I always get really confused whenever I’m in a situation where sexual assault or inappropriate sexual conduct is discussed. If I were a part of a sexual misconduct panel at Middlebury, I wouldn’t rule any of the situations I have been in violations of our policy.
And if you can’t tell, this is where I get confused.
Ingrained in me is the knowledge of when silence means no.
When I was 12, my best friend kissed and kissed and kissed me. She was my first kiss. I really want this story to be cute and happy, but the feeling I most remember from that experience is shame. I didn’t want her to kiss me, but I didn’t do anything about it. That’s what I remember most now, is that anger. That total anger at myself for not doing anything, not speaking up, not pushing her away even though I wanted to. In retrospect, I know that she wasn’t paying any attention to my needs, to what I wanted or thought or felt, and she bears some responsibility for that. What I remember, though, is the feeling of being a paralyzed rag doll that didn’t get to determine its own future and blaming myself for that feeling.
At Middlebury last year, I visited a friend in his room in Ross. For a long time before that, he had been asking me for sex. This frequently threw my heart and my mind into conflict. My heart said no, very assertively. My mind kept trying to give me reasons why I should follow his demands. I went to his room that night knowing my answer was no. One thing I clearly remember was the moment he put his hand on my upper thigh. Not only because it was an invasion of my space, but also because of the wild rush of hormones that flooded through me. I know that I never said the word “no” out loud or the word “stop.” I also know that I was definitely pressured to do more than I was comfortable with. He said, “I respect women.” One of the many things I learned that night is that if someone keeps repeating that phrase, it is a sure sign something is very wrong. He said, “You would have orgasmed if you had let me put it in.” I know my own body well enough now to know what bullshit that was.
There have been two culminating moments in my life when I realized that I could no longer interact with the world and with myself in the ways that I had been because I just hurt too goddamn much. That sick feeling in my stomach, in my body, of being unable to speak, of having no power to resist is something I will not feel again.
The summer before I came to college I met a guy. We texted and skyped all through out my first year of college, and he supported me in many of my more painful moments. During my second semester, we formally became girlfriend and boyfriend and our text messages started heating up. The summer after my first semester of college I went to visit him and to actually be physically with him for the first time since we met the summer before. He was a senior graduating from a university and I went to stay with him in his apartment. The funny thing is, this story doesn’t go the way you think it does.
I often forget what it means to not be aware of my sexuality. I walk through the world at this point carrying with me the experience of having had hands on my body, lying entwined naked with a partner, and feeling heat rising within me and getting something between my legs so I can satisfy myself. His only experience had been playing with somebody’s breasts at a drunken party long ago. I pushed harder than I should have because I’d forgotten. I pushed harder than I should have because I had desires, and such high expectations that those desires would be fulfilled. He wanted to watch the show; I wanted to kiss him. He had a headache; I wanted to have sex.
We had sex.
We broke up.
I am still astonished at how very easy it was to ignore what he was telling me, to ignore his verbal and nonverbal cues to slow down, to use his hormones to override his inhibitions, and to get what I wanted.
Author: Anonymous Middlebury College Student