TW: When You Don't Realize You've Been Assaulted

Trigger warning: sexual assault

For a long time, I didn't think what had happened to me was wrong. Keep that in mind when I tell my story, okay? In my freshman year of college, I received a DM (direct message) from someone very impressive...to say the least. By very impressive, I mean that he was someone with multiple accolades and a worldwide reputation. He really had no business messaging a 19-year-old girl either because he was 25, but as a newly independent woman, I didn't pay attention to that part. If we are being honest, the fact that he looked younger than me made him feel safe in some weird way. Anyway, we had only spoken perhaps for a day when he asked me to visit him in a different state than I was in—something about his work schedule and him needing to be in the city prevented him from being able to see me. So, like a bunch of fools, my friends and I all decided to have a “friend-trip” to the city where this man was staying. Since it had so many popular sites, we thought if the trip went to sh*t, we could at least enjoy the foreign state. Plus, we all agreed me going alone was out of the question, and heading over together was safer and could become an adventure to remember. *Cue eye roll.* 

men and mental health Photo by Fernando @cferdo from Unsplash

Long story short, when I finally met up with the man, it was clear that all he wanted was me physically. To be fair, he hadn't acted particularly interested in me or who I was when we had talked prior to our meeting, but in my naivety, I didn't think anyone of as high of stature as him would feel comfortable enough to just message a random person and convince them to come over such a long distance, for sex. I thought that because his reputation was important, he wouldn't be as quick to get me into bed, but alas, the story heads there. He mentioned his liking for different drugs and even politely offered. I was quick to decline his offer, but when he got physical, I sort of just let him take the lead. A very important detail to mention is that I had never been intimate in this way with anyone before but I didn't really feel confident enough to communicate that with him at the time (I myself was not exactly sober). The entire time I was with him, I felt stupid, and when I finally left, it wasn't with any help from him. I literally had to do the walk of shame in the dark through a dodgy neighborhood late at night. Additionally, I would like to add I was not wearing my daily contacts because, like a fool, since they were dry, I took them out while with the previously mentioned man. I could not, for the life of me, read the street signs, and was so close to calling the police for assistance before I finally found my Uber.  

By the time I got back to the hotel, my friends and I were staying at, I had never felt so bad about myself in my entire existence. Here I was living my new life as a cheap prostitute. And you know what, maybe its pride, but I was really mad that I didn't get anything out of the whole situation. I was mad that I did things I felt too intimidated to refuse. I let a man take control of my body and left that experience with literally nothing to show for myself. And this was my first sexual experience!? What kind of dokie was this?! That man reached out to me a couple of times after this evening, and I immediately shut him down. I didn't block him on anything at first. I didn't want to look crazy because technically, it's not like I said no. But at the same time, whenever this memory crosses my mind (the trip itself was amazing), I feel the most amount of shame and disappointment in myself. Why didn't I just leave the room? Why didn't I just call him a weirdo when he described his favorite kind of woman as “loose?" I always believed myself to be a fighter in fight or flight instincts, but honestly, I think I’m a flyer in that I freeze and lowkey disassociate from my body. I did things that night I really wasn't proud of and stressed out over it for a really long time. I accused myself to the most dramatic extent over not realizing what his intentions were sooner because the red flags were there from the beginning. Eventually, I opened up to my friends and did a little more research into what's appropriate and not when starting new sexual experiences. 

I found that a lot of the things that took place that night where events birthed from manipulation and dishonesty, especially about our expectations about our first night meeting. You guys: do your research before getting into experiences that are foreign to you! I wasn't really surrounded by people who were vocal about these sorts of experiences until after it happened to me, and I started asking around. Sexual intimidation is a thing, and you shouldn't feel too intimidated to say no to someone you're about to do the deed with. As much as I wish I could take back to what happened this day, it just taught me how often this kind of stuff happens. By this, I not only mean the disrespect that has just taken place to the victim but the not knowing we’ve been taken advantage of until after the fact as well. This is the first time I’ve ever written about this incident, and I am not really sure how I came across, but I additionally just want to tell you to value yourself enough to be able to say no without batting an eye. I've now mastered this skill and wish I had someone to remind me of it back then. How you want to feel about yourself after spending time with someone intimately is something to keep in mind when accepting attention from men. I genuinely couldn't believe when I read that the things that happened to me counted as assault. So again, make sure to do your research and if something happens like it did to me, going through the emotions is much more beneficial than holding everything in. Talk to someone and forgive yourself. Life is too short to be angry at yourself for too long.