Up to 70% of college students admit to being sexually coerced.
This is her story.
I blog about dealing with owning various truths about myself – the painful ones, the happy ones, the well-lived ones and, in this case, the ones that have remained buried for years.
Many of my truths have been recent discoveries while others I’ve owned for years. But there’s one truth, one single truth that I’ve kept buried for a long time, unwilling to examine it or call it what it was. This long-buried truth was yanked up to the surface by a recent online discussion.
Owning this truth began with another post by someone else, in which the author insinuates that an incident of sexual coercion was merely an accident, a bit of miscommunication between he and his girlfriend.
Some might agree with that.
But, as I read it, all I could think was, “Just because there wasn’t an explicit no doesn’t mean it was consensual.” And then a long-buried memory hit me like a sucker-punch to the gut. Some fifteen years ago, I didn’t explicitly say no, either.
I was a sophomore in college, living in my first apartment. I had a boyfriend, slightly older than me, whom I had met in a history class. In that class, we had to do those awful, awkward introductions everyone hates – you say your name and then offer up a favorite movie or book or quotation. This guy let fly with Marx’s, “Religion is the opiate of the masses,” and my angry, punk-rock eyes lit up.
I was smitten. We started spending a lot of time together. He stayed over at my place frequently. And we drank.
One night, after we had been drinking, he started in with a request that I’d denied on many previous occasions. See, he really, really wanted to have anal sex: “C’mon, just this once. I’ll go really slow. It won’t hurt. C’mon.”
I was beyond hesitant – I didn’t want to do it. I was scared. I was also very, very drunk and absolutely incapable of making good decisions. The pestering continued and I finally caved.
I don’t remember much except pain. And blood. And tears. And humiliation. I remember sitting on the toilet, tears falling, somewhat sobered by the pain and the reality of what I had allowed to happen. Allowed to happen. It was my fault – I didn’t said “no.” I cried but I never said “no.” I told him I didn’t want to…but I never said no.
I didn’t stop him.
I let him do it.
It was my fault.
I took that shame and I buried it nice and deep. I never examined it, never called it what it was. Rape was something different: something forceful and angry and not something that happens with your boyfriend, especially not something that happens if you don’t say no.
But that’s exactly what it was: rape. I didn’t want to do it. I was crying, for fuck’s sake. I was wasted. He did it anyway, despite my hesitance, my prior protestations, and my tears. It wasn’t an “accident” and it had nothing to do with a lack of communication.
It was non-consensual, and non-consensual sex is rape, plain and simple.
Since this memory resurfaced, I sat with it for quite some time. There’s been lots of processing, more blame, and then letting go. I’ve decided to share it now, during Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, because I’m certain that I’m not alone. Sadly, I’m sure it happens every day. A woman doesn’t want to…isn’t comfortable with it…might be drunk, might not…but doesn’t explicitly say no. Her reasons do not matter: what matters is that she didn’t want to and he continued.
Being sexually coerced isn’t equal to giving consent. It’s not your fault. And it wasn’t mine.
An intro: Judgmental people are my pet peeve. The event that precipitated this Letter happened 5 years ago, and as badly as I would like to let the entire world know about these people, I have changed all names to protect the guilty.
Dear Ex Sister-In-Law:
You don’t know me and we’ve never met. I’m Evil Stepmother #3. For the past 10 years, I’ve had the pleasure of knowing your sister and her son, Lucifer. Thank you so much for not only the note you sent acknowledging the flowers we sent for your mother’s funeral, but also the note addressed to Forever Man laying out your concern for our family’s spiritual health.
It was so kind of you to let us know how evil we are. We had no idea! I’ll bet the dictionary has a picture of you next to the definition for “thoughtful.”
We really didn’t mean to ruin your mother’s funeral. My sympathy for your loss was very real, believe it or not. I did meet your mother on several occasions when we picked up or dropped off Lucifer for visitation. She treated Lucifer’s younger half-brother like a blood grandson. I don’t know whether you, as a mother yourself, can begin to imagine what that small act of kindness meant to me.
Having lost my dad and grandmother during the holiday season, I understand more than you might think. But, given your little note, I’m now left wondering how such a kind, caring woman could possibly have raised such assholes for daughters.
