Thursday, July 25, 2024

Silence is not consent

I remember crawling into my bed still in shock. I felt paralyzed.

After a few rounds of breathing exercises, I got the strength to get up and drink some water. The rest of that night was spent tossing and turning, trying to convince myself my best friend of five years did not just sexually assault me.

The harder I tried to sleep the pain away, the faster my heart pulsed. I stayed up waiting for him to text me an apology or even ask if I got home OK. I secretly wished for him to feel guilty enough to come to my apartment building and call me to come downstairs so we could talk about it, but I knew that was something not even the greatest genie could grant me. He didn’t even text me.

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For months, I couldn’t sleep on my stomach because I’d wake up hyperventilating with a wet face — whether it was wet from crying or sweating, I could not tell you.

The ghost of him haunted me every night for weeks. Even if I started off sleeping on my back or one of my sides, I’d end up in that same vulnerable position. I feared I would wake up the same way I had that night with his soccer-built thighs squeezing mine, his junk stabbing me from behind, his left hand pulling down my yoga pants and his right hand pressing the back of my neck against the bed. I could move only my arms. I grabbed the side of my shirt and my yoga pants together so he couldn’t get in.

I was confused. I told him earlier that night I did not want to have sex. Why was he still trying?

For what seemed like 10 minutes, I just lay there, not letting go of my clothes or letting my legs open. I was mute. His comforter smothered my face. I played opossum. He was moaning. He must have thought I was playing hard to get. I instantly regretted ever having slept with him before this.

After a while of being dry-humped, I got the courage to finally speak up.

“Are you done?” I muttered.

A couple of thrusts later, he processed my question. He got up.

“Wow, I’m such a d—,” was all he could think of to say to me. Really?

I fixed my clothes, put my shoes on and snatched my jacket. I would not, could not cry in front of him. Not this time.

“Whoa, let me drive you home.”


“Amanda, it’s 3:30 in the morning. I can’t let you walk —”

“What I want matters, too, Alex!” I whisper-yelled so I wouldn’t wake up his younger siblings.

I cried the whole seven-minute walk home.

I had trusted him. He was supposed to be my friend. I forgave him for my own sanity, but I can never forget that. It’s been a year since I have spoken to him, although I see him all the time. I never acknowledge him when I do. I feel guilty because sometimes I miss him. Then I remind myself he’s not who I thought he was. I miss a fantasy.

Maybe my friends were right. I shouldn’t have expected anything less from a guy like him: a cheating, selfish jerk.

It seemed as if everyone I told didn’t believe I was sexually assaulted that night. I know there are others who have been through much worse than I have, but does that mean I should be taken any less seriously?

To this day, he thinks I’m overreacting. “We’ve done this before,” he told me after it happened. Yes, we’ve had consensual sex before while half-asleep. Yes, I have played “hard to get” with him before. But just because I shared my body with him a few times before does not mean every time it is a guaranteed “yes.” Why is one “no” not enough? Why does one “yes” mean more than 10 “no”s?

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