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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » Wait a minute? I was coerced?

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Author Topic: Wait a minute? I was coerced?
Atonement
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I was reading through an article about sex today, and it just sort of hit me.

I have never considered myself to be a victim or any kind when it comes to sexual abuse, but ever since I’ve been active on Scarleteen, I’ve known that coercion is a bit deal.

It’s really weird that It’s taken this long to hit me: I have been sexually coerced before.
If you’ve been on here for a while, you may remember this very long conversation that I had with Heather about an abuse situation at home. If not, here’s the post:

http://www.scarleteen.com/forum/ultimatebb.php?/ubb/get_topic/f/9/t/001509/p/1.html

In December 2010, I mentioned an encounter with the guy, and how I was upset about how after he had sex with me he wouldn’t respond to any of my attempts to contact him. However, before today, I was always pretty much okay with everything that happened there. But the coercion was in the details.

We did have 100 percent consensual intercourse first, and I REALLY wanted to do it, so even though my body wasn’t very aroused, I did it anyway. And I got pretty dried out after a while, and it was fairly uncomfortable. But I didn’t tell him or give him any reason to believe I was uncomfortable, so I don’t think he did anything wrong there.

However, after we stopped having intercourse, he begged me to perform oral sex on him. I didn’t want to because he was a new partner, we didn’t have condoms that were appropriate for oral sex, and I was concerned about STI’s. But he begged and begged, and I ended up doing it without protection anyway. Then, when I asked him to perform oral sex on me, he said yes, but then had an “emergency phone call” right before it started that I am now pretty sure was fake. And I was in a really fragile emotional state at the time of the whole thing too because that was pretty much right in the middle of the abuse situation I was in while living with my parents.

I always thought that he was a pretty big jerk how he handled things, but I never really thought of anything that happened as non-consensual. But all the sudden, looking back at it today almost 2 years later, I’m starting to realize that that really wasn’t okay.

I’m pretty okay about it emotionally wise, but I still kind of hard to understand why my definition of that encounter changed literally overnight.

What do you guys think?

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Karybu
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I don't know that anyone could really give a definitive answer as to why you suddenly see that encounter in a new way - that's a fairly complex thing to figure out, but you've obviously learned quite a bit since about coercion, so it's possible you have been doing some processing around the encounter even if you didn't really realize it.

It's also very easy in our culture not to see coercion for what it is. It's been very much normalized in a whole bunch of ways, and even if you're aware of what it can look like, when it's happening to you it can be very hard to recognize. That may not be terribly helpful, and hopefully others will have more to add to the conversation, but I wanted to throw a couple of thoughts out there.

[ 09-26-2012, 11:09 PM: Message edited by: Karybu ]

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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Atonement
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Yeah, I see what you mean.

The thing is, I'm pretty sure that I knew all of that then, too. At that point, I'd still say I was already pretty informed about all of Scarleteen's big topics, including consent.

Maybe I just chose to ignore it? The thing is, I didn't feel "forced", and I could have gotten up and left at any time. I just got tired of saying no. And I think the face that the only reason I said no was condom issue (not that I didn't actually want to do the act itself) that played a part in my perception of it.

I went back and read my December 2010 posts on the subject, part of which included a IM between us that I copied and pasted afterward. Looking back, I can't believe what a HUGE jerk to me he was afterward.

I think that maybe at the point that it happened, I was just dealing with too much to add one more thing, so I treated it as a non-issue?

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Karybu
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It's very possible that that's what happened: that you had so much else going on in your life at that point that dealing with possible coercion was just one thing too many, and so you treated it as a non-issue. I remember your posts from around that time, and you did have a huge amount of seriously negative stuff to deal with, so it's not surprising that this maybe just got a bit lost amidst everything else. The context in which it happened could also definitely have contributed to your perception of it at the time.

What I was trying to say in my first post, by the way, wasn't that you didn't have the knowledge at that point to recognize what had happened as coercion. Understanding and recognizing coercion and abuse in theory, or when it's happening/has happened to someone else is one thing, but seeing it in our own lives, when it's happening to us, is often another thing entirely. For whatever reason, it can be difficult to see things clearly for what they are when we're the ones involved, rather than in situations where we're seeing negative things happening to others.

I don't know if any of that is useful to you in continuing to think about this. Figuring out why we understand or perceive things the way we do and why that can change is so complex, and like I said before, there are probably no clear answers. Happy to keep talking all of this out with you though, if you like, in whatever way you want.

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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Redskies
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Hi, Atonement.

I think you've probably at least partly answered your own question. If we're going through something else big, that can contribute to us not realising something like this - it's as if we already have enough to be thinking about and processing, we've got bigger, more urgent and more demanding problems. Sometimes the less-big stuff gets left until we have more space to process it.

Being in a bad situation can also make us less able to spot something like this, as not-ok things can just be more "normal".

I don't think it strange at all that this suddenly dawned on you. Like you said, you already knew a lot of information, so you probably had nearly all the jigsaw pieces in your head, and then something made it all fall into place. Sometimes that something is really obvious and important, and sometimes it's so small that we barely notice it in itself.

I also think that this kind of experience is probably one of the more common ones not to recognise straight away. Even if we're very educated about consent, there's still this huge amount of discourse in the world at large about having a "no" ignored, or being forced, and sometimes that's hard for any of us to see past. In the world at large, there really isn't enough recognition that repeated begging is coercion, and actually ignoring "no"; that coercion isn't just about unpleasantness, threats, or obvious manipulation. Even when we're educated, we can imagine coercion to be a bit more obviously unpleasant. But, as you know, it really doesn't have to be. We shouldn't ever be taken to the point where we get tired of saying no. It also doesn't matter why we're saying no - sometimes, we can have conflicting feelings about what we really want, and what matters is our overall decision, not whether part of us wants it.

It's also very common not to properly realise what was going on at the time, even if we know a lot about the issue. In the situation, we don't have the same perspective, because our feelings and reactions to the other person and the situation are in play, and it's that personal involvement which coercion hinges on.

However you feel about this is also totally ok. It's very person- and context-dependent. Some people experience it as a really significant, hurtful thing, while others may feel more like "Wow that was uncool", and plenty more are somewhere in the middle. It's also ok, and not uncommon, if your feelings change.

Is there anything you need around this, or anything you'd like to talk about more?

I hope it goes without saying, but just in case you need it saying, what that guy did was unacceptable.

(Edit: oops, crossed with Karybu. [Smile] )

(2nd edit, because I would feel totally weird/inappropriate posting again just to say this, but thank you for your comment below, Karybu!)

[ 09-27-2012, 09:08 PM: Message edited by: Redskies ]

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Karybu
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(Redskies, everything you've said here is so great.)

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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