Was I raped? Was I assaulted? What do you call this in-between thing? This is for every girl who thought that what happened to them was too confusing and blurry to be called assault. For every girl who felt that what happened to her was less significant than the other stories they heard. For every girl who has ever had the constant gnawing thought, "It was all my fault." I've been every one of those girls and I'm just now learning to hold on to my truth.
I was seventeen years old when I was first sexually assaulted. I'm glad I'm calling it that now, that even though I will always struggle to grasp a concrete truth, this I know.
It started at a party with some alcohol, as it often does, but once again I must scream to the world we've got to stop thinking this is a cause. No woman should fear to have a drink or go out with some friends.
In my young age I didn't understand much about alcohol or my own limits. I had too much to drink and blacked out. I was going through a lot of emotional turmoil as I found my boyfriend was leaving the country in a few days and I let myself lose control. I remember lying on a bed next to one of my boyfriend’s friends with the urge to kiss him. And then nothing.
And in this small moment I felt that what happened later in the evening was all my fault, that because I consented to a kiss, well rather drunkenly gave someone one, that it meant I agreed for them to completely consume me. It took me a long time to forgive myself and realize just because I kissed the guy, doesn’t mean I consented.
Fast-forward and some friends find us together. I was giving him oral sex. Now that I look back I’m pretty sure he made me do it, but I know I can’t say for certain. I didn’t like doing it and it was definitely only something I enjoyed with my boyfriend. Because of this and his behavior later—correction—I know in my heart he made me do that. I was much drunker than him and became an easy target.
After lots of tears, mania, and vomiting, I passed out in the corner of the basement. After everyone was asleep my tormentor came back for his main event.
I was in a deep drunken sleep, in a hazy black sea somewhere no sober or sane mind can reach, and suddenly I was being woken up and kissed voraciously by rushing forceful lips. But I was still in that deep place and my burning thighs and lips gave in. I kissed back. I didn’t understand who it was or where I was. And then he was yanking my clothes off over my head, ignoring buttons and bra hooks, and I tried to take them off myself without the ripping motions this boy was taking.
And then his hands found what they were seeking. Groping and pulling, squeezing tightly until my eyes began to tear up at the corners. And then he was biting. Grabbing one breast with his malicious hand and then biting the other with sinking teeth. And with the sudden pain I was surged to the surface from my dark pool. This was “____” wasn’t it? I thought it was him. I knew it was him, didn’t I. I saw his face waking me up but I was too deep to notice or do anything about it. I was trying to say "no" but I only could let out a grumble, my mouth was full of drunken sawdust.
But his mouth continued to travel the length of my body. And my moment of clarity was slipping back into a clouded mental state. He put my hand on his lap and said something, but I was too far gone to know for sure. “Do it,” maybe that’s what he said, or “come on," something like that. And I did for a moment. I swear I deserve these things I am so goddamn stupid. I complied. I knew how, but I didn’t like it now. It made my stomach turn. Something felt off but I still didn’t really understand where I was or who he was, or even what I was doing. I yanked my pants down. His mouth followed. Only for a moment. He didn’t want to pleasure me. He wanted pleasure. This was his event! I was the drunk girl—a body for him to consume. He eased himself on top of me and said, “What do you want me to do? Sixty-nine?”
And his face was so close to mine and with filthy words. I shot to the surface again, gasping for breath. And the fact that this was truly him crossed my mind for the first time. “Yes, I want to have sex. But not with you!” I exclaimed, or at least tried to. I’m sure it wasn’t very loud. And it was at this point I kept thinking, "Someone will wake up! They will won’t they. Oh yes, they must. I’ve been loud. He’s been loud. They’ll wake up and end this all."
But they never did.
And then he was grabbing my hands again. Putting them on him. Commanding. And I didn’t want it. Not at all.
“No. I’m tired.”
He didn’t care. He took my hand and placed it in his lap once again and moved it up and down. No. I yanked my hand back. I’m not sure how many times this happened. The grabbing and yanking back. It must have been several times. But things were fuzzy again. Spinning. Oh I was still so intoxicated. My world was swimming and full of touches I didn’t want. Dirty, furtive things. And so, not pleasing him as he would’ve liked, he climbed back on top of me. Trying to force himself into my mouth. No. No. No. I tried to kiss him. I thought he would get it and stop. See that I didn’t want anymore. I had made a mistake. It was my peace treaty. My attempt at appeasement. Why didn’t I scream or yell? That’s what everyone asks. And I’m still not sure. I’m not even sure if I could have. My voice had left me and my world was still a hazy dark pool and my body wouldn’t cooperate. But really it was my embarrassment, I didn’t want anyone to find me in the situation I had gotten myself in. Some cruel part of me thought this was justice.
He dismissed my kiss and continued his forceful advances. And in my head I screamed. No! no! no! At my refusals he decided to finish himself off over my naked and bruised body. He threw a napkin at me and told me not tell anyone. I immediately began to silently sob. I pulled my knees up to my chest, rolled over and let the endless tears cascade down my face. I was a disgusting person. I was a dirty used rag. I have never felt so worthless and used up in all my life.
In the morning I woke up covered in bruises and bite marks and very very confused about what actually happened. I accused my attacker who then told me I must have dreamt it because he wasn’t even attracted to me.
Because of the alcohol involvement and my responses it took me a very long time to call my nightmare what it was. I thought because sometimes I responded to his advances that meant I wanted it—I did not. I was too drunk to consent, I was only responding to what naturally felt good to my body when I had no ability to say no or understand what was happening. And then later on I did explicitly say no anyways! He was sober and attacked me while I was passed out asleep drunk. This is not consent.
This is not your fault. I still have to run over these facts in my minds every few months to keep the guilt from seeping in. We have to remember that even if the story is confusing and weird, you know how you feel. You know when something was taken from you. I am hoping by writing this I can take in my own words a little bit better.