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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » I feel awful. (Trigger Warning!!)

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Author Topic: I feel awful. (Trigger Warning!!)
ConfusedDragon
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Something bad happened to me recently, and I'm going to be describing it in detail because I need to talk to someone about it, but as I think survivors of sexual abuse could potentially find it triggering, I have included a warning.

So, yeah, I feel stupid. I've posted about my problems with this relationship before and I think I should've listened better to the advice you gave me about him not being a sound sexual partner. I feel like I let this happen because I stayed with my boyfriend after the first really bad incident of him pressuring me into sexual activities I did not want, and I didn't really lay down some rules so he would know specifically what he was doing that upset me so that he wouldn't do it again. It's also really hard for me to say no to him sometimes because he often gets upset or continues pushing when I say no (this feels like it's also my fault, that I let this stuff happen). I have at least told him those things now. I don't know if I believe he'll honor them when he hasn't exactly listened or kept his promises about sexual topics before. But at least he knows what not to do now, I guess. Still I'm not sure if it's worth it to stay. Or more like, why do I not want to let him go? This is going to be a very long and complicated post.

This next paragraph is what the TRIGGER WARNING applies to.

What he did this time: We went on a 3 day camping trip together. From the first day, he was asking to do something sexual with me that I did not want to do, in this case trying to determine whether his penis (with a condom on) would fit in my vagina. I have never had a penis in my vagina, and I was concerned that it would hurt because it wasn't used to something that big being in there and also because we didn't have additional lubrication. I am also not on birth control of any sort at the moment, so I had pregnancy concerns as well, even though he did have a condom on. Anyway, on the third day of the trip, he basically pulled me into the tent with the intent of trying this after unsuccessfully trying to talk me into it the first two days. I basically curled up into a ball almost crying while he tried to take my clothes off. He knew I was scared; I had told him this multiple times before he attempted this. He asked if I wanted to, and when I shook my head, he said something along the lines of I should just try, for him or our relationship. He begged, got mad, and then acted sweet in order to try to get what he wanted. At one point he suggested giving up on sexual stuff for the day, but I said nothing because I was afraid he'd be upset with me the rest of the day if he didn't get off. We had agreed a few weeks earlier to go slowly with intercourse, which he seemed to have forgotten about, which I guess I should've mentioned to him. Then he suggested just rubbing my genital area with his penis, which I agreed to, thinking he had finally given up on his first idea, and also thinking I might enjoy it once my fear of him trying his irst idea faded. Looking back on it, I shouldn't have trusted him, because after rubbing my genitals with his penis for a few minutes, he stuck it in my vagina, pulling it out when I made whimpery noises of pain. He tried a few more times, stopping when I made in-pain noises. I know I should have told him to stop, but I was too shocked and scared to. I did say at one point that it needed more lubrication and he offered his penis for me to lubricate with my saliva. Then he tried one more time to put it in my vagina, and I tried to relax my muscles so it wouldn't hurt so much this time (as I felt like I didn't have a choice in this happening); it got about half way in before the worst pain yet occurred, because I think it hit my cervix, which was lower than it would be had I been properly aroused. I yelped and squirmed and he pulled it out. He asked if I wanted to try again, I shook my head violently, ignoring his small protest that it had only gone in half way. Then he put my hand on his penis to indicate that he wanted me to give him manual sex. I apparently wasn't doing a good job in my shocked state, so he took over and masterbated. I left to go to the bathroom. And when I came out, he was waiting for me. He realized he had upset me, and then he started crying because he had "just wanted to try this with [me]." Thinking back on it, he gave no indication that he knew why I was upset. Anyway, I was so shocked at having made a boy cry that I comforted him instead of him comforting me. I think I just needed to write this whole thing out and tell someone to make me less awful about what happened.

Twoish weeks after that incident, which would be now, I'm still feeling upset with him. I consider what he's been doing (the pressuring for sex, etc.) to be abusive, which I told him (perhaps not the best decision) because I thought maybe he'd get it then, and he got upset and denied it. I am also struggling with whether or not I think he what did was rape, probably because I would very much prefer that it wasn't. I know if I told him about these thoughts, he would say that it definitely wasn't rape because he doesn't even consider what we/he did to be intercourse because he didn't do anything (like motions/thrusting or ejaculation) inside me. ...Ugh, just thinking about writing those last two sentences disgusts me.

