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I was laying in my bed with him, and we were kissing. It was nice. I was having fun. Then, he put his hand in my pants in a way he’d done before, but this time, I had explicitly asked him not to. After all, my family was home.

I told him to stop. I said no. I said please. He would take his hand out of my pants after several moments of my insistence, but it kept managing to snake it’s way back down there. Every time, it was the same. I would protest and, temporarily, he would grudgingly comply, until he decided again that I didn’t really mean my protestations.

One time, when we were just first dating, he asked me how to know when he should stop. I told him that it he did something I didn’t like or didn’t want him to do, I would tell him. He said okay. But when it came down to it, he didn’t listen.

After it happened, he apologized over text, citing what I had said when we first started dating about letting him know when I was uncomfortable. I felt guilty, and sad, and hollow, and dirty, and I didn’t know why. I think if I had known, I wouldn’t have forgiven him so easily, simply warning him not to do it again.

I didn’t realize what exactly had happened until months after the fact. I was reading Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti (great book) and I came across a definition of sexual assault. I realized that the incident with my ex-boyfriend fit the definition of unwanted sexual contact. More importantly, I realized that the weight on my shoulders and the uneasy feeling in my stomach had a valid reason for plaguing me. I realized I FELT like a victim of sexual assault.

I felt violated, and by someone I had trusted.

We broke up after that happened, but before my epiphany, because he was an unsupportive jerk with the inability to listen. He doesn’t know that I think he’s a predator, a source of fear and anguish. I want him to know, though. I want everyone to know, because it could happen to any girl or woman. After all, it happened to me, and what am I? A well-to-do, privileged, white, cisgendered straight person. I’m not the sort of person people think this happens to. But my gender identity, my sexuality, my race, or socioeconomic class don’t matter. It doesn’t matter that he was my boyfriend, that I had consented in the past or that I would consent again in the future. I said no. And no doesn’t mean anything but NO.

I am a victim of sexual assault. It hurts me. But it is what it is. All I can do is move on, deal with it, and try to help others deal with their experiences as well. I have no animosity towards him. Just sadness. Just a sense of defeat. Just a hollow ache inside of me. I don’t think he realized the severity of his actions, or how they affected me. He didn’t mean any harm. It’s no excuse, but to me, it’s enough reason not to press charges. I hope I can someday have to courage to inform him of what he did to me. To let him know that it was wrong and he should never do it again. Perhaps once I’ve healed a bit. I just hope he doesn’t hurt anyone else in the interim.