You said in your note that you “feel sorry for my children?”
Maybe you should focus more on your own children.
I totally understand your normal, human reaction to need to blame someone for the chaos that surrounded your mother’s visitation. But you know, my normal human reaction is: who the fuck do you think you are telling my family that we need to get right with God?
Who died and made you the Judge of the Entire Fucking Universe? You don’t know the half of what you think you know. If your opinion was even partially based on facts, we might agree on a few areas in need of improvement. But it’s obvious that you are judging from a position of ignorance. Remember that Bible verse about how knowing the truth shall set you free?
Here’s some truth for you: your sister Saint D and Lucifer are assholes.
You don’t owe me anything, and I don’t need your forgiveness. But if you really feel like you need to blame someone or judge intentions, you should blame me, not Forever Man. Why?
Because I exist.
Because I am the latest Evil Stepmother. Because Saint D never expected a sibling to take the focus off of Lucifer. Because I agreed with FM, Saint D and Evil Stepfather #2 (her live-in boyfriend) that it was unacceptable behavior to flunk out of school and live in an online fantasy world. That it was unacceptable behavior to disregard personal hygiene. To be disrespectful. To not apologize when you’re wrong. To not help fix things you broke. To not right wrongs. To lie when it suited your purpose. To be ungrateful for the opportunities and help you’ve received, all freely given even when you didn’t deserve it.
In a nutshell, there must be someone to blame always when something goes awry with the Upbringing of the Crotch Parasite (love you AB!). That someone is always either the ex or the stepparent. Another truth for you: Lucifer is a parasite and so is his mother.
This is, incidentally, an insult to ticks, maggots and tapeworms.
What the hell ever happened to “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?”
Did it never occur to you that there is something inherently unfair about judging someone without first asking for their side of the story?
Yes, life is not fair and the benefit of the doubt does not apply to divorce. If there are children involved, you are doubly screwed, no matter how good your intentions are, how hard you try, or how much you love them. You accused FM of treating Saint D “disgustingly” after the divorce. We should all be so lucky to live in a world where “disgusting” means loving your child so much that you would willing stick yourself with paying all the bills on two houses, alimony, college tuition for two (ultimately useless) degrees, child support (even when it should have been reduced or stopped), extra cash beyond that, legal bills to defend a constant stream of court actions, and personal attacks directed at FM’s employers and siblings.
You’d be quick to condemn anyone else who used their child for money and sympathy.
To be honest, I’m tired of hearing the stories. It’s not a fucking competition to see who had it worst.
If only my ex had treated me so badly!
When Preacher B divorced me, I was supposed to feel privileged that I was “allowed” my freedom. I got no child support, even though Preacher was the only father Number One Son had ever known. There was no settlement or alimony. I got no share of all the property gained – cars, land, home, camping trailers, royalties – because I willingly worked my ass off as a helpmeet, while being spiritually and sexually abused in the special hell known as fundamentalist Christian patriarchy.
I was shunned by my church family.
I got nothing because I believed in educating my God-given brain. That divorce was the best Christmas present I ever received, even though it meant starting from nothing (for a second time) as a single parent. I tried to fit into, to trust new church families – Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, unaffiliated, you name it . When I was brave enough to tell my story, I can’t count the number of fine moral upstanding Christian eyes which glazed over and I became invisible again.
They have to answer for it, not me. I am not ashamed of being a survivor. I kicked stigma in the crotch.
Me! Fuck you.
All these years, FM has held his tongue, because it wasn’t anyone else’s business. Problem is, Saint D has been sharing her opinion loudly, indiscriminately and constantly for the twenty-five-plus years since the divorce. We’ve all heard her side of it.
But consider this: we have a big-ass storage bin full of court papers and check registers – it weighs about 75 pounds – to prove that the story Saint D has been feeding you all these years is a veritable cornucopia of bullshit. All for sympathy. If it weren’t for Saint D’s lawyer getting his license revoked for soliciting a prostitute, we’d probably still be tied up in a court action for something.
Forever Man is also a survivor.
