Finding My Voice After My Sexual Assault

Trigger warning: sexual assault

It started with a whispered “no.”

See, when someone forced me to kiss him, I felt awkward. I felt like he was stupid and pathetic, and I kind of pitied him, because what kind of desparate person would do that? So I was nice, because that’s what girls are supposed to be—polite, friendly, soft, and gentle.

Then, when he tried to force a relationship on me, I tried to ignore it, dropped hints about liking other people, and brushed it off as harmless, because I didn’t want to be mean to my friend. I didn’t want to be rude.

Then when he saw me kissing another guy and it sank in that I didn’t want him, he got angry, but he controlled himself because he didn’t want to fight a man. He waited until I was asleep to try and rape me. I was barely awake and in shock as he tried to force himself on me, and all I could do was whisper, “No.” All I could do after was pretend it wasn’t a big deal. After all, he was the loser who couldn’t get the girl he wanted. Everyone else would feel bad for him—I broke his heart, I was leading him on, and I was asking for it.

I trusted him because I’d known him all my life, so I let him sleep at my house. Who would be on my side? So I was silent. After all, I said no and eventually he stopped trying. Eventually. And I didn’t say anything, because the worst thing is to lie about being raped. The worst thing is to be a tease and to hurt a guys feelings, never mind that he lied and said we actually had sex. Went and told anyone with ears, ruined my relationships after that, and treated me like I was the enemy. I’d never been hated like that, and I said nothing for fear of starting drama.

When he taunted me and bullied me, I had to be calm and nice or I was the one causing drama.

Now, several years later, I look back and I think about how I’m not that person anymore. I won’t whisper and be gentle and kind about this any longer. Because I can’t change my past, but I can change someone else’s future. Whispers don’t work. Calmly asking a rapist to stop and be respectful of OUR BODIES doesn’t work. So if I say “screw you” to people who victim blame and feel sorry for sexual assaulters and rapists, if I’m too loud and talk about it too much, if I seem like I want attention and I’m too dramatic, it’s because I know that whispers and keeping the peace is not worth it.

We all deserve justice, and when we are silent about oppression, the oppressor wins. There is not neutral ground—you are either siding with the victims or the rapists. It does not matter if it’s a guy who’s nice to you. It doesn’t matter if the rapist is a pretty woman. It doesn’t matter if they have a good reputation and the victim doesn’t. I know from experience that whispering doesn’t change anything, so I will scream until their ears bleed. If that makes me a crazy feminist and you think I should calm down, go back in time and say that to me when I was too calm and quiet while someone was holding me down and trying to rape me. Picture it: Would you have said the same thing then?

I scream now because I wasn’t able to then.