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Just Say “No”

The word rolled off my tongue and entered the heavy air in slow motion, “no.”

He was unbuttoning my shirt, and I put my hands up in resistance. He ignored them, pushing them away. There was a wickedly evil smile painted across his face, and he mumbled something under his breath.

I said it again, “No, please.”

He was determined; he shed my protective layer, and I felt even more uneasy. My hands were on his chest, pushing. I moved my legs so they would spill over the side of the couch. I was ready to get up, ready to leave, to pick up my clothes and turn my back on him. He grabbed at my thigh and placed his hand over my pelvis. A bolt of lightning ran through my body from the tip of my toes to the top of my skull. God, it hurt so damn bad.

No. Please no. No.

I squirmed, and he took that as a silent “yes.”

I shook my head, and I felt my mouth open. The words were foreign; they tasted bitter. I tried to spit them out. I had never begged in my life. Especially for something like the right to my own body.

My heart rate increased, and I felt like my lungs couldn’t get enough air. He forced me to touch him, stroke him, pleasure him.

There were tears running down my face as he stuck his hand down my pants.

“No,” I choked out.

He told me to shut up, and my chest constricted. I was trapped underneath his body. His thigh buried in my hip, hands working all over me, violating me as I hoped he’d stop.

After a while, I gave up. I stopped pushing away, stopped kicking, stopped fighting back. I only pleaded quietly, asking until my voice went hoarse. My body limp and that was the first time I truly felt like a corpse. In shock, my functioning ceased altogether.

“Please, stop.”

He told me to be quiet once again; he slapped me, and I went red hot. My cheek burned. He yanked my leggings down; I heard the seams ripping and straining.

He set his face between my legs. His breath made me gasp, and he thought that was a good sign. I was shaking my head vigorously, convulsing. Broken sobs fell past my lips. Stop. Please stop. No.

He didn’t notice. Or he ignored it.

My body was trembling like an earthquake, and I was crying, pushing my fingers through his hair; I shoved his head away from me.

He was getting angry; I could see it in his face.

He grabbed my wrists, gripped them as if I was being taken into custody. In a way, I guess I was. Taken prisoner in my own body. I could feel the scream bubble up in my chest and throat, but no matter what I did, it wouldn’t come out.

He grinned, and I still despise that smile to this day. Going back to work, his tongue performed sins I couldn’t even think to voice.

“No,” I said. “Stop, please.”

I felt helpless and hopeless. I was stripped down, both literally and figuratively, and I was humiliated. I lost all respect for him.

I felt something pierce through my skin, into my veins. It traveled through my blood and made a home in my heart, rooting itself there. It spread into my muscles and tissues. It crawled into my bones and infected the marrow.

I was hollowed out, emptied. Stripped down until I was nothing but pieces of myself, just so he could put me back together how he wanted.

That was the first time. But it certainly wasn’t the last.

Dragon Slaying 101

As a child of a covert narcissist, who spent every day breaking down any self-esteem I might accidentally grow, I was a prime target for my malignant narcissist of an ex-husband.

Keep in mind that there never has been and never will be an actual diagnosis for either my mother or my ex. Both fought like hell against any hint of therapy because there was nothing wrong with them, everything was my fault.

There are many stories, some I have already told, and this one, which I never thought would see the light of day.

Marital rape.

I don’t even want to think about it, never mind discuss it with anyone. But people need to know that it exists, that it happens, and that it’s not OK.

I married my “high school sweetheart” AKA, a predator who targeted someone vulnerable 3 years his junior. Now, the age difference wouldn’t matter if we had been grown, mature adults. As a matter of fact, my current wonderful husband is 7 years older than me. But then, my ex was my first real boyfriend, and as I said earlier, I was raised in a dysfunctional family in which the normal was not normal.

I was taught to serve, to ignore my own needs in favour of other’s wants. I learned that I didn’t matter. I had no choices, no opinions of my own. I was a mirror.

And that continued throughout my marriage. I was perfectly broken and ready to be used.

From the beginning, he taught me that it was my fault if he was in pain. Physical, mental, financial, it was all my responsibility.

That continued into the bedroom.

