“You shouldn’t go back to the dorms drunk. You can sleep in my bed, I’ll take the couch.”
But you didn’t sleep on the couch, did you?
You’ll never understand what you did to me. Lucky you. You’ll never understand how I laid in my bed the morning after crying and confused. Or how I desperately showered, trying to make sure the smell of you wasn’t lingering in my hair. You can’t comprehend how vulnerable, fearful, and utterly worthless you made me feel. Nor can you perceive the panic that would hit so hard my knees would give out and I would feel like I was suffocating. You can’t even begin to grasp the anger that got so intense I just about broke my hand punching the wall. And though I wish you could feel all of this for just an instant, I know that’s not possible.
Because you’ll never be put in a position where you’re forced into sex. You’ll never have “I need to do something right now or he’s going to rape me” go through your head. You’ll never have silent tears running down your face while someone you called a friend won’t take no for an answer. You’ll never focus on holding up your shorts despite the hands all over you that you want so desperately to slap away.
Could you not hear me?
I was telling you “stop”.
“I just want to go to sleep.”
I was pushing your hands away and rolling away from you. I kept redoing buttons on my shirt and pulling my shorts back up when you managed to move them down.
I even tried the age old “I’m on my period” lie. According to you, that’s what condoms are for...
The thing about sexual assault is it isn’t black and white like it should be. I didn’t walk out of that room thinking, “he just assaulted me.” I walked out thinking “why did I let that happen?”
I was so ashamed and I didn’t even know if I had the right to feel violated. I even almost gave you another chance despite everything inside me screaming that something was wrong. No wonder victims don’t say anything for years. It’s horribly scary and confusing and embarrassing. It wasn’t until I finally confided in my best friend that I realized something bad had happened, and that I was very valid in how I felt about it.
But the worst part was not what happened to me. It was the after effects. Thinking about you made me physically ill, and I had nursing school to get through which was hard enough without you lingering in every corner of my think space. So I packed up all the thoughts and feelings in a very tightly sealed box and put it on the top shelf of my mind, out of reach. But the box was quickly bursting at the seams. It started trickling into my consciousness drop my drop until finally, it just exploded. I ran into you on campus and those thoughts and feelings I had been repressing for months flooded my mind like a tsunami.
I could’ve sworn I was going insane. My stress levels were off the charts, my grades were slipping, and I was having daily meltdowns. I had to keep myself occupied or my mind would wander directly to you. I clawed at my skin in public to keep from freaking out. I was terrified of drunk guys, new guys, of all guys really. Even those I’d known and trusted for years. You managed to break something in me.
One day while studying in the library, I let my mind wander too far and suddenly I heard your voice saying the same disgusting things as you’d said that night. Instinctively, I threw my hands up to cover my ears. I realized I needed help.
I might’ve finally dealt with this how I should have right after it happened, but I am not the same. The thought of you still rears it’s ugly head in my life constantly. Every time I have to explain to my boyfriend why he can’t touch me a certain way. When I cry after listening to my best friend’s innocent shack story because I must be so worthless that the one time I went back to a guy’s room with him, he forced himself on me. When I see you on campus or hear your voice. When I smell beer on someone’s breath. When I see you around one of my friends because they don’t know what you’re capable of. When I see you at a party and the panic sets in and all of a sudden my friends are picking me up and carrying me outside as I cry and scream and shake. When one of your fraternity brothers who helped carry me out sympathy cried with me because he can’t understand how one of his brothers could do this to someone. (Not all frat guys are bad!!) Long story short, it feels like I’ll never scrub my mind clean of you.
I hope you think about that night. I hope you think about me. I hope you realize what you did was disgusting and wrong and that you never, ever do it again.
So a friendly reminder that no means no. And saying nothing means no. You being drunk isn’t an excuse. If someone says no, they aren’t just playing hard to get or trying to tease you, they just don’t want you to do anything to them. If it take coercion and convincing for someone to ‘give in’, its assault. Meaning if they say no a dozen times, the eventual “yes” is not legitimate. If they’re drunk, it’s assault. If they don’t give you consent, it’s assault.
And if she’s drunk, telling you to stop and saying no, rolling away, trying to keep her clothes on, and crying... it’s assault. Just Incase you were confused.