He was tall, dark, and handsome. He even had an accent. We met online. That first week we spent hours talking on the phone. He had this ability to know me in a way I didn’t know myself. I’d later learn that it wasn’t that he knew me, it was that he was manipulating me.
It’s a dangerous place to be in when you just want someone to love you. When you’re in this place, you become blind to red flags and justify every wrong move.
I think I was just so attracted to him physically and my self-esteem was so low that I wanted to do anything to keep a man like him. After that first week of talking we decided to meet up for coffee. We had escalated emotionally before even meeting. We were unnaturally immersed with one another – it wasn’t healthy. Things progressed from there and we decided to be exclusive on our first date.
A week into the relationship he tells me that he is looking to get married. Wait… what? I’ve known this guy for two weeks (one of which was completely phone contact). I’m overwhelmed and confused. I stupidly thought I loved this guy, but marriage? He said he wasn’t from this country and his Visa expired in a few months. I couldn’t believe this was happening. It was like a scene from a movie. I ended it. I couldn’t marry him, I barely knew him and I’d never know if he was marrying me for me or for a green card.
The relationship shattered me. It shouldn’t have, but like I said we escalated emotionally way too soon. He also was manipulative and I had low self-esteem. I also thought I loved him, and that he loved me. The funny thing is before him I didn’t believe in love. It was like finding out something people talked about as being the best thing ever was actually real, after believing for so long that it wasn’t.
About a month after ending things I reached back out. I needed to know if he liked me or if he just was desperate to get married. He said he really liked me [looking back now it’s obvious he was using me – he was unwilling to compromise, it was marry him or nothing but I didn’t discover this till much later and way after the next part of this story]. I decided I didn’t know if I’d ever feel this way again about someone. So many women lose their virginity in a violent manner. Perhaps this was an opportunity for me to lose mine to someone I cared about and someone I thought cared about me. I thought we were in love and me being a feminist, I was intrigued for it to be of my own volition.
Sex with him FUCKING hurt, and he didn’t stop when I asked him to. I remember the pain being unlike anything I had ever felt. I asked him to stop but he said no, that we had to push through the pain. I remember telling myself “you want this” and that what he was doing was somehow okay. I remember crying… more like having a melt down and begging him to stop and he still wouldn’t. I remember telling myself that this was my fault. What is worse, I remember apologizing after.
If you had told me a year before this, that this would happen, I would have said you were lying. I would have said there is no way I’d ever let a man violate me. There is no way I’d allow myself to be in a set of circumstances for a man to have the opportunity.
It wasn’t until 10 months after the event, that I even realized what he did was wrong. He raped me. Women are so conditioned in society to blame themselves when a man does something inappropriate to them. What is ironic is that I’m a strong female feminist and not only was I raped, but I blamed myself and didn’t even acknowledge it as rape till almost a year later. I can only imagine the countless other women this has sadly happened to.
This is not a grey area, even though it is how we think of it. Let’s set something straight, “no” means no and “stop” means stop, no ands ifs or buts about it! If consensual sex ever becomes non-consensual (including during the act), then it becomes sexual abuse. If your partner says no or stop and you don’t, that is sexual assault. And vice versa if you say no or stop. [Now please note that I’m not discussing those of you who say no or stop in a sexual way and don’t actually mean it in the literal sense just as long as that is a precedent you’ve established with your partner already].
We need to change the cultural mindset. Rape is rape, no matter what the person was wearing, where they were going, what their job is, or even if it started as consensual. The moment it is not consensual is the moment it becomes wrong, and a violation of one’s body.
For those who have been sexually abused, we know it’s not just a violation of our body, but of our heart, our mind, our being. But there is healing. I’ve always believed that the things that happen in your life can make you or break you. One can choose to be a victim or survivor.
I debated sharing my story. There are so many rape stories out there. I thought, does the world need another one? I didn’t want pity. I didn’t want to be accused of attention seeking. But, I realized something. Why are these our go to reactions when a woman stands up for herself? Why do we blame someone who becomes vulnerable just for a chance of helping someone else? And why would another story be too much, when clearly this is still a real issue? Not just in our society, but in others. Did you know in India it is legal for a man to rape his wife? Wait… I’m sorry, what?! Yeah, you heard correctly. We need to change the way we think about rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, etc. Enough is enough and this is not a grey area issue. We need to start sticking up for what is right and put a stop to what is wrong. I can’t be the only one who feels morally obligated to do so.
I also want to say that rape doesn’t just happen to a woman by a man. It can happen to any gender from any gender. One of my brothers was sexually abused for years by my other brother. So please note, that although I mention the female side of things (it’s the perspective I most understand) I know it is wrong regardless of the gender and that not only females are abused.
The next time you here about rape, don’t ask what she was wearing. The next time someone says no or stop, you need to listen and obey. The next time anyone tells you about what happened to them, be a sympathetic listener and don’t you dare say it was their fault. And the next time anyone ignores you when you say no or stop, understand it is not your fault, you did not want this or deserve it. Also know that you are loved and your life has purpose and meaning. You can overcome your hardships, allow them to make you not break you and become a survivor not a victim.