Sex was not a loving act between two cherished partners, it was a power play. If he had a need, I was to fulfill it. If he had a desire, I was to play the part. Women were his enemies and only to be used. His porn addiction was out of control, and this was before the internet, so our bedroom was filled with falling down piles of the most degrading magazines he could get his hands on. I was only the receptacle, not the object of desire. I was too fat, too ugly and nothing about me was good enough.

He groomed me to be meek and accepting that he was the only one in the world who would ever put up with me and I needed to be grateful that I had him, because otherwise I would die alone. I was only acceptable as long as I did what I was told.

I was expected to be “ready and willing” at any time, any place, because you see, blue balls are fatal.

I bet you didn’t know that.

My sex education was brief at best, back in 1980ish and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t covered. As the years dragged on, I was barely even worth being a receptacle.

The worst part was when he…couldn’t.

That would bring the rage. That was when the worst times happened. If he couldn’t do it himself, he used whatever was at hand, including a police issued nightstick. He bought this illegally, as normal citizens aren’t allowed to have these in my country. This added to the thrill, I guess.

What it has done to me over the years has led to a deep fear of police. It’s not a straight line, there are many other stories involved, but that’s a biggie.

As a boring, law abiding middle-aged white woman, I actually have very few encounters with police officers. (Yeah, white privilege at work, sigh).

In the past few years, my PTSD has made me absolutely terrified of even the briefest encounter. Why it waited 20 years to fuck with my head like this, I have no idea, but my therapist does. I’ve been working on my fragile mental health for about 10 years now, one thing at a time, and she tells me that my brain will withhold things that I am not prepared to deal with yet. As I have gotten other things somewhat under control, my suicidal thoughts, my OCD, my anxiety, and depression have a little less hold on me. And then, slowly, over a few years, I found myself avoiding anyone in a uniform that might remind me. Whether a soldier, a police officer, or even a security guard if he has a nightstick or a gun, I will freeze and go into a panic attack.

This is interfering with my life dammit!

I am so angry at my stupid brain. I am absolutely terrified of getting stopped by the police, even for something benign.

What would I do?

My big fear is that I will bolt and not be able to communicate why I am acting erratically and get arrested. I fear my heart would stop, like a terrified rabbit caught in a trap. I

fear that I will have another nervous breakdown. I fear I would never recover.

But I’m working on it. I am going to beat it, I swear.

This particular mind-dragon is a powerful one, but not invincible. I have proven that over and over again in my recovery. I am worth the work, I deserve peace.

Session by session with my trauma therapist, day by day with my husband, we are all fighting for me. If you are reading this and you have experienced marital rape, you are worth it too! It’s not right, it’s not OK and it’s not your fault. Please use the resources here at The Band, and know that there are people who care and who can help.

I Can’t Heal From This

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?


#MeToo Many, Many Times

The first time I was molested, I was 6 years old. My step-dad was a controlling, abusive asshole and had been grooming me over the few years he’d been married to my mom. It started as tickling, then moved to a touch here, me touching him there, and everything you can imagine in between.

At 6, I had no idea this wasn’t normal interaction. He was the only dad I knew.

At 8, I knew how to give a blow job, at 10 he was attempting penetration (poorly), at 12 when I got my period, I got worried. A substitute teacher covered a chapter on sexual abuse in health class and I realized that this wasn’t normal at all. I told my mom that afternoon, he moved out that night, I got lots and lots of counseling.

At 14, I was raped by a 21 year old that was my “boyfriend.” We met through a mutual friend, he got me drunk on Everclear and told me if I didn’t let him put it in one hole he was gonna put it in the other, whether I liked it or not.

I thought it was a compelling argument.

I remember he had big speakers under his mattress and he put on something with a shit ton of bass and it made me so nauseous that I spent 20 minutes puking on his back porch. I didn’t tell anyone. In fact, I continued to date him for an additional 6 months.

During that time he fantasized about moving to Alabama (where 14 is the age of consent) getting married and having babies with me. At the end of those 6 months he nearly got arrested for threatening a secretary with bodily harm for not allowing him to bring me flowers to my class… in middle school.

My mom found out and then I spent 4 weeks as an inpatient at a juvenile psychiatric facility. I started my long journey of anti-depressants and self-medicating.

At 15, I walked over to a boy’s house that I had a crush on to “hang out.” We were making out and he got my pants off. I let him know I wasn’t interested in having sex so he decided that putting his belt inside me was a better option? I was known as “belt girl” (probably still am, honestly) for a number of years after that, to our group of mutual friends.

