Anonymous Story: And Now You’re Stronger

Do you know what it’s like to feel so dirty and disgusting that all you want is to crawl into the shower and scrub until you’ve shed all the skin he touched? But you’re so drunk that you can’t even make it out of your bed, so you turn away from your roommate’s side of the room so that when she comes in, she won’t see you cry. Do you know what it’s like to be pushed into a room, clearly intoxicated beyond the point where consent is possible, by someone you considered a friend? After saying stop a few times and he doesn’t listen, you just stop trying to say “Stop, you’re hurting me. Stop, I don’t want this.” You just lay back and wait for what seems like an eternity for it to be over. This eternity is plenty of time to wonder why you. You flirted with him and kissed him, but you didn’t want this. Is it your fault? It feels like it. After all, he’s drunk, and boys are boys. You shouldn’t tease them. Finally, it’s over and he leaves, and you try to sleep. You tell yourself that next time you won’t drink more than you should, and next time you won’t flirt with a boy unless you want it.

The next day, you feel hollow and empty, but you go to work and come home. You pass him in the hallway. He’s with a bunch of his buddies and smirks at you, laughing with his buddies because they all know. You hear that he’s started to tell people that you’re a slut and is saying terrible things about your body. If you’re being slut shamed, then that must mean you’re a slut, right? Even if you didn’t want it? Your roommates and friends start treating you differently, but you barely care because one of them is who pushed you into that room and you can barely stand to see any of them anyway. You go home and cry to your mom, but all you tell her is that you made a mistake with a boy and even she immediately assumes it was your fault. Her advice is maybe don’t sleep around.

The boy that you liked has heard the stories and stopped talking to you. You tell yourself that of course, he wouldn’t want to be with you after you were a slut. Who would? Nobody ever asks if you are ok, even though you stop coming around. You don’t talk to your friends. You don’t do anything but go to class and come home because everyone knows these things about you. You’ve never even known so many things about your body are ugly until you keep hearing new ones spreading around the hostel, all from the mouth of this guy.

A few months later, another guy shows interest in you. You have no friends and it’s nice to have someone interested in you. He wants more than you want but you give it to him because you need someone in your life. And then he disappears. Suddenly you see him hanging out with the first boy, your first mistake. And again, you’re alone and disgusted, and dirty.

It’s not even until many years later that you ever tell anyone about him. Who would have believed you? He said you wanted it, so that’s what everyone would think, right? You wore a short skirt, so you deserved it, right? You were young, only 19, and oh so naïve. But not anymore. And now you’re stronger. But strength now means never letting anyone in. Never trusting anyone. And sometimes you feel bad for feeling this way when so many people have had worse experiences.

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