After talking to him some more about it, I finally got him to admit that the pressuring is wrong (after I cried and he said he'd been acting like a jerk). Then, I talked to a friend about it earlier this week (a different friend than the one I talked to last time I had problems in this relationship), but didn't go into all the details I have shared here, and she thought his pressuring is very wrong and that he's pushing for vaginal intercourse so hard that he's pushing it farther away from his grasp, which is true. Another thing she said was that I shouldn't do it if I don't want to. She also said that he's buying into the American sexual culture which says everyone should be having all the sex (as in intercourse) all the time and that sex is like the biggest act of love ever, which are both things I do not believe. I would agree with my friend, as my boyfriend has some other more culturally based views on sex which I don't really buy into either. She also said that I should try to be more optimistic about sex, and that that would happen when I was no longer feeling pressured, which I agree is probably the main cause of my negative feelings surrounding sex and my suspected repressed sex drive.

My friend also said a few things that sort of upset me. She expressed concern that I would have a hard time finding any male partner who was okay without having vaginal intercourse as long as I needed to not be having it. This also concerns me, as I haven't really met any guy who feels like intercourse isn't a big deal, including my own father who has told me that I'd have to "put out" or "do whatever it takes" (which implies the same) to keep a guy I really liked. My friend also said that in just saying no to my boyfriend, I was hurting his feelings, making him feel rejected and giving him "blue balls," which is something he has expressed before, which makes me feel guilty for saying no, making doing so all that much harder for me. The third upsetting thing she said was that having sex (as in vaginal intercourse) changes a person, and I think she meant that I'd be not afraid of having sex anymore so I'd be more inclined to have it, and as I'm not so sure I've been able to completely shake off cultural beliefs of sex being "dirty" or things to that effect, which I think might have more to do with my zero experience with a trustworthy sexual partner than anything else, this idea of "changing" scares me. Now, these thoughts are coming from her own experiences, so I'll try to take them with a grain of salt, as my experiences may hopefully be different.

So, after talking to my friend, I talked to my boyfriend again. I told him which things he did that I considered pressuring and he agreed not do those, and to ask for sex differently. But when I told him that I had a hard time saying no, and that I needed him to pay attention to when I was unresponsive he got angry with me, and said things like "how hard is it to just shake your head?" To which I responded with "how hard is it to pay attention to your partner?" Because I was concerned that he hadn't been paying attention to me or my feelings during sexual activities at all. In my discussion with my friend, she had suggested things that would be helpful when I had intercourse for the first time, such as using lube and finding a safe and private place (because my boyfriend and I both live with our parents and even currently, finding a private place to be sexual is a challenge), even if that means going to a hotel. Now, when I told my boyfriend these things, he said lube was really expensive and that "there was no way [he was] paying $50 just to have sex." Now, while I get that he grew up in a limited income family, he has a job now where he makes $20 an hour, so it feels like he is just being cheap. It might've been the dismissive way he said it, though, that's upsetting me.

On top of all of that, I've come to realize that all of the more serious relationships I've had with guys my own age (be they a friend or a boyfriend) have been abusive in one way or another, so my trust level in guys is at an all time low.

I think I'll postpone the discussion about my issues with breaking up with my boyfriend for a bit. Mostly because I guess I need validation(?) and/or support for the stuff I've already posted about before I talk about those issues.

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Redskies
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I'm so sorry he did this to you, ConfusedDragon. I'm glad you felt able to come back and talk with us.

I hear you when you say you're not ready to talk about breaking up, and I can understand that. For the here and now, though, based on everything you've said about his behaviour, I'd be concerned for your safety if you were to see him. Are you able to take some space from him and not see him at the moment, while you do your thinking and processing? At the very least, I'd suggest not seeing him alone and not anywhere private or isolated.

