As many of you are likely aware, there was a massive amount of news coverage on the Kavanaugh hearing about a month ago. If not, I won’t provide a recap here, but a quick Google search will definitely catch you up to speed.
I was sucked in as I followed each day. I’ve had this weight especially on my heart since then. I’ve been debating whether to share, wondering if I would feel shame or regret telling people what happened. I worried about how it would make it feel more real.
To be crystal clear, I’m not here to make a political statement, only to add my experience. Many women have felt empowered to share their stories of surviving sexual assault; I have remained hesitant in doing so. This mostly stems from an uncertainty about whether what happened falls under the category. For years now, I’ve convinced myself it was my fault or maybe I actually wanted it? Or maybe it wasn’t enough to qualify.
Also, just in case, this could potentially be upsetting for people to read, so continue at your own discretion.
For clarification, this incident took place in the context of a very long relationship. Over the eight years of friendship, there was a lot of romantic undertone that was never fully realized.
The relationship was toxic. Something that I still haven’t unpacked emotionally. There were so many highs and lows; I was on a dramatic rollercoaster that hurt more than anything else. Too much of the time I was upset during our conversations, felt ripped apart, questioned myself and my integrity, thought I was stupid. But when it was good, it felt really great. I felt like the most understood person in the world.
I was already dating someone else when it happened. I didn’t have many chances to see this friend, so it was exciting to be able to meet up. I felt safe, comfortable. He picked me up and we caught up. Everything was going normally until the end, before he dropped me back off.
We were going to leave. I thought so, anyway. But instead he idled the car and played music. I found it odd, and my body started to tense. I felt a pit in my stomach, just as I do now. I still didn’t think anything bad could happen because I trusted this person, because after all these years he’s been my friend and seen every ugly thing about me and stayed.
He leaned his seat back and covered his face, saying he didn’t want to say what he was thinking. I didn’t know how to respond, except ask what it was. Even though I might have had an idea.
A pause. A rush of motion and a mouth on my face.
I didn’t know it was coming, and I certainly wasn’t prepared for this desperate aggressiveness. I was completely taken aback.
Then the groping. Hands on the upper half of my body. I laughed uncomfortably while grabbing those hands to take them off. They kept coming back. I kept saying “no” and “stop” while still trying to keep the situation light. This was a misunderstanding, right? He wouldn’t keep going, right?
Perhaps the most unsettling part was hearing him say, “You know you like it.”
It wasn’t until I felt my shirt being lifted that I forcefully said “Stop” and threw those hands back from where they came that it ended. (My own hands are shaking as I type this.)
He seemed satisfied with the encounter. My heart pounded as I tried to neutralize the situation by responding to what he said and to act like everything was okay.
I made it. I got out of the car and to safety. I felt sick. Nauseous. Trembling. I couldn’t figure out what had just happened. Once the adrenaline wore off, I cried. I feared I couldn’t kiss anyone again, remembering that mouth on my face and feeling punched in the stomach at the same time. I barely slept that night.
We had previously planned to meet again in the morning. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t want to face him. He said he arrived; I messaged him saying I couldn’t come out.
He got mad. Really mad.
Blamed me for leading him on. Said I was the one who finally kissed him and then broke his heart. That this happens over and over and I keep him hoping only to crush it. He said he was in the wrong, but I shouldn’t convince myself I wasn’t too.
I felt horrible. And I believed him.
I wish I could say the relationship ended there. It didn’t. I forgave him and justified his actions to where he hadn’t truly done anything wrong. He didn’t rape me. I thought I was okay.
Honestly, I still wonder if this qualifies as assault, or whether this story means anything. I don’t talk to this person anymore, and I pray that I never go back. I suppose what I want to say through all of this is that these things happen more often than we want to admit. Even if he didn’t physically injure me, I have undoubtably sustained different types of damage.
I hope anyone who has suffered anything like this has support and care. Please, know that you can talk to people (me included).