I’ve been struggling with intimacy more in the past three years than at any other point in my life. I’ve spoken and written and shared about my past experiences of trauma and abuse, but I haven’t really spoken or considered the last time I had sex and how traumatic it was. It’s such an experience I feel I need to share it. Trigger warning–rape, sex, dissociation, oppression, heteronormative fantasies, #metoo.
I met a guy on OKC who seemed really nice and kind. He came from a family that seemed chill, had a diverse past that he seemed unashamed to speak about, and seemed pretty well awakened to some things he’d been through. We had a lot in common. He brought me to Cafe Gratitude for the first time.
The first few dates we went on were very innocent. He was kind and understanding, he was interesting and interested. He took things slow and seemed like a good guy.
He stopped acting like such a good guy after we had sex for the first time though.
The date after our first sexual encounter I let him take me somewhere–a surprise location. I was a vegan at the time and he decided to take me to the San Pedro Fish Market. When we got there, I was peeved. Like–who brings a vegan to a place that hella glorifies and smells of meat? (Not the first time a date had done such a thing btw) But, I went along with it and got some fried veggies–which I didn’t eat because they were definitely fried with the fish and tasted like fish oil and made me wanna puke because I hadn’t had meat in over a year.
I let this all slide, thinking I was just over-reacting or being selfish or too dramatic. I let him take me back to his place for the second time, which was a huge, disgusting mess. The understanding and helpful person I often am (to a fault in the past), I suggested that I could help him clean some things before we hung out and watched a movie.
I was washing his dishes as he picked up some stuff. He came up behind me and started touching me. I was flattered, but also annoyed like–we’re doing something here dude. Can’t you be a little more patient? He would go do some other things and then come back and mess with me–but not ME the brain in the body, the person with cognitive decision skills and autonomy… just the body. I was boobs and ass and curves and vag.
At one point, without warning, he started undressing me. It wasn’t sexy, or cute. It wasn’t slow, or kind. There was no kissing or admiration or care for whether I enjoyed it at all. It was aggressive, forceful. (It should be noted this guy was about 6’4″ and built very muscularly and big. He was easily twice my size.) He pulled my shirt off of me even though I was standing right in front of a window, at night, that was open and overlooking a street. He pinned me against the counter and laughed that I couldn’t escape him. I asked him to stop, he continued. He’d successfully undressed my top half and was working on getting my skirt off. I got more pissed off and told him to stop–which seemed to excite him more. I didn’t have the ability to be more outwardly pissed off. Patriarchal conditioning told me men didn’t like mouthy girls, and I needed a man to survive in this world.
I was seething inside, but also telling myself I’d brought this on, it was somehow sexy, it was a part of some fantasy, I just needed to learn to enjoy it, sex was always uncomfortable when it was new, this was somehow totally normal and fine and I was the one making it seem not fine. (Rape culture, internalized, at its fucking finest.)
He ended up getting my skirt off, making me stand there in his kitchen–naked and powerless, exposed by bright lights and an open window. He picked me up and brought me to his room, there was hardly any kissing. He entered me without permission or a condom or foreplay–making it very painful, dry and unwelcome. It wasn’t even slow or gentle, not even a little–it was quick and forced. I was powerless.
After, I told him it hurt and that I was pissed off and I wanted to leave. He acted sorry for a second, then brought up some girl on his facebook that he had a crush on and started talking about her in front of me. I left, saw him one more time, then cut him off entirely. He reached out once to “explain” but didn’t actually say anything. I refused to see him in person, telling him he could say what he needed to say in text, and he only wanted to see me in person to say what he needed to say. So I never heard his explanation. This was my first real point of empowerment. I didn’t want his explanation. It was an excuse, and what he’d done shouldn’t, couldn’t, be excused.
After this, I decided I was not interested in sexual pursuits unless they were with people I knew very well and trusted–but then I began the journey through my mental health and wellness that I’ve been on for the past few years so sex has been the last of my priorities. My intimacy between now and then has been very limited. I am lonely often, and I wish I could develop sexual intimacy, but I do not trust myself or others in that context so I keep pretty much everyone at a physical distance. This is hard… as a human being I need physical connection and yet I am so traumatized by it that I often reject it and deflect it from even the most platonic of friends.
