It didn’t hit me until I was almost home. I felt strange leaving his place, but not altogether terrible. Just off. I was standing at the crosswalk waiting for the light to change, when I was blindsided with this incredible hollowness. I felt weak and dirty and worthless all at once. My chest was a void, an abyss, and I could feel my entire body collapsing into it. Even now when I stop moving for a second I can still feel its emptiness.

I started crying uncontrollably and barely made it into my apartment before my legs gave out. I thought about being at the park, and him touching my arm and holding my hand, and after doing so asking if it was okay. He kissed me and then asked me AFTER if it was okay. Everything snowballed from there. I was inside his space before I knew it, feeling tiny and scared and unable to say no. There was never even a chance. I never had a chance. He never asked.

I pushed his hands away from my crotch and told him multiple times I wasn’t having sex with him. He tried again. And again. He said “God you’re so fucking sexy” and my response was “You know what’s sexy? Consent is a sexy”. He still didn’t get it. He kept grinding into me and trying to reach into my tights and I kept pulling his hands away until finally I just fucking gave up. His grip was so strong. He said the grossest things. I think about it now and I feel sick. All I could think about was running away, so I just let it happen because in my head, once got what he wanted he would leave me alone. This isn’t the first time I’ve had sex with someone to placate them — I can think of an ex boyfriend or two — but this is absolutely the first time that I’ve physically tried to pull someone’s hands away from me and ended up just letting them do whatever they wanted. The first time I’ve said “I’m not going to have sex with you, I just met you” and that wasn’t good enough.

When we were done he threw my clothes at me and said he had to get some work done. I think it was supposed to be a joke but it felt awful. Then he walked in on me going to the bathroom. He stood there staring at me with this crazy look on his face. I swear to God he said “remember when you said you weren’t going to have sex with me?” and all I could do was make this uncomfortable pained sound that was supposed to be a laugh.

So now I’m stuck. I feel like I should have tried harder to stop him. How can I teach someone that if they keep pushing a woman she’ll let them do whatever they want? If I had just gotten up and left, what would have happened? He probably wouldn’t have actually tried to keep me there. The thing is, I got myself in a situation where the power imbalance was so heavily weighted in his favour that it warped my ability to make a solid decision. I don’t feel comfortable calling him a rapist, but the thought of him trapping some other girl in his house while his hands ravage her and he breathes heavily in her ear is making it so I can’t sleep at night. What does that mean? If he isn’t a rapist, then what is he?

I feel guilty and stupid for even going to his apartment in the first place. I was just supposed to use the bathroom and pick up a book he was going to lend me, and then I was heading home. I felt there was something weird about the whole set up, but then I thought of him talking about his work with the marginalized in our city, about the intersection between feminism and harm reduction, about playing baseball and spinning alternative jazz records at the bar up the street. I put those things together and decided that it couldn’t hurt just to stop by for a second. He almost sounded too good to be true.

Because he was.

I feel like my fire is gone. I feel like a shell. I feel like I can’t trust anyone’s intentions. I feel used and like I’m just going to be used forever. I feel like I have nothing to offer anyone except my stupid body and even that is garbage. Sometimes I forget and feel totally normal and then it hits me and I feel like my whole world shatters and falls down around me. I start crying with no warning. The emptiness is so formed and real, so visceral and palpable, that I feel like if I reach down my throat I could grab onto it and pull it out, all black and jagged.

This event has opened up something ugly inside of me. I feel changed. Like there was always something bubbling under the surface but I was able to just barely keep a lid on it. Well, the lid is gone now, and I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to put it back. I talked to a psychiatrist recently and when she asked me if I was going to report him, I said “I just want to forget this happened and move on with my life.”

She looked me straight in the eye and said “You’re never going to forget this.”

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