T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 107302
posted 04-12-2013 07:54 AM
apologies in advance for the marathon post.
i'm studying abroad for a semester and in the meantime am maintaining a long distance relationship with my boyfriend. a few months ago, i cheated on him with a friend, but because i was drunk i've been left feeling horribly confused as to the extent that this was my fault, as well as feeling violated and traumatised by the whole incident. this happened a few days after i had said goodbye to my boyfriend, and i was quite upset and lonely. some of my travel plans had fallen through, and so i'd arranged to visit my friend and stay at his place for a night. i had always been attracted to him but certainly never intended on doing anything about it. that night, i hung out with him and his friends and got sloppy drunk, in part at his urging (not that i'm not responsible for how messy i got, but in retrospect i am pissed that he encouraged me to finish a bottle of wine and kept buying me drinks when i was clearly not in a good state). at one point i told him that i had been flirting with him and apologised. he told me that as much as he wanted to he wouldn't kiss me because he had respect for my relationship yada yada yada. surprise surprise, we ended up kissing. i knew that this wasn't a good move on my part but frankly it felt more like a silly mistake than some huge moral transgression and so i didn't feel hugely uncomfortable. we went back to his place and chatted for a bit and continued to make out. then at some point we ended up in his bedroom and that is the part where things get awful. i started to stress, telling him that this was a mistake and that i wasn't going to sleep with him. he said that this was fine and offered to give me a back massage and i accepted (some of this might not make sense; my memory is a little patchy). at this point he ended up taking off my dress and my bra and i was just sort of stunned and scared of where this was going and so i let him. i remember feeling too exposed and trying to cover myself with the sheets. we kissed a bit more and then he put a finger inside me and i felt like things has definitely gone too far and pushed his hand away. i pushed him away and curled up and told him that i didn't want to be doing this. he told me we could do whatever i was comfortable with, but wasn't convinced that i didn't actually want to have sex with him. after that, the next few hours are a blur of my being exhausted, us making out intermittently, him continuing to touch me in ways i didn't want - albeit always stopping when i told him to - and me stopping things every so often to freak out about how guilty i felt whilst he tried to convince me to have sex with him. once or twice i tried to just get it over with, but stopped him at the last moment. eventually (at this point it was about 7am) i gave in, but made him stop after a few minutes. the upshot of this is that i now feel horribly violated but don't know if i'm entitled to feel that way. obviously i have sone guilt for having cheated on my boyfriend, but that has become secondary to this other feeling. when i think about that night and replay parts of it in my mind i invariably end up a sobbing panicky mess. i don't even know if i have a question at the end of this - perhaps am i entitled to feel like he did something wrong? i tried to stay friends with him for a while after but couldn't deal with it - i told him that i felt taken advantage of but he basically said that he hadn't done anything wrong because he had stopped every time i'd asked him to. he also said that he was sorry i felt awful about it but he didn't regret sleeping with me because he had wanted to for a long time (to which i was like, cool dude, congratulations...?). anyway, i ended up blocking him on facebook without any explanation. i'm scared that i'm going to run into him and uni next semester and completely lose it at him. as for my boyfriend, i really don't want to tell him - in part because he would be horribly hurt, and i feel like i have a responsibility to protect him from that; and in part because (and this is selfish of me) i feel like i've suffered enough because of this whole incident and i can't deal with someone being angry at me for it (i should clarify that i've since been tested and sti's aren't an issue). if anyone has any advice i would very much appreciate it. [ 04-12-2013, 07:57 AM: Message edited by: norahelmer ]
Member # 90293
posted 04-12-2013 08:25 AM
HI There, and Welcome to Scarleteen,
Looking at your username, I'm wondering if it's your legal name; if so, can you please change it? WE want to make sure that people are safe and anonymous here. I'm so sorry to hear that you've been struggling so much. You are entitled to your feelings, and if you feel violated, then you feel violated. It's not as if you're deciding to feel this way, after all. IN other words, you can trust your instincts and trust how you're feeling. A person who is intoxicated cannot legally give consent to sex. Also, from what you describe, this guy wasn't actually listening to your "no". You weren't just telling him that you wanted to stop what was happening for that moment, but that you didn't want to do it. Instead, he stopped, but then would start again. From what you describe here, you made it clear to him, in as much as you could, through words and body language, that you didn't want what was happening. He decided not to listen to or respond to that. It sounds like this has really been affecting your quality of life. what do you feel like you need to help you heal? Are you currently in school or between semesters? [ 04-12-2013, 08:30 AM: Message edited by: Robin Lee ]
Member # 107302
posted 04-12-2013 08:41 AM
don't stress haha, it's not my name (ten points to anyone who picks the obscure literary reference!). i'm currently still abroad and in the middle of the semester. it's not as though i've been walking around feeling constantly awful; my feelings around it just crop up every couple of weeks or so. i feel like i should just get over it but i don't quite know how to do that.
