A few months ago I had a sexual encounter that I didn’t exactly consent to. At the beginning, I consented to the blindfold and restraints.
I did not consent to the gag. I did not and could not consent to anything that followed.
I think of myself as being a strong and independent person. I chose to place my trust in somebody that I didn’t know very well because I thought we’d communicated clearly in advance about what I did and did not want – and I thought he would respect my wishes.
I was wrong.
The gag was placed in my mouth similarly to the way you’d put a bit in the mouth of a horse who was stubborn about such things. We were kissing and then he surprised me with it. I pulled my head away immediately but by the time I really figured out what was going on, he’d fastened the thing around the back of my head and I could no longer communicate. At that moment I thought, “But we didn’t come up with a nonverbal safe word. I thought you were supposed to do that.” But I didn’t fight it any further.
The big problem came when he tried to put something around my throat. I managed to get out a “No” around the gag. This was something I had explicitly said, in advance, that I did not want. He said, “Relax, it’s not like I’m going to make it tight.” Again, I could have put up a fight. Instead I stood there, shaking, while he fastened some sort of collar around my neck. Later on he attached something to it that made it pull tight against my throat and cut off my air supply unless I stood in a very specific and uncomfortable position.
I concentrated on doing and being what he wanted so it would be over quickly. Time lost all meaning. I was hyperventilating and crying for a while – but I didn’t know it until he said something.
If I’m honest, he probably doesn’t have any clue that I hated every moment of that encounter. That I felt weak, and ashamed of myself for putting myself into that position. He probably thinks that was the end of things between us because I just wasn’t cut out for that lifestyle.
But the truth of the matter is that the moment I said “No” and he didn’t listen – that, in fact, he condescended to me like there was something wrong with me for protesting what he was doing – made me so scared that I couldn’t bring myself to fight what was happening to me. Instead, I participated. I participated and played along with his fantasy because I was worried about what might happen to me if I said “No” again. At least this way nothing left a permanent mark or injury. At least this way I knew I’d make it out of there alive and in one piece. At least this way I didn’t cause him to escalate.
I keep telling myself these things over and over again – that I was protecting myself, trying to keep it from getting worse. But the fact is that I have no idea what would have happened if I’d continued to protest. He might have stopped.
I wish I could say this is the first time I had sex that I didn’t really want to have. How many of us have gone through with it because he crashes through every road block you set along the way? It gets to the point where it’s easier to continue than to say no, and say no again, and have to justify yourself to the man you’re with because he doesn’t accept the simple statement? And then continue to hold firm against the wheedling and the complaints. This is what they mean when they say #rapeculture.
I don’t normally talk about stuff like this. I don’t normally share my blog posts on facebook. I wouldn’t do it now if I didn’t think it were important. I don’t want your pity – I want you to talk to your daughters and your sons and your friends. And maybe I want you to forgive me because I can’t forgive myself.