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Saturday, 20 May 2017

How do you define sexual assault?

Warning: Contains explicit/adult and potentially upsetting content. The content below is not intended to be pornographic, sexually suggestive or arousing. Is for informative purposes only.

Disclaimer: This post is going to be anecdotal, and horrible to write. Currently as I’m writing this I feel numb and have just scraped a knife through my arm. I don’t know if/when I’ll publish this, but I’m writing it anyway. I'm not writing it to make people feel sorry for me or to put the guy involved to shame, I'm writing it because I need to let it out and I would hate for other girls to go through this.

So this is about something that happened to me a year ago, and it involves a guy I was going out with. I’m going to call him X. If you know him personally or know of what I am talking about, please don’t confront him or say anything to him about what I am about to describe.

So X and I were seeing each other, and he knew I hadn’t had sex or done anything sexual with a guy before. X was a highly troubled guy; he had had an abusive childhood, and suffered from a range of mental health disorders. I won’t go into any detail as it’s not my place to. X and I had been seeing each other for about three weeks (jesus I can barely write this) when I decided I was ready to have sex with him. I felt I should; he was nice, and I knew he really wanted to, and I wanted to get it over with. I wasn't nineteen yet and I felt like I needed to do it whilst I was still eighteen, that I was really late to 'lose it.'

I was at his house. He suggested we watch Doctor Who; I said we could do other things. Within ten minutes we were naked and he was on top of me, putting on the condom and lubricant. He said he'd be gentle. I said I was scared and he told me to relax. He started to put it in. I yelped in pain. He told me to shut up. He continued putting it in, and I yelped in pain again. He said I wasn’t making his job any easier, and that it was going to hurt and I should just deal with it. I was clearly in pain so he took it out and tried to loosen up my vaginal area with his fingers. Then he went in again. It hurt even more. He said ‘sorry’ and then put his hand over my mouth to stifle my yelling and lifted my leg up. I kicked him off me. The pain was unbearable, like I was being stabbed in the vagina.

He was sitting above me with this moody expression on his face. He said ‘yeah I can’t do this.’ I started apologising and offered to suck him off. He said it was fine and lit a zoot (he was a stoner). I continued apologising. I felt terrible, like it was all my fault and I’d ruined everything. He said I shouldn’t feel bad and he’d been in a situation like this with a girl before.

After that we went to sleep. The next morning around six o clock he asked me to leave (I lived down the road from him). I went home and slept for about six hours. I felt like going to a pub, and would have if I hadn’t been so tired. (When I got in my mum actually asked if I’d been drinking - in case you're unaware I'm a recovering alcoholic). Later he said he had asked me to leave because he was in a bad mood and I wouldn’t like him in a bad mood. He messaged me apologising for the previous night and I said it was fine and we could forget about it. I guess it hadn’t really hit me yet.

That evening I went to his again and I still felt sore from the previous night. I just wanted to be with him but I was too afraid to try sex again. He tried to get me to do it, saying ‘come on baby’ and ‘I know it fucking hurts.’ I remember going into the bathroom and looking at myself and telling myself to stop being such a wimp and just get on with it, that it was just sex and loads of people do it and all I had to do was take a deep breath and do it. But I couldn’t because it was just too painful and I wasn’t turned on at all, I was just horribly anxious.

X apologised again and felt really bad and said he was being a prick and didn’t know what was wrong with him. I know he wasn’t deliberately trying to hurt me. (Yeah, it sounds like I’m trying to make excuses for him). X is not an evil person, but at his own admittance he’s not a nice guy. I guess at the time I just couldn’t admit it to myself, because I try to see the good in everyone.

About a week later he said that if we didn’t have sex soon he’d move on, and that was a shame because he wanted to be in a relationship with me. He said he was being reeeeeally patient and was used to girlfriends that had sex straight away and 'I don't want to feel like I have to earn my sex.' I decided I needed to get my act together and do it, because if I didn’t he’d break up with me and it would be all my fault. I went to York for a few days to see my friends (I used to go to York Uni before I went to ACM, where I currently go) and tried to prepare myself emotionally and speak to female friends about it who said I just needed to be confident. Notably, one of them did say that I shouldn’t feel like I should ‘have’ to do it in order to be with him, that he should want to be with me regardless.

Anyway, I came back and we did it a few days before I turned nineteen. It hurt and all that but there was no repeat of what had happened before.

