gone, I would weep – and then make sure my house guests were well taken care of… Once I had apologised to them.