Member # 90293
posted 04-12-2013 09:17 AM
I'm sad I don't know that literary reference.
It's usually not possible to will ourselves to "get over" something. Maybe some people can do it, but most of us can't. Before posting here, have you been able to tell anyone else about this? Talking about something to nonjudgmental people who will listen to (or in our case here at Scarleteen, read) what you're saying) can often be helpful. Do you have any friends you trust to talk this through with? [ 04-12-2013, 09:18 AM: Message edited by: Robin Lee ]
Member # 107302
posted 04-12-2013 10:19 AM
i've told a couple of friends different bits and pieces (it's a bit hard to talk as much as i'd like to though, because i'm generally limited to facebook chat and time zones are a problem). i told two really good friends but i've mostly spoken to them about how to deal with my boyfriend/what to tell him/how guilty i feel. i've told them that i'm really angry with my friend and that i felt taken advantage of but in much vaguer terms than what i've posted here. they were supportive and angry for me but i got the sense that they didn't really know how to deal with the issue and so i haven't pressed it.
i did bring it up with another friend and he was less helpful - he basically told me that being drunk didn't mitigate how responsible i was for what happened and that if i had genuinely not wanted the sex to happen then i would have stopped it by leaving (which is something i've grappled with myself, given that i was attracted to this guy and enjoyed making out with him and on some level did want to sleep with him). he said this all based on a similar experience that he's had himself. in fairness to him, i posed it more as a question of my ability to consent and the extent to which i was at fault/how obligated i am to tell my boyfriend about it; rather than telling him outright that i was feeling violated. but still, i found his response upsetting, i guess because i agree with him in part.
Member # 90293
posted 04-12-2013 11:01 AM
Nodding...Well, as I said, a person isn't considered legally able to give consent when intoxicated by alcohol or under the influence of any other mind-altering substance.
Is it helpful to you to take some responsibility for this? If so, I think it's sound to distinguish between taking responsibility for your decisions (and taking responsibility doesn't mean you have to blame or beat up on yourself) and not taking responsibility for his actions. It's really pretty clear to me that he did not listen to your no. He was excessively persistent, and you saying no seems to have had an expiry date according to him. That is, from what you describe, while he did sstop when you said no, he started up again after a while. To help me understand more, is the recollection of the experience what is distressing to you, or is it your concern about how to deal with this and your boyfriend, or both? What part of this do you feel like is most important to talk about here. (We can talk about all of it, I just want to know what is helpful to you to start with.)
Member # 107302
posted 04-12-2013 11:38 AM
i think i need to take a degree of responsibility for it, but it hasn't been super helpful insofar as i'm having trouble separating 'taking responsibility' from 'beating myself up'. so it would be helpful to get another perspective on that.
that aside the primary issue is really coping with my recollection of the event more so than dealing with my boyfriend. maybe this is overly pragmatic of me, but i feel like, to an extent, these things happen, it will never happen again, it isn't indicative of underlying problems in our relationship, and so telling him only going to hurt him and not achieve anything productive. obviously i feel guilty but i feel like that's something i just need to deal with (and, if when look at the situation objectively, i feel like i can cut myself some slack). [ 04-12-2013, 12:11 PM: Message edited by: norahelmer ]
Member # 90293
posted 04-12-2013 12:01 PM
I think the fact that recalling this event is distressing to you can tell you a lot about what the experience was like for you. That is, having negative memories and feelings of distress and upset about something usually means that there was something wrong about it and that we didn't actually choose or agree to all of the events.
