What does sexual abuse feel like?
“An Out-of-body Experience. Literally, at that moment, ownership of my body belonged to someone else”.
I was new, in search of company. In search of making friends. In search of fitting in. He so kindly invited me out that night, assured me that, just as friends, we will explore what the city has to offer.
I hesitated, at first.
“He is my colleague, is that appropriate?”
That question constantly ran through my mind.
“You know what, it could be a good night, a good way to get out there and be more fun”.
Be more fun. Be more fun. That’s what I wanted. So reluctantly I said “yes”. A yes I came to regret.
He was a gentleman.
He picked me up
He bought me a drink.
We were cruising down the road, moving further away from town until we were far from home.
Far from what I knew.
Far enough for me to be utterly dependent on him.
“Should I say something? Should I ask why we are going so far? Do I want to know? You know what, I will be fine. I will be safe with him. I have to feel safe with him. ”
As he was driving he put his hand on my thigh, insinuating that he wanted to go further. I said ‘NO’. He stopped and he continued driving.
He started getting too close again, closer than I was comfortable with. “What do I do? If I say something, he might leave me in the middle of nowhere.”
The first of many instances that night I felt powerless. There is no escape here. It is 2am in the morning, there is no public transport, there are no street lights. Just darkness.
He did not take my “no” seriously. Countless times I said “I do not want to do this” until I got tired. I stopped fighting him and I stopped fighting myself.
“Just let it happen, he’ll stop insisting and will take you home”
I felt like I had no agency over my body. Someone dictated how it should be treated and what it should be used for. I felt guilty. I have a duty to protect myself, but I failed. Why did he make me feel unsafe? Make me feel like my ‘no’ meant nothing? And lastly, why did I only blame myself? I could not tell anyone. I chose to go out with him at night, so I should have known what was coming.
He was a colleague, “no one will believe me”. I stayed silent until now.
I had to relearn to love myself, love my body and forgive myself.
I had to learn how to be assertive and follow my instincts, and not expect the good in everyone.
I had to learn that no one should control my body and “no” should be respected
I also had to learn that not everyone takes a person’s “no” seriously.
There is importance in sharing your story and if someone makes you feel unsafe, you are validated to feel that way. Sexual assault is not your fault nor will it ever be your fault. Coming to terms with trauma is one of the hardest things someone can do but it is probably the only way it can save you. Speak to someone, share your story and inspire others to do the same.
For more information on how you can get support for sexual abuse or assault, please visit Mind.