“You Don’t Mean That”

I spent the majority of college with a broken heart, not knowing my self-worth, and desperate for someone to find me special. The first week of my Spring semester Freshmen year my high school boyfriend and I broke up and I began to spiral. Fast forward to the following summer and I had made some progress but had not recovered. One night my high school best friend asked me to go hang out at the park. He didn’t have a car that summer so I picked him up and we went to the park. We sat on a bench for a while and talked. Then his arm was around me. Then he was tickling me. Then he was holding my hand. I remember awkwardly laughing and getting up to walk around to escape the situation. Eventually we found our way to another bench and he started again with the tickling. I remember turning to look at him desperate to see his intentions in his eyes. Me looking into his eyes was apparently the invitation he needed. His lips were on mine. I remember pulling away, laughing again, telling him to stop. He told me, “You’re laughing you don’t mean that.” I didn’t understand. Was he right? Was I actually enjoying it? We were sitting on a bench in a public park and he was kissing me and no one thought it looked strange or concerning so it must have been okay. I kept saying stop, giggling nervously each time and he kept saying “You don’t mean that.” I do not remember how but eventually we were back to my car. I quickly put the car in drive and he put it back in park. His lips were on my mine. His hands on my body. I said stop so many times. I had my arms positioned in my lap to prevent him from going any further. I did not want this. I begged him to stop saying I needed to get home. He sang along to the radio the whole way to his house. When we got to his house I looked straight ahead and put my foot on the break. He put the car in park and turned my head again toward his. I didn’t fight it. Why would he have kissed me this many times if I didn’t want it? I must have wanted it. As soon as the car door closed I sped off crying the whole way home.

It’s been almost four years since that day. I’ve made a lot of decisions with guys that I wish I could change, but I made those decisions. This day in question was not something I chose to do. A man kissed me despite my protests, despite my lack of consent. It’s taken four years to write these words. I’m in the best place of my life emotionally right now and I think it’s taken me being in that place to finally realize that that night was not just my best friend kissing me, it was a man not listening to me say, “stop.” It was the night I was denied the right to consent.

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