As I said above, you're not responsible for what that guy chose to do with and to you. It's not your responsibility to pull yourself together and leave when you're not in a physical condition to do so. In other words, you saying that you didn't want the sex should have been enough to stop everything; it was enough. If the guy had beaten you up physically, instead of touching you in a sexual way, would you be feeling this type of responsibility and guilt over this? I think you might find it helpful to read the following paragraph from our article Dealing With Rape At ANY point, during any act in which your body is violated or utilized for someone else's sexual gratification -- be it via genital or oral penetration, or more ambiguous acts such as being made to feel another's body against your wishes, et cetera -- if you have made clear, even as simply as saying no once or pushing the other person away, even as simply as NOT actively participating and NOT saying yes, that you do not wish to be sexually engaged or used, and have been forced, through physical force, coercion or threat to do otherwise, you have been raped, sexually assaulted or abused. and this one: It is also rape when one person does something sexual on, to or inside a person who is unable to give informed consent to sex because they’re asleep or otherwise incapacitated, like via drugs or alcohol (even if they drank or drugged of their own accord), because they're ill, injured, or emotionally bereft, or due to lack of physical, intellectual or emotional maturity, developmental disability, mental illness or because the person assaulting them is in a position of power over them, like a teacher, clergyperson or police officer. If someone engaged you sexually on their part when you were in a position of being unable to give consent or full consent, then you have been raped, sexually assaulted or abused. [ 04-12-2013, 12:05 PM: Message edited by: Robin Lee ]
Member # 101745
posted 04-12-2013 06:18 PM
I'm so sorry that this happened to you. This guy was clearly not respecting your wishes. No matter what he tries to say now to justify what he did, that doesn't change the fact that he didn't listen to you. You told him multiple times that you didn't want to have sex. A respectful, non-rapist person will hear a "no" or a "not now" or an "I regret going this far with you" and will STOP the sexual activity. Not put it on pause for a moment before badgering you for sex again. Not decide they don't believe you when you say you don't want sex. Not tell you, after the fact, that they don't feel like they did anything wrong. You having a sense that you wanted to kiss or maybe sleep with this person doesn't mean you were actively consenting to do those things in that moment. Maybe you would have decided to have sex with him in a sober moment, who knows? It's really clear that in that moment, he didn't care about what you were actually interested in or about obtaining your consent, despite his lip service to the contrary.
Member # 107302
posted 10-30-2013 08:47 AM
hi, op here (nb. i've changed my name since the original post). thanks for your responses. i know it's been a few months since i initially posted this but it's becoming an issue again.
i've spent the past few months doing a lot of reading and thinking and i think i've almost reconciled myself to the idea that what he did was rape. i think my main block from preventing me from accepting that is that it feels like a total cop-out on my part - like, if he raped me that means i didn't really cheat on my boyfriend and i get to avoid feeling guilty for that, and i still do feel guilty in some ways and like i could have prevented the whole thing, but i don't know if i feel like i'm to blame because i actually am to blame or because most people who are assaulted feel like they're to blame?? so i guess i'd like some thoughts on that if anybody has any. secondly, one of the reasons i've started to recognise what happened as being rape has to do less with the concrete realities of what i did or said - for example, finally giving in and saying yes to sex - and more to do with the dynamic of his behaviour, if that makes sense. by this i mean things like: - i went through my phone a few months ago and found a LOT if texts from him from prior to the incident asking me to come hang out at parties or clubs or whatever. maybe i'm being paranoid or whatever but this makes me feel like he'd been trying for a while to get me into a situation where i would be vulnerable ie. alone with him around alcohol - afterwards he told me that he had ignored my attempts to say no because he "knew" i actually wanted to sleep with him, that i would enjoy it etc. - he tried to discourage me from telling any of my friends about what happened afterward on the basis that it would be bad for me if my boyfriend found out. - he wouldn't cease contact with me (and this included sending me sexual messages etc even after i told him not to) until i blocked him on all of my social media and deleted his number. part of me is like UM THAT SCREAMS RAPE but...i guess i would also like someone else to tell me that those things do indeed scream rape and that i'm not crazy/maliciously trying to pin a rape on someone? (in my head, at least, i haven't and don't plan on telling more than a handful of people, and only two of them know who he is). i'm also grappling with how and who to tell. with regard to the few friends i've told, the last time i really got into it with them was before i'd started to see this as a rape type thing - as far as they're aware, the issue is just that i cheated on my boyfriend and felt bad. i don't really know how to raise this whole revelation with them without sounding like i'm reneging on my story or whatever. i'm also aware that they may not conceive of rape/consent in the same way that i do, and don't really know if i feel up to having someone challenge me on those things. however, i'm still dealing with trauma and things like freaking out when i see him on campus (fortunately he hasn't approached me) and so it would be nice if i could discuss this with them. does anyone have any ideas around how i might do so? anyway, that's it for now - sorry for the war-and-peace length post.
