Follow These Instructions After You're Assaulted
When your best friend sexually assaults you, tell the Resident Director about it. Be sure to do so ASAP. If you wait over 2 months, they’ll tell you that you’re lying. Oh, and while your friend’s at it, don’t forget to tell them to stop. Try not to freeze. Resist them physically. Tell your family and friends. Cry. Document everything. Open a police report. After you’ve taken these steps, don’t befriend them again. Remain angry. Don’t be nice to them. But, dearest, whatever you do, remember to follow these instructions, or else no one will believe you.
She was my best friend. But she also forced her tongue into my mouth. And that’s not it.
I still wanted to be friends after the assault and I never said stop. But I was supposed to hate her and immediately tell the Resident Directors about the assault. But I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. And because I didn’t react the “right way,” it was decided that I was lying about the assault. Of course, she denied everything, and they decided that she was not guilty. She conveniently blamed the entire thing on me because she’s a Baptist and it’s a sin to be a lesbian if you’re a daughter of God. You’re a temptation, she says.
Another time, someone might ask me if I’m okay and I just tell them that I’m sick. But what I cannot tell them is no, you don’t need to face away from me, for my illness is not airborne. I don’t have the flu or a cold. Instead, why don’t you look me in the eye, and you will see that I have a loss of appetite, not only for food, but also for life.
Because more often than not the truth sounds too much like blackmail. It makes me so sad, how someone can sound manipulative just by being depressed.
It doesn’t matter how much I say or cry. Because, despite my cries for help, she’s more stable than I am. She’s never talked about suicide or self-harm. She’s a “fine young lady” who goes to church every Sunday. She’s nice and sweet and smiles when she talks. But I, I am a beast who is mentally ill, who talked about suicide and depression, who is hurting, whose pain is the lesion that doesn’t spatter blood is the part of myself that I cannot get rid of the hell that no one sees is something crude is unforgiving is cold like nothing I can tell you just as an act of self-immolation the monk lays dead in the street of charred ribs and black flesh and that is it.
I remember the numbness. I remember receiving the outcome letter late in the afternoon. I read it. And I felt nothing.
But it wasn’t until a few days later that I felt something, something terrible and strong. I spent an hour in the bathroom, looking at the noose.
I remember half-heartedly trying to kill myself. I was hurt so bad. I slipped my head through the noose and relaxed my body. Arms, legs, head all dangling. I stayed there until I started to black out.
I just couldn’t do it. I can never explain why. There was something within me that screamed and kicked. I think that maybe, it’s because a part of me still wanted to live.
I slipped my head back from under the noose, dizzy and drunk with something else; I couldn’t stand straight. It is then that I realized a few more minutes of hanging would’ve ended it all. But a few minutes later I was here, stumbling about the room, semi-cognizant, not dead.
In the outcome letter, they said that her getting wet and masturbating on me was simply a “natural reaction.” I didn’t know that sexual assault was a “natural reaction.” Interesting new theory, though. There are some things I can never forgive. They also said that I enjoyed it because I was moving my hands across her back. Also, an attorney from the school represented her. For free. Her attorney said, verbatim, “Your emotions are irrelevant.”
My life doesn’t need saving. But thanks, anyways. “Mindfulness,” they tell me. “Meditate.” But all of that feels so much like nothing compared to what I’m feeling in the moment. Other days, getting out of bed is the greatest accomplishment of my day. Let’s be frank; life is a game I will never win. I am tired of feeling… so broken that there is nothing left of me for anyone to break. Or fix.
Don’t tell me that there’s no such thing as a bully in their mid-forties. They sit in swivel chairs in offices at the university administration and scoff at you when you cry. They mock your depression and make you regret that you ever brought this up in the first place. It’s the rule of the game; institution over you, and that’s that. If you’re depressed, you’re merely an inconvenience to the school.
Obsession or trauma? The line is very fine. I was throwing up, not out of choice. I lost thirty lbs, yet the panel members tell me that I didn’t suffer from any emotional distress.
And I don’t know who these people think they are—they have no right to quantify my pain, because pain is more than a number between 1 and 10. Just because I’m not bleeding doesn’t mean I’m not hurting.
Those three wrinkly-faced women do not know the truth. They can never convince me that my emotions are irrelevant. Because they don’t have that power.
Because I say so.
She didn’t apologize for anything. And she never will. And sometimes, that breaks me. She even used Bible verses to brand me as evil. But no. No, I’m not your nightmare from last night. I am not the monster lurking in the dark.
Because the absence of emptiness meant to feel everything else that seemed unfathomable, like coming to life for the first time to a world that you didn’t know existed—no, how could it, you wonder, how could this be, and then, you’re blinking back tears because it’s all baffling beyond measure.
And, before you know it, you find yourself staring into the eyes of someone who is drowning but not struggling; yet there’s no pain in any of this because the only thing you see is the silent ebbing of whatever light has not yet left this body.
I still remember
All the sleepless nights pondering,
Would it have been better to be killed by shrapnel at the Brussels bombing,
Or to stand before the partial, bitter masses
Who so fervently think they can dictate your fate?
Sticky with this institutional pus,
I have nausea of the soul and the mind.
And so today, does the belt
Belong around the hips or the neck?
I wonder if you can hear the
Lost voices of people screaming
Into a godless void.
Don’t hear. Listen.
You’re ordained to live, are you not?
Why, then, must you reduce your life
To a compilation of deeds and misdeeds?
You, whose beauty has not yet been defaced by hate,
do not succumb to the ruckus and rumble of angry stomping;
for without love there’s nothing.