So. I don’t know if any part of that counts as sexual assault. Apparently it counts as sexual coercion, which is part of assault. I’m posting this because it’s one of the worst things that has ever happened to me. I wanted my first time to be with a lovely guy who adored me and made me feel special and wouldn’t rush me. Instead it was with someone who took me for granted and made me feel like utter shit. I hope this never happens to any other girl, but then that’s foolish because you never know what happens between two people in a dark room. I WAS NOT RAPED, but emotionally it felt like all the emotions surrounding rape or assault. Fear, guilt, vulnerability, helplessness.

X, if you’re reading this (and I’d rather you weren’t) I’m not writing this to make you feel bad or put you to shame. This is about me, not you. There are no hard feelings between us; I think we’re past all of that now.

This happened a year ago and I’m still not over it. Thinking about it makes me feel numb and lifeless. Maybe it even contributes to my panic attacks. I didn't properly contemplate it for about five months, until I told my counsellor who said that was awful, and spoke about it to friends then had a massive breakdown and wrote awful things about X on Facebook. (I took it down because someone reported me, but I was going to take it down anyway).

And for all you feminists out there, not all guys are rapists. Feminism is not going to solve any of this. The guy that did this to me did this because he was an extremely troubled and broken person. Not that this excuses it, but a nice, normal guy would not do something like that. The kinds of people that assault in whatever way do it because their environment and their wiring have shaped them to be like that. I think it’s time we understood that and looked at root causes rather than pointing fingers and saying all men are evil.

Edit: several months later (and a few sexual partners later) I've come to believe that who you have your 'first time with' isn't as 'important' and built up as we make it. In my head I built it up to be this big thing and some people do, but in reality a bad 'first time' doesn't mean you can't have a great time sexually with someone else. Yes, it is a big physical and emotional experience for anyone, but it doesn't need to be 'perfect' and probably won't be. 'Losing your virginity' is made into such a big deal in our society, and I think it's better to not have 'huge' expectations for it and just go with the flow. Sex, like most things, improves and feels more physically and emotionally comfortable with time.

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  1. This was very brave of you, not only to share this experience but also being so willing to be honest with yourself and not just putting all of the blame on the guy. I respect you for being able to look at your part in this experience and I am very sorry that this happened to you. I don't see this situation as being 100% your fault or his, I see it as being an unfortunate combination of [unfortunate] factors.

    Of course I cannot speak for how much of this you would agree with or relate to, but these are just some overall patterns that I see in these kinds of circumstances:

    1. People today, especially younger people, love the phrase “don’t judge”. This might be good as far as intent goes but in application, it’s nonsensical. Judging is how we are alive, how we get hired for a job, how we choose a job, a car, a mate, etc. We are very much into giving people chances, and I think that’s great, however I don’t think we balance that enough with warnings about when people don’t reward us for giving them chances – or even what kind of people would be less likely to reward us for giving them chances. You said this guy was troubled, had an abusive childhood, and suffered from a range of mental health disorders. I think it’s important to warn girls that “bad boys” have a pull because as women, we tend to like fixing and “nurturing” people; It’s instinctual. If a girl wants to give a troubled guy with a traumatic past a chance, I just hope that she will be aware of the issues that come with that – from anything dangerous that could result from his conditions to any mistake or accident the girl might make in trying to help him.

    I had a friend who was with this really abusive guy. We were all out of high school so they were young “adults”. He’d get drunk and/or high on drugs (not marijuana but other stuff, I don’t know exactly what) and he’d get really angry and sometimes they’d get into fights. I don’t really know why they fought but I know that she kept choosing to go back to him, even though it was clearly not a healthy situation. She was a little older than me, so while I tried to give her advice, I felt way out of my league to truly help her out. All I could really do is be there in case he got violent and she needed to get picked up and taken away from the situation. Now that I’m older, I would’ve put my food down with her more, even if she still refused to listen.

