My friend found herself cornered in her own bathroom, a normally safe place, but now one that’s scarred with this memory. She sat in her shower, makeup smeared from a long night out, and tried to control her shaking hands. Her originally casual Thursday night turned into one of those moments you remember, one of those moments you use as a marker of time.
“It’s been two weeks since I was sexually assaulted.”
Before midnight her roommate is passed out on the couch, but this is nothing out of the ordinary for her long-time friend whose track record of drunken behavior includes bar fights on a tame night.
What she’s not expecting is her roommate’s boyfriend to drunkenly stumble into her room. He’s hitting on her, telling her she’s beautiful, talking about the problems in his own relationship while his unsuspecting girlfriend lies passed out on the couch just a few feet away. He tells her that she has soft lips after he kisses her against her will. She backs away from him, tripping over her hairbrush while she mumbles the words “go be with your girlfriend” over and over again to guilt him into leaving her alone. It doesn’t work.
She’s drunk too, but she remembers him picking her up, laying her on the bed and reaching for her clothes. She jumps up, shrieking, rejecting him. Her memories fade as she sits in the corner with her knees to her chin, rocking back and forth until he finally leaves.
She recounts the situation to me early one morning in a Facebook message. She wants to make sure she can delete the conversation when we’re done. As she processes, I feel all the emotions I want her to feel. I’m livid, she’s guilty. I want justice, she just wants to turn back time. While I validate her feelings, I attempt to control my own.
I’m reminded of the first season of Veronica Mars. The series deals heavily with a case of sexual assault, and Veronica spends the entirety of season one attempting to find the scumbag that drugged and raped her at a party. The connection here is in the anger, the vengeance. Veronica represents the way I want my friend to feel about her attempted sexual assault: fucking pissed.
The response of plenty of women to sexual assault is one of guilt and repression. Never having been in that situation, I can’t comment too heavily, but as an outsider, I encouraged my friend to consider feeling angry.
Think about the insidious nature of this guy’s entitlement. He has enough self-assurance to request sex from his girlfriend’s roommate and that attempt left her with feelings of self-doubt. He felt as if he deserved to have her, she felt guilty, as if she didn’t deserve to be mad.
He texts her the next day, he doesn’t remember much about last night and wants to know how she’s feeling. He blames it on alcohol, on the insecurities in his own relationship. He blames it on everything except himself. She blames it on herself, on the insecurities of her own memories. She blames it on everything except him.
She wants to respond with a lie, saying she doesn’t remember anything, playing it off with ignorance. I do my best to convince her otherwise. We craft a text together.
“I remember more than you, you made me incredibly uncomfortable and what you did was wrong. I never want to see you again. Don’t contact me anymore.”
To make real change, we have to show the attackers that there are consequences. We need victims and friends of victims alike to get angry, to seek retribution. For the sake of the victim and the unfortunate and inevitable future victims, we should take the Veronica Mars approach and get fucking pissed.