It’s that blurry in-between where you didn’t say no but you didn’t say yes but, still, you didn’t really want it.
You’re laying in bed sleepy from cough syrup, your whole body heavy, and your boyfriend gets in bed with you and he keeps kissing you and slipping his hands beneath your clothes and you keep pushing his hands away. Eventually, though, you give in. He kisses you when it’s over and acts like nothing happened but your stomach feels sick and heavy.
A boy kisses you even though you didn’t really want it and pulls your shirt off even though you didn’t really want it. You’re a little drunk and he’s really drunk and older than you and he’s pushing you back into the bed and are you allowed to say no? When it’s gotten this far can you get up and put your clothes on? You just want it to be over, you want it to be over, you want it to be over… you close your eyes and put your mind somewhere else, and afterwards you take a scaldingly hot shower and rinse him down the drain.
There is another boy who will suddenly and roughly and out of nowhere grab your breasts and hips and pull at your clothes. So when he asks, you say yes, because you are scared of what might happen if you say no.
You didn’t really want it, but it happened anyway. You didn’t say no but you didn’t say yes. Is this rape? Is it sexual assault? Are you allowed to say that you were traumatized?
But you didn’t say no. You let it happen.
It is a heavy shameful weight to carry, and I think it has happened to more of us than we know. So write about it. Allow other women to know that you have felt their pain too, and let them know that their hurt is justified.
Emma is a third-year biochemistry major at an all-women’s college. She writes and draws occasionally in her free time.