T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 108967
posted 11-26-2013 01:50 PM
I was just wondering if someone might provide some clarification about something that happened a while back. I was in a long term relationship when I had most of my “firsts,” and I have felt for a while that many things were not consensual.
One example is that often my partner would ask me beforehand if he could do something. I would say no. We would mess around for a bit, and then eventually he would do the thing that I had said no to. (Keep in mind it could be up to a half hour later). I would always kind of freeze up, but I felt like I could not say no again. (I felt like I couldn’t say anything at all!) I think if I had said no he would have stopped, but I didn’t.
Another time something like this happened and I kind of froze up and started crying and kind of whimpering. I did say stop, but it was pretty quiet, so I think he could have heard. And maybe he thought the sounds from my crying was me enjoying it. I am not sure. I wanted to tell him to stop again, but I felt like I couldn’t talk.
I think that he might have known at the time that I had trouble asserting myself because I grew up in an abusive home. I also think that maybe my decision making wasn’t that clear at the time because a lot of this happened shortly after my dad passed away. That also makes it complicated because my memories of this happening are pretty hazy as are all of my memories from around that time.
This has really been getting in the way of my current relationship, and so I thought I would try to figure it out. I actually got in touch with the person in question and told him that I was having trouble because I felt like a lot of the stuff that had happened between us was not consensual and that I wanted to know what he thought about that. He actually said that he agreed that it was not consensual and that he was sorry. He said that when he thought now about how he treated me then he felt sick, but that he didn’t know better at the time.
So I guess what I’m wondering here is if this situation is assault. There are a lot of things that make me not so sure. I think it would be helpful to me to be able to give a name to this experience in order to move forward.
Member # 90293
posted 11-26-2013 02:01 PM
Hello Petal_Picking_Poet and welcome to Scarleteen,
When people have discussed their wants and needs, and one person has made it clear that they don't want a certain thing, it's up to the other person to respect that and not do that thing. It doesn't matter whether it was a minute after you said no, a half hour after you said no, or 3 days after you said no. That "no" was the last thing your ex-partner heard from you on that topic. Any activity he initiated that you previously told him you didn't want to do was initiated without your consent. Furthermore, you didn't say yes. Consent isn't just about not saying no at the time, but about actively expressing your "yes"--your desire for and enjoyment of the activity. It sounds like you're second-guessing yourself a lot--wondering, for example, if he could have interpreted the sounds of you crying as sounds of enjoyment. The thing is, it was on him to check in with you about what those noises meant. freezing up is also a very common reaction to having our boundaries crossed. So yes, what you're describing here was nonconsensual. How do you feel hearing that? How did it feel to hear what your ex said about his perceptions of the relationship? Would it be helpful to talk about how this is impacting your current relationship? Also: Your username is really neat!
Member # 90293
posted 11-26-2013 02:05 PM
You may also find reading these articles helpful, particularly in understanding what consent actually looks like.
Driver's Ed for the Sexual Superhighway: Navigating Consent Blinders Off:Getting a Good Look at Abuse and Assault [ 11-26-2013, 02:27 PM: Message edited by: Robin Lee ]
Member # 108967
posted 11-26-2013 10:22 PM
Thanks for responding! I think I may have known that this is non-consensual. I have felt that way for a long time, but I don't know... I feel like there are a lot of things that make me think that maybe it wasn't quite what it seems. Like, at the time neither my partner or I had had much experience with sex or sex education, so I honestly think he probably didn't know any better. I wonder what that means for me. I think hearing him say that he agreed kind of made this feel more real for me, like it for sure happened and was for sure wrong. It was a lot harder to hear from him than I thought, and I think that's probably why. I don't really know. I have a lot of trouble recently being intimate with my boyfriend. I have tried to talk to him about this and basically was really open with him about what was going on. He is pretty understanding but of course I feel bad because this is basically really getting in the way of our sex life, and I feel like that is really not fair to him to a degree. Not sure how to handle that. I guess right now I am just feeling really bad about this. I feel like even though this is something from a while back and I've felt bad about it for a while everything feels really real now. I am not even sure how to handle this or move forward.
Member # 90293
posted 11-27-2013 12:35 AM
Hi petal picking poet,
You know, not having had much education about sex or much experience with it doesn't make it okay for someone to cross someone else's boundaries. Doing something someone else has told you they don't want is never okay. Perhaps it'd help to think about it this way: Do you think you'd still be wondering if your feelings of violation were okay if your ex had punched, slapped, or otherwise assaulted you physically? I'm guessing probably not. It's the same with him doing something sexual to you that hurt you emotionally, especially since you'd already clearly voiced that you didn't want those activities. Yes, not having had good sex ed that talked about boundaries and healthy communication may have contributed to this happening, but it's a partial explanation of behavior, not an excuse. As I said above, freezing and not knowing what to say or do is a really common reaction when our boundaries are crossed. So for you, even if you'd had really stellar sex ed that talked about boundaries and good communication, that doesn't mean you would have reacted any differently. You were reacting to someone doing things to your body that you didn't want done. It's as simple as that. You get to feel however you're feeling about this. It's not unusual for bad feelings to get more intense over time, rather than less. When we have more distance from the situation, it can feel safer to feel and express how we felt about what really happened. We all have things that we bring to our sex lives with a partner--good or bad experiences we've had with previous partners, our feelings about sex, our feelings about our own bodies, and more. You're not hurting your current boyfriend by having your own needs around sex right now; that just makes you human. Have you and your boyfriend been able to agree on ways to be sexual with each other that work for both of you? What do you feel like you need in order to start healing from these bad feelings from your previous experiences? What do you think is holding you back from moving forward?
Member # 108967
posted 11-28-2013 10:43 PM
I think right now it is just hard- in my relationship and in general- because I am just kind of dealing with these feelings for the first time.
I don't think my boyfriend and I have really been able to figure out something that works just yet. He's been supportive, but we went for quite a while (like a monthish) without being intimate. I feel like it is probably pretty hard for him since we are in college and he is seeing his friends who aren't in relationships going out and hooking up every weekend, while he is not even enjoying sexual things in our relationship. We've started up again recently, just taking things slow, but it is hard and I feel a pressure to continue trying (one I am placing on myself, not coming from him) even though sometimes I am not sure if I want to. I am not sure. I think one thing I needed was just some validation about what happened, that it was wrong, etc. I think it is helpful just to know that I have a right to feel how I feel about this and that I am not crazy, that something did happen to me. That being said I am still kind of having trouble coming to terms with that and letting myself believe that. I still feel like what did happen was my fault and that I am probably overreacting and making it worse than it was.
Member # 90293
posted 11-29-2013 05:58 AM
You absolutely do have the right to feel how you feel.
It can take a while, I think, to really change one's thinking on anything. So, if you've been thinking for a while that these past experiences were your fault, it might take some time for it to sink in that they really, truly were not. You mention that you and your boyfriend went over a month without doing anything intimate. Thing is, there are lots of intimate things that couples can and do do that aren't sexual or not explicitly so. In other words, intimacy and sex are two separate things, though they certainly can go together. Trying to do sexual things that you're really not feeling good about is unlikely to help with any sort of intimacy as you're not going to be feeling emotionally good about them. Maybe it would take some of the pressure off of you to think of, and talk to your boyfriend about, things the two of you do together that help the two of you feel connected to each other while still respecting where you are with your feelings about sexual activities. What things do you do that really make you feel physically and emotionally connected with your boyfriend?