In retrospect, I would even go so far as to say I believed it came with the territory. I’m talking about lying in bed with Ernie that night. My brother, Rich, after reading The Remedy the third time, sat me down and said he had problem with what I’d written about Ernie.
“You’ve made yourself look too vulnerable,” he said. “It’s bad enough you had to go through this once, but twice? It’s hard for me, you know, to know that it happened twice, and that you didn’t even bother fighting the second time.” He looked down at the deep mahogany table my grandmother used to place porridge on for us as young children.
“What are you talking about? I wasn’t raped twice.” I wasted no time correcting him. Unsure of what he was referring to, though, I continued. “Where did I say it happened twice?”
“______. And considering that, you should probably change their names, too. I don’t want anyone trying to retaliate.” Placing his left elbow onto to the table, Rich brought his hand up to his brow, and massaged them as if under duress.
I re-read the chapter immediately, still seated across the table from my brother. Then, without a word, I rose from the table, and went home. I sat for a long time at my desk considering what caused me, until July of 2014, to overlook this reality. I did not fight Ernie directly, but I did fight to keep my pajama pants up when he tried to remove them. It was very clear that I did not want to have sex with him, and with the loud music that once had filled the apartment now gone, my whimpers in the bathroom afterward were audible.
So, why would I ever come to believe it came with the territory? Well, I believed I was worthless, damaged goods. And I bought into the lie that a man was entitled to my worthless body. When Rich highlighted the reality, it occurred to me that my gestures were my “NO!” that night. They were a very clear no, even though I couldn’t speak.
Since that night, there have been plenty of instances where my gestures spoke and men heard them. I learned that men hear no in every form. It is just boys that don’t.
Never worry that your “NO!” should have been different, better, louder or anything other than the no you were capable of providing.