The following content may be triggering to those affected by assault.
The fact that I had been raped took months to sink in. As ignorant and naive as it may sound, I never thought a significant other could sexually assault me. My definition of rape back then was that it had to be outwardly violent, and that it happened between a stranger and their victim. My assault was passive-aggressive, it was manipulative, and believe it or not, it was soft.
I remember saying no both times. He was only aggressive the second time around, but it was something I was used to — so it never alarmed me. I found temporary comfort in the thought that we had been consensually rough in the bedroom before, so that moment wasn’t any different.
What confused me the most is how he would ask and beg, but he’d still do whatever he wanted halfway through my responses.
I loved him and I didn’t have the strength to stop him. Deep down, I knew it was wrong but I perceived him like a beam of light. He had my mom’s phone number, he watched movies with my brother, he went out with me and my friends, he even told me he loved me. So there was no way he had the heart to hurt me like that, right?
I buried both of those experiences in the back of my head for what felt like forever. I was too ashamed to bring it up to him, and even when I found the courage to leave him, too much time had passed. I felt as if there was no point in me confronting him. Not only because it felt like I was re-opening an old wound, but also because I had naturally fallen out of love. I began to build sexual relationships outside of the one I once had with him, so the last thing I wanted to do was think about it.
Little by little, I began to realize what he had done to me.
Soon after cutting things off with him, I went home with someone I had known for two days. I remember teasing him for asking for my permission to do the smallest of things. From holding my hand to kissing me. I found it sickly sweet, but deep down it comforted me. For the entirety of our night, he’d ask for reassurance on everything he wanted to do, followed by a whisper, “Just let me know if you want to stop.” I loved it, but I couldn’t help but feel saddened at how someone I had dated for nearly two years couldn’t compare to someone I had known for barely two days.
Even though my assault did not necessarily affect my sex life, it wrecked me in other areas. I have been working on my commitment issues that are tied to long-term emotional trauma in therapy for almost a year now. I’m proud to say that I’ve made a tremendous amount of progress, but I definitely haven’t seen the “other side.”
My confidence and self-worth fluctuate at a comical rate. There are days where I am filled with guilt and I bombard myself with questions like how could you let this happen to you? I know now that I am not at fault for what I went through, but some days it’s just harder to remember that than others.
When I say my relationship was tainted by two unfortunate events, I don’t ask for pity. It’s simply a fact. I’ve had the hardest time coming clean about this particular issue, mostly because it’s not a pill that’s easy to swallow. To be quite honest, I believe I’ve only told three or four people, one of them being my therapist. I’m a lot stronger and healthier than I was two years ago, but most importantly, I’m educated.
Any sort of unwanted sexual act that violates consent is considered assault.
It doesn’t matter if the culprit is a stranger, a friend, a family member, or even your partner. Like I mentioned before, I loved my ex-boyfriend with every fiber of my being.
Despite no longer being together, I’m still carrying an array of moments we shared — both positive and negative. If someone mentions something that reminds me of a date we went on or an inside joke we had, I’m not afraid to mention him in conversation. It’s hard for me to hate him, but I am also not too keen on his memory.
Would I like to speak to him again? I don’t think so. Part of me feels like we’ve grown too far apart, but aside from that, I’m slowly finding closure within myself, and I am perfectly fine with that.
If you feel as though your boundaries have been crossed, call the RAINN Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.For more information on what consent looks and feels like, click here.