At 31, I got locked into a hotel room with a smooth talker (stalker) who had me convinced we were in love. The next 8 hours were filled with things I never want to remember and that my brain won’t recall. I left sore and mentally broken, but I never told a soul (until now).

These are of course only the major offenses. I’m not including the literal hundreds of unsolicited dick pics, “accidental” gropings, catcalling, and unwanted sexual advances that occur from randoms quite often.

Why didn’t I report it at the time?

Well it depends on the occurrence. The first time I didn’t know any better, the second time I was in love, the third I was embarrassed and ashamed, the fourth I was terrified of ever seeing him again. I definitely didn’t want a court case. I never filed charges on any of them. Even the long-term ones.

I remember vividly talking to a counselor who warned me of the long court process to press charges against my dad, how it was my decision (AT 12), and whether they should file charges with the DA. Seems like something an adult should’ve decided, no? That stayed with me through all of my assaults. I felt powerless and guilty. I blamed myself for my poor decisions. Surely, I mean, it was my fault, right?

So now PTSD is a real thing I live with every day as a survivor of multiple sexual assaults. The triggers are never expected or convenient. Depression and anxiety go hand-in-hand with that. Once, a psychologist mentioned her surprise that I didn’t have a personality disorder, so there’s that, I suppose?

This is why the #MeToo movement is so vitally important.

The shame, the bureaucracy, the headaches, the guilt, it’s not worth reporting. This is what I’ve been told time and again as a victim. Maybe not in those words, but certainly with that intent. Someone didn’t want the paperwork and i didn’t want the trauma of retelling my story time and time again.

Help After Sexual Coercion?

About a week and a half ago, I did something that I regret so very deeply that it’s consuming my life. To give you a bit of background, I’m a 17 year old girl. A senior in high school who’s always been known as a good girl; the nice girl. I’ve always gotten good grades, practices good judgement, and has bright future ahead of her.

There’s a boy – a freshman – at my school, who I’ll call Jake. We’d had a kind of jokey, flirty relationship. Sure, he’s cute, but I knew from the start that he was bad news, plus he’s four years younger than me.

One night, he asked me if I wanted to come over to chill with him and his friend Adam. I made the mistake of sneaking out of the safety of my own house to go see him.

I made it very clear beforehand that I was not looking to do anything sexual with him, and he reassured me that he just wanted to chill and smoke some cigarettes.

I told my other freshman guy friend, Matthew, what was going on, and he warned me not to go because he was afraid I’d get raped. It’s not that I didn’t take him seriously, but I took it as an exaggeration.

I was smart, rape wouldn’t happen to me.

But still, once I’d snuck out, Matthew suggested I come pick him up and we could drive around and talk.

I knew hanging out with Jake was a bad idea because I don’t even smoke. I drove past Jake’s house, contemplating just going back home, before I finally decided to just do it. When I got to his room, Jake was playing video games and Adam was lying on the bed, using his phone.

I sat down on the bed and we talked for a bit before Jake handed me a cigarette. I politely refused, but he eventually convinced me to take just a puff of his.

After that I refused any more. Adam asked me to come cuddle, which I brushed off as a joke. Then they brought up my ex – still a bit of a sore spot. Adam asked if we were still dating, to which I said no. He said, “Well then, come cuddle with me.”

I agreed because I thought, “Why not? Fuck my ex.”

Well, eventually, he started getting handsy. I’d push his hand away each time, but he was persistent. He moved my hand to his crotch, and I would try to pull away, but he kept pushing it back.

It was never really forceful, just very persistent.

I kept saying “no” and “stop.”

He kept asking over and over if I’d perform sexual favors for him. He even tried to shove my head down toward his penis a few times. I kept refusing, and he’d always ask why.

I felt that I didn’t really owe him an explanation, so I would either say “Because,” or I would tell him that he was too young for me. He would say “Because why” and I would say “I don’t know.” He would ask how I didn’t know and I would just turn away. Then he would repeat this over and over. It was just plain annoying.

He continued to try and touch me.

Each time I moved his hand away, he got more persistent. Long story short, I eventually gave up and just let it happen. I ended up giving him a hand job, and letting him finger me. I wanted to stop, but he flat out told me I was not allowed to leave until he came.

