Sexual Assault: “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.”
Reading this definition over and over again, I sit here pondering what I experienced a few summers ago. Is my experience even impactful? Does it even matter? Was it my fault?
My depression was at an all-time high, making me feel at an all-time low. I was haunted by my pain wherever I went, drowning in broad daylight unable to escape. When you can’t find a source of happiness, many people look to outlets that aren’t healthy; this is what I did. Every chance I got, I was downing shot after shot. There was a week-span during that summer where I was drunk night after night, not learning from the prior night’s mistakes. I didn’t care. I didn’t want to remember. I didn’t want to be awake. Intoxication was the next best thing in my eyes.
All I can remember from that night is bouncing from person to person, kissing whoever, laughing, dancing, pretending to have fun. And then there was that other part. The part I brushed off my shoulder like it was nothing because I blamed myself. That part I kept pushing aside because multiple people had told me it was my fault. “You drank way too much.” “Becky, you’re out of control, get it together.” “Hey, it isn’t his fault you were that drunk.”
I took those replies to heart. I remember texting my friend the next morning begging him to tell me what had happened that night and when I mentioned what I had remembered: saying no, running away inside, hiding in the bathroom, blankness after. My friend told me that it was mostly my fault. I had lead the other guy on. I gave him the wrong impression, what could I have expected to happen?
I know what they were recalling wasn’t anywhere near what I experienced. I have never felt so out of my body – so dirty before, as if I had betrayed myself. How dare I get that drunk? How dare I lose my voice? How dare I not push him off, scream no? I took what happened to me and pushed it to the back of my mind. It was my fault and there was nothing I could do to change what had happened. There was no importance in what happened to me. I drank too much. I acted too slutty, too interested – I was asking for it.
It wasn’t until I was sitting in the audience at my college orientation that I truly understood what I had experienced and understood the emotions I had dealt with. DePaul had put together a skit, and one of the topics was sexual assault. Watching that scene play out on the stage in front of me was difficult. I was biting my lip, holding back tears because I saw myself in what was being acted out.
I wasn’t asking for it. I wasn’t asking for it. I was not asking for it.
Yes, it is my responsibility to watch my drinking habits, to know my limits. No, that does not mean that once I am incapable of saying no, you’re in the clear, go ahead. I had no voice that night, but I’m tired of hiding this like it is a dirty little secret. It isn’t. And I have a voice. I have a right to my body. I have a right to these feelings, this anger and resentment. The sad fact is that this type of thing goes by every day, and girls like me push it to the back of their minds because they think it is their fault. The reality is: it isn’t their fault, and it wasn’t mine either.