On Who To Blame? Overcoming Sexual Assault

Sketches from dialogue

What do you say to the person who ruined your life when he friends you on Facebook? And you accept the friend request, almost immediately, because you can't even name that certain blue mist that surrounds you at the thought of him?

What if he still sends you "happy birthday" texts every year? 

What if it wasn't even heartbreak - but your whole immune system crashed and you got so sick after that you spent time at the hospital, delusional in a white haze of a week-long fever that nothing could tackle?

Is there a word that encompasses everything between complete and utter hate to a certain breeze of nostalgia? And mostly, when you think about it, what if you feel empty and embarrassed?

You retrace the steps of that day and try to tell yourself to go home, steer yourself away from the guy who, before math class, gave you the brownie you thought was just a brownie; the friend who thought she was doing you a favor and sent you to him when you felt sick and the walls of the Starbucks shifted at a 45 degree angle; and far, far, away from his room when he said you will only go to listen to music. 

What were you wearing? Of course, a necessary question. A large denim jacket, an XL Led Zepplin shirt, glasses, black jeans, and black lace-up boots. It was cold and raining. You were dealing with an eating disorder and were 110 pounds of strange angles and green-blue veins. It was October 4. 

Did you yell or fight back or cry?

How can you when his mom, who you're so close to, is in the next room?

How can you when you're 15 and he is older, a freshman in college, and he's been talking about it endlessly, and told you that this is an important part of a "relationship"? 

How can you when you had a crush on him since you were 13 and he just noticed you a few months ago?

How can you when you think that this is normal, that this is supposed to happen - like this? 

And how can you when you know absolutely nothing, not even what an orgasm is? What if you haven't yet learned that you have to fake sounds and pull faces while thinking of what you have to do that day, or what you're going to have for dinner?

Did it hurt? Perhaps the only hyper-clear memory is searing hell-pain and the fact that you couldn't sit and bled for a whole week after? No one ever talks about how much it hurts.

At least you sobered up quick. 

Did you tell anyone? Not for three years. At one point, you played it off like you loved it, and it was all your idea. It wasn't. 

What do you do if you hear that people have been calling you a slut because supposedly, you "give it up to anyone" because you rejected one loud-mouthed, self-important guy right after it all happened and he didn't quite take it well?

Is it even worse that no one in your school knows about what happened? Not even your best friend? 

What do you do if you tell your sister the real story years later and she doesn't believe you? 

What if you try to have "boyfriends" - nice, nerdy, harmless-looking guys and when they touch you, you want to cry? And when you can't be close, what if they call you a bitch? 

What do you do when you're scared of men touching you - still?

What if you only had Health class during your senior year of high school, when you're 17, two years after it happened?

What if that health class spends 2 months on watching documentaries about Dissociative Identity Disorder and doesn't ever mention the word "consent"?

What if the concept of consent is essentially a new notion and you first hear that word freshman year of college at a rape seminar (which, you believe, only the girls had to attend? The boys had something about how campus career services work)?

What if you were taught about roofies, walking home alone drunk, and the general rape gist - but no one ever said that it could be a neighbor, perhaps a really smart, handsome, kind neighbor who your parents like? 

What if it's so complicated and there are so many factors that you don't even know if you can call it rape or assault? What if you still blame yourself more than him? 

You weren't told you were given drugs. You didn't fight back. You didn't have enough energy and awareness to push away and yell. You gave in because he was already on top and doing whatever he was doing. You watched rain drops glide down the window and said sorry when he got pissed that you dug your nails into his back too hard. 

But what do you do if that single moment, 7 years ago, shattered you and you are still picking up the pieces? What if some fragments are so small that they are lost forever, and the wind still whistles through those empty spaces? 

What if you think about it every day, still? 

What if he doesn't even know? 

Over and out,

Daphna Eremina in collaboration with Anonymous