Jake was in the room the entire time, and although he asked multiple times if I wanted to come see something or do something else, he didn’t do anything to stop Adam, even though I clearly did not want to be doing this.

After I left there, I wasn’t entirely aware of what had just happened. All I could think was “What have I done?” and “Why did I let that happen?”

After doing further research, I’ve determined that I was sexually coerced, which can be a form of sexual assault.

I’m having a lot of trouble coping with this.

I feel dirty, I feel like a whore, even though I know that I’m not. I’ve never had sex. I’ve never even given a blowjob. The only other person I’ve ever done these things with was my ex, and it was completely consensual.

I’m so beyond upset that I let this happen to me. These sexual acts are things that are supposed to be special, not something that I’d let just anyone do.

But I did.

I let this stupid, douchebag, horny freshman boy do this to me. I know that it was not my fault that it happened, but I can’t help but feel so, so, so guilty. Guilty that I snuck out, guilty I’d even gone there in the first place.

Matthew warned me beforehand, for Christ’s sake. I could have hung out with him and everything would be perfectly fine right now. But instead, I’m consumed by regret and guilt and all of these awful feelings, and I’m stuck.

I feel like I can’t enjoy anything anymore because all of this is just looming over me. The only person who knows what happened, besides Jake and Adam, is Matthew. I constantly replay it in my mind, and I constantly want to talk about it with him, and I feel like I’m bothering him.

I feel like everyone would be so ashamed of me if they knew what happened. I want to tell them so badly, but my friends would look down on me, and my mother would be so incredibly disappointed. It would break her heart if she knew I was sexually assaulted. And I’m scared that no guy will be able to respect me again.

How will I handle a future relationship?
Do I tell him that this happened to me, or do I pretend like it never happened?
Will he judge me?

It was just one mistake, but I don’t know how I’m going to live with myself. I can’t help but feel like I’m smarter than this. I should have been smarter than to go over there, smarter than to let this happen.

But it happened, and I can’t change the past.

I need help dealing with this.

I’ve been acting like everything’s okay with the hope that eventually, it will feel that way. But it just seems so hard to believe that it ever will.

I want the anxiety to stop. I want to know that I will feel okay again. I have so much to look forward to; college next year, but I feel this is something that will drag me down forever.

I never thought of myself as the victim, but now that I am, what do I do?

I Just Need Someone To Tell Me If What He Did Was Okay.

I’m really confused and need some direction. I feel so empty and feel as though this is all my fault and as if I’m to blame. Someone please help me. My friend and I had been drinking, mind you A LOT, and I had been flirting with this guy, and I said he could come over and kiss me, harmless right? At least I thought it was. He came over and we were hanging out, the three of us, and eventually we kissed, but things were getting weird as he kept trying to get me to drink more and more even though I felt horrible and everything was spinning.

Every time I would look away he’d pour more vodka in my drink. He was completely sober, he hadn’t had a single sip of alcohol. I was laying on the ground and I remember him saying they’d have to put me to bed soon, at some point I was puking and I said I had to go lay down and I think I said if anyone wanted to join me they could (this is something where I feel like is my fault, like I was asking for it, but I just didn’t want to be alone). I was in the middle of putting pajamas on and he came into my room, this is where things get really blurry, I was not feeling well at all. I remember he sat on the bed and I think I sat on his lap and we kissed a bit and then we were laying down, I remember he kept trying to touch me and I kept saying no, I don’t remember how many times I said no, but I know it was multiple.

Eventually I just gave up, this is where I don’t remember how my pants came off. I remember his shirt coming off eventually, but I think he’d already put it in me by then, I remember it hurt so bad. I knew I didn’t want to have sex with him, especially without a condom, I just wanted it to be over with. The thing that bugs me is I don’t know how my pants got off. I remember just laying there taking it and when he told me to turn over I did in hopes that it would be done quicker. Then I blacked out for awhile, the last thing I remember is him laughing about how “tired” I was. I’m pretty sure I had fallen asleep.

I got dressed as soon as I could and went down stairs to my two friends, as one had come over, and he stayed for another hour. I just tried to stay away from him as something felt off. I remember him making comments about how he should fuck me and my friend and I just felt sick. I kissed him goodbye because I felt obligated, texted him the next day, but now he’s blocked off everything and something inside me just isn’t right anymore.