Many of the stories we hear about rape make it seem so clear-cut, but it’s often much more complicated. It can be especially difficult to recognize when it happens with a romantic partner or a friend. Sexual assault includes any form of non-consensual contact or sexual coercion. This Humans of New York story highlights an overlooked and all-too-common narrative, reminding us that “maybe” never means “yes”:

It was the summer between 8th and 9th grade. We were make-out buddies. Sometimes he’d talk to me during the day. Other times he wouldn’t. We were in his basement late one night, getting drunk, and he kept asking me if I wanted to do it. My heart was racing and I was terrified. I kept saying: “maybe,” “maybe,” “maybe.” Then he said: “No more maybes. Let’s flip a coin.” My stomach sank. After we finished, he said: “I think I heard my dad upstairs. You need to leave.” I went home and filled up a whole page in my journal. I wrote in purple sharpie, over and over: “It didn’t happen.” For the longest time I felt like it was my fault for feeling hurt. Like I was being overly sensitive. It took five years for me to realize that consent is not a coin flip.

If you think you have been sexually assaulted, please consider contacting the National Sexual Assault Hotline. Trained staff members are available 24/7 to provide confidential service and support.