What you're describing is big coercion on his part. You haven't done anything wrong, you didn't "let" any of this happen. He made it happen by repeatedly pushing past your no, and by making you feel like you're the person doing something wrong by saying no. You're not in the wrong for not wanting to be sexual in whichever ways or by telling him that - we all have the right to do with our bodies only what we truly want to do with our body.

You're right that coercion is an abuse, and that him pressuring you for sex is abusive. What you described in the tent meets the definition of rape: you had been very clear that you did not want it, and he did something sexual on and inside your body anyway. Too, things like curling up into a ball, whimpering in pain, saying you were scared, shaking your head, even simply being unresponsive - they're all very, very clear signals of non-consent. The idea that he did not know you didn't want to, which he seems to be suggesting when he thinks you should've said/communicated "no" more, is frankly unbelievable. It truly does not sound like the problem was him not paying attention; it sounds like he did not care.

His behaviour and what he's saying sounds deeply, deeply manipulative. He's coming up with any and all possible "justifications" for his own previous behaviour and for why he should be able to carry on doing it. The wrongs here are truly about what He's doing, and yet he's putting things back on you by getting upset or angry with you when you try to talk about it with him. Basically, you are asking him not to hurt you and to respect your bodily integrity, and he is refusing this and getting upset and angry about you asking. That's not something a safe or respectful partner does. It's very confusing to be on the receiving end of that, because it's very natural for us to be concerned about someone who seems to be upset or angry, and to not want someone we care about to be upset or angry with us.

Some of what your friend is saying is supportive, but some of it isn't correct or helpful. "Blue balls" can happen to someone with any kind of genitals and is not a big deal - it's a very temporary discomfort which is completely harmless and can also be relieved by masturbation. It's a very human reaction to feel hurt and rejected if someone turns us down, but that Never trumps another person's right to their own body. Pressuring someone into something is not an acceptable or healthy reaction to not getting what we want, in any context, but especially with sex. Your friend is wrong about vaginal intercourse changing a person - it doesn't. I think what she might be thinking of is when someone basically really wants to do something and feels ready but also feels apprehensive because it's new, unknown or a big step - in that case, someone is likely to feel less apprehensive and more confident afterwards. If someone doesn't want to do something, or kinda does but feels genuinely scared or not ready, then doing the thing is not remotely likely to help them feel better about it, and with something personal like sex, it's quite likely to then feel More scary and More unpleasant.

I think that you not wanting vaginal sex is not a thing I'd be at all concerned about or focus on as an issue at the moment. You're describing a situation where your partner is very unsafe, pressuring you and assaulting you, and where you don't have any experience of a trustworthy partner - it is entirely unsurprising that you don't want sex at the moment. Basic trust about our own safety tends to be an absolute baseline requirement for wanting sex, either generally or with a specific person. Wanting/not wanting sex is a thing I'd really put on the back-burner and pick up again in the future once you're in a safe context. Also, not everyone - including all men or all people with penises - want intercourse, so if it did turn out that way more long-term for you, it's not a barrier to you having romantic or otherwise sexual partners.

If you haven't already seen them, do you feel like reading our pieces on abuse would help you? Too, if there's anything you wrote that I haven't seemed to respond to and you'd like it addressed, do say.

What can we best do to support you?

--------------------
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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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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I am also so very sorry to hear this. [Frown]

Honestly, all of this, and a lot from before, basically screams, "Get away and stay away," to me. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, just get the heck away from this person and stay away from them so they do not have the opportunity to do you any more harm, in any way.

I hear you getting messages that this kind of treatment is something required of you, or that it is something you should expect of any man who you will not have a certain kind of sex with: please know those messages are both wrong -- they are not true, for one, even with something as simple as the false presumption that PIV intercourse is something everyone with a penis requires, needs and enjoys (it's not) -- and they are also seriously busted. Ultimately, they are just echoes of some crummy sexual frameworks some people are taught and believe, and not frames that create healthy sexual dynamics personally, interpersonally, or culturally. And if this is what you've been surrounded with, then for sure, it's going to be harder for you to find and create healthy relationships.

