I Didn’t Say Yes but I Didn’t Say No

Years later, I’m still grappling with whether or not it was sexual assault

Juli Erdrich
Apr 23, 2020 · 4 min read

Trigger Warning: this article contains descriptions of sexual assault and violence that may not be suitable for all readers. Fearless community, please read with care.

wanted to have sex with him. That’s why I went to his house that night, knowing that we were going to go out drinking, and that I’d likely be unable to drive myself home.

I wanted to have sex with him. That’s why I cozied up to him in the bar, and stood close to him all night, and whispered in his ear when talking to him — blaming the loud music for needing to do so.

I wanted to have sex with him. That’s why I happily allowed him to take off my clothes later that night in his bedroom, while we were kissing.

I wanted to have sex with him, and that’s why I had sex with him.

I was drunk, and he was drunk, but I consented to having sex. It had been the plan all along.

I’m still confused about how I ended up face down; we didn’t start in that position, and I didn’t willingly roll into it — I don’t like this position during my first time with someone new.

I also don’t know when we decided that anal sex was on the menu — but it happened.

I don’t like anal sex.

I didn’t say no, but I was no longer saying yes.

his was years ago, and I still replay this night in my mind. When my friends asked about my night, I told them honestly what happened.

My first friend seemed as confused as I was.

“He just…started having anal sex with you?” asked one friend. “Are…are men just allowed to assume that? Switching positions is one thing but switching sexual formats I think warrants a quick ‘this cool?’ question.”

“I consented to having sex,” I said.

“Yeah, but…” she trailed off.

After telling a second friend, I was met with silence.

“Are you still there?” I asked. “Say something.”

He sighed. “Are you okay?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said. “But it was kind of a weird thing for him to do, right?”

“I don’t think ‘weird’ is the word I would use,” he said.

A third friend responded with more frankness.

“Okay…” he said. “I’m pretty sure that’s rape.”

“No..I don’t think so,” I said. “I consented to having sex.”

“Right. You didn’t consent to having anal sex.”

“I didn’t say no.”

“You didn’t say ‘yes’ either.”

“But I did to the sex part.”

“Okay. Listen. I don’t want to convince you that you were raped if you’re saying you weren’t. But I am telling you that this does not sit right. And the fact that you seem unsure about whether or not you were assaulted further makes me think that you were.”

still feel sick when I think about what happened. That night still gives me the feeling of a deep pit in my stomach.

When considering that night, I didn’t tell him to stop, is always my first thought. I wanted to have sex.

I hate anal sex, is my second thought. If he had asked, I would have said no.

I would have said no.

ccording to the article Was I Raped? published by Healthline, my confusion is common.

I didn’t say no, says one scenario highlighted in the article.

“Anything short of a free and unambiguous ‘yes’ is not true consent,” the author writes.

I didn’t physically fight back, reads a second scenario.

“Anything short of a free and unambiguous ‘yes’ is not true consent,” the author writes.

He was my friend.

I initially said yes.

I was drunk.

They were drunk.

“Anything short of a free and unambiguous yes is not true consent.”

I haven’t spoken to him since that night, and I have no plans to speak to him again. I never accused him of assault — to his face, to the police, or to anyone else. I never felt certain I was assaulted.

But, I’m beginning to accept what happened that night. I did not enjoy having anal sex with him. I would not have agreed to having anal sex with him. I did not consent to anal sex.

Situations such as this one are confusing and upsetting, and the reverberating effects of such incidents can last for years. If you think you may have been sexually assaulted and are not sure where to turn for guidance, the following resources are available to help.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Sexual Assault Hotline-RAINN

Office on Women’s Health

Fearless She Wrote

This is a space to empower differences, tell our stories…

Juli Erdrich

Written by

Writing the things I just can’t say.

Fearless She Wrote

This is a space to empower differences, tell our stories, and share our lives together. We will not be silenced. We will be fearless. And we will write.

Juli Erdrich

Written by

Writing the things I just can’t say.

Fearless She Wrote

This is a space to empower differences, tell our stories, and share our lives together. We will not be silenced. We will be fearless. And we will write.

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