I Said No, He Heard Yes

1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime.

But you never think it could happen to you until it does. There's a fine line between what constitutes consent and what doesn't. But all too often, consent is smudged and muddled in manipulation, even with the smallest sigh of "no" in disagreement. If your partner isn't enthusiastically agreeing to participate in the act with you, you should respect their decision and wait until they are ready. That does not mean berating them until they say yes or guilting them into action. Rape comes in many forms and begins with no--even if you are afraid to say anything at all, if there is not a compounding yes, then there is no consent. If midway you feel uncomfortable and wish to stop, then your partner should oblige and respect your feelings. Just as putting a penis into a vagina isn't the only way to have sex, non-consensual sex isn't the only way to rape.

I am speaking on behalf of those who have lost their voices to rape, including myself. It's OK if you cannot surpass your silence. You can heal as much as you can, but you can never forget, no matter how much you try. This is a poem I wrote the following day after I was raped and I hope it will bring a sense of solace and sanity to the mess our perpetrators have caused. Rape is never OK. No one ever deserves to be raped. Just because someone didn't say no does not mean they said yes either. Your body is your temple. No matter who may have violated your temple, you can still hold it sacred. These are my words to you:

I said No, He heard Yes
I said Stop, He kept going
I said Ow, He pushed further
I choked, He came
I said nothing, ashamed. He got dressed and left.
I fell to the floor thinking I could fall no lower
I wanted to cry, but my tears stayed inside
I laid there in silence, red eyes all empty and barren
I lost it all, all numb and naked
I trusted him, He guilted me in
I said I was sorry, even though he did me dirty
I still can't believe this happened to me
I thought he was different, but they all turned out the same
I am still haunted by that night, framed in my mind full of fright
He used love as his lure, blinded me with his disguise
I was useless, worthless, and easy in his eyes
I sit here and write more than I care to admit,
that part of me feels like I deserved it
I am not here, nor my words, nor the air
The next day arrived and the sun came out
No one but me to see what I saw
to know what I knew
to go through what I did.
I was within and without
Naked full of doubt, I wore a smile and faked it
Wearing a disguise as blinding as his,
maybe some day someone will see through my eyes
Until that day, I lay and wait
My existence can now dissipate
I fade into the blurred lines
murmured by all those who tried to say
"Stop...but he kept going."

When you do go through something as horrifying as rape, it is almost unbelievable after it happens. You feel dirty, worthless, used, damaged, naked, and scared. How can I ever trust anyone? Who will believe me? Was it really rape? Did I deserve that? Who can ever love me now? These are but a few of the questions that might run through your mind as you try to contemplate how to make it to tomorrow, for there is always another day. It will be hard to look people in the eye, the feeling of shame and bareness covering you like a drenched raincoat. You will question every step you take after it happens, and wonder "Why?"

Even though this isn't the first time I have been raped, I want this to be the last time. My first boyfriend raped me on a near constant basis. At that time, I didn't know any better that he was raping me and learned not to say anything for fear of a negative reaction. I eventually lost my voice, which is what happens to a lot of sexual abuse survivors. After a point, silence pervades the nothingness we feel, and before we know it, it's just us living with that constant fear and pain. The memory stains you from dusk till dawn, especially if it happened in your bed.

After he left, I could barely move that night, barely cried no matter how much I needed to in that moment. I was prodded in all the wrong ways, like an ant seared by magnified light. I felt so small, so hidden, so weary. I was immediately too tired and shocked to process what had just happened. That Sunday night, too afraid to sleep in my own bed, I slept on the floor. I still get panic attacks, lying there haunted by the memories that somehow creep in no matter how much I try to deny or compartmentalize them. They always play like a sad song in an old diner, on repeat, tired and still, slowly screeching along the disc.

The hardest part is not accepting that it was real nor moving on. It is learning to live with it, one day and night at a time. Sometimes, the memories are always loudest at night, waking me up while everyone is fast asleep. In those precious moments when you don't want to be alone, please know that you aren't. May this poem offer you some solemn comfort. We may never find the right words to say what we need to hear. But when all's said and done, just know things will never be the same, for the better, and for the best. Know that you will be heard and your eyes will soon see justice

If you need someone to just listen, here are some people that can help:

RAINN: 1(800) 656-HOPE(4673). They are a National Sexual Assault hotline that is free 24/7.

SAFE HORIZON: 1(800) 621-HOPE(4673)

CRISIS TEXTLINE: Just text "HELP" to 741-741 to be connected to someone who will listen confidentially, for free, 24/7.

Please call 911 if you are in immediate danger.

You are never alone and it is not your fault. I wish you all the best and hope that you will remember these words.

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