I come from sexual assault: A tale of #Metoo

(Ed. Note: TRIGGER WARNING. The following post may be triggering for some as it contains real life accounts of many non-consensual sexual acts.  Please read with caution.)

My first sexual experience with a boy – a man of 19 when I was a summer shy of 16 – was rooted in assault.  Every touch, kiss, and fondle was coerced from me.

His breath smelled, he sat too close, his fingers hurt my tender skin as he dug his way down into my jeans and then into my body.  He reeked of Obsession.  I refused to let him look at me naked, never took off my clothes, but he managed to snake his hands onto my flesh and they explored my virgin body instead.  In broad daylight all over his parents’ house, exposed and helpless.

He called me every night long past a decent calling time and kept me up until 3 and 4 in the morning.  I dragged myself to work at the pool where we both taught swim lessons and lifeguarded; I shied away from him in public.  I didn’t want anyone to know about us.

I can still taste the kiss he planted on me after his lunch of a big Dairy Queen burger with onions.

One warm summer night my friends and I all dipped into the Everclear stash of Tammy’s drunken, passed out father.  My friends were vaguely aware that this 19 yo man and I were dating, but they didn’t press.  He and Tammy had dated for several months and every night he’d sneak in her bedroom window and fuck her while her father lay passed out on the couch in the living room.

By all accounts, despite being a year younger than me, she had wanted it and him and thus everyone assumed I did, too. Not wanting to appear less sophisticated than her I didn’t correct them.

The liquor stoked a restlessness within me.  He knew I was there and what I was doing and he’d told me to sneak out and come see him.  To do what, exactly, I never considered.  My innocent 15 yo brain could only explore so far before my imagination gave out, romance novels notwithstanding.

With enough alcohol to embolden me I called him and shared my plan: I would steal one of the 16 year old’s cars who was too drunk to notice and drive across town to see him.  But just for a little while.  “Don’t take advantage of me,” I said.

Underage, without a license, I traversed my little bedroom town and parked in front of his house.  He was waiting for me in the dark awning of his converted garage bedroom.

I don’t remember what we said to each other except that I said those magical, protective words again: Please.  Don’t take advantage of me.  I felt light and hot and like a grown up.  Wild and free.  I’d told him not to hurt me so therefore he wouldn’t.

I knew he wanted me – whatever that meant – and that felt like power.

We kissed in the dark, alone and in his bedroom, a place we had never spent time before.  He walked me backwards towards his bed.  His room smelled foreign and faintly like dirty laundry.  Like a musky boy.

The backs of my legs hit the bed and we stopped.  I stopped.  This was enough.  I was done.  But how??

He was not done.

He pulled off my shirt and I crossed my arms over my bra.  He pulled my hands apart and took off my bra.  I had never been topless in front of him and I shivered with embarrassment, a vague sense of wrong washed over me, but… I had put myself here.

He pushed me back on the bed, pulled down my pants and I shuddered with humiliation thinking he could see in the dim porch light that I was wearing my mother’s high-waisted underwear.  He didn’t notice that I was wearing my mother’s panties.

He only wanted them off.

I froze as he slipped them past my straight little hips and off my foot, pushed my knees apart and put his face between my legs.  There.  Where no one had ever been before, where I had not asked, where he had no right to be.

His tongue was hot and wet and acid.  Mortification, horror, fear pressed me deep into the mattress.  I was disgusted that he seemed to be enjoying it.

I pulled him up, told him to stop, and he kissed me as if it were a lovers moment, my first experience ever of tasting myself on a man’s lips and I pressed mine shut and turned away.

He pulled me into his arms to lay on his bed.  I thought it was over.  That he’d gotten what he wanted and I was safe again.  Stiffly I lay against his bare chest.  He was in only underpants.  I didn’t know what to say.

Then he took my hand – I thought he wanted to hold it – but instead forced it down to his groin, to his hot, hard skin.  I snatched my hand away as if it were burned, sat up and couldn’t stop the verbal outpouring.

“I’ve got to go, I’ve got to go, I’ve got to go,” I said.  “No, no, no,” spilled out to nothing as he helplessly watched me find my clothing in the dark.  Retroactive words that couldn’t turn back time.

I was sober now.

He continued to treat it like it was a tender moment between us and hugged my stiff body goodbye.  I walked to the little red Pontiac Le Mans 5-speed and drove back to my friend’s house and cried.

