Trigger warning: sexual assault
It feels sort of funny to write this, because I know it’s going to be so personal, yet I don’t even know your name. You don’t know mine either. You probably don’t even realize that this is about you, because I don’t think you think that you did anything wrong. And maybe you didn’t. Maybe this is all in my head. Or maybe I led you on. Maybe it was my fault for not saying no loudly enough, for not crying hard enough, for not just getting the hell out. Maybe it was my own fault for making poor, drunken decisions, or maybe it was yours. This isn’t a blame game. I just need to tell you what I feel.
When I went out last February, I was so ready for a good night. I was drunk before I even left the house, and then my friend won a free bottle of vodka, which we drank our way through. Needless to say, I was drunk. So drunk that I can’t remember getting from one club to the next, so drunk that my friends had to hold me up, so drunk that I couldn’t speak properly. But that doesn’t mean I wanted to have sex with you. I don’t remember meeting you. I don’t remember kissing you, although my friend’s Snapchat video says that it did happen, right in the middle of the dancefloor. And I admit I look like I’m just as into it as you are. I enjoyed it. I kissed you back; I flirted, I’m sure. But that doesn’t mean I wanted to have sex with you.
And then I remember you taking my hand leading me outside. I remember asking where we were going and you smiled and laughed, and I did too. I didn’t know what that meant—my brain was foggy and I didn’t understand what was going on. You led me towards a taxi and I still didn’t really understand. I said that I should go back and see my friend but you said no. You said they’d be fine without me, and I agreed. I got into the taxi with you. You didn’t force me. You didn’t have a knife to my throat. I got in the taxi. But that doesn’t mean I wanted to have sex with you.
I don’t remember getting back to your house; the next memory I have is sitting on your bed. Well, I was barely even sitting, because I couldn’t hold myself up anymore. I collapsed onto the bed and just lay there. You disappeared for a bit; it could have been minutes, it could have been hours. I have no way of knowing. But you’d gone to get a condom and you shook me awake when you got back. I mean, I was asleep. Fast asleep. Surely that told you that maybe I wasn’t in the mood for sex? But you didn’t get the hint, I suppose. You shook me awake and then you told me to take my clothes off.
The thing is, this is where it gets really complicated. I didn’t say no. I didn’t resist. I just obeyed. I took my clothes off and then I lay there, knowing what was about to happen. You started having sex with me and I stopped you and said you had to wear a condom. Was that me giving consent? You said you were wearing one and then you just carried on. I didn’t say no. Was that me giving consent? I remember I started crying because it hurt so badly. You were being so rough and I wasn’t in the mood, so it felt like you were splitting me open. I cried and cried and eventually you paused, glaring at me in the dark. I still remember your words. “Will you calm down? I’m nearly done.” And then you just carried on.
When you finished, you rolled off me and I immediately jumped up and threw my dress on. I didn’t bother looking for my tights or knickers; I just left them in your room. You didn’t speak to me as I walked out of the house and rang my friend, sobbing, that I didn’t know where I was. You didn’t say a word to me. Eventually I made it home and I cried for a while until I fell asleep curled up in my flatmate’s bed. And that was it. I never spoke about it again, even when my flatmate tried to bring it up. I took three days off uni, which I said was because I felt ill, but it was actually because I couldn’t stop bleeding. But that was it.
Except that’s not it. For the rest of my degree, I was terrified as I walked around campus, as I couldn’t remember what you looked like and I didn’t know if the boy walking towards me was you. I had panic attacks on nights out because I didn’t know if you were there. I couldn’t tell anyone about it, though. What would I tell them? I still can’t quite say what happened. Was it rape? I mean, I cried during sex and you didn’t stop. I was too drunk to lift my head, but you carried on. But it can’t be rape, can it? Because I never actually told you to stop and I never pushed you away and I never said no. So it can’t be rape.
Most of all, it can’t be rape because I can’t face that possibility. I can’t imagine a life where I have been raped. That happens to other people; it doesn’t happen to me. So I don’t think it was rape. But it doesn’t mean I wanted to have sex with you.