Men that Don’t Take “No” for an Answer
Breaking Down Myths about Sexual Abuse and Rape Culture
About two years ago I had a non-consensual sexual experience. As you know, this type of trauma is sadly all too common. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak out about it.
As a woman in my thirties I thought that I knew how to protect myself; I felt empowered and prepared for any situation. I was unfuckwithable.
That is until I was right back in the same position as I was when I was 15 years old saying no and still being sexually assaulted by a man much stronger and larger than me.
I thought that I knew how to use my voice and intellect to evade a compromising situation. I have never blamed victims of sexual assault, especially as a victim of rape previously, I knew intimately how painful and powerless it feels. But I guess I thought that now that I was older and knew my worth, I was more immune from precarious situations and that it was unlikely that I was just going to be attacked by a stranger on the street. I thought I knew how to avoid dangerous situations and I planned how I would fight back next time if something like that ever happened again.
Because of previous trauma I was hypervigilant and I thought that would be my armor.
However when it happened again I was left in a familiar panicky state of paralysis as a man I knew only for a short time managed to manipulate and coerce himself into my bed and wouldn’t take no for an answer. He insisted he had drank too much and lived far and was simply exhausted. He was over 6’5” and the couch was way too small and uncomfortable for him. “Come on, be a good host”… can you hear the eye roll in my voice? Well, he seemed like a reasonable adult and harmless enough. I had also been clear with him- to the point of brazen.
“Okay dude, let’s be clear, you aren’t getting anything from me. Don’t touch me. You can sleep here since you’ve been drinking but stay on your side of the bed or you’re getting kicked out. I’m serious.”
Which is why when I was feebly attempting to push him off of me and yelling at him to stop I was in total shock. I also wasn’t sure how much longer I could keep fighting him. I had a lot of conflicting thoughts run through my head as I negotiated my options. This leads me to bring up some things that aren’t commonly discussed when we talk about sexual assault and rape culture:
-When someone keeps insisting you drink or keeps pushing you to drink through games, guilt, or other manipulation tactics, they are violating your boundaries and putting you in a vulnerable state. This is a huge red flag. Run.
-Many people discuss the fight or flight response but possibly the most common response is to freeze. We naturally do this to internally negotiate our best options and actions.
-When you are being sexually assaulted your body may still feel sexually aroused. That is your body’s physiological response and not something you can control or should feel shame over, that also does not mean you are complicit.
-During an assault you may gaslight yourself and downplay what’s happening as a way of self-protection. This can also bleed over to after the assault; you don’t want to believe you were violated in this way and taking personal responsibility for it can be a way of protecting yourself.
-During an assault you may consider resigning and not putting up a fight anymore as a way to just make it stop or “get it over with.”
-“Playing hard to get” isn’t a thing when it comes to sex. If the other person wants you, they will make it known. We need to stop normalizing that kind of language. No means no. Furthermore, if you are uncertain at any point if someone is wanting to proceed in any kind of sexual experience, ask them!
If you have experienced this, I’m so sorry. It’s not your fault. Make sure you take time to heal from the trauma with trusted loved ones and a professional. Report the abuse to authorities if you can. Do what you need to do to fully heal.
I’ve confronted some of my abusers but it has never led to admonition of guilt on their part or any kind of empathy or accountability. However, that’s not what I was after; I just needed them to know, without a shadow of a doubt, how their actions affected me. I’m sharing this now because I’ve worked through the trauma of the sexual abuse I’ve experienced but it still makes my palms sweat and heart race when I think or talk about it. I feel the familiar fear and powerlessness. I’m not sure that will ever fully go away but hopefully me sharing this can help someone else.
Be safe. Be kind. Listen to each other.