Tobias was tall, had dirty blonde hair and thought the soundtrack to my favourite movie, The Virgin Suicides, was boss. I met him on Plenty of Fish when I was 21. We went for drinks (yeah, I know what you’re thinking) at the Pilgrim because the only thing I like better than vodka Slushies is multiple vodka Slushies.
This is where it gets ambiguous, but I want to emphasise: I remember what happened. I’m not someone who drinks and forgets. We were having a good time, but his last train was at 11pm. I was used to letting anyone and everyone stay over because I had a swish pad on Duke St pretty much all to myself. I was used to people crashing on the couch, and I’d think nothing of letting a pal I trusted share my bed. So I let him stay so we could watch movies.
But I always made the deal clear, and this time was no exception: this isn’t a veiled invitation for nookie. I’m not being coquettish and thinking we will inevitably hook up – I am genuinely letting you sleep on the sofa for convenience. I recall emphasising it one more time at the door to my apartment complex. He chuckled and said it was fine.
Fast forward and we’re sat on my bed deciding on a movie when he whacks on some porn. I gave an awkward ‘heh, heh…turn it off’.
I remember him pushing me down onto the bed and the sound of my underwear ripping. I remember saying I didn’t want to have sex – I don’t know whether to him, that meant everything else was free for all. He was rough.
He stuck his head down there (hope I hadn’t washed, at least). He wasn’t stopping so I moaned a couple of times to convince myself it didn’t count. Maybe I should have kicked and screamed more, but putting up with a little was better than potentially putting up with a lot.
When it was over I slipped out of bed. The next morning he found me on the sofa and kissed me goodbye with a guilty look.
I wandered around L1 in a daze. I couldn’t stop the tears and plucked up the courage to tell someone. They said I was attention seeking.
Not to be crude, but he didn’t actually make me do anything to him. It was all for my “benefit”. Free sexual favours! Awesome! I thought nobody would take me seriously. Before, I never understood why people were afraid to tell anyone. Surely your word was enough? But all of a sudden I was questioning everything. Did drinking imply I was up for it? Did wearing a dress mean I was definitely up for it? Was I being a tease letting him stay? How could I be so naive?
It hurt for days. A few weeks later I texted him spelling out what he had done. He’d apparently had no idea, but blocked me anyway.
A woman on Crimewatch today was talking about her own Boxing Day sexual assault back in 2004 – how it had felt, how it made her feel now – and I felt funny and agitated. I couldn’t understand why.
What’s disturbed me the most is that I did such a good job of forgetting it ever happened. I’ve blocked out particularly scathing things people have said in the past, but to go so long without this crossing my mind seemed bizarre. I’ve seen countless invasions of personal space on TV in the intervening time, but I could never empathise and they never brought memories back. It seemed like it happened to someone else, and the only thing that reassured me it really did happen was the funny feeling in the pit of my stomach.
My boyfriend found him on Facebook and I was disturbed to see his face after all this time.
I’ll stew on it today, then push it to the back of my mind again. I’m writing this for therapeutic reasons, but also as a reminder for you to be mindful over the holidays: respect people’s boundaries. No actually does mean no. So do one, gobshites!