You see his name pop up on Facebook because one of your best friends liked his status update.
His name comes up again because another friend posted a photo to his timeline.
Comments ensue. The sarcasm flies. Good times.
And as your eyes absorb the words, the memory of his fingers digging into your crotch while you lean against the bar trying to order a club soda because you’re dehydrated from all the dancing returns so sharply you wince. The night had been so fun, being out, music from your high school days pumping and you were wearing that shiny dress your friend loaned you for some other occasion. You felt pretty, sexy, young, not too flirty because you’re married, not drinking too much because you’re driving, but intoxicated with the music nonetheless.
Until that hand reached between your legs. You whirled around, but whoever it was had ducked away. You felt your heart beating, your legs trembling. You breathed and breathed again until you could finally ask for that club soda without quavering.
And then it happened again. And again. Your ass, then again even more aggressively between your legs. Four, five times. It was so crowded, but still. How was this happening? Then you caught him. The guy who used to be your friend. He’s drunk. Mental. Months later, you will try to channel sympathy. You will gather enough intellectual strength to wish him well. You will tell yourself that he was going through something beyond his control. But you do not forget his assault on your person. Or the stories other women shared, similar and worse.
Nonetheless, the violation, the outpour of abuse, would be tolerable – you’ve been through this before, after all – except despite your pleas, despite sharing what happened to you, certain of your friends continue to embrace him. He’s funny, true. Charismatic, sure. You were close for many years and you miss his friendship, you would readily admit that fact if it wouldn’t somehow condone this behavior that horrifies you.
You wish that you could share the visceral reaction you have whenever his name comes up.
You wish that Facebook had an app that served to, every time your friends were about to click Like on his status, to comment on his photo, to engage in QuizUp or satirical group chats with him as if he was just one of the guys, that somehow, as their fingers stretched to the keyboard, that they would feel his fingers shoving between their legs, hear his laughter.
Because maybe if it happened to them, they might understand the violation, finally. You think, maybe if he’d punched you in the face, blackened your eye, if the harm was visible, would they be more chastened?
You wonder why you even have to think about this.
You wonder if it’s wrong for you to be so bothered that your friends seem to be fine hanging out with the guy who sexually assaulted you.
In the meantime, you pretend you’re not bothered.
Because this is what we do.
Because what else can you do?
Except write ineffectually and hope someday they get it.