    2. The thing that really upsets me with the sexual revolution and the feminist perspective/teachings on sex in general is that it seems like it came with a lot of pressure to be sexual or you’re not really “liberated”. I definitely got teased for being a virgin – though usually by people who weren’t really “friends” or who had my best interest at heart (those people commended me instead of teasing me). I was often called a “prude” and my best friend’s boyfriend told me I “needed to get laid to loosen up”, we were 14 years old – still in Middle School [6th-8th grade]. When I was in high school, I was on a pep squad and I was one of the few virgins in the group. Some of the girls who weren’t virgins treated me like I was a little girl who couldn’t possibly know what they were talking about. As I got older, I realized that they were trying to peer pressure me into being sexually active too. For whatever reason, it seemed to make them uncomfortable that I was a virgin. I knew other girls who ended up giving their virginity to some guy they hadn’t known very long because they just “wanted to get it over with” too. I think that’s such a sad way to look at something that is supposed to be “liberating”. Feminism doesn’t like talking about the importance of virginity and the emotional toll it can have on a girl when it’s taken more lightly than it should be. I know many girls today do not want to wait until marriage but I do think they should at least wait until it’s a long-time committed boyfriend. Girls in that situation tend to regret it less than girls who didn’t have as much of a connection with their 1st.

  2. 3. The reason why sex is more emotional for women than men is because of our natural, biological differences. Men don’t have this as much for women, although this can change as they mature. As far as teenage boys, however, it’s almost strictly clinical for them. The cliché of teenage boys claiming they will marry their high school sweethearts so they can get sex is actually a classic example of this. Boys need the “release” (sorry to say) whereas girls don’t. This is why men and women’s approaches to sex are so different. When teenage boys are going through puberty, they really do need sex and they struggle to find some way to handle that. Teenage girls should know this so they understand why their boyfriends are pressuring them for sex so much, or why teenage boys are more likely to cheat on you if you don’t have sex with them etc. [I know in some European countries, fathers take their teenage boys to professionals, where it is legal, to help them with this. I think this should be done in the USA as well because if the boys are going to professionals, they aren’t going to pressure their young female peers as much.]

    4. Feminism also tries to dispel the myth that it doesn’t hurt the 1st time, even though it usually does, especially if the girls don’t have a strong emotional connection to the guy. This goes back to it being more emotional for women and more clinical for men. When females are relaxed and turned on, it hurts a lot less. When they have boyfriends, the boyfriends usually try to make it pleasing for her - if nothing else, so she will keep doing it.

    5. I agree with your friend that a guy shouldn’t force a girl to have sex with him, although I can see why this situation tends to be so common, when guys aren’t given another outlet. You know, before the Sexual Revolution, men weren’t able to pressure girls into having sex with them as much as today because today, there is always a girl out there who wants to “liberated” by taking your place, sexually. Again, I’m not saying that all women should have to wait until marriage but this is why I disagree with pushing sex a la carte as “freedom” or “liberating”. I think it confuses girls and makes them think that they are being a wuss or a prude or whatever other negative thing, because they aren’t keeping up with the sexual activity of their peers – even though deep down they are often not ready.

    For reasons like above, I care far more about virgin-shaming than slut-shaming because I think one is actually harmful and the other is just a nuisance. The virgin gets pressured into being sexually active when she’s not ready, which comes with many consequences; The slut gets a dirty look or someone stops dating her or being her friend. When you lose your virginity, especially in a way that you didn’t really want, it’s normal to have a mourning period and feel like you lost something because you did (that’s why they call it losing your virginity). I am sorry that this is still weighing on you and I hope you know that you haven’t lost yourself, or who you are because of this. I think the fact that you do not try to play the victim card but instead try to learn from this and see the bigger picture, as well as using your experience to help others, shows that you are strong. If you felt like you were vulnerable before, I hope that now you don’t feel that way anymore. The most important thing is not repeating your mistakes. Those who can’t admit their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. You’ve already passed step 1. :)

    Thank you again for having the bravery to share this with others.

    1. Thank you. It was very hard to write this out but I needed to let it go. I definitely agree that there is that cliche to be drawn to a 'bad boy' and when we were together I did think I could 'save him' or help make him better. All the signs that he wasn't good for me were there - he'd been to jail, was a pot smoker, dysfunctional, unstable; you name it. Not to mention he'd treated his ex-girlfriends badly too.

      I think sex is personal to everyone and people should do it as and when they're ready. I'm sorry people shamed you for being a virgin; I've never seen people 'virgin shaming' each other but maybe it's different in the UK. I think British folk are generally more tolerant and don't mind as much. Also I don't know how old you are but perhaps that's just the way it is with my generation. I definitely put the pressure on myself to lose my virginity which in itself is a problem as it shouldn't feel like a 'task.'