The thing that was the most disturbing about this last major encounter was that it was like being in a porn or some romantic film. I was living in someone else’s fantasy. Like, I know I’d seen this all somewhere before. I’d seen someone romantically pulling the clothes off of a woman as she is doing chores and lead her to the bedroom–but to live it with someone as if he is trying to recreate something he’d seen on TV… with no warning, communication, or boundaries… it was absolutely horrific–scarring. I felt out of control. I think I completely detached, dissociated and derealized the situation before it even happened. It’s taken me years to see that this was rape, and that my silence was accepted as consent, my struggle was seen as a part of the role play he was living out with me though he hadn’t asked me, and my words were completely overlooked. I was literally an object to his fantasy. I could have been any woman. He just needed a warm and compliant body.
I don’t see the point in sex in this manner. It’s a grotesque misuse of human connection. It’s a disrespect of who we both are as individuals. However, I know there are women who might have been totally down–hell I might have if situation had been completely different. But he treated me like we were on the same page–he assumed it and acted out of that assumption. Role play is totally cool and some people like it but it must be spoken about out loud. There must be rules and boundaries established FIRST. If you can’t have the conversation, you’re not emotionally mature enough to participate in it safely, and *you’re going to hurt someone*. Period. Same with S&M, and power play, and polyamory or ethical non-monogamy. These things are all awesome–beautiful even! I am super sex positive in the means of supporting what people want for themselves. I see it working for individuals and they love their sexual lives! I know its all valid and good when done with proper consent.
But you can’t, in any situation, ASSUME that someone else is on board just because they are present. You can’t assume based on body language. You MUST have the conversation out loud. Most of the women you know, if not every one of them, have been gaslit to believe that we have no authority over our own bodies. Even politics reenforce this in our minds. If you make the assumption that someone is interested in the same sexual things as you and act on that without a conversation, you’re taking advantage of that person’s oppression. You’re abusing your own power and privilege. You are a fucking rapist and you deserve to be punished–locked the fuck up and put through extensive therapy.
I am not brave enough to reveal the names of those who have sexually assaulted me–and I don’t even remember his name honestly. It’s been years and I’ve ignored it. Maybe I’ll gain that empowerment someday in a call for justice but I know now that the world would and could do nothing for me. The law is against me in this story. The timing is against me. The patriarchal forces that be are too strong.
Still, I share this in gruesome detail because it has the ability to open some people’s eyes to the importance of verbal consent–especially (but definitely not exclusively) in heterosexual encounters. I say that because these are the encounters that we see most on TV, movies, and in real life playing out these kinds of scenarios and making the lack of verbal consent seem like some kind of romantic connection. That’s not real. You may read body language, but you read it based on who you are and how you might react. You may think you know this person, but it doesn’t mean you actually do know them as anything more than a projection of yourself. The normativity of hetero sexual abuse is so harmful.
Frankly, if you can’t talk about sex, consent, etc… you’re not mature enough to have it. You’re not mature enough to act consensually, and I guarantee you will assault someone and think it’s ok and fine because you assumed you knew them well enough and there’s no evidence to hold you accountable. You’d still be fucking rapist piece of shit though.
I know that it’s really difficult and embarrassing to talk about sex sometimes–but it is infinitely harder to recover from rape and go on with a positive or hopeful attitude about sex and intimacy. The damage you could potentially do is not worth sparing your embarrassment for a couple of seconds. Also, if your hard-on depends on the lack of consent and asking consent is going to somehow ruin the mood, you’re turned on by some fucked up rapey shit and you need mental and emotional help so you don’t act on that in a way that will hurt others. It’s fine if you’re turned on by that, some of us can’t help what turns us on. But what you can help is how you know yourself and the tendencies you have to harm others so you can be conscious and outspoken in a way that keeps others from being harmed by you. We need to protect others from our darkness sometimes too, not just ourselves. Our traumas gone unchecked, our fears gone unspoken, these things project themselves out into the world and they harm us and others. The only way we keep others from being caught in our darkness is by bringing light to it ourselves and exposing ourselves for exactly who we are. Secret secrets are no fun. Secret secrets hurt someone–and this is how.