I saw a face in an ad for sexual assault awareness.
It said “Just because she isn’t saying no, doesn’t mean she’s saying yes…” It shows an image of a woman passed out, surrounded by alcohol. Another says “It’s not sex… When she doesn’t want it.” This one depicts a man reaching out for a woman across the console of a vehicle. She looks the other way. I can’t help thinking… Is this what my face looked like? Was this the expression I had when I tried to search my brain for a reason to say no that didn’t make me sound like a frigid bitch, when I couldn’t find my voice no matter how hard I tried? Both of these pictures… In the first one, she’s drunk. Passed out. She has no way of saying no. In the second one, you can just imagine the guy holding her down and going at it. Gagging her to quiet the screams. But in neither can you picture a man kissing down her neck as she willingly sinks to the floor with him. You can’t imagine her letting him take off her clothes slowly with only meager attempts at apprehensive resistance. It’s not possible for you to see her letting him run his hands up and down her body, while only slightly nudging him away and muttering “I want to go home, we should go home,” over and over again under her breath. He tries to get inside of her and she pushes her legs together and digs her nails into his skin and he must mistake it for pleasure, but it’s fear. She’s so scared. She’s so scared and she’s so confused and she can’t look at him. He keeps rubbing his body up against hers in the motion that he’s supposed to in a situation like that and she wants this but not now and not here and maybe not with him but she’s not sure and she’s not supposed to be and that’s okay but why is he still going? Oh God it hurts. I said it hurts! Why are you still trying? Ow! Stop! I scream from the pain. He keeps saying one more time and tells me to relax, it won’t hurt so much if I relax. I can’t relax, I don’t want this. Please stop, please stop, please stop! I scream it in my head. But I remain dead silent, nothing comes out of my mouth. I try to keep it that way until the pain becomes too much and I scream and I scream until it’s over. But it feels like forever. And it’s never over, it never will be. It plays in my head every single night. Why did I let you? How could I let you do that to me? You were the first person I ever loved and you did that to me, took that away from me. I can never ever in a million years be that girl again. The shy one. The innocent. I reached my hand down and felt the blood. It wasn’t hot and wet like they describe in books, it was slick like water. I stood up and it poured from me in buckets and it wouldn’t stop. Why didn’t it stop? Everything hurt. My hips and my legs and my neck and shoulders and everything in between. My back burned from where the carpet you were bracing me so forcefully against had torn away the skin. I didn’t cry. Not until later. I didn’t speak. I just stared straight ahead of me for a really long time. Probably for weeks. This group… It’s fighting the raise awareness and challenge myths. It says it means to fight victim-blaming, but… What if the victim deserves to be blamed? What if she had every ounce of her to say no, but didn’t just because she was confused? It’s not that she had made the decision to stay quiet… But she did anyway. Because she hadn’t made the decision to speak up either. It’s her own fault.
It’s my fault.