Coming To Terms With My Sexual Assault

Three years ago, I was sexually assaulted. I had been sexually assaulted before this incident, and have been since then, and I have no doubt that I will be sexually assaulted again in the future. But something about this incident stands out as different from the others. It was more than a catcall or an inappropriate touch. In this experience, a boy had tried to penetrate me without my consent. Although he eventually stopped when I asked him to, the feeling of him trying to have sex with me when sex wasn’t something that had been discussed still haunts me to this day.

For a long time, I didn’t realize that I had been sexually assaulted. “Boys will be boys,” I thought to myself. “I put myself in a compromising position, and if I hadn’t wanted him to get the wrong idea, I shouldn’t have done it.” I put all the blame on myself, without stopping to think that I hadn’t been the only one with a choice. And I forgot about it. I didn’t recognize that his behaviour had been wrong, so I normalized it and put it out of my head.

As I learned more about sexual assault and consent, I began to realise that what had happened to me wasn’t okay. While thinking about the legal definition of sexual assault which I had learned in my criminal justice class, the incident popped into my head.

I had a hard time processing this new information. I was angry. I was upset. I was hurt. I couldn’t understand why he would have done that to me. I had thought that I was fairly educated about sexual safety and had taken the appropriate measures to protect myself: I was good, I was safe – how could something like this have happened to me?

Looking back, there are so many things that could have made it worse than it was. What if he hadn’t stopped? What if he didn’t care that I wasn’t into it and did it anyway? I compared my experiences to those of other women and felt guilty for feeling upset. I hadn’t been raped, so what was I so upset about anyway? I was one of the lucky ones.

For Her Campus Western’s sex week last year I wrote an article about my experience with sexual assault, labelling it an “uncomfortable sexual experience,” something I’d read about in another online publication. I was too hesitant to label what had happened to me and admit to myself that it had been sexual assault. But, after hearing about all of the women who have so bravely shared their stories of sexual assault in the media recently, I’d like to take that back. What happened to me was sexual assault, plain and simple. It was forced, and non-consensual, and not okay. And while yes, I may have been lucky that things stopped where they did, that fact doesn’t change. What happened to me was wrong, and I’m not going to blame myself for it anymore. There are two sides to every story, and while perhaps I could have done more to prevent it, that guy could have easily chosen to ask before trying to force his dick inside me.

As of today, I am no longer going to let the fear of labelling myself get in the way. I’m no longer going to rationalize what happened to me and stay quiet because I think no one will believe me. I’m done hiding. If sharing my story can empower just one other woman to share hers, then it will all be worth it.

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