I think Saint D and Lucifer have had a pretty privileged existence. Saint D’s repeated financial and emotional vengeance for the privilege of being divorced from her, even now twenty. five. fucking. years. later, is what is disgusting here. Saint D has elevated martyrdom to both a science and an art form, and passed it along to Lucifer, who has internalized the constant stream of complaints, lies, and dad-bashing since he was a toddler. This is what you’re calling values?
Rational people would call it child abuse. It is a travesty of justice that the family court consistently sided with her simply because she bears a c-section scar. Unfortunately for FM, having possession of a big-ass Bin-O-Facts does not mean justice. Joint custody and the privilege of being bankrupted maybe, but not justice.
So, let’s change gears and talk about what happened on visitation day, shall we? For the record, FM made travel arrangements with Lucifer two days before the visitation. Given the weather forecast (winter storm watch), we offered to bring Lucifer with us, mostly because we thought it would be helpful to Saint D. Because, you know, compassion. When someone dies, that’s what you’re supposed to do. We thought of her, even with the hell we’ve been through with her. Offering to help someone who’s brought FM nothing but misery for nearly forty years, since he was 18 years old?
Yeah, FM and I are the dictionary definition of assholes.
Just so we’re clear here: the ensuing crisis wasn’t because FM made any rash, selfish, last-minute decisions. Lucifer was the one with anger issues; he couldn’t handle the thought of two specific riders occupying space in the same car with him and FM. The crisis was caused because Lucifer has the social and reasoning skills of a two year old parasite. Oops, I forgot. It’s my fault because I should have known how inappropriate it was for me and Little Brother to offer FM moral support, since it was also his loss. Lucifer’s full transformation into Satan couldn’t have happened at a better time.
Last we knew, Satan had a car and a job. He could have driven himself, if he’d wanted to. Surely you could come up with a better excuse than we ruined the funeral because Satan’s mother had to drive over and pick him up!
Here’s another truth for you: Satan is an equal-opportunity hater; he hates all of you, just like he hates us. He was looking for an excuse not to attend, but one that wouldn’t look like he was deliberately trying to avoid seeing his family. You’d have thought he would have covered his ass better. I mean, come on now, most rational adult humans would have the presence of mind to reschedule a doctor appointment on the day of a close relative’s funeral. Especially since it took four days to make funeral arrangements.
It sure was awfully convenient to manufacture a crisis, blame the whole mess on FM and get out of attending a funeral. Unfortunately for Satan’s sake, we got the EOB for the doctor’s visit a few weeks later. Yes, Satan’s still on our insurance, which is by the way, just another of those nice things we do for him even though he wishes we were all dead.
We’re going to hell for sure.
When I emailed Saint D to let her know that we wouldn’t be able to come, she said that Satan had been expecting time alone with his dad.
See, another truth you need to know is that Satan has not once, in the twenty. five. fucking. years. since the divorce, asked his dad for “alone time.” “Alone time” is Saint D’s code for marginalizing Evil Stepmothers. Satan has our phone number and emails. He could get “alone time” anytime. We haven’t heard a word from Satan since that cold, snowy December day five years ago.
Yeah, we’re awful, valueless, evil personified. We’ve invited Satan over every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, anytime just because, since he moved out of our house ten years ago. Well, not for the last three years because we moved to another state and since he doesn’t speak to us, we didn’t tell him we were moving. When FM handed him the check containing his college fund and helped him move into the dorms at Big State University nine years ago, Satan’s last words to him were, “Well, be sure to let me know when this one ends in divorce, like all the others.”
As long as there was money flowing from the First Bank of Dad no questions asked, everything was fine. Until there were questions, like why he flunked out of BSU, which required thousands of dollars more to settle the final bill, which resulted in Satan’s faking a crisis to get everyone off his case. I know. See, awful nasty jerk that I am, I sat there in the ER waiting room, trying to keep everyone calm. I provided the insurance information. I made sure his prescriptions were filled. I brought clothes and other stuff to the mental ward for him. I offered to let Satan come back to our home until his apartment was ready, because he didn’t have anywhere else to go.
He didn’t seem to have a problem choosing a comfy warm bed and home-cooked meals over sleeping under a bridge. I figured out before the doctors did that it was a giant snow job. But I let it go. Yeah, more reason to hate me, since I’m a terrible, evil, valueless person for caring. He didn’t say “thank you” when he left.
