Living in a Repeatedly Violated Body
Trigger warning for rape. If this topic triggers you, please take care and skip this post.
I wish I could tell my body that I am sorry for all the times that a man violated my consent, and I could do nothing to prevent it. My mind and body are no longer in perfect sync. I am scared and angry. Scared that it will take way too long to feel like myself again, and angry that these men unknowingly took away my happiness. I deserve to feel at home in my body, but now I no longer do.
I wish someone told me that consent violations come in many forms, not just the commonly known rape scenario in the alleyway with an armed stranger. Maybe then I would have better prepared for what was about to come. But I wasn’t. I didn’t know better because nobody told me, yet here I am — blaming myself.
At the age of eighteen, I was raped, and never fully realized it for years. While I invited him in my home while I was drunk, I never invited him into my body. Yet he claimed it, as if had any right to do so. I thought I had to say no for it to count as rape, and I didn’t. Not only that, but I thought it had to be incredibly violent and scary, perhaps a knife to my throat type of deal. It was none of that. My body just felt too heavy to move, and he had his way with me, then left. How could I have known it was wrong? The sex ed in school just told us to use condoms, not the meaning of consent.
And so, I kept seeing him after that for a few more months. A few years later, the realization of being a rape survivor hit me out of nowhere while writing a piece. Hell, that’s not even what I mean to write about, but the deeper I dug, the clearer things got. I felt ashamed and guilty, and helpless. Years had passed, and it was too late to do anything. No DNA evidence to back me up, and I didn’t even know his full name. It was too late. I felt like he had won, getting away with raping a young girl behind his girlfriend’s back. Although it took me a while to process the trauma, I still believed that guys like him were one in a couple of thousands, at least. That would be the first and the last time I was sexually violated, right? Well, if only.
At the age of nineteen, I was curious about the kink world. That’s how I ventured on Fetlife and started talking to a guy twelve years my senior. I should have seen the red flag right there, but I was young and naive. With my daddy issues in full swing, I just wanted someone older and wiser to take care of me. If only I realized that predatory men can also be disguised as gentlemen. That’s how I saw him until and including our first date. He paid for a dinner in a nice restaurant, and I was smitten. We went to his place, had some more wine and messed around. I remember him rubbing his dick against my pussy, but we decided not to have sex without condoms to not risk pregnancy. Little did I know that pregnancy would have been the least of my concerns.
The second date never followed, as I found out that he was fucking other people behind my back and had given me an STI. At first, my doctor and my own mother brushed these STI concerns aside, claiming I just had a yeast infection. But it kept coming back for weeks, until I finally got tested for the first time in my life, only to have my worst fears confirmed. I had an STI. Luckily, it was a curable one, but it didn’t soften the emotional blow much. I had been lied to about something that was no joke at all. It was a disease that could have messed with my health long term if uncured, possibly making me infertile in the future. It was MY body that he so carelessly had put at risk, prioritizing HIS selfish sexual desires.
So how did this story end? Well… After attempting to arrange an in person meeting to tell him the bad news in person and turning down the unwanted sexual advances that came through text prior to our planned meeting, he cancelled. Of course, if he wasn’t getting his dick wet, I was not worth his time. So I told him over the text, he gaslit me, we argued and then blocked each other. The end. Or was it? Because I still dealt with feelings of shame and feeling alienated from my own body. I was scared to touch myself due to the fear or what painful spot I might find next. I struggled to trust men after that, and still felt like damaged goods for a long time afterwards. And just when I had finally recovered, it didn’t take long for the next blow to come.
Now I am twenty-three, and today the next load of bad news hit me like a truck. I’ve been casually seeing a lovely guy for the past three months, finally feeling happy that I found someone who knows how to treat me right. Being around him was like a breath of fresh air, until… today happened. It must have been about fifteen hours ago when I found out that our date had to be cancelled due to him having a Herpes outbreak. A WHAT?? And that’s how I found out that the guy I’ve been having unprotected sex with for 3 months, who told me that he was recently tested at the beginning of our relationship, has Herpes. Still, until this very moment, it is hard to find the words to say how I feel. Betrayed, let down, sad, angry… And somewhere deep down there is a voice inside me, screaming: “How dare you?! This is MY body you’re putting at risk! Mine!”
Can you really tell someone that you care about them, if you don’t bother to disclose a diagnosis that you’ve known about for quite a while? No amount of ‘I’m sorry’ can fix the broken trust. I feel like I’ve lost my footing, and now I’m just floating around in complete chaos with nothing solid to hold on to. Do I have Herpes now? I don’t know. I might, I might not. But, regardless of the test results, my trust is shattered, and so is the relationship. I feel vulnerable, messy and emotional right now, and the last thing I want is to let someone in my life, just to let me down again. My heart feels at its breaking capacity, and this has been the last push before it shatters.
Experiencing a heartbreak when your partner loves someone else is a commonly talked about thing. But no one talks about those times when your consent is violated, your body does not feel like your own any more, and you’re the only person left to pick up the pieces. All I can think about is that I did not consent to be in any of those situations. I did not consent to have a sex with a stranger when I was drunk. And I did not consent to having sex with people who were dishonest about their sexual health status due to their own carelessness or selfishness.
As I lie in bed, sleepless, my mind is still in panic mode, spinning out of control and yelling: “I did not consent to this!” I feel out of control and not at home in my own body, and all I can say to it is: “I’m sorry. You did not deserve any of this.”