**Trigger warning: this piece contains references to sexual assault**
It was setting out to be an exciting night. I’d been on exchange for a couple of months now. I’d already made one of my now, three years later, best friends. We’d been at her apartment for a couple of hours, doing our make-up, getting ready, having some pre’s, probably dinner as well. We were figuring out how to get there. We’d never been over to the other side of the river.
It was a masquerade party, at one of the clubs most popular among the other exchange students. We’d both made a few close friends during the intensive language course we’d taken, they were all going to be there. It was almost 10.30, and we were already a little tipsy. We had forgotten to buy masks, so we drew pictures on paper and pasted them onto cardboard in a last-minute attempt to appear as though we wanted to be a part of it all.
As we filled our empty Listerine bottles with vodka we checked the tram times and started to run down the stairs, singing about all the things we loved the most about our adventures thus far. It was a 10-minute walk to the trams, and with 2 euro fries covered in ketchup in our hands we boarded.
While we were lost in the streets we sung, and we laughed, and we talked about all the guys we hoped not to run into. It was cold, but we didn’t feel it. It was dark but the street lights were gleaming.
The club was multi-storied. There weren’t too many people when we arrived. There wasn’t even a line to check our coats into the cloak room, and they didn’t bother to check our bags for alcohol. The music was loud, the drinks were cheap, and some familiar faces filled the dance floor.
So we danced, and as we danced, the music got louder, the floor disappeared, and the Listerine bottles emptied. It’d been maybe an hour, I’m not completely sure, but I’d already discarded my cut-out mask, and posted a photo on Instagram.
As we were dancing, the music filled my body, I was losing control, I rubbed against the bodies of the strangers surrounding me, and for a moment I felt like kissing the guy who’d been touching my waist and groping my leg.
Another half an hour passed, at least I think it was that long, when he pulled me towards the door, invited me to his place. But I knew that despite my actions I didn’t want to fuck him. An invite home always means they want to fuck you, I knew this from experience already. So I said no, I wanted to find my friend, but he persisted until I said yes, holding me by the arms, all the while leading me to the exit.
At this moment, things were blurring through my eyes, but they were clear in my head. Get my coat, and disappear. Get my coat, and disappear. So I said I’d get my coat while he hailed a taxi, but in the time it took the attendant to find it he’d found me, and it was at this point I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach, as if I couldn’t turn back. I’d already said yes. He’d already hailed the taxi. I’d already kissed him.
He led me to the taxi, touching me all the way back to his place. Things didn’t feel real. And when we arrived, as he took my arm to pull me from the car, I considered running away. Though that feeling left me when I started to fear what might happen if I tried.
I let him lead me up the stairs, remove my clothes, kiss me, fuck me. It felt easier than to say that although I kissed him, and I’d wanted to at the time, I didn’t feel like having sex. But it felt safer to be fucked although I didn’t want to fuck him than to try to run away.
I fell asleep, or passed out, I’m not too sure, only to be awoken by his cock pressed between my legs, sliding in and out of my vagina, arms pinned down by his, and a laugh following the words ‘do I have to do all the work here?’. I moaned, it felt like a dream, I twisted, then simply lay flat till he finished. Shivering, he wrapped his arms around me, kissing my neck and shoulders, and I drifted off to sleep again.
I awoke again to the sun shining through the gap between the drapes in his small studio apartment. It was 7am. He was still holding me firmly. What I thought had been a dream was running down my leg in a sticky liquid from my vagina. I’d never felt so scared. I remember shivering and trying to get out of the bed, but he kept grabbing me, grabbing my tits, kissing me, asking me to stay. I said no. I said I have to go. I said it again and again.
I put on my clothes, but I couldn’t find my stockings. ‘Are you sure you don’t want to take a shower with me?’ he asked. ‘Can I at least have your number?’ he asked. The relentlessness of his requests frightened me. I just wanted to leave, still I didn’t have the courage to bluntly refuse him so I gave him a fake number. Then he kissed me. Then I left.
The walk home was the longest and fastest walk I’d ever done. It turned out I lived less than a kilometre away. My legs were bruised, and I felt embarrassed that I looked as if I were on a walk of shame that’d I’d chosen to be on. My head hurt, my feet hurt, my vagina hurt.
I sat on my bed, leaving the clothes I had left from last night on me, before crawling into a ball beneath my doona and closing my eyes. I could still smell his cum on my body. But I couldn’t face seeing my own skin if I were to undress and take a shower. I’m not sure how long I stayed like that for.
Image: Alice Wu