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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » Would this be considered sexual abuse?

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Author Topic: Would this be considered sexual abuse?
Tarnished
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The story;

A girl (16) has a boyfriend (21), she has a low sex drive and for her sex wasn't enjoyable - she didn't orgasm the first time like she thought she would, so both she and her boyfriend thought there was something wrong with her.

Her boyfriend thinks this means she isn't attracted to him, and tells her this on a regular basis. She feels obliged to have sex as she doesn't want him to feel upset, and over the next two years either intentionally or unintentionally he carries on saying this to her, so she carries on making herself have sex to keep him happy. She feels so bad about sex it becomes forced, causing her pain and physical damage - heavy vaginal bleeding, visible large tears to her hymen, and serious UTI's leaving her in agony. After sex she cries as her boyfriend falls asleep, and she starts self-harming and suffering insomnia due to what's happening.

Many years later the girl has left the boyfriend long ago, but is haunted as she is unsure about what happened. She feels responsible for allowing it, for not saying no, for saying she wanted to have sex when she didn't, and she does not know if her boyfriend knew she did not want sex or knew he had caused her pain. He may very well have used emotional abuse to pressure her into sex, and she remembers several times when she didn't want sex, but he'd continue and she'd roll over and let him get on with it without her involvement.

She isn't sure if she was a victim of sexual abuse or not, and is left confused about sex. For years she had times when she'd try to force herself to have sex and end up curled up in a ball unable to look at or speak to her lovers, just go stiff and numb unable to make herself move. She still feels sometimes, although her new partners are caring, that she has sex because she feels she should.

She did not accuse the boyfriend of rape, doing so would have cost him a criminal record, friends, family, home, job, etc...when he may not have even realised she didn't want sex. Or people may have attacked her, accusing her of making false rape claims. BUT people keep telling her it was rape as surely he realised she was not into the sex and was causing her pain and physical injury. Legally she did not think this could be classed as either rape or sexual abuse.


**********

Think about this as a real situation - what would you say to her?

Also think about this as a theory - where would we stand in this situation?

Is this rape, sexual abuse, or is it something else all together?

If this is not legally classed as rape or sexual assault, does that instantly mean it's okay?

Can she still feel like she was a victim of sexual abuse? If so then what does that make the boyfriend? How would she deal with her experience? How should she interact with the boyfriend if she was to see him again?

Is she responsible for allowing it to go on, does she need to accept as much responsibility as him for not saying 'no'? Or should he have realised that he was having sex with her when she didn't want to and causing her pain?

Is it fair to put blame onto her?
Is it fair to put blame onto him?

What do we do in situations like this where it is not clear who is responsible? Rape is sex against someone's will - even if it is with a partner!! and even if it's not the typical violent assault we tend to think of when we think of rape - so is this rape, and should rape always be rape, even if the other person may not have been aware they were not willing?


**********

I posted this elsewhere, the response was that it was not rape (legally speaking) as she consented. The response was also that she just regretted sex afterwards, which meant it wasn't rape, but this was continuous over years, not just a one-off - she didn't want sex to begin with, but was pressured into it over years.

The boyfriend cannot read her mind, but should have surely had the sense to know what he was doing was wrong?

[ 03-13-2010, 05:07 PM: Message edited by: Tarnished ]

Posts: 14 | From: Newcastle, UK | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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Do you know these people?

I ask because I have a few questions per things that I didn't feel clear on in the post.

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Tarnished
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Yes Heather, I do know the people involved.
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Heather
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Okay.

So, when her boyfriend first said that he interpreted her not reaching orgasm or enjoying sex as her not finding him attractive, did she have a discussion with him about that? If she did not discuss that with him the first time, did she EVER have a discussion with him about it, and if so, how did that go?

Did she ever say anything at all about not wanting to have sex? Did he witness her crying after sex and self-harming? Did he ever ask about this?

Can I also ask if she had any abuse history before this relationship, such as in her childhood?

Did she talk to anyone else at all -- including the doctors I assume she would have seen with the UTIs and tearing -- about this?

Additionally, what was the relationship like before sex: was it healthy and happy? Was there any overall emotional or other abuse outside their sexual life?

Do you know what his relationship history was like before her?

[ 03-13-2010, 06:12 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Tarnished
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She had discussions with him about this, but he continued to say that her not reaching orgasm, enjoying sex, or wanting to have sex with him meant she did not love him/did not find him attractive. Her assuring him otherwise did not get through to him, sex seemed to be the only way to assure him...although she never faked orgasm.

Yes, she did tell him she did not want to have sex - to this his reaction was that this meant she did not love him/was not attracted to him. She doesn't know if he witnessed her crying after sex, but thinks it was fairly certain that he did, and there were arguments about sex where she would cry and tell him she would feel bad after sex. He did witness her self-harming and knew it was due to the relationship (as well as the sex issue, she escaped from him once, but he scared off the guy she was involved with to get her back, then cheated on her with her friends mother as punishment for her leaving him - furthermore his friends saw them fighting and blamed her so got abusive with her - so towards the end it wasn't an unhealthy relationship all round) not sure if she ever told him it was directly related to sex.

Abuse in childhood, yes. Overprotective father (not allowed friends, etc.), physically abusive mother, possible sexually abusive neighbour - she again wasn't sure if it was sexual abuse with the neighbour.

Doctors attempted to talk to her, but she refused to talk to them at the time.

Sex was quite early on in the relationship, so there is no comparison. There was a situation passing a family planning clinic when he physically forced her to stop and tried to drag her in to go on the pill, this upset her to the point where she nearly ended things.

Couldn't say anything about his past relationship history.

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Heather
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This makes it all pretty clear then.

It sounds like this was an emotionally abusive relationship that also included sexual abuse, in my opinion. My take on that given all the details is likely to be in alignment with what a therapist, doctor or lawyer would say, as well.

The reason I asked those questions was because in situations like this, where it's not an easy call about someone telling if someone does NOT want what is sexually going on, it perhaps obviously hinges on if the person has an awareness of if sex is UNwanted for the other person. I'd say it's clear he had that awareness.

It might also help your friend to know that her background with childhood abuse probably played a big part in her not leaving this situation, and her feeling obligated (on top of manipulation from the boyfriend). In other words, it might be a comfort to her to know that with that kind of history, which I suspected she might have, thus why I asked, it would have been a lot harder for her to see this coming or to really get how bad it was before she was deep enough in it to then be additionally "stuck" when it came to these abusive dynamics. It sounds likely that she's never been in healthy, close relationships and developed a) an awareness of what is and isn't healthy, and b) the skills to get herself out of an unhealthy relationship. None of that is her fault, nor was in her control.

Per the legalities, given she did have doctors try and talk and did see them with her health issues via this, if she wanted to file charges, she probably could.

What my primarily concern would be, though, is that it sounds like she hasn't had any kind of counseling around any of this, probably including her childhood abuses. Obviously, she's suffering a lot right now, and probably in some pretty serious emotional crises. She's likely also not in any kind of position to be in intimate relationships right now.

Is she open to getting that help? because it sounds like she very much needs it, and she's likely to start feeling a lot better if she starts getting it. It sounds to me like right now she's just kind of perpetually stuck in a position of either beating herself up or self-blaming or avoidance, both of which are likely to hurt her even more and certainly keep her from healing.

[ 03-13-2010, 07:59 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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In case it's not obvious, by the way, while I'd still suggest she find some in-person counseling, advocacy and support, we'd certainly be glad to talk with her, too, and provide the support that we can.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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