Trigger warning: Sexual assault
I never thought it would happen to me. I was always cautious. I followed the rules. But when I fell in love, things changed. I started rethinking my beliefs and values instead of rethinking my relationship. I was sure he loved me. I was sure I loved him. He was my first serious relationship. All I wanted was to be a good girlfriend and for him to be happy. But I had no idea of what was expected in a normal relationship. I had no basis for comparison.
It sounds crazy and lame, but at 15, I wasn't ready for my first kiss. Most people think kissing isn't a big deal, but to me, it was. When I realized my boyfriend at the time wanted to, I realized I was scared. I confided in my mom, and she said I should just tell him, so I did. He seemed okay with it, but he didn't want to wait forever. I quickly decided I was being silly and gave in, but it felt like as soon as he got his first kiss, he wanted to make out. As soon as we made out, he wanted to touch me, and for me to touch him. He kept pressuring me until finally I gave in and touched him a few weeks later, but I still wasn't comfortable with him touching me. About a month after our first kiss, he got tired of waiting and sexually assaulted me. I tried to get away from him, but he had his arm around me and was holding me to him. He let me go when he was done "fingering" me. I was so mad and upset, and he acted like he didn't understand why. I was practically raised in the capital of the Bible Belt, a small town in southern Tennessee. I never planned on having sex—or doing anything beyond kissing—before getting married. I wanted to earn my white wedding gown, and he knew it; he even agreed with me in the beginning.
When he assaulted me, I saw a side of him that I didn't know existed. He had never forced himself on me physically and never really seemed all that aggressive before. He had seemed nice for the most part. I had been wary that he was in it for some kind of joke or bet because he was a year ahead of me, and I think I was partially right, but his seemingly genuine interest in me made me trust him and so I didn't know what to think after the assault. After that, I tried to give in quicker. In retrospect, I think I subconsciously realized if I told him “no” too many times, he would take what he wanted, regardless of what I wanted. I thought if I gave in at least I wouldn't have to deal with being physically forced and what that would mean about how I viewed the relationship. But again, I didn't move quite fast enough. He didn't understand baby steps.
When I finally performed oral sex maybe a month after the assault, I didn't want to actually make him finish and when I tried to stop, he made me keep going until he had. That was the first time he really raped me—the first time that I feel I was raped by my own definition. My personal view on rape is either being forced or incapable of saying no to anything that can give you an STI, which is less inclusive than Tennessee’s (my state's) law. However, I've recently done some research and found out that most states actually count oral sex as rape. When he finished, I never felt so violated or so disgusted. However, at the time, I didn't think of it as rape. I was uneducated in the topic. I thought there was only one form of sex, so only one form of rape.
By the time sex was actually mentioned, I had lost all capability of telling him “no”. We hadn't been dating even five months before he made it to home base. I'm actually surprised I lasted that long, or at least shocked he didn't physically force it before then. Throughout all of it, EVERY TIME I told him “no”, he gave me a look like nothing could hurt him more than my telling him “no”. Every time he gave me that look, it was like I was failing him somehow. I never considered breaking up with him. Nobody knew what was happening, and frankly, I didn't want anyone to know. Everybody thought I could do better, but he was my first love. I felt so strongly that even after everything he did, I still loved him months after we finally broke up. He knew he was playing me. He knew how to make me comply. The sick part is, I would kind of joke about how if he really wanted sex, he would have to rape me. I was thinking along the lines of physically pinning me down and physically forcing me. I had no idea that all of that time, he was. He was emotionally pinning me down and psychologically forcing me. He stole my virginity by intimidation, manipulation, force, and fear. He wanted rape, just in a way that was harder to prosecute, a way that was less believable.