I often wonder whether you think of me because all I do is think of you. It may have been eight months since our late night rendezvous but that evening still plays on a continuous loop in my mind.
I remember my blurred vision as I stumbled out of the club. I remember the feel of your hands around my waist as you smiled down at me. I remember being so flattered that you – a tall, handsome boy – had deemed me worthy of your attention. I remember holding your hand as you asked where I lived. I remember you laughing as I tripped and stumbled and spoke through vodka-induced hiccups. I remember you kissed me and I remember kissing you back.
But, I also remember realizing that this didn’t feel quite right.
I remember my vision continued to blur and I held back the urge to retch. I remember you leading me down that alleyway and I remember protesting as your grip grew tighter. I remember you slamming my body against a wall as you kissed my neck. I remember those hands lifting up my jersey skirt and falling clumsily into the waistband of my knickers. I remember saying no.
I remember clamming up and trying to push back; I remember the silent tears that fell onto my flushed cheeks. I remember helplessly letting you claw at my insides. I remember that handsome smile turning into a nasty sneer as you forced your penis into my trembling hands. I remember thinking maybe this is normal, maybe this is what most girls do. I remember suddenly finding the courage to push you away and turn back to the main road. I remember you followed. I remember that in a moment of madness, I chose to be calm; I asked you what you studied and whether you had any pets. I remember trying to keep you talking so as to distract you from my body. I remember counting every step and savoring every breath as I calculated how long it would take until I was home. I remember you touching my bum and laughing as you said, “Oh sorry, am I allowed to do that?”
I remember feeling ashamed of being so frigid. I remember the immense relief when I saw my old, dirty student house. I remember you grabbed my hair and lunged at me again. I remember falling limp and allowing you this one, last kiss. I remember slipping from beneath your strong arms and sprinting into my house. I remember collapsing to the floor, defeated.
I need to know: is that how you remember our night?
I often wonder what you did when you left my side. I was up until the early hours being swabbed with cotton buds and spitting into plastic cups. My best friends squeezed my hands and made me cups of herbal tea as I was interviewed by two kind police officers. Did you go straight home? Did you give me a second thought? Did you tell your friends what happened? Did you sleep that night? I couldn’t even close my eyes. How about the next day? Did you attend your lectures? Did you continue as normal? Did you realize that you had committed a crime?
When the female investigators knocked on my door the following morning, my mind was already made up; I was never going to press charges. Sure, I played along and I answered their questions; I described what you look like and I calculated how many units of alcohol I had consumed. I pissed into pots and I had my vagina poked and prodded by a nice doctor with a warm smile. I relived that nightmare again and again, all the while knowing it would come to nothing. You see, I never pressed charges because I felt embarrassed, ashamed and, above all else, I felt sorry for you.
I do not blame you nor do I begrudge you. Of course, for a long time, I felt only white hot rage but never did I blame you. I blame the world that shaped you. In recent weeks, I have watched a US Presidential candidate brag about his primal instinct to sexually assault women. I have heard women justify his comments and I have seen his popularity remain unaffected. I have watched Welsh footballer Ched Evans have his rape conviction lifted simply because his alleged victim had a colorful sexual history. I have read every tweet surrounding that case; I have seen this young girl labeled everything from a ‘spiteful little cow’ to a ‘whore’ and a ‘c**t.’ I have read story after story of women being degraded into mere sexual objects and I have seen tales of serious sexual assault be shrugged off as simply ‘lad banter.’ When I look out into this world and I read these articles, how could I expect you – a 20 year old boy – to know any better? I could never have put you in jail for merely conforming to our sexually-charged, discriminative society.
I will never forget that night. I will spend the rest of my life obsessively looking over my shoulder and I will forever cringe when a man lays his hands on me.
I don’t know if I will ever trust again and God help me if I one day have a daughter because she will never be allowed to leave the house. I will always replay that night in my head, wracked with guilt and shame while wondering what I could have done differently. All I can hope is that you have since realized your mistake. I pray that you never again touch another girl the way you touched me.