There seems to be a misunderstanding of this word. Violation.
What is it really? When Aziz Ansari asked her to blow him and she did with consent without being “forced” into it, was it violation? When you walk into your date’s house knowing it was for sex but he’s not giving you foreplay and is instead shoving his fingers down your throat, is it violation? Or when you say, “I don’t want you to touch me,” in those explicit words and he still tries to grab you, making you panic and your blood pump with adrenaline to escape, is THAT violation?
I’ve talked about being groped in public, by old men, tailors and fellow pedestrians on this blog. I’ve mentioned how I go through them everyday like so many of us do and how it’s not okay. I’ve written an entire post about how we internalise it when we should be pointing fingers at men who feel like they’re entitled to the body of every woman they see. But there’s a story I never shared.
It’s not just on this blog. There are only three people in my life who know this story. Me. The guy. And my boyfriend. I trusted him. I’d known him a few years. We’d hung out a lot. We briefly tried to “date” if you know what I mean. Yes, I’d given him permission then. But eventually we both moved to another country (the same one) and I met my now best friend who began to like him. Seeing how I never really had any emotions towards this man, I stepped back and gave them a chance to try having a relationship. He was dating my best friend so we remained friends and when they broke up, we tried to keep our peace without raising hell or having to choose sides. At this point, I’d outgrown him. I didn’t feel like being with him anymore because I’d come to see him as my best friend’s man. It wasn’t right. It didn’t feel right.
But then one day, he called. He said he wanted to hang out with me because he felt very depressed with something that was going on in his life. I told him in these exact words, “This is to hang out as friends. I don’t want you to touch me. At all. Yes?” And he agreed. When I walked into his apartment, he reached out for a hug and I repeated myself even more elaborately. I explained my reason and he told me he understood and he was just depressed. For those of you questioning my choices, you have to remind yourself, I’d known this guy for almost 5 years at this point. I trusted him. I’d hung out with him. He dated my best friend. We’d shared a lot of stories. He was an asshole, I wouldn’t deny it but he’d treated me like a friend and I was never given a reason to question his loyalty. Until then.
I forgot all about this, you know? It was one of those moments I pushed to the back of my head hoping I’d never have to remember it again. Because who wants to think of a time like this? I ignored it. I blocked him on all social media and slowly, I’d blocked the memory from my mind. Three years later, he added me on Snapchat. He sent me a PM, “Hey!” I didn’t respond. I distracted myself hoping I’d never have to think of it again. Because thinking meant remembering. And remembering meant reliving. And I would give everything to never relive those minutes again.
But this past November my brother got married. And this man went to school with him. So he reached out to me again, “Are you coming to the reception? I’ll be there!” I didn’t respond but my nerves tightened and my heart began beating faster.
The last time I saw his face was when I was running into the elevator and he’d ran out of his apartment screaming my name. I had to tell someone. But how would I explain to my conservative parents that I walked into a guy’s apartment alone, willingly? So I told the only person I could trust. I told my boyfriend.
“He was my friend. He went to our school. He was one year your senior and two years mine. We used to do shit but it all stopped when he began dating her. But then he called me one day and told me he was depressed and wanted to hang out. I went because I trusted him. Once inside he tried to hold me and I moved away and told him to watch it. He brought us drinks and I refused. Alarm bells kept going off and I told him I couldn’t stay long. He kept grabbing me from behind and I told him if he doesn’t stop, I would leave right then. But then he grabbed me again, this time so hard, I couldn’t break free. I struggled and he tried to dry hump me from behind. Adrenaline kicked in. I broke free and ran for my life. I hit that elevator button over and over hoping it would get there before he does. He got back on his feet and came running screaming my name just as I got in and left. He’s coming and I don’t want to see him. I’m anxious.”
Because I was violated. And it wasn’t okay.
It was just my luck that he didn’t turn up at the event after all. My brother said he has legal issues and I thanked my lucky stars. But the pandora box had been opened and I haven’t been able to shut it since. With stories like the one Grace shared, I feel more pissed off than I do peace.
Violation has no said definition. It is a feeling. But it is not willingly blowing him even though you weren’t turned on. It is not willingly going back to his arms, hoping to be cuddled after feeling like you were forced. It is not willingly staying in the name of starstruck and remembering it publicly a while later.
Violation is a feeling deep in your bones. It gives you chills of fear and anxiety. It gives you adrenaline. It is like being blindfolded in a haunted house that’s dark anyway. You can pull off the blindfold but you’d still be stuck. Violation is that emotion you feel once and never forget.
#MeToo is important for people like me. I could never publicly point to him. He outdoes me in social status, money and connections. My society will turn back to me and ask me why I went. No explanation would suffice. To throw stones at it without realising its need and significance is immature and, yes, reckless.
I was violated.
And I take offence to anyone who uses that word lightly.