But the same is also true if you keep sticking in any relationships that show themselves to be unhealthy. That doesn't make any of this your fault, mind. But if and when you choose to stay when you have the ability to leave what it does is just provide this person continued opportunities to hurt you, and make it so it'll be harder and harder to leave this -- and break patterns of abusive relationships -- with every day you stay in it. I'd hate to see you get stuck in this or anything like it for years, as I'm sure you'd not want for yourself, either.

And you know, sometimes -- often -- it's hard to leave dynamics like this, and some part of you may want to stay. But I'd say you need to put that part away to deal with later, after you are out of danger and safe. Because that part of you, to the degree you have control over any of this, is not helping you out. It's helping you get hurt, and will keep only helping you get hurt.

I hear you saying you're not ready to think about leaving yet, and I don't mean to disrespect that. However, for what are hopefully obvious reasons, I am very concerned for your safety, physically, sexually and emotionally.

That is obviously up to you, but you're here, asking for our support and advice, and I don't think we can give you sound advice and good support that is not solidly centered in the very basic maxim that when we suspect or know we are in danger, we need to do what we can to get away from it. I also think that your only real answer here is to get away from this guy and stay away from him or anyone like him.

You can't discuss away someone acting like this, or change their mind with logic. Pleas for empathy and care are also going to fall on deaf ears: no one who has the ability to care for someone else, or does and is willing to use it, is going to be treating you like this.

So, I want to make sure you at least have one tool to help you look into leaving and what you'll need to do to do that, okay? That's the least we need to do to just address posts like these responsibility, but even if it wasn't, it's just one of those things where I don't think any of us would be able to sleep well at night if we didn't at least offer someone in the kind of spot you are what we could to help them get out of danger. We care about you guys: we want you to at least have better lives than this, which is a pretty low bar, really.

That information is here: http://www.scarleteen.com/article/abuse_assault/the_scarleteen_safety_plan

--------------------
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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ConfusedDragon
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Firstly, thank you both for your responses and your reassurance.

Well, I think I've read all of your articles on abuse and assault, but in case I happened to miss one, could you share the links?

And as for the break up issues, I was more referring to not including them in the first post than outright not discussing them because it would've made the post longer than it already was (and it had already taken all day to type out).

I think I can sum up why I'm reluctant to leave him into 2 reasons:

1) How he's only an abusive a** in sexual situations. It's like he's a completely different person when we're doing something non-sexual. It's the weirdest thing... like Jekyll and Hyde. Not that that should excuse his behavior in any way. And I think it's why I've stayed with him so long. Because my brain seems to have separated them. Though perhaps it's more like, I don't believe that he could be bad when he's being sweet and when he's being bad, I just wish he'd go back to being sweet. Which, as I write this, reminds me of how I often felt about a friend I had/have (haven't seen him in quite a while) who was emotionally abusive, that the real divide is in my mind. That bad him and good him are both him. And good him cannot excuse bad him. ...And I should probably stop hoping for bad him to just go away completely.

This brings me to my next dilemma: my family has only seen good him. The friend I've talked to about this thinks there is more good him than bad him. I just...telling them why I'm breaking up with him will be difficult. Because they will ask as we have a "perfect couple" projection, and I don't know how to just share this stuff with them...my mom is extraordinarily awkward with any topic relating to sex and I'm kind of concerned my dad wouldn't understand (though this is probably an unfounded fear). Plus I have step-parents I hate for different reasons and sisters at home too that I'm not that close to, whose reactions I really just don't want to deal with.

2) I consider my boyfriend my main support person. I've never exactly had the best support system, which has really caused me a lot of problems in the past, including this awful, crippling, depressive loneliness, which went away whenever I began dating someone. I've had social anxiety (undiagnosed) for as long as I can remember. That said, I don't really want to deal with upholding a bunch of different relationships, I really would just like a few really supportive people. But I haven't been able to find them, and being afraid to talk to people does not help. I've only very recently came to realize that someone I had considered my best friend (the same person I mentioned two paragraphs ago) was very emotionally abusive to both me and the friend I talked to recently about my current relationship. Most of my family is so different from me that we don't really connect. I have pretty much one real friend right now and I don't really want to tax our friendship by going to her whenever I have a problem. So, I'm afraid of breaking up with my boyfriend because it would mean a return of that awful loneliness.

