No means no.

This is difficult to write and I don’t know how to start this. I don’t really know why (wait, yes I do: fear of being judged, told I should have done things differently, that I was asking for it, or that I’m looking for attention, and so on), but it’s hard and I’m struggling. I want to get it out there because our voices need to be heard, no matter how “big” or “small” the incident is, so here I go. Bear with me.

A couple of nights ago, I met up with a guy from out of town who was here for the week, visiting a friend. We’d been periodically messaging back and forth throughout the week, light chit-chat here and there, nothing major. I wasn’t sure if we would get the chance to meet up, and I would have been okay either way. We met up Friday evening after we’d both already been out, but he was staying close by so I met up with him and his friend at a bar not far away. I had no intentions of anything happening with him and I certainly wasn’t looking for it.

The night went along harmlessly, I enjoyed the conversation with his friend, and even with him. At the end of it, he paid for all our drinks and I had every intention of going home solo.

His friend went to the washroom so the two of us stepped outside and waited, and then he kissed me. I didn’t exactly object to the kiss but, again, I wasn’t looking for anything to happen and then it did. When I pulled away he told me he could “tell” I had wanted to kiss him because my face was red. I’d had a beer or two prior to meeting up with him and his friend, and then had had another with him. Even after a couple of drinks, alcohol makes me flush so I told him my slightly red face had nothing to do with whether or not I wanted to “make out” with him and that I’d had no intentions of doing so. That should have been a red flag, but he ended back at my place.

Things happened, sure, but I didn’t sleep with him and didn’t want to. He touched and grabbed me a little rough and I’d tell him to stop while trying to push away but he’d only do those things twice as hard, hold me so I could barely move or break free from him. I tried pushing him off and away from me, again, because I was literally on the edge of my own bed and I felt myself on the verge of a panic attack. I was afraid to tell him to leave and at nearly 5am, I was beyond exhausted, tired of fighting and wanted to get some sleep, if I could manage it.

As I was trying to find sleep, I felt his hands all over me and he was trying to get me to turn around and face him. I ignored his advances and told him I was tired and didn’t want to do anything. He eventually stopped, either because he was tired of trying or just plain tired. Before I knew it, the alarm on my phone went off at 7:45 in the morning; I had plugged it in to charge in the bathroom, so I got up, grabbed my phone and curled up on the couch.

It wasn’t long until he came sauntering out, poking my arms, my back, begging me to come back into the bedroom with him. I felt safer at this point (I don’t know why) to tell him he should just leave. I was overcome with relief when the door to my place shut and he was finally gone.

When I woke up, he’d passive aggressively texted me that I could have my bed back now, with a winky face. I didn’t respond, but instead blocked him and was grateful he was leaving town and didn’t risk the chance of bumping into him.

I know the situation could have been a lot worse. I know I probably could have handled it differently, but what it boils down to is no means no, simple as that. I wasn’t trying to be “cute” or play hard to get. I meant it when I said no. I don’t need to justify it. I’ve got bruises from him grabbing and biting me. I’m trying not to feel shame about what happened, which is why I’m speaking out, because these kinds of actions are not okay. Too many women deal with this on a regular basis and are afraid of speaking up. It’s devastating.

I don’t need to be told that not all men are like that, I know this, but yes all women have experienced unwanted sexual advances, comments or otherwise, at some point and we don’t deserve to be blamed for them; whether it’s “you shouldn’t have dressed like that,” “you shouldn’t have been such a tease,” or “you should have said no” (because sometimes you do anyway and it doesn’t make a difference).

So, here it is. I’m going to post this and not worry about what anyone thinks, because I didn’t do anything wrong. I’ll believe this, eventually, I’m sure.

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Author: Jocelyn Aspa

early 30-something. journalist. sports fan. puns. cats. mental health advocate. not taking myself seriously (most of the time)

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