"Consent?"

Please note that the following content may be distressing for victims of sexual assault. Also, if you plan on leaving a comment, please remember this is my experience, and that the pain I continue to feel is very real for me. You can disagree with what I say, but I'd rather you didn't challenge me on this.

Once in a while I sit in front of my laptop and think "am I strong enough to write this piece at this time?". In this instance, the damage has already been done, so I'm going to go ahead and write despite being a bit of an emotional wreck.

Tonight I've sat and read comment after comment from rape apologists, assault apologists, men who seem to think women are property, women who are tragically lacking in self-worth. Yet, the comments that broke me were the ones that claimed that "only yes means yes". That's because I know different. Sometimes yes doesn't mean yes. Sometimes you have to look past the verbal language and look at body language. Sometimes you have to step right back and look at the entire situation.

I am a woman who has said yes because I felt that if I didn't, either myself or someone I cared about may be in danger. Now, I understand that it's a controversial thing to say, and I know that simply saying "yes doesn't always mean yes" is opening up a huge can of worms. Hence I'm mentioning body language and context.

If someone is asleep, chances are they probably don't want to wake up to someone using their body like some kind of sex doll. Doing so removes any opportunity to either give consent or deny consent. Already, we're in assault territory.

In my particular case, I did wake up to find intimate actions taking place without my consent. This intimidated me enormously and caused me to worry about myself and others in the area who may get hurt if I resisted.

I would go on, but there are two things. One, there are other people connected to my story who I love and care about an awful lot who could not have done anything to stop what happened, and I don't want them to have to go through any pain if they happen to read this post. Two, it would be very easy for me to get into a flow of self justification, and that's dangerous ground. I don't have to justify any of my feelings regarding what happened that night. I am allowed to feel angry and hurt. I'm allowed to feel betrayed by my assaulter.

If you're someone who feels that yes always means yes, I can only urge you to re-evaluate. I know my body language that night clearly showed that I was in distress, not to mention the panic attacks and the non-stop crying. Yes does not always mean yes.