Member # 3
posted 10-30-2013 10:08 AM
You know, given how much guilt and shame survivors of sexual abuse and assault typically carry around, I think you can let go of the concern that this is a "copout" so you can avoid guilt. Would that it were that easy to drop it.
And by all means, if you CAN dump some, good. That's really good for you and very important. Breaking an exclusivity agreement with someone is about making a choice to do that (I'd hope that's the way those agreements are made, anyway): not about situations where people do things to us against our will or without allowing us to make a choice. In terms of your friends, one thing we know from working with survivors is that it's more typical than not, especially with acquaintance or date rape, for people to self-blame first (again, there is often a whole lot of that with survivors) then later come around to recognizing that an assault happened. So, you will hardly be the first person ever to make that shift, and come to that awareness later. Hopefully it's been clear right from the start from the responses you have here that we're not unclear what you have described is a sexual assault. It's seemed clear right from the start, and indeed, some of the things you've been thinking about that make that more clear to you? Those are some things that, yep, additionally are going to make clear to anyone who is educated about abuse and assault dynamics that that's what happened here. Things like stalking or harassing you afterwards, telling you he knew better than you did what you wanted, even not denying ignoring your nonconsent, telling you not to tell people: these are also all things that make clear this is an abusive person, period. In terms of telling a friend so you can get some support, sometimes it can be easiest, and feel the least scary, to start by just picking the one person to tell first who you are MOST confident will understand and be supportive. Can you think of a friend like that?
Member # 107302
posted 11-02-2013 08:11 AM
i can think of one or two friends apart from those i'd already told who i think would definitely see things from my perspective and be supportive. however, one is a rape victim herself and i'm concerned that if i told her the whole story (which i would want to) i might say something she found triggering. the other is best friends with my boyfriend and i don't want to put her in a position where she feels like she's keeping a secret from him. i also just don't really know how to bring it up? it feels like a really big thing to just dump on someone with no warning (seriously, i actually feel bad telling even close friends because i feel like they shouldn't have to deal with my problems) and isn't really the kind of thing that just comes up organically.
i also have been thinking lately that i might like to tell my boyfriend (he is generally my go-to person when i need support, so keeping this from him has frankly sucked) but that is somewhat more fraught. this is for a few reasons: - i don't want to deal with his emotional reaction - even if he doesn't blame me, he is definitely going to be angry and upset and i don't think i can deal with seeing him have those reactions, if that makes sense. - we are long distance at the moment (i only see him for maybe a week out of every month) and it seems like finding the right time is impossible - when i do see him i just want to enjoy the time i have with him. - i don't necessarily think this is rational but i am scared of him blaming me or asking too many questions or not agreeing that it was rape. essentially what i would really like would be for him to just magically KNOW and not have any feelings about it but sadly we are not in harry potter land and so there is no real way for me to engineer that. so anyway, any advice re. (a) whether i should tell him at this point and (b) if so, how best to do so would be good.
Member # 3
posted 11-02-2013 09:44 AM
You know, you can ask that friend if she is okay with you disclosing to her about a rape. She can also tell you if and when something is triggering for her. Generally, triggers being something people can't handle is temporary, not permanent. Part of our healing is learning to deal with them and they eventually usually are not a big deal.
I hear you with your boyfriend, but how about going with someone where this is less scary and loaded for you first, like that first friend you mentioned?