The Price of Consent
The Screams of Insomnia
I had my chance to say no. My eyes, filled with fear, withdrew consent for what was about to happen, but was that enough? His answer to that question approached me with a violent confidence. It happened before I could part my lips to speak, but it lingers in my memory in a slow-motion replay. With my mind as the giant screen, I remember the events of a decade ago as if they are happening today.
“Get comfortable on the bed and I’ll be right back,” he says. He walks across the motel room to the bathroom and shuts the door behind him. The water running behind the door sounds louder than my thoughts. First, it is a slow stream and then it turns into a rush of what I imagine is steamy hot water. The constant downpour of sink water is all I can hear until it rises to a pounding, as if a hurricane is brewing in the bathroom of this cheap motel. And, then, my god, the silence is deafening, until he turns the doorknob. My heart thumps relentlessly, faster with each step he takes towards me. He’s out of the bathroom slightly. I didn’t tell anyone where I was going. Another step in my direction and he flashes his charming smile. Even if I could scream in this moment, nobody would hear me. As he takes another step, he removes the belt from the loops in his jeans and acts as though it should turn me on. There is nobody. He steps forward again and slowly unbuttons his shirt to reveal a torn and dirty wifebeater. It is just me. One last step and he is against the bed, just a breath from where I lie. I am all alone.
And, I am still alone today. Just as I felt all those years ago, the idea still echoes in my mind – there is nobody to tell. So, I ask myself this series of questions regularly… Who could I tell? Would they believe me? What could they do now? Why didn’t I ever tell anybody about what happened that night? I think for a mile and I am still unable to answer my own questions rationally. It’s the inevitable question they always ask the victim when they don’t understand how paralyzing the fear of living can be. I ask myself again – why didn’t I tell you about it?
Because I am alone in this moment, I don’t move. I don’t speak. It is more than feeling paralyzed by the fear of what is to happen next. Not a second transpires and his solid body is on top of my frail excuse for one. His hands slide into mine and I let him. I close my eyes and all I am left with is touch and sound. The sounds. He whispers in my ear – “Do you want me?” But, is it a whisper? All I can hear now is screaming. But, who is screaming? I can’t decide if I am screaming for help or if he is screaming commands to me. “Kiss me.” His lips speak for me like sandpaper as mine part and allow him his desire. “Touch me.” His hands are as soft as bricks as they push mine down his pants to the rock-hard bulge I can’t run away from. “Love me.” He pushes deeper into me as if I were oceans deep, but I am as shallow as I am afraid. I am afraid he might break me even more than he already has. And so I follow his commands without question because I cannot speak. All I can do is scream.
The night terrors still torture me now and the screams have grown familiar. I’ve dated many men since that frightening encounter, but I never spend the night with them. The screaming nightmares are too heavy to carry alone or with a million more hands. They don’t come every night, but enough that the thought of sleep terrifies me. What’s even worse than seeing his face in my dreams are the physical sensations that accompany the demons. I can still feel every inch of him impaling me until I have no voice to say NO.
My mouth forms the word, but he can’t hear me deny him. He rips the clothes from my body because I am powerless to obey him when he begs me to. The quick and brutal sound of my panties tearing in his fists interrupts my breathing. I close my eyes as he undresses himself and pray for all of it to stop, but even if I believed in God, I doubt He heard my cries. His sweaty skin slides against mine and I can feel him enter me, no, no, NO – he is raping me. After the first violent thrust, my eyes burst open and penetrate the hate that stares back at me. Our eyes remain locked in that miserable trance until it is over. I don’t move – I can’t – and it seems like years before I can breathe again. I am finally alone in the way I need to be so I can run as far away from there.
But, no matter how far or how fast I’ve ran over the years, the hate and emptiness follows me. I’ve moved more times than I care to count, but he still stalks me outside my door. His face changes, but the same empty ice-blue eyes penetrate my fear. Around every corner – in every man I see – he is there objectifying me and shoving his demons down my throat. I may not have consented the day I met him, but I am consenting now – to the pain, the fear, and the lack of light that surrounds me. In this all-consuming darkness I’ve allowed him to take everything from me by allowing my screams to stay voiceless. I look down tonight at the open bottle of pills and wonder – what comfort can you offer me now? But, I only swallow one. Just one to chase away the demons of insomnia.