Sometimes I wonder if she thinks of me. My accuser. Since I have never talked to this girl sober, I wonder if she even remembers my name, if she looked me up on Facebook again and again, or felt afraid to run into me on campus. More often than not, I tell myself that she wanted it, but her words still echo in my head. And it’s not just hers.
I was sexually assaulted my junior year of high school. It was at a house party, I was drunk, and a girl sort of fell on top of me and started grabbing at the fabric under my jeans. Even in my belligerent mindset it felt uncomfortable and I wanted her to stop- we were outside on the patio for god’s sake- but she didn’t. She was just as drunk as me, with something to prove to her friends, to herself. People saw it happen. People made sure other people saw it happen. I didn’t tell this girl no, but I did not tell her yes either. When people asked me about it, I didn’t even know her name. It sounds childish, vindictive even, to say that everyone was surprised that this girl hooked up with a boy, in any manner, since everyone thought she was a lesbian. This is something I think about a lot, sort of a go-to reassurance for myself, something to make me feel power over her, however futile.
Three years have passed since then, but the event still comes up in conversation. Kids from my hometown think it’s funny that a 5’4″ girl could get in a 6′ boy’s pants and there’s nothing too serious about it. I can’t talk about my assault without coming across as dramatic and hungry for attention. In a country where more women are raped than men, it’s something you don’t talk about. You got pussy. That is it. Stop asking questions, don’t play it over and over in your head, if someone brings it up again just laugh along with them and pretend it doesn’t bother you. I often wonder how it would feel if no one knew but my attacker and me, if there were no social pressure to laugh it off and move on.
I am an awkward person, and although I treat this as a badge of honor, more often than not it gets me into trouble. I am also a man, and have the drive to fuck. It is constantly on my mind, an inner monologue if dirty thoughts that I try not to focus on, especially in the company of others. But for every dirty thought I have had and every awkward attempt I have made at seducing someone, the idea of consent has never left my consciousness. If she’s wasted and can’t think for herself or tries to make you stop or just wants to be friends, then you respect her wishes and use better judgment. It is far too easy to lie to someone and listen to their problems and tell them a few of yours, all under the guise of being sweet and genuine. All just to get some trim, no matter what she says. What a person wears or where their S/O is at the time or how much they’ve drank doesn’t make them any more deserving of unwanted sex, and I know this for a fact- was raised on these principles even. So why can’t I stop hearing her words.
Fall quarter of my freshman year at university, I met a girl. Truly a friend of a friend. She was nice and we would go drinking with our mutual friends. I perfectly executed the role of freshman boy and always drank too much, but stayed polite and never tried anything. After a few weeks of school, we went out to a club one Friday night and things were different. This girl wasn’t dancing with only me, but she was definitely trying to put herself out there. My friend would later me this girl said, “tonight, I am going to be a slut.” She was grinding a few guys and when she got to me, I wanted her to stay. We were both tipsy, but had pre-gamed together, so i figured it was harmless. When she reached back to feel my girth under my jeans, I had a flashback to junior year on the patio, but this time it felt right. It’s fucking college, right?
After an hour, I asked her if she wanted to leave and go back to her place; she said yes. We lightly stumbled our way up the street to her dorm. At this point I very much wanted to make love to this girl, to prove to her and myself how good I could be, but I still knew that consent was important, and I was only partially sure she wanted me. We arrive at her dorm and her roommate is gone. Good for us. She closes the door and locks it. She was wearing black jeans, a cream blouse, and gold earrings. I don’t feel drunk anymore, but am oddly sure that I still am. I turned around to take off my jacket, and when I face her again, she is completely topless and staring at me. I walk over and kiss her. She kisses me back. We take each other’s clothes off and I go down on her then she, me. We have sex. She said I didn’t need to wear a condom because she had a Nuva Ring. I felt as if I was truly in college in these moments, having drunk consensual sex with a near stranger and afterwards, when i left the room to have a cigarette, I listened through the door to hear what she would tell her friend about me. That is when i head the words that knocked my on my ass.
“I’m pretty sure he raped me, but I was totally into it.”
Pretty sure? Rape? Into it? These words do not belong together. I felt broken after hearing them, that even after being nice and making sure we both weren’t too drunk and waiting for her to make a move, I was still a rapist to her. Because I wanted to have sex? Because I succeeded? If at any point she had said “no” or “stop” or “I don’t want to” then I would have stopped. Were these simply the words of a tipsy teenager, or some unrelenting truth behind my behavior?
No one deserves to feel like they have been sexually assaulted, but no one who has been sexually assaulted deserves to be discredited by people who don’t know what those words mean. This girl may have thought she was in my hands, that I was pulling the strings to make this happen, but in reality she had a power over me that I could not fathom at the time. She had the power to call me a rapist, and while there was no police investigation, no media attention, those words echoed in the ears of the right people. I lost my mutual friends with this girl because they looked at me differently after that night. But I am not a rapist. I never was and I never will be. But this girl has made me feel like one, and I feel even more violated than I did in high school.