I cried because it was my fault.  I cried because I was supposed to feel differently than this, this despondence, this hurled into space feeling.

I had called him, flirted with him, went to him.

I hadn’t fought or slapped or kicked or said even one word to him to make him stop.

But none of what had happened had felt right — nothing about our entire “relationship” had felt right — but I was raised on dysfunctional interactions with men – you must be so beautiful you stop traffic, so desirable you make him reckless and irrational, so lovely you make him weep.  Not listening to how I felt with him was what I’d been bred to do: what I needed never mattered.

He shipped out the following fall and married a sad creature from our high school.  He occasionally wrote me letters telling me how special I was.  By then I didn’t care.  I no longer wanted to impress him.

A decade or so later, with a divorce and two children under his belt – including a daughter – he apologized for that night.  He avoided calling it assault, but he acknowledged that if I never wanted to speak to him again he deserved it.  My reply was gracious, but lackluster.  I had shrunken it down: It was just a bad night.

I wish I could remember when I named that night for what it was.  It wasn’t right away, I know that.  For years I considered that just another really bad sexual experience, a bad start. “Sexual assault” was too hard to swallow.

I didn’t date another boy until I was in college and those fumbling attempts at sex were consensual, though I was barely present.  I would drink too much and throw myself at these boys and descend upon them fearlessly, my tender heart a million miles away.

I fucked like that throughout my 20s, through serious boyfriends who’d paw at me and beg and wear me down until I finally said yes, through drunken liaisons with hot, willing men in bars whose names I barely knew.

Close to 30 I began to try to marry sex with emotion and embarked on sober sex with a lover or two before I met my exhusband – who was so not sexually charged that I considered him safe enough to open up with.  I had missed the mark again.

Another decade and I left our sexless marriage and was back to heartless fucking and a lot more “bad sex.”

Sex when I didn’t want to have it after a wonderful date.

Oral sex when I had said I didn’t want it.

Being abused by a “so-called dominant.”

Being fondled in public on a first date without my consent.

Being completely ignored when I said “No, not tonight.”

Maybe having sex with the bastard who dragged me across a room filled with people into a dark bedroom, but I can’t remember because I was so fucked up or maybe I just blocked that part out.

The date with the Frenchman who coerced me into his car, into his apartment, and into letting him jam his disgusting, fat tongue down my throat.

The same Frenchman who insisted on pawing me and trying to sneak his hand up my skirt despite my many firm NOs.

The light-weight chef who blamed the whiskey or two he’d consumed on his boorish sexual advances.

I literally cannot count the number of times I have been physically assaulted in my life —  Twenty-five?  Fifty? — let alone count the number of times I have been assaulted by unsolicited dick pics and disgusting “erotic” messages online.  If I had to guess at that combined number it’d have to be in the thousands.

After a couple of winter assaults in 2016 I began 2017 with a date at a swanky restaurant with Rex, a feminist and bleeding heart liberal.  Imagine my surprise when I registered the shock on his face as I told him, “Literally every woman you know has been sexually assaulted.  Every. Woman.”  He should know this already, right??  But, no.

He wanted to know more, why hadn’t I reported anything ever? A bad thing happened to me at the hands of someone else and I should report such bad things. “Because it wouldn’t have held up in court; I know what kind of world I live in. I did X, Y, Z and a jury would find me at fault.”

He had no idea that No didn’t actually mean No to a whole lot of men out there, that women felt compelled to follow through with a situation because she felt responsible, that some women — myself included — did things with her body because it might mitigate potential violence should she try to fully stop her date, that all women understand she bears the burden of proof and if one signal were mixed she has no legal leg to stand on.

I began to feel responsible for the mixed signals I had given.  How would he know if I didn’t say No?  If I didn’t fight?  If I ended up just going along with it because my body responded to his touch?  I was a part of the problem, too, then right?  I was actively contributing to misinformation about sex and women and the miseducation of men.  Wasn’t I?

It wasn’t until this fall, right as the Harvey Weinstein news was crashing down upon us all, that I wondered this aloud to a young man who wanted to connect with me before we embarked on a sexual relationship.

Nate and I sat in his dark Volvo outside my building and he listened to my concerns and he became incensed at my logic.  Incensed.

I could hear the horror in his voice as he realized I was owning the revolting behavior of the men who had hurt me over the years.  “NO, HY.  NO.  MEN KNOW WHEN A WOMAN DOESN’T WANT IT.

“But what if I didn’t want him to know??”

