Anatomy Of A Date Rape

Trigger warning

The day after it happened, I sat in silence, the feel of his lips still on mine, the image of his head still vivid between my legs. I wondered how we’d gotten there, how I could have been so thoroughly manipulated, and why I felt such guilt.

I trusted him, and I shouldn’t have. I’d been warned about him. But when people warn me away from others, I always think, “That’s nice of you to worry about me, but I’m a grown woman, and I can take care of myself.” Sometimes I even feel offended, to the point where indignation drives me to prove the warning wrong. Or to try to, anyway.

In this case, it was a combination of pride and perverse curiosity. The man in question was a fellow comedian who had, in preceding months, made overt sexual overtures toward me. I’d rejected him several times, and he’d reacted with light-hearted banter, brazen denial, and petulance, in turn. I found his inconsistency fascinating. Following a period of radio silence, he made renewed efforts at friendship, and I was skeptical but intrigued.

I doubted his interest in being platonic friends, but in an exploratory hangout, he made no moves and seemed to have neither expectations nor agenda. I was pleasantly surprised. I told him as much, and we had a good laugh about it. I thought we were pals.

One night, I invited him over for drinks. Given my limited financial means, this seemed like a good, economical option for spending time with a friend. I prepared myself for the possibility that he might try something, and I was ready to reject him firmly but with compassion.

When he arrived, he was already slightly drunk. He asked me to parallel park his car. I wondered what his plan was for getting home, but I figured he was an adult who knew how to fend for himself. I put it out of my head, and like any good host, I offered him a drink and refills when his glass was empty. I drank at a slower pace.

Eventually, he told me he couldn’t drive home. I said he could sleep on my sofa, but he objected, saying he was too tall for it. He demanded space in my bed. At the time, I was too drunk to realize that I should sleep on the sofa myself, and I only saw the options of sharing my bed or kicking out a drunk person.

“I’m not going to try to grope you or anything,” he said. I felt foolish and vain for thinking he would, and I agreed to let him in my bed.

Then he asked to see my breasts. I wasn’t surprised, but I was exasperated, feeling like the situation had already progressed beyond my comfort level. I declined.

“A part of you wants to show me, though,” he said. I knew how awful a statement like that was, but I was still interested in preserving the friendship, and I was drunk, and sometimes when I’m drunk I do like to show people my breasts, so I agreed and laughed it off. But there was nothing unclear about my “no.”

I explained that I wasn’t interested in anything happening between us, for a variety of reasons, which I laid out, despite knowing I didn’t need to. The one thing I didn’t say was, “I don’t want you.” It didn’t seem necessary.

“Unlike other comics, I can take no for an answer,” he said. I thought that was a strange thing to say, but I was glad he accepted the rejection with so little ado. We went to bed.

He passed out fully clothed. I was wearing shorts and a tank top, and I crawled to the edge of my bed, facing away from him. An hour or two into the night, I was awoken by his hand on my shoulder. He was now inches from me, and he seemed to be trying to pull me toward him. I told him to stop. My language was clear. I said, “Stop.” But he persisted.

He kept insisting he wasn’t doing anything, then putting his arm around me further. I was uncomfortable, but he wasn’t listening to my “no”s and “stop”s. His logic about not doing anything confused my sleepy, vodka-addled brain. It seemed true, and I didn’t want to throw a fuss over nothing. Besides, it felt nice, so I let him spoon me.

Soon enough, his hand was running up and down my body. I told him to stop, and he didn’t. Instead of listening to the words I was saying, he seemed to think it his right to take cues from my body. Unfortunately, my body was reacting positively to touch. It always does. Muscle memory is powerful, and my body doesn’t know the difference between touches from someone I want to touch me and someone who’s doing it against my will.

My back arched. My hips moved. I told him no. I involuntarily moaned. He pulled my lips to his. When his tongue, covered in his sour saliva, found its way into my mouth, I finally mustered the strength to push him from me. I told him, again, how I didn’t want to do anything with him.

I said I was going to sleep on the sofa, but he promised to behave. I chose to believe him. I don’t know why. We fell asleep, and I let him spoon me through the night.

In the morning, the scene repeated itself, but his advances were increasingly aggressive. My “no”s and “stop”s were dismissed. He touched my body and kissed my neck as if they were his to touch and kiss. My body reacted. My internal monologue changed.

In my hazy hangover state, I blamed myself for the situation that was unfolding. I reasoned that I allowed him to be here, and maybe this was just the way things go for women like me. We invite men into our homes, and they’re allowed to take what they want when they’re there. It was my fault for creating these circumstances.

I grew tired of resisting, and I allowed him to remove my shorts. I watched as he kissed my thighs, and I regarded the proceedings with detached disinterest. If he’s going to do this, maybe I should just let him, I thought. I laid back and waited to think of something useful.

He removed his pants. When I saw him and his naked desire, confusion and frustration turned to repulsion. I couldn’t let him near me. Once again, I had to forcibly push him away. I finally asked him to leave. Thankfully, he listened, and I don’t know what I would have done if he hadn’t.

He got dressed, and as he did, he told me, “Just because I went down on you doesn’t mean we’re not friends. I still want to hang out with you. I wish you weren’t upset about this.”

He had no idea what he’d done wrong, and if I’m being perfectly honest, I didn’t realize it at the time either. I knew I felt violated and embarrassed and angry, but I wasn’t yet sure it wasn’t my fault. I tried to make light of the situation. I did my normal self-deprecating thing and told him, “This is why I didn’t want anything to happen. I get weird.”

He left, and I replayed everything over in my mind. I realized how many times he flatly ignored my requests to stop, how rudely and aggressively he invaded my space, and how he manipulated me into trusting him.

I found the words to tell him what he did. I spelled it out clearly in a lengthy Facebook message. The read receipt is the last item in the thread. He never acknowledged what he did wrong, and he never will. He’ll go about his life, and he’ll do this to others. Maybe some will say something, and I’m sure many won’t. Many will blame themselves.

As for me, I’m left with nothing but this helpless fury and one more person I can barely look in the eye. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

featured image – Leanne Surfleet

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