Trigger Warning: This article contains graphic detail of sexual assault, please be aware of this before reading the article.
99 percent of women – and I am one of them.
The first time I was sexually assaulted I was sixteen. I had no idea what consent really meant – he was my boyfriend, and I didn’t think someone that I was in a relationship with could rape me.
We had fooled around with things that were not penetrative sex, and I had only ever had sex with one other person before him. That person made me feel safe and loved, so immediately when I was pressured to take my clothes off, I knew something was different.
Growing up, I was never taught about consent; not in my home and not in school – I didn’t even have sex ed. When I envisioned rape at sixteen years old, I thought of it as a stranger pulling me by my hair from the street and assaulting me in some dark alley. I imagined screaming for help, trying to fight them off, and being lucky to come out of it alive.
The first time I was raped, my assaulter begged me to have sex with him despite the fact that I kept saying no.
I just wanted to make out with my boyfriend, when did kisses start turning into sex?
He pressured me for nearly an hour, until I finally gave in because I thought he would break up with me – I thought I had no other choice. When I told him it was painful, he said to keep going, but I didn’t want to.
I thought it was just a bad sexual experience, but he took advantage of me. If you beg someone to have sex with you for an hour after they’ve told you no over and over, and they finally give in because they think they have no other choice, that’s sexual assualt.
It took me years to figure out that this was assault, and by the time I realized it, it happened again by another guy.
When I was nineteen, yet again, I found myself kissing my boyfriend at the time. We were at a party — he had just shown up, but I had been drinking for the past few hours. I could hardly walk on my own, so he held my hand to guide me down the hill to show me his new car.
Yet again, once he kissed me from the driver’s seat, he insisted that I climb on top of him. I told him no, I told him I wasn’t ready. I told him I didn’t want to have sex with him for the first time in a car.
Once again, I gave in after over an hour, and this occurrence was notably more manipulative than the first.
He was wearing a condom, and when I told him it hurt and I wanted to stop – he pulled the condom off and kept going. I tried to push him off of me and told him to stop, but he was cornering me in the car.
He said, “hold on, I’m almost done.”
When we got out of the car, he asked me if what happened was consensual. I hesitated, but decided to say “yes,” because I knew if I said no, he’d go back into that party and tell all of his friends that I called him a rapist.
Well, he raped me.
Boyfriends can rape you. If you say: “stop, no, get off” or are trying to legitimately escape the sexual experience, then it is not consensual.
I had alcohol in my system, and his sober mindset knew his intentions before he walked me down the hill. If either individual is under the influence of anything – not just alcohol – consent cannot exist.
I knew in the back of my brain that it was assault, yet I wouldn’t admit it to myself for an entire year. At the time, I still thought I loved him because he was my boyfriend – and how could someone I love hurt me?
That is the biggest part about sexual assault that I misunderstood when I was younger, before I realized I was raped. I thought the physical pain would be the worst part.
The third time I was sexually assaulted, my trust was ripped from my chest. A man from Tinder came over to my place after we had talked for a while. We fooled around — consensually — and I ended up going down on him. I told him that I was not okay with him ejaculating into my mouth.
He held my head down and did it anyway.
I was shocked, I started choking and gagging into my trash can. I was disgusted that anyone would do that to me, and it was completely unexpected. I asked him why he did it.
He said, “Well, I wouldn’t have finished if I hadn’t.”
I felt pangs of guilt after each of these encounters. Feeling safe during sex took a long time after each incident, and it seemed like as soon as I found an ounce of security, it was taken from me once again.
However, after a long journey of soul-searching and reflecting, I realized that the only way for me to relieve the pressure of these secrets was to start talking about it.
I am a huge advocate for therapy. Not just for someone who has been through trauma, but for literally anyone at all. I’m a firm believer that any person can benefit from therapy, as long as they find a therapist that clicks well with them. That’s the tricky part, because I went through nearly ten therapists before I found one that I’ve happily stuck with for the past year.
I confided in a few close friends, some with stories of their own. I read other articles here on Her Campus, and found that sense of security again – and this time, it could not be stripped from me.
Accepting that I was sexually assaulted took years — I didn’t want to admit it to myself. I didn’t want to admit that I allowed someone that I was in a relationship with to take advantage of me. I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I still thought I loved them after. I was embarrassed by my own naivety.
Accepting that I was sexually assaulted meant that I stopped blaming myself.
I am allowed to feel hurt by the memories of it from time to time, but I am not allowed to criticize myself for someone else’s actions. The world does enough victim-blaming for me – which is never acceptable, by the way.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted and are in need of help, there are resources available to you.
RAINN is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, and their goal is to spread awareness of sexual assault and aid in the prevention of it. They offer a 24/7/365 hotline, a live chat, and many other informational resources on their website. They share survival stories on their platform, offer informative links on state-by-state laws, and provide updated statistics.
RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-(800)-656-HOPE (4673)
Here is a link to their webpage: https://www.rainn.org/
Remember your strength, always, and that you are never alone. There is a community ready to support you when you’re ready for us.