“NO.”

“But what if I went along with it?”

“NO.”

“But what if eventually I just stopped saying No??”

“NO NO NO NO NO.  WE ALWAYS KNOW.”

The windows steamed up from his shouting.  I felt like I had been punched.  Not by him — no, I was in awe of his emotion about this — but by a new reality: those incidents hadn’t just been “bad dates” with ignorant, stupid men, they had been sexual assaults by men who knew better.

They knew they were hurting me.

They knew they were pressuring and pushing me.

They knew I didn’t want to.

They knew.

Just like that 19 yo boyfriend always knew.

I don’t think that this makes every man who assaulted me a bad man and a predator.  It makes him irresponsible, possibly an opportunist, certainly a jerk, but not an automatic menace to society.  That would require more data if we are to be fair.

And a man is as much a product of his socializing to conquer and take sex as I have been socialized to please and give it.  Imagine how different our world would be if we raised our men to give sex rather than take or get it.

Honestly, how the fuck are any of us to know when No is a real-No and a No is an I’m-Supposed-to-Say-This-So-You-Don’t-Think-I’m-Easy-No.  Aziz Ansari is a numbnut dipshit and a perfect example of this and that date personifies my guilt about my role in all of this.

He [willfully] believed all her dodging and eventual capitulations were part of a consensual chase, that it was his role to pursue, but those two poor souls were definitely not on the same date.  She was in hell, he was the romantic hero of his own romance novel.  But he still knew, he just assigned a different meaning to her behaviors.

She was being coy, playing hard to get, and if he could somehow convince her to say Yes then it was consensual.  Score 1 for the good guy!

And she’s thinking, “If I say Yes, then maybe it’ll stop.”  Or, “Maybe it won’t be that bad.”  Or, “Maybe he really doesn’t know and I won’t die if I just do it.”  Or, “I did invite him back to my apartment/go to his apartment/a secluded area/his car so I’ve given the signal I’m interested and I can’t stop now.”

This issue does not lay at the feet of only women to solve.  It is not about us saying No louder or avoiding situations or running away or “just leaving.”  It’s about men understanding that it lays equally at their feet to be honest, present, and responsible.

Men need to question the model of masculinity handed to them, the Patriarchy which tells them once turned on it is their duty and right to satiate their need by any means necessary.

Women must reject what’s been handed to them, as well, this belief that they are solely responsible for what happens to them.  If only she hadn’t worn that skirt, had that drink, said Yes the last date/hour/minute then this wouldn’t have happened to her.

What we’re taught is breathtakingly fucked up.

Once we realize what we’ve been spoon fed we all – both men and women – need a path to redemption.  Men need an avenue to a safe place for growth and forgiveness and women need a route to believe in her inherent human value and her rights to safety with men.

Being violent is only the most obvious assault, but it’s not the only way men force their sexual will on women.  They also intimidate, beg, cajole, plead, manipulate, wear down, corner, argue, and insist upon.

And because he didn’t raise a hand against her he believes he did nothing wrong and the woman who just went against her instincts to survive the encounter is left with a jagged empty space in her heart and a truckload of guilt for bringing it upon herself.

But he knew. 
And now we know, too.

He didn’t listen.

See right through me.

It was the third time it stung and hurt in rhythm to his thrusting digits that night.  I told him to stop, but his long fingers kept moving inside of me.  He’d pushed things farther than I’d wanted all night long and now we were naked on my bed.

“You’re hurting me!” I said and pushed at the arm and wrist connected to my body.

“Stop!” I said again, firm and angry.  “You are hurting me!!

He pulled his hand out and kissed me drunkenly.  “I’m sorry,” he said.

I explained to him how to touch me and let him restart.

It hurt again.  I cried out again.  I yelled at him to stop again.  I pushed his hand away again.

He wanted to fuck then, but I said no.  He pouted and begged, kissed my neck and touched my pussy.  The wine fuzzed my brain and it was much too dark in my room to clearly see that he needed to just go away.

I let his touch calm me and when he slithered down to put his mouth on me I held my breath.  “Do not suck on me,” I said.  “It will hurt; I’m too sensitive.”

He sucked.

“Don’t suck!” I said again and pushed at his shoulders.  He didn’t budge and continued to suck.  I felt my labia pulled away from my body by the suction and I hated it, that awful, tugging sensation.

“Stop it!  Stop it!  Stop it!”  I shouted.  “I just told you not to suck!!!”

