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He poked me in the face, that first day. D___ had chuckled at something he had said, and I caught D___’s eye and smiled a little, trying to walk a balance between them, and he poked me–4 or 5 times, just under each eye, not quite hard enough to bruise–and I “slapped” his face (not hard enough to leave any mark, never mind a bruise) and told him that if he ever did it again, we were over.

There was the time we were having a good-natured, playful argument, and he picked up a pizza and “playfully” rubbed it into my face. I stood up, walked silently to the shower, and didn’t speak for several minutes. It was in jest, and he hadn’t struck me; it didn’t count, did it?

The times (plural) he followed me from room to room, shouting at me, and when I refused to engage, he loomed over me, using his extra 9 inches of height and exponentially stronger voice to full advantage. One time, he even admitted he was trying to goad me into hitting him.

The same in the car, the raving at me for anything and everything, too many times. Shouting at me for not being a better navigator, until I was sobbing in helpless fury, while he was driving us somewhere. Handing me his phone despite my protests that I can’t read maps–he never offered to show me how, because he’s rubbish at reading them as well, but his vanity won’t let him admit it–and then snatching it back, shouting, “Don’t touch anything!” when I tried to zoom in, to read the street signs.

The car again, ignoring first my pleas to let me out, and later, my warning that if he didn’t either let me out or stop screaming at me, I’d hit him. Eventually I did–the same way I did it the first time, when he poked me, not leaving any signs I had touched him–and he blacked my eye. It was swollen nearly shut for a week, and purple and green for 2 weeks on top of that.

I won’t talk about the time we “had sex” that I mostly don’t remember, when I’d had 100 mg of Sertraline, 300 mg of tramadol hydrochloride plus paracetamol and ibuprofen in the 12 hours before going out, and 4 glasses of red wine in 4 hours, but he was perfectly sober… I remember coming to underneath him, which is so unlike me–why wasn’t I on top, especially drunk, disinhibited?–but I do remember flirting with him in the other room, even brushing my foot across his (fully clothed) crotch, and asking someone else if I should have sex with him… I must have consented, even propositioned him, after an entire summer of explaining over and over again that I wanted to be friends and turning down his advances, AND already having fought off the unwelcome advances of another friend, who told me he needed a friend to talk to, led me around the corner from the doormen of the club, and forced his teeth and tongue into my mouth while he held me, struggling, against a brick wall.

I’m sure that if I’d wanted to say no–after repeatedly begging these 2 “good friends” of mine (and longer-term, better friends of each other) to just BE MY FRIEND over the course of several months–I would have done.

I think he thinks I miss him, and that’s why I had to stop talking to him. I think there’s some part of him that thinks I’m not over him… that might be true enough, but not in the way he thinks.

The only thing I’m not over, is how I could have allowed myself to be used, so many times, and still believed all the bullshit he spouted at me. Was I born that naïve, or did I learn it, somehow? All the signs were there, and he wasn’t the first man to work up to blacking my eye, over a period of months/years… I do not know what I will do, if that ever happens to me again.

Sometimes, statistics are true. Some conditions (ASD, in my case) make you so much more vulnerable than you realise, at the time.