Asking For It | Teen Ink

Asking For It

May 29, 2013
By Courtney Edwards BRONZE, Toronto, Other
Courtney Edwards BRONZE, Toronto, Other
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

You slip out of the bar into the quiet street. The wind cuts your bare skin; you throw on your coat on and head to your car; your heels snap on the pavement. Some rowdy drunk calls out to you; he wants a “good time.”

You hug your coat closer to your chest, to mask your body as best you can. You hurry into the parking lot and chastise yourself; you should have parked closer to the bar.

You’re in the subbasement. The low ceilings and dim lighting unnerves you. You see the silhouette of a man as he moves towards you, his face eclipsed by the darkness. You feel uneasy; you crave the comfort of a locked door, with you safely behind it. You pull out your keys, point them towards your car, and press; the beep soothes you. The man is close now. You reach for the sliver handle, when he slides up against the door. His eyes fix onto your legs, bare beneath the skirt your sister gave you for your birthday. Petrified, you let your keys fall to the ground; the sound echoes through the empty lot. He is close enough that you can smell the alcohol on his breath. Before you can move, he grabs you. His nails dig into your skin, and leave an indent in your flesh. You scream, but his palm silences you. He throws you to the ground, and lowers himself on top of you. He unbuckles his belt, and slides his sweaty palm up your thigh. His hand finds your underwear and in one fluid motion he pulls it away. His breath is heavy; he is crushing you. You close your eyes in surrender, and pretend you are somewhere else.

* * *

You are home. Your clothes reek of sweat and cling to you as you peel them off. You pad into the bathroom and position yourself under the showerhead. The water beats into your spine, it turns your skin the flushed colour of your pale pink underwear, now stained a deep crimson. You should clean them.

You turn off the water, and wrap yourself in a plush white towel. It’s soft and warm, but you still feel the scratch of denim on your legs. Tears burn behind your eyes, as you stare into your pale, hollow reflection. You need sleep. Sleep will make it better.

But you can’t sleep. Every time you close your eyes, you see his; they burned into you the entire time. You still feel the weight of him on top of you. You feel his tongue in your mouth, so deep that you feel it in your throat. You feel his legs press you into the ground, as you are buried underneath him. You shoot up in bed, and struggle for the air to scream.

* * *

The sun seeps through the gap of your curtains. You force yourself out of bed and into the bathroom. Your stained underwear lies crumpled on the floor. You scoop it up hesitantly to examine the damage. The grotesque red stain disgusts you. You run the tap, add soap, and scrub. Your knuckles turn bright white against the scarlet. The stain clings to the fabric in defiance. Why will it not just go the f*** away? You hurl the underwear into the tub and look towards the mirror; the girl you see is a stranger. You thrust the mirror into the tub as well. It smashes and the jagged splinters disperse over the pearl tiles. Good, now something else is broken too.

You peer into the tub and the shattered fragments glimmer under the fluorescent lights, as each piece reflects the foreign girl in mockery. That same unfamiliar face, repeated a million times.

* * *

The trial is in session. He is on the witness stand. He admits that he was there with you, but he calls it “consensual”. He calls you a liar, a slut, a jilted woman. He says your skirt was short; he says you gave a “certain impression.”

“Come on Your Honor,” he says. “Look at the skirt. She was asking for it.”

You are speechless. Since that night, you jump every time someone brushes against you on the street. You are afraid to be alone, yet you do not trust anyone. You have nightmares; you relive his torture every night. You feel afraid in your own home. And you asked for this?

You rise to leave. Back to your apartment to try to clean that damn underwear.

The author's comments:
I chose to write this story because sexual assault is an issue that often goes unmentioned. People are not comfortable talking about rape, understandably, but it is important that it is talked about. Girls are victims of sexual assault everyday, yet things are rarely done. As women, we are expected to take precautions to avoid getting raped; this is ludicrous. It is not a girl’s responsibility to act and dress in a way that doesn’t provoke men, and that was the message I wanted to make.

I started this story with the idea of the offender accusing the victim of “asking for it”. This phrase is not new to me. Girls hear things like this all the time. I recall complaining about being spoken inappropriately to by a man on the bus on my way home from school, and the response was that I should change out my “schoolgirl” uniform. Or when I was prepositioned at a restaurant and my friend replied, “Well look at how you dress.” The point of my story is not only to highlight the horror of rape, but also to draw attention to the idea that girls are viewed as somewhat responsible in the event of assault. The underlining idea prevalent in society is that if a girl behaves a “certain way” then men have the right to disrespect her. As if it is her own fault. It is never the victim’s fault, and to make the point, I have used an extreme situation, but it applies to all related comments, like the ones I have received over the years.

In my story, I am proud of the self-awareness that I tried to incorporate into the character. I find women more aware of their bodies than men. I, along with most friends, become nervous walking alone at night; something I think women deal with more than men. This fear is something I tried to subtly incorporate into the story.

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