Thinking I was wrong to consider this rape.(10 Posts)
I am desperate for a space to talk this through and I literally don't know where else to go, I have no one to talk to in real life.
Many years ago, when I was twenty, I lost my virginity to an older man and it was the start of an unpleasant involvement with him. After many years I started to see what he did as abusive and that first night as rape. This was a long, long journey towards naming, five years in therapy and a complete break down later! My thinking went like this:
In the run up to the night in question he isolated me from all my friends. Made up stories that they were calling me names etc. By the time it happened I was talking to no one but him in our group.
He made jokes about creeping outside my room (we were in a shared house on a college trip at the time).
These two things made it feel a bit more calculated than a simple misunderstanding.
I was a virgin and at this point in my lifeI planned on waiting until I was married. He knew this.
The actual incident is a bit more tricky. I had been drinking. He called me to his room and I went, I kissed him willingly. I let him take my underware off although my dress stayed on. He lay me on the bed at which point I started to feel out of my depth but said nothing. He asked me if it was what I wanted and I just couldn't speak which sounds stupid but that's how it was. I remember thinking he might fall out with me or that it would be awkward in the morning and wondering how I would get out of the situation without it being too embarrassing. He then said 'If you keep going I'll make love to you'. He kissed me again and when he stopped I said the only thing I said all night which was 'Bloody hell' and I brought my hand to my face and covered my eyes for a moment at which point it was too late, he was inside me and that was that. He asked me questions during but I couldn't answer them. Eventually he stopped, picked me up, I fell against the door, he said oh for fuck sake and booted me out. I locked myself in the loo and sobbed, woke early showered and didn't mention it to anyone.
I went back to him a few days later. I suppose I felt that if it became a relationship then that night wouldn't matter so much. It just became a bigger mess with lots of unpleasant sex that was often painful or coercive. Eventually I had to drop out of my course and move away.
Afterwards he only spoke about that night once. He said that he had asked me if it was what I wanted and I had clearly said 'Yes' to him. I knew it was a lie and argues that I had said nothing but he said that was just as bad and then he denied the night took place at all.
For some reason at the moment it's all unravelling and I am thinking I have framed it all wrong and that really he did have reasonable belief in consent and that I shouldn't have been so bloody passive etc etc. And if that is true then I don't really know how to process it anymore.
I posted it here because after years of therapy the only thing that ever really helped was looking at it through a feminist lens.
I will stop, this is too long already.
I am talking to myself now sorry. But my head is bursting.
I am trying to figure out why it even matters. Why does it feel like such a sticking point. I can only think because it was the foundation of my recovery. It helped me make sense of the nightmares, flashbacks, depression, anxiety, difficulties with intimacy. It also helped me to understand why I continued in the relationship, why I allowed him to keep hurting me. And of course it helped me to feel that it wasn't my fault.
Plot, you poor thing. I read your posts yesterday and they touched me, but I guess I thought someone wiser would come along. I think it is very clear from what you say that you were in an abusive relationship. I also think it's clear you didn't give consent willingly - that sounds a lot like rape to me. I completely understand what you say about continuing the relationship to try to 'normalise' what had happened to you.
Whether his actions might pass some test of reasonableness - I have no idea. But I think that you are right to frame the events that night as rape because you were not willing. To think he was reasonable would mean setting the bar of consent far below what I think is right. I don't see that what happened to you could be your fault.
I hope you are able to continue your recovery. Take care of yourself.
Thank you for taking the time to reply, I didn't think anyone was going to. Thank you also for your kind words. It's one of these things that keeps rearing its ugly head, the doubts about what happened. I don't know why it's come up lately, it's a really wretched place to be, constantly questioning myself like this.
I think you are right to consider it rape. I think his questioning you and saying he was going to make love to you (some fucking love mate) was a way of passing the blame to you. He knew you were generally unwilling and he didn't wait for you to say yes.
I think you'd have had to say a very firm yes as a younger woman, a virgin and someone who had previously stated no was your stance at this time.
He intimidated you into it and took frozen silence as consent.
I'm glad you have started on the path to recovering from this emotionally and physically abusive man. Are you getting any professional help (Rape Crisis etc)?
Just thinking aloud here, in the hope that it may help, but it might be an idea to consider what you'd class as consent. I'd guess that to him it means she didn't say no, and you seem to be thinking along the same lines. The thing is, absence of no is NOT the same as yes. There are wiser and more articulate people around who I'm sure could put this better from the feminist angle, but I'll try.
You have two states, consenting and nonconsenting. Your base state, as you're walking down a street, standing in a pub, going about your life, your base state is nonconsenting. You indicate that you have switched to a consenting state by saying yes.
You seem to be looking at it the opposite way round, as so many people do, because society tells us it's true. That women's base state is consenting to sex, and it is their duty to verbally state if consent is withdrawn.
Consent is something that is absent until you choose to grant it, not something assumed until you retract it. I hope that helps.
Hi Plot, so sorry this happened to you. I don't really have any wise words but I can understand why you find yourself thinking about the situation. As a first experience of sex it sounds awful, whether consensual or not and that must be hard to come to terms with. It sounds like you are well rid of this man and from your description he was certainly controlling and emotionally abusive towards you.
Have you considered counselling? Talking it through and trying to understand your own feelings might help you to develop some coping strategies for those times when the memories surface.
Don't let this man ruin your life - you're better than him.
Tripecity it is a good question that I do not have an answer to. I have been pretty good at burying it for long periods, every now and then it gets out of the vault and it is still very strong when it does. I suspect it comes up in part because of the questions that I have around it. Or perhaps it is something in me as I think most other people would have moved on by now.
The idea of States of consent is very helpful, thank you. You are right, I was thinking about it the other way around.
Plot - I don't think you need to ask yourself why you're going over this incident. It's something you have to learn to deal with and it takes as long as long as it takes to figure it out or make it better, or stop hurting.
I was brain washed and manipulated by my science teacher to have a "consensual" sexual relationship. I was technically no longer his student, but he groomed me for a few years whilst I was his student. When I left school, we had a 7 month affair where I "consented" to sex with him.
Years later (nearly 12!) I have finally found out that whilst I was "consenting" technically, he was in a position of power which immediately makes the sex non-consensual. I felt that I had to have sex with him because he was my teacher (even though I had left the school shortly after my GCSEs).
This man sounded like he manipulated and brain washed you and I agree with the other posters who talk about consenting and non-consenting. If a man has a position of power over you, just because you don't say no doesn't make it consensual.
And take as long as you need to "get over" it. I don't think I'll ever be "over" what happened to me, but I have learnt to deal with it and I do still get upset about it sometimes, but that's what friends, partners and wine are for
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