I told him to lap at me.  “Like an ice cream cone.”

I wasn’t  there anymore.

I was in a black space with no exit, thick and viscous.  My arms and legs were mine, but they weren’t free.  This man was doing these things to me that I was supposed to enjoy, but I wasn’t.  It hurt, it pissed me off, it felt pointless, I felt lost.

It finally ended somehow and I was submerged in upside-down darkness and only wanted him to leave.  He wanted to stay the night.  “No, you need to go home.  My mom will be here at 8 in the morning.”

He pouted again and recoiled from me.  As he gathered up his clothing he complained they were wet from my ejaculate.  I told him to shut up, incredulous.

Because I’m a woman and trained to be polite I hugged him goodbye, but he was terse and walked out stiffly.  Several minutes later he texted to tell me how much he liked me.

Late the next morning he texted to say he’d left some things behind and that he’d had an incredible night with me.  I’d found his boxers already, but he’d also left his work keys.  I searched the couch hoping they weren’t there, but they were: two shiny silver keys on a ring, a big one and a little one, much like my delusion and self-respect.

I haven’t told him they are here.  He wants to see me again.  I don’t want to.  Keys or no keys.

I don’t know how to proceed.  Do I tell him how I remember the evening or do I just say “Sorry, this isn’t going to work out for me.”  I want to disappear and not think about the disaster that was my Friday night, erase it completely from memory.

I wonder if I could be wrong about everything, that maybe I was begging for it.   Maybe I did sometimes, I don’t recall that clearly.  Never mind.  It doesn’t matter.  It will soon be rolled into the other stories I have of nights similar to that one.  Of being over-powered by their desire and choosing the path of least resistance and saying, Fine, ok.  I’ll do it, when truthfully, I don’t want to, but am too scared to say No only to have him say Yes we are because then it really is bad.  And scary.  And my fault.

I am clear that No means No, but when a drunk woman is half naked on your lap and her hard limit is your hand in her pussy, but it’s ok to suck on her tits I get the confusion.  I understand the risk, I understand the world I live in.  It’s not set up for me to have hard limits if others are soft.

I blame myself for not having the guts to kick him out the second I felt it was sideways.  Instead I tried to salvage it, make his mistake and boorish behavior ok so it wouldn’t be a scary assault, so he wouldn’t see he’d gone too far and reached a vulnerable place in me – both literally and figuratively.  I let him stay and I attempted to make the night mine, not his, and all I really accomplished was confusing him and hurting me.

And now I have his keys to remember him by.

 

I may give mixed signals, but No still means No.

I’m hard pressed to call it “sexual assault” because if I were him I’d likely have tried the same things with me, but I can’t not call it sexual assault, either, because I said, “Absolutely not,” and he did it anyway.

I arrived at his apartment a little after 7:30 to catch a cab to the bar, but we decided to hang out for a glass of wine first.  He smelled fruity in a weird, masculine way; his apartment was tidy and inhabited by a giant 8-month old puppy named Blast who liked my crotch immensely.

We sat on his back porch and sipped our wine.  He’s from the same state I am and we talked about the strange new world we now find ourselves with gigantic bugs who seem to think they own the place, much like their two-legged counterparts.

We called the cab and began the walk out to the busy street to meet it.  The dusk sky was brilliantly smeared with pinked and blue clouds and the breeze was cool on my bare shoulders.  “You look really beautiful tonight, Hy,” he said.

“Well, thank you,” I replied.  He took my hand to help me down a slope and into the cab.

The bar was littered with hipsters and Johnny Cash memorabilia.  Gladys Night and the Pips were playing when we walked in and ordered a shot and beer back — Jameson and a tallboy Lone Star for me, a Stella for him — and Lionel Ritchie saw us out.

Conversation and laughter flowed; I effortlessly led the conversation to sex as I’m wont to do.  I need to make it clear to every man I date where I stand: I currently sleep with other men, I am slightly kinky, I experiment, I ‘m not looking for a relationship, but am open to it, blah blah blah.

His eyes lit up at my tales and I was overcome with bashfulness time and time again, but I worked through it.  I have to get this stuff out there.  I feel compelled to make sure everyone knows where I stand.  My own talk was titillating, I felt warm and smooth and he is a handsome man, so when I had the opportunity I grabbed his shirt from where he stood above me and pulled him down for a kiss.  It was perfect.

He growled into my mouth how much he thought so, too.

