color key — red: assault; blue: mental health. the contrast of light and dark correlates with bright and somber tones of voice.

Because I Said No

Because I Said No

Because I Said No

Because I Said No

cw: sexual assault. Two of my negative experiences with men happened at the same house, two years apart.

I was working a temporary job away from home. On a day off, all of the employees went to one of the coworker's homes; everyone got drunk. I remember laying on the couch—my head on a male coworkers lap, his hand in my pants. And then I remember throwing up.

I never said anything to him or anyone. We only had a week left working the job, and he was close friends with all my other coworkers, as I was not. I was embarrassed…and he was married.

Two years later, same house, different man.

When it happened, I was on vacation with a girlfriend. We were traveling to this man’s hometown and I asked if we could stay with him for a few days (we were college kids with no money).

The last night we stayed, he was leaving the next morning to fly out for a work trip. He took us to get drinks, got us both pretty drunk, and started asking sexual questions. We tried to joke around and change the subject; it felt awkward but we let it slide.

When we drove back to his place, my friend went to bed and I stayed up talking to him. He started asking me deep, interesting questions that I thought were friendly, but then there was a lot of inappropriate touching and I said I was going to bed. I got up and he asked if he could have a goodbye hug since he wouldn’t see me in the morning. I said okay. He hugged me so tightly that I couldn’t move. He tried to kiss me a couple of times but I moved my head so he kept kissing my cheek.

He kept asking why not, why not, why not? All I could think of was saying “because I’ve had too much to drink,” when I really should have said, “because I don’t want to,” “because I don’t like you like that,” “because I’m a virgin,” “because you’re too old for me,” or even, “JUST BECAUSE I SAID NO.”

Eventually he let go. It felt like hours, but the whole exchange was probably only a minute. I went to my room, locked the bedroom door, and stayed up the entire night scared he would come into the room while we were sleeping. We haven’t talked since.

The aftermath? While what happened wasn’t the worst case scenario, I still feel anxious, embarrassed, and untrusting of others.

I still remember every inch of that house.

© Midnight Woman 2021