      It is true that sex is more emotional for women because of Oxytocin; after sex that hormone is released in women which temporarily makes us feel closer to the guy. (Noted: I had a one night stand months after I broke up with my ex and I felt no connection to him whatsoever, so it can depend on the situation).

      Again it's true that due to biology men are wired up to need the 'release' of sex. I'll give an example of one of my favourite singers: when Beyonce was growing up she had strong conservative christian views and believed in marriage before sex, and the boyfriend she was with for years cheated on her five times. (She has lots of songs about it). Of course it wasn't her fault, but it does show that guys do have that 'need' to just 'let it out' and sex for guys can often just be physical. It's also why men are more likely to cheat than women. (Also begs to question if polygamy is better for humans, but that's a different topic).

      Ultimately no one should be slut-shamed or virgin-shamed, but as you mentioned humans are naturally judgmental. I think developing a sex positive attitude as a society will help a lot; that's what I like about the very controversial Laci Green. I know she's a feminist youtuber and I don't agree with everything she says, but I think what she says about sex and body positivity is spot on and her videos have actually helped me a lot about coming to terms with my sexuality.

    2. Yes, I live in California in the US as well, so I am sort of in a "hot bed" for the kinds of attitudes that would result in virgin shaming. I'm a Millennial, I think my generation was raised on too much sexualized TV with shows about teenagers who were all sexually active. If you look at TV shows about high schoolers just from 10 years ago, there were usually quite a few virgin characters who dealt with sex for the 1st time and getting upset when their BFs were kissing other girls. Today, the TV shows about high schoolers often have no virgins or they have 1 so she can lose it in the 1st season and it deals more with STDs, teen pregnancy, cheating by sex rather than just kissing and a lot more love triangles, etc. I'm sure it's worse in California than the rest of the USA but most people I know in high school took sex for granted, like it was no big deal at all.

      Sex is also more emotional for women psychologically because women are allowing a man to go inside of their bodies, which makes it a much more intimate experience for women than men. There are also short-term effects and there are long-term effects. For example, short-term, a lot of women think they are not phased by casual sex encounters but as they get older, they start to re-think their choices and regret them more when looking back at the arc of their life. That being said, some women really aren't phased at all and their chemicals are a little different than the average woman, as they usually have more testosterone which changes their sex drive and attitude about sex. The women who actually want to be prostitutes - not forced in it or submitted to it after abuse etc - and see it as "easy money" usually fall into that description. This description also matches the original, dictionary definition of "slut".

      I don't know anything about Beyonce's relationship to say if the guy cheating on her was her fault or not so I won't speak much on that particular subject. Yes, men do have a biological need for sex that women do not but that doesn't make all men cheaters. In fact, most men - especially above the age of 35 - don't cheat. A guy is most likely to cheat when he is 15 - 35 years old. Most men don't cheat just to get sex. Of course, there are weak men who are easily seduced and some men who have problems and cannot control themselves but generally speaking, most men are actually driven to cheat. (Whether we agree with their reasons or not, I'm just saying that it's usually not as superficial as portrayed.) They usually cheat because their wife/GF is holding sex against them, not giving them sex either as punishment or because they just don't want to; Or their wife/GF has been emasculating them for a long period of time and opportunity presents itself, usually in the form of a woman who doesn't berate him or make him feel so crappy. I'm not saying all men who cheat have some great excuse or anything like that, I'm just saying there's often more to it than what meets the eye, especially as narrated by mainstream media or feminists.

      As long as feminism is around, we cannot have polygamy because of what they see as the inherent "sexist" nature to it - since polygamy usually results in more women per men rather than more men per women or it being equal. (Again, this goes back to the tradition of sex being a trade for resources since men tended to need sex from women and women needed resources from men.) Personally, I am in favor of polygamy as I think it's unconstitutional for the government to tell consenting adults what they can and cannot do if it is not harming others against their will. If all partners in the marriage give consent, I think it should be their right. (I also tend to think of the children and I'd rather see children in polygamous situations with too many parents than the single parent epidemic we have now where children aren't getting enough parenting. Anyways... haha)

    3. I can't say that no one should be slut-shamed or virgin-shamed because I think people should be entitled to their opinion, especially where choice is concerned. I don't agree with judging people based only on their race or gender or height as those are things they cannot choose. However, if we didn't make judgments everyday, we wouldn't be alive today. The greatest and most underrated concept is balance. Judging is vital so we should balance it to be more substantive and less superficial.


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