A few weeks ago I was sexually assaulted. I haven’t completely come to terms with what’s happened and I’m not sure I will for quite some time. I’m writing this post, not as some sort of reflection piece or expose, but as a means of coping with and acknowledging what has happened. I’m not sure if this piece is something that will see the light of day anytime soon, nor am I positive that I’ll feel the same way about what’s happened in a few weeks. I just need to tell my story as I see it now—for my own sanity.

In my last post, I talked about my sexual anxiety and how psychologically hung up I was on having gone so long without having sex. Inspired by a TedTalk I watched, I decided that I needed to get out of my head and have sex so I could stop fixating on it so much. I told myself I was in a different place now than I was the last time I had done it. I was in better shape and my sense of self-esteem and body confidence was higher than it ever had been. I finally felt like I deserved to be physically desired, and that it was time for me to be sexually adventurous.

I decided to stop second guessing myself and go for it, and after talking to a guy on Grindr for about a week, I accepted his invitation to hook up. He was cute, funny, and far enough removed from my social circle that I could hook up with him without having to worry about word of it getting back to my friends. I figured sex with a relative stranger would be easy because there would be less risk involved. If the sex was bad due to my inexperience, I could rest easy knowing he wouldn’t tell any mutual friends. If he turned into a stage 5 clinger, I could ghost him without any real repercussions. And if it went well, I could have a new hookup buddy.

I took all of the necessary precautions for the occasion. I made sure to eat appropriately and did my best to thoroughly prep so there wouldn’t be any embarrassing moments. When I got there, I wasn’t as nervous as I had anticipated being, granted I did make myself several mixed drinks on an empty stomach before arriving. The guy was nice and charming and did his best to make sure I felt comfortable around him. We spent about an hour getting to know each other and chatted about our hobbies and family backgrounds.

Then we had sex.

And it was bad.

After about three minutes, I had to stop him. The pain was just too intense, and I couldn’t relax enough for it to get any better. The harder he tried to get inside, the more painful it became, and despite my best efforts, I couldn’t figure out a way to make it work.  I immediately apologized, embarrassed that I was unable to hold up my end of the sexual bargain we had made. Although he was polite about it, I knew he was extremely frustrated with how unprepared I was. I couldn’t help but feel like I had wasted his time by coming over and that I had misrepresented myself and my abilities. I continued to apologize until he told me it was no big deal and that we could just try again later if I was up to it. So we ended up cuddling and watching a movie instead.

And even though I was cuddling with a stranger, I felt warm and safe in his arms. The night hadn’t gone the way I planned, but I was proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone I told myself that I could use this experience as a stepping stone to being more sex-positive and adventurous. So I let myself fall asleep in his arms, content with how the evening had unfolded.

I didn’t wake up until I felt the sharp pain of him forcing himself inside of me. At first, I didn’t know what was happening because I was delirious and half asleep. But as the pain set in, I felt my body freeze entirely. When he realized I was now awake, he leaned over and kissed me on the neck, as if this was a pleasant surprise to wake up to. No words were exchanged.

I thought about telling him to stop, but I was so confused and shell shocked that I couldn’t find the words. He leaned over and kissed me on the mouth and I let him because I hoped if the moment became romantic that it would somehow not feel as violating. I thought I could reframe the moment in my mind and convince myself that what was happening wasn’t assault. And then he tried to push deeper inside me without any sort of lube or preparation. It wasn’t until he was fully inside that I realized he wasn’t even wearing a condom.

I closed my eyes and completely disconnected from the moment. My mind left my body as I laid there, and I did my best to think away the pain and distract myself until it was over. The sex continued until it was too painful for me to not speak up, and so I muttered quietly that I just wasn’t up to it. He said “okay”, kissed me on the neck, and turned to go back to sleep.

I laid awake for an hour. I didn’t know what to think or how to proceed. I just felt cold and small and like my mind and body were now two completely separate things. I considered taking an Uber home but didn’t. I don’t know if I stayed because I felt guilty about sneaking out without any warning, or if I stayed because I felt obligated to. And so I stayed in his bed until 7 am, and then I snuck out and took the subway home.

He texted me later in the morning to ask when I had left. We had a brief conversation and I replied as if everything was normal because I desperately wanted it to be. I wanted nothing more than for this encounter to just be a misunderstanding or miscommunication on my end. He was a nice guy, someone who had a good time and wanted to see me again, and I was just being my old anxious self and blowing things out of proportion.

I told my friends what had happened but downplayed it by painting it in a humorous light. My female friends spoke of similar experiences, and so I told convinced myself that what I had undergone was just a rite of passage, an unfortunate reality for many young adults. I did my best to bury my true feelings and move forward because I didn’t want to have to deal with any more mental baggage. So I actively blocked out my experience and feelings and found myself second guessing my memory of what had even happened.

A few days later, my emotions caught up to me. I received another text message from the guy and later had a panic attack in the middle of the street, completely bombarded by a mix of emotions I couldn’t channel. And just like that, I was back in that dark headspace, the one that made me feel completely crazy and unraveled. My thought process was all over the place. Was I just exaggerating the encounter because I just wanted to feed into some victim complex? Did it really go down the way I remembered or was I making it worse than it actually was? Why hadn’t I stopped him? Why was I letting this situation get to me? Why was I letting myself fall to pieces again?

To an extent, I feel like a lot of the progress I’ve made in the past few months has been completely undone. I’m finding myself at the mercy of my emotions, and I’m struggling to suppress them, and I’m feeling completely unhinged. I’ve been doing my best to stay positive and keep my struggle to myself because I’m so tired of telling people about all of the ugly things that go inside my head sometimes. I was doing so well before this happened. I was feeling confident and secure in myself—nd now I don’t feel that way at all. I don’t feel secure in my mind and I don’t feel comfortable in my body. Before I started working out, I used to think that a guy would be attracted to my personality first and my body second, and when I got into better shape, I started to feel like maybe things could be the other way around. But after this moment, I feel like there’s no part of my identity to feel confident about. I’m just this crazy crumpled piece of paper. I feel like I’m at a level of low I didn’t know I could hit.

I’m hopeful that I can get back on track and start to rebuild myself. I’m hopeful that as time progresses I will be able to fully come to terms with what has happened, and fully accept that what happened to me wasn’t my fault and that my feelings and thoughts are completely valid given the circumstances. I wrote this piece because I’m the kind of person who needs to unload my thoughts and emotions in order to relieve myself of them. By being open about this, I can make sure I don’t completely internalize it and free myself from of any unwanted shame.

I’m going to publish this because I need to. Because I need to not think about what’s happened—even if just for a little while. There will be a point when I am ready to revisit what has happened, but for the time being, I just need to express what I’m feeling and move on.

Thank you for reading.