He didn’t say “good bye” to his little brother. Fucking parasite.
You spoke of values. Little Brother certainly learned some important lessons about values, courtesy of your family, for which we cannot thank you enough. Like being born is the only qualification necessary for hating someone. How do you explain that to an eight-year-old child? That compassion, honesty, forgiveness and reconciliation are not in every family’s vocabulary. That families define “family” differently; no one considered it inappropriate for Saint D’s boyfriend to attend the visitation. That it’s acceptable to talk out of both sides of your mouth if it suits your purpose. Which is it: “inappropriate” or “alone time”? I would suggest neither, but who am I to judge if being petty, vindictive and immature makes someone feel better? We heard over and over, “it’s not fair!”
Little Brother understands the concept of fairness, you know. You made him cry. You people are despicable.
I’ve been calling bullshit on Satan for the 14 years I’ve known him, but telling a parent he has to choose between his children? Him or me? A child is not a paint color, a new car or a bag of potatoes. This was cruel, monstrous, despicable, evil beyond reason. I would say I hope Saint D and Satan both burn in hell, but I’m not sure I believe in hell anymore. Why do we need “Hell” when we have family? It seems to accomplish the same purpose.
So, in closing and just in case I wasn’t clear, it’s a really good thing that I’m not God, because if judgment and justice were left up to me, the Plagues of Egypt, the Crucifixion, the Inquisition, would be too lenient for your whole fucking family. You say you “don’t pretend to know [our] beliefs.” Then please do yourself a favor and save the lecture about getting “right with your Maker” because you might end up next to me in the hellhole you mentioned in your note and that would be even worse karma than occupying it with FM.
Until then, I wish you a lovely bouquet of Mushroom Prints. Asshole.
The Evil Stepmother #3
Three years ago, my husband attempted to rape me. I didn’t really think of it that way at the time. I did shove him off me with a hand to his throat, and he was extremely angry. A few months later, he completed the rape.
He’s always been terrible with boundaries and when I would say no to sex, he would keep trying until I gave in. I didn’t like it, but didn’t recognize it as anything more than annoying.
It was a red flag I guess, but didn’t seem like “real abuse” because I wasn’t being harmed.
After he raped me, I slowly spiraled downward.
We did marriage counseling. I did individual counseling. Still, I wound up checking myself into a psych hospital with severe post-traumatic-stress-syndrome, anxiety, and depression.
We have managed to stay together, but, as you’d expect, It hasn’t been easy.
He still struggles with boundaries, which are obviously so important to our relationship. Unfortunately, he will touch me sexually even after I’ve explicitly said that I don’t want to be touched that way (when my anxiety is at a high I do not want to be touched at all; much less sexually).
He’s started having sex with me in his sleep despite me saying no – when he’s aware of what’s going on he stops, thankfully. When he is very much in the mood, he won’t come to bed with me because he’s afraid he can’t control himself. I suppose I should just be grateful that he stays away but I don’t like hearing him say he can’t control himself. It freaks me out.
He has been (for the most part) patient and understands why I’m like this now. He’d do absolutely anything to make me happy.
I feel guilty because a large part of me hates him. He has told me that he doesn’t think about the rape unless I’m struggling, which is devastating to me. Something that changed me at my core so much. Traumatized me. Destroyed trust, my ability to enjoy intimacy, gave me massive, crippling anxiety and he…?
He doesn’t even think about.
We are in marriage counseling again; but we haven’t yet told the counselor what happened.
We’ve only had two sessions so far, and I haven’t been ready to discuss the rape.
The counselor is giving us all these tools to work on things and I just…I don’t know. I don’t know how to make it work.
I can’t afford to care for my kids alone. I’m a stay-at-home mom, no good work experience, no family to help me out. I MUST make this work.
And my husband really does try to make me happy and I feel so guilty that he can’t.
I will never be the same again.
Part of me wishes to just end it all and escape the constant anxiety and feeling like I will never get better. Don’t worry; I would never do that to my children.
I’m just struggling with so many feelings of anger, sadness, depression, stress, and frustration.
My husband used to be my best friend. We get along pretty well now, but I just can’t see him romantically again.
Can we make this work?