On top of that, I have these intense cravings for physical affection (as in hugs and cuddles and warmth) that I seem to not be able to get outside of a romantic relationship, and not having that just compounds the loneliness more. Breaking up with my boyfriend would mean giving that up, and again it scares me because while the loneliness hasn't led to me doing anything self-harmful yet, I've always been afraid it would lead to that if it became too much.

So these things are less about my attachment to him specifically and more about general things from being in a relationship that I'm reluctant to go without.

While I would like to seek counseling or therapy for these issues, I'm not sure how to go about that as talking to my mother about any medical issue I have has always been a struggle because she doesn't take it seriously or forgets about it unless she decides it's something I need (like recently she told me I need to be on birth control and then a day later she had gotten me an appointment at a gynecologist), mind you, we have good insurance because she works in the medical field. I've tried talking to my campus counsellor (about other stuff) before but her style of communication didn't really work for me. So I would appreciate it if you could help me with either how to talk about this to my mom or how to find counseling resources that are either really, really cheap or free (because I'm a college student who has no job).

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Redskies
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So sorry you've had a small wait with this - we're a little lightly staffed just now.

Here's that collection of links - obviously, they're here for you to refer to or read as and when works best for you. This is also not a comprehensive list, simply the main pieces.
Blinders Off: Getting a Good Look at Abuse and Assault
Dealing With Rape
Driver's Ed for the Sexual Superhighway: Navigating Consent
How can men know if someone is giving consent or not?
He's my boyfriend, so how could it have been rape?

With the dynamic you're describing of him seeing to be really nice in other ways, I suggest having a look at the section about cycles of abuse in the "Blinders off" piece. People who do abusive things are very rarely abusive all the time, about everything, with the people or person they're abusing. It's very common, too, for someone who's being abusive to appear like the perfect partner to anyone looking on from the outside, and for a relationship with abuse in it to be considered the "perfect couple". Whatever else he does, whatever other people think of him or of your relationship: none of that changes or makes any less substantial the abuse that he's carrying out.

"...he's only an abusive a** in sexual situations." I'm just going to be blunt here: how much shit on your pizza is too much shit on your pizza?

Because make no mistake about it: this guy is shitting on your pizza, and he's going to continue shitting on your pizza. You're even telling him, repeatedly, that he's shitting on your pizza, and he's just going ahead and doing it.

I KNOW, with every conviction of my being, that you deserve better than pizza with shit. I know that you deserve to be safe and away from abuse. I understand that it feels hard and scary to be without this person when you're very short of other people in your life and you're short of anyone you can relate to and when you struggle with new connections. But: assault is toxic. Ultimately, being connected with someone who assaults you - even if you feel like there are big gains for you in other areas - will not give you any gain in any context. Being with someone who assaults us slowly eats away at our sense of our own personhood, at our belief in ourself, at our ability to find and build self-reliance, at our trust in our own perceptions of reality, at our belief and knowledge that we have the right and ability to exist separately from the person assaulting us. Ultimately, we lose and get damaged on even the things we thought we were gaining.

Rape Crisis services usually offer low-cost or free counselling. Because many people who've experienced abuse can have difficulties with self-esteem and/or with making supportive, non-abusive social connections, some Rape Crisis groups run or have connections to programmes that help people build and feel more confident in those skills. Given that you've talked about having a lack of non-abusive connections with people, I'm wondering if that's something you'd be interested in?

--------------------
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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ConfusedDragon
Neophyte
Member # 109874

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Sorry for not replying for a while. My gynecologist recommended a local organization that handles abuse and assault situations, with counseling. I would like to be able to find nonabusive relationships, and if this organization does not work out, I would like some other suggestions. I have decided to not break up with my boyfriend until I find good counseling, so that I'm not completely alone after it happens. Again, thank you for your support.
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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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I'm really glad to hear you found an organization to get connected with.

By all means, if you need another referral or additional support around this, we're glad to help you out. [Smile]

--------------------
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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