The sexual compatibility seemed to be there, on paper, anyway.  That’s the first hurdle a lover of mine must pass.  And the chemistry was decent.

Too soon for my taste he suggested we go back to his place for more wine.  I said OK, bid a silent farewell to the tattoos, piercings and skinny jeans scattered about me and hopped back into the cab.  His hand slid up on my thigh and I let it stay.  It was nice enough.

Back at his place we went to the porch.  Lightening bugs popped in and out of view like fading lights.  He moved his chair closer then stood up altogether and loomed over me.  I looked up at him knowing that he was done talking.  He bent down to kiss me and grabbed me hard by the arms.  I liked it.

“Let’s go in my room.”

And this is where I should have done something different.  This is where I knew things would go wrong, but I couldn’t find the words to set it right.  He took me by the hand and shut and locked the door behind him lest his dog barge in on us.  His bed was low and covered in white down.  He lit a paper lamp on the floor in the corner and sat down and fell on top of me.  We kissed passionately, his whiskers raked over my face.

He grabbed the top of my dress and let a breast fall out.  His mouth clamped down hard and I winced and cried out.  My nails dug into his neck and I pulled him closer to me.  It felt good, but I knew where this was going and I didn’t want to go there.

My other breast fell out and now he pinched the nipple.  I was impressed at his passion and his inclination – clearly he likes it rough like I do – but I couldn’t shake the overriding feeling of I don’t want to do this.  His hand ran up my thigh and hit me me on my flank.  Hard.  I writhed a little and moaned.  Fuck.  I’m doing this all wrong.

When his hand began to fumble at my boyshorts I pulled him up.  “No.  I’m not going to fuck you tonight.  I’m on my period.”

“There are lots of other things we can do, you know.”

“I know, but I don’t want to.  I don’t want our first time to hook up to involve blood.  I just don’t.”

“But your clit isn’t anywhere near the blood.”

“I know that, too, but I don’t care.  I don’t want to.”

And then he slid my panties to the side and lay his mouth on me.

I was shocked.  Horrified, really.  He began to suck and I yelled at him to stop, that if he kept sucking he would fucking die.  He switched to lapping, which was nice, but none of this was supposed to be happening.  I’d just told him No.  I tried to enjoy it, but it was impossible.  I was pissed and a little scared.  What if I made him stop with a tantrum??  Threw him off and screamed at him?  Would he try to hurt me??  He seemed like such a decent guy, clearly I confused him and I should try to exit this situation as smoothly as possible.

I pulled him up off of me and let him kiss me again and ran my hand down to his erection.  Maybe if I could get excited about that then none of this would have happened.  Hot and smooth in my hand — slim — it only served to remind me of The Neighbor instead.   I said I had to pee.

In the bathroom on the toilet, staring at the polka-dots on his shower curtain and trying to keep the dog’s snout out of my pussy, I took my time to think.

This date was fucking over.

I went back into his room and said, “Look, I’m really sorry, but I’m feeling fickle tonight.  I need to go home.  This isn’t going to happen.  I swear it’s not you, it’s me.  I just need to go.”

He looked crestfallen, his bare chest dark and broad beneath me.  He said, “No,” and pulled me down for another kiss, made me straddle his exposed cock, a long, lean piece of meat.  “You swear you’ll see me again??”

“Yes,” I lied.

“Ok, then.  I understand.”

He got dressed and walked me to my car.  Home, I wanted nothing more than to fall into TN’s arms, but he wasn’t there and had only texted me to accept a dinner invitation for tonight.  He was likely with another woman.  So, I fell into my purple sheets in only my panties, tangled my limbs in my comforter and closed my eyes.

No means no, no matter what, but I don’t blame Mitchell.  I blame myself.  I’m not fit to do this right now.  I love The Neighbor — there, I said it.  This admission will likely bring hellfire and bullshit alike down upon my ears, but so be it.  I’m like a zombie out there.  I reel them in, but can no longer seal the deal.  I’m only half alive.  I don’t have it in me anymore to eat all men for breakfast lunch and dinner (just a couple here and there, apparently) and I got myself into a bad situation because of it.

I’ll likely not see Mitchell again not because I’m not curious about fucking him or even excited to do so — because strangely enough, I am — but because he made me say No so many times.  He should have rolled off of me the second I said so and certainly not ignored me.  It’s a shame, really.  I thought he was nice.  But then again, I guess he wasn’t at all if he didn’t listen to my No.