**TW: Sexual Assualt References**
Being a college student, I (very) often find myself at parties. I love going out because I see people that I know and it is nice to “let your hair down” with your besties. But there are times when I regret going out. I look back on a night that a part of me did regret going out.
I am at a house party with my friends. It is packed. The music is radiating through the walls. People are sweating. But forgetting their appearance when they hear their favorite song come on. Everyone is almost shoulder to shoulder. As I am saying hello to someone I recognize, I feel a hand grab my ass. I was in shock because this person did not move his hand until I brushed it away. I forcibly grabbed his hand and push him away from me. As I pushed him away, I was silent. I just pushed him. Then, he casually walked away like he did not just violate me.
I do not understand why it is hard for someone to keep their hands to themselves. I could simply blame it on rape culture which enables individuals to objectify the female body. Although I know all the effects of rape culture in society. This violation felt personal, so personal that a concept could not soothe me. It continues to pop up in my mind — Its rape culture, but is it? My feminist mind continues to think about: How one can separate features from the individual? How can someone not realize my humanity? How can someone violate my space and autonomy? To me, these are the basic of respect for another human being.
Looking back at that situation, I am angry. I am angry with the disgusting person that failed to respect my autonomy and violated me. But I guess, I am mostly angry with myself. I do not hesitate to confront others. I do not love confrontation but I know how to defend and speak up for myself. That night, I did not. I moved his hand but I should cussed him out, punched him, kicked him in his stomach or somewhere more “private.” I think back and just get frustrated. Why did I speak up? I froze instead.
I have never felt so small. I never thought this could happen to me in this way. But in all reality, I cannot blame myself. I did not do anything wrong. I went to a party with friends, swayed my hips to the beat and laughed. I tried to enjoy myself and someone else ruined it.
My emotions about the following events reflect how many individuals feel. The regret of not defending yourself enough. Even shame in the event happening at all. I know that I was groped, not raped. But I was still violated. Female identifying folks tend to think about assault in degrees. We think, “Oh, it could have been worse.” Yes, it could have but do not discount how it made you feel.
A stranger still touched my body with a disgusting familiarity he did not have. A stranger tried to claim my body as his own. So, let’s not diminish this. It is okay to acknowledge that this form of harassment or assault hurts too.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault and would like to talk to someone, I would recommend Campus Assault Response (CARE). It is a 24/7 hour confidential helpline. They can direct you to a variety of services on campus or just be an ear to listen to.