personal essays

Just A Kiss

(This essay was also published on Thought Catalog in January 2017.)

It was just a kiss – the first time.

But I had said no every time he tried. I’d turn my head, not knowing that each tiny rejection would lead to larger consequences in the future. I was 14, pretending to sleep when he kissed me anyway.

He told me he’d never pressure me into sex.

He didn’t warn me that he’d pressure me into other physical acts instead. I was 15, too afraid to say no when he touched me anyway.

My conception of physical relationships was warped by the time I fell in love for the first time. Our relationship remained pure for five months before peer pressure told me to “do it already”. I was 16, giving up power over my own body when I just let it happen anyway.

I thought he wanted more, but I should have known when I drank the hpnotiq that it was a setup. He tasted like alcohol and weed, but I was already broken so what could it hurt? I was 17, too lonely to walk away when he drunkenly took me to bed with him anyway.

I dated a boy who was sweet, caring.

He picked me up from the mess he found me in. I trusted him completely. I was 18, completely brokenhearted when he took advantage of my emotional vulnerability anyway.

He told me to dress “sluttier”, to take shot after shot of grape vodka, to try to impress his pledge brothers. I was 19, unconscious when he left me throwing up on the bathroom floor.

He was an old coworker who came to visit from out of town.

I just wanted company. He wanted more. He tried to force feed me shots of whiskey. I said no. He threatened to drive home drunk, so I kissed him to make him stay. He pushed me against the wall. I said no. I made him lay down so he would sleep, but he pulled me in with him when I tried to go to the couch. And when he held me down and climbed on top of me, I couldn’t catch my breath to say no. I stopped fighting – he was easily twice my size, and it hurt more when I struggled. I was 20, silent when he raped me anyway.

And after he was done he asked me, “How was that?”

I replied with more silence.

No means no.

Sleeping means no.

Unconscious means no.

Drunk means no.

Silence means no.

No.

No.

No.

No.

No.

At what point do we begin to take “no” seriously? The first time, when it’s just a kiss? When she’s pushing you away? When you realize you have to force her to stay still? Never?

How many victims of sexual assault and emotional abuse do you need to spell it out for you before you finally understand?

I was 21, ashamed when I realized it was rape.

I was 22, embarrassed when I discovered rape culture blames me Рfor drinking, for wearing the wrong clothes, for hanging out with a guy alone Рand I felt guilty because I thought they were right.

I was a victim who was too afraid to speak up. But now I am 23, speaking up because I am not just a victim, I am a survivor.

It was just a kiss – the first time.

But I said no.

kristangible

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