The following essay was submitted by a reader who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the content. While this is not the type of content I typically seek out for Mental Health Mondays, I think this is an important story to tell. While sexual assault has received a lot of attention in the past couple of years (rightfully so) there is still the impression that women can’t be the perpetrators. I think this essay shows that is a lie, and reveals what it is like to be the victim of a woman–in a world where no one believes you.
This is my story, on my terms, because I can’t keep letting fear sew my lips shut.
I was sixteen. It was a sleepover. I’d known them for years. Well, for as long as I’d ever known anyone really. We moved so often, and I didn’t make friends easily. I still don’t. I don’t trust easily and it became harder after that night.
I remember the taste of cigarettes on her tongue. I remember clenching my jaw so tight my teeth squeaked. I remember telling her to stop. I wanted to curl up into a ball, scream, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to make a fuss. I didn’t want to make a scene.
These were my friends. Right? I was supposed to be safe there. It wasn’t our first sleepover. It was just innocent fun. Right?
It didn’t end with that night. There were rumors at school, I was vaguely aware of them, but I kept to myself. I hid in the library. I pretended nothing was wrong. I pretended I didn’t remember. I pretended nothing had happened.
I pretended, but at the same time, I knew I had to leave. I tried to escape her. Moving schools—only to have her follow me. I spent the first half of the year eating lunch with her.
I didn’t have any other friends. And she was my friend. Right?
But I got new friends, safe friends. They welcomed me away from her, and suddenly I had some space. But the damage was done. I was afraid to be touched. I tried relationships. I tried. A girl. A boy. I tried.
I thought I had a crush in college, but I was too scared to try there. I’d pushed everything back, tried to forget, but I was still hesitant.
I’m still hesitant.
Trust is hard. Touch is hard. I can’t stand to be kissed.
But I want to be touched. I want to be loved. On my terms. Slowly. Slowly.
A snail’s pace, I suspect.
It’s hard. I feel like if I can’t be with someone, it’s letting what she did define me. I don’t want to be a victim. I don’t want to remember her. I want her to fade into the background with nightmare creatures where she belongs. Then I remember there were three of us that night. One of them to hurt me, and the other to laugh.
I remember, and I remember that girls can be cruel.
But I won’t be.
I have to be hard, sometimes. But I want to be soft, too. I want to be able to be vulnerable sometimes. On my terms.
I don’t want to let one night define my relationships. Define me.
There are so many better nights to remember. Nights strolling through Florentine streets while the Christmas lights stretched overhead. Nights when storms rolled in and the rain beat against my window. Nights spent marathoning a TV show with my dear friends, watching the sun rise and collapsing into bed with eye strain.
Joy will be my revenge.
Like what you see? Consider submitting for our next #MHMon by clicking the tab above.