I was just a few weeks away from turning twenty. Fresh out of a toxic relationship and seeping with emotional baggage. For the first time in nearly five years, I was alone.
Alone, but free.
I was initially contacted over social media, where he told me how “beautiful” and “articulate” I was for my age. After exchanging numbers, he texted me every single morning, calling me a queen and offering well wishes for my day.
I was younger than him. At the time I was serving as a New Student Enrollment Leader on my college’s campus and living in the residence halls. I crept into the hallway late at night to whisper into my iPhone, giddily sharing my interests, dislikes, and future plans with him.
I was nervous the first time he invited me over. It seemed so sudden, but I accepted his offer. He lived just shy of an hour away from my college town in a posh, gated community. I had to enter a pass-code to get into his apartment complex, for some reason this gave me a little reassurance.
I was wearing Victoria Secret black flared yoga pants, an over-sized sweatshirt, my hair was curled and neatly pulled over my left shoulder.
I was instructed to park next to his freshly washed BMW and then told to, “come on up.”
I was overwhelmed by the scent of body wash and condensation that clouded the glass near the entry door. He told me that he just got out of the shower and that I could wait on the couch.
While making plans for this evening, I was told that we were going to have dinner and watch movies. It was approaching 8pm and he told me that I was welcome to stay the night if I was too tired to drive home after the movie ended.
“Okay, sure,” I replied. I had a hair appointment in town the next morning anyways.
Ironically, we never had any food, or not that I recall at least, but we did sit on the couch and talk before he invited me into his room to watch a movie.
I blamed myself for months for even going in.
Some low budget BET movie was on and we watched that while making light conversation during commercial breaks. It wasn’t long before he forced his body on top of mine. His weight crushed me, as my fear sunk in my limbs grew stiff with paralysis. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t say anything. Everything hurt, nothing was fluid or romantic as everything else with us seemed to be.
He was the perfect gentleman up until this point.
I was confused. I tried to convince myself that this was just how he expressed intimacy and that it was okay, despite me not saying yes or expressing this sort of interest.
Soon after he rose from the bed and stumbled into the bathroom. During his absence I remained in the same place in his bed, frozen, as if I was unthawing. When he returned, he offered me a towel and something to drink. The movie was still playing.
I think it had something to do with a black leprechaun…
I could still leave, I wanted to leave. It was only 11pm or so, but I knew I was too tired to drive back to Lincoln and too scared to go to my parents’ house. Interrupting my thoughts, he pulled my body closer to his, it was as if he couldn’t sense any of the hesitation that reeked from my body.
I knew he fell asleep when I heard light snores. I stretched my arm to the other side of the bed where my phone was charging and replied to a few notifications from my friends who texted me.
“How’s it going girl?!”
“It’s good”, I lied.
“We just got done watching the movie not too long ago,” I typed back.
I pulled the rest of my body to the other side of the bed, as far as I could get from him and closed my eyes.
He woke up before me the next morning. My body dripped with perspiration as I was half in, half out of the same clothes I came in. Everything about me felt gross. Despite that, it was like the gentleman I once knew had returned from hiding. He laid next to me in the bed, traced his fingers on my exposed thighs and began talking about the value of financial investment.
It wasn’t long before I had to leave for my appointment, I went in the same clothes I came in and tried to mask the overwhelming smell of shame with my favorite Victoria Secret perfume. My hair stylist inquired about my “date night” while washing my hair.
I held back tears and lied.
I lied for years. Fearful of what would happen, how people would blame me for putting myself in that situation and most importantly how no one would believe that this person would do this.
I too am a victim of sexual assault and harassment. I wish I could say this is the first and only time this has happened to me, but it wasn’t. Just a few months later I entered another toxic relationship. I’ve carried various moments of shame with me for years, blaming myself for putting myself in the situation, wearing certain attire or being too vulnerable. The cat calls, gropes, forced sexual encounters, unsolicited images and messages. All of it.
It wasn’t my fault and it’s not yours either.
While many have shared their stories using the hashtag “me too”, there are many who won’t and more so aren’t ready to open up their experiences for consumption.
This post is about me. Not about the men who have committed these acts, the friends who stood by idly, or the systems at large which protect abusers. This post is about freeing myself of the weight that carrying those moments brings.
I am not what happened to me. I am worthy, I am enough.