“Dapat kasi di ka na lang pumunta dun.” “Dapat binayagan mo.” “Dapat kasi lumaban ka.”

Dapat. Dapat. Dapat.

These are what I got when I told them I was sexually assaulted by the man I’ve been seeing.

Just like what we always do, we hang out – in coffee shops, in parks, in his house.

Last Saturday, we had an agenda: to bake his mom’s birthday cake. We shopped for the ingredients together and when we got to his house, we started baking immediately to avoid lazing around.

Everything’s happening the way it should be, or every thing that involves baking a cake.

As I was resting, waiting for the cake to cool down before applying the frosting, I went for a nap in his room. It’s not my first time in there.

The numerous times I’ve been to his house, I’ve been in his room – and nothing ever happens except for watching movies and series, eating and drinking, and sleeping. But a few minutes into my nap, I felt something.

It started on my legs, then it ascended to my things, to my inner thighs. I felt another hand on my hips, moving its way up to my chest. I opened my eyes.

I saw him. Engulfed in what he’s doing.

I stirred – letting him know I’m awake. Letting him know I’m awake, hoping he’d stop.

But he didn’t.

I tried to resist. He pinned me down. I was crying. I cried the whole time.

Then I left.

As soon as I got home, I showered. Scrubbed my skin vigorously. As if it will remove the traces he made on my arms and on my thighs.

I decided to put everything at the back of my mind. My body was revolting against it. I have always took pride in being a feminist, an outspoken person who tries to always be level headed and who sees both side in an effort to be fair.

Shamelessly, I justified what he did to me. I told myself that it’s the same with the other times I had sex. That’s just it.

But no matter what I do, I can’t shake off the feeling.

I decided to tell two of my friends. And what they said broke me more than what he did.

They told me I should have went with them instead with him. I should have fought harder. I should have kicked him.

Yes. I should have went out with them instead of going to his house to bake his mom’s birthday cake. I should have fought harder and shouted NO to tell him I don’t want to do it. I should have kicked him in the balls so he’d stop.

But is it really my fault? Was it?

Was being in his house – a place I also consider home – my fault? Was it my fault that he suddenly had the urge and wanted to do it with me despite me saying no and physically resisting? Was it my fault that I felt helpless while he was violating me?

Was it my fault that he sexually assaulted me? Was it?

I’ve always taken pride in being the voice of the helpless. I’m an advocate of stopping the culture of victim-blaming. But I am now the victim.

I expected my close friends to understand me, to sympathize with me, to console me. But they did not.

The only thing I did was chose to accompany my perpetrator in his house to baki his mother’s birthday cake. But I’m getting the blame. I’m getting all the blame.

I tried to weigh everything out. Okay, maybe it really is my fault that I was there in the first place.

But no. I can’t blame myself for being there, for trusting him like I’ve always did before that afternoon.

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So you won’t know

I’m pretending that I don’t like you like that, and I bet you don’t even know. Why would you? I’ve put a lot of effort into this charade, and I’m pulling it off with such ease I’ve almost even convinced myself that I don’t like you like that. Sort of like that creepy thing people do when they’re sad and just smile anyway; eventually the smile becomes real, and the forced weirdness just fades away.

So listen, instead of telling you I like you like that, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to tell you about some other guy I think is hot or who I’ve slept with recently. Maybe I want you to get jealous, but mostly I just want you to get the impression that I don’t like you like that. I’ll probably hit you in the arm when you say something funny, or brush against you as I’m getting a drink at the bar. Maybe I want you to like it, to think about what if I were naked, but mostly I just want to be close to you in the most inconspicuous way possible.

I’ll keep hanging out with you, so you will know I want to be friends, but sometimes when you text, I wont answer immediately, and sometimes I’ll have other plans that I won’t change to see you, because I want you to think that I don’t like you like that. Sometimes I think that if you do like me like that, I want you to feel the way I feel when I think you don’t like me like that — and when I think these things it makes me an awful person, and I wish I could be less vindictive about it. I pretend that I don’t like you like that because I don’t want you to have the satisfaction of knowing that I do.

Right now I’m wondering if you’re reading this and wondering if it’s you, because if you are then maybe you like me like that too, or maybe you just see right through me and my façade isn’t as perfectly curated for emotion as I thought it was. You know we have fun; I see how you laugh when I tell jokes. Sometimes it makes me think that you like me like that too, but it’s not hard to convince myself of my former opinion — that of course you don’t like me like that. So I’m going to keep pretending I don’t like you like that (maybe forever) because I’m terrified that you don’t like me like that in return.

What you don’t know is that sometimes I can sleep at night because I’m thinking about you. I’ll smile about something you said and concoct scenarios in which you’re madly in love with me and we’re vacationing in some exotic location, drinking out of coconuts. What you don’t know is that when other guys, great guys, make passes at me I reject them because I know it’s unfair to give them my kisses when really it’s you I’m picturing kissing me back. What you don’t know is that every time my phone lights up with a text from you, I feel as giddy as a school girl and I tell all my friends, even if it’s as simple a text as, “How you doing?”

And you’re never going to know any of this (do you think that’s poignant or pathetic?) because I can’t stand the thought of you rejecting me. I would prefer to watch you hand in hand with a thousand girls that aren’t me than to hear that we will never be together. I’m going to keep pretending that I don’t like you like that because as long as I am, I can pretend that maybe one day you will like me like that too. Because in this big city, sometimes I feel scared and alone, and while I’m pretending I don’t like you like that, I know for certain that you will always be there for me when I need you, and I’m scared that if you knew how I really felt, you wouldn’t be there for me at all.

 

 

 

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