It’s kind of out of nowhere, but I think I’m ready to talk about the time I was sexually assaulted, even though it’s minor compared to what other women have experienced. Inspired by this Feministing story, I decided to just go ahead and share it. The more we talk, the better the world may become.
I was already asleep in the bedroom and had been for awhile. My then-boyfriend Kevin was in the living room, presumably binge-watching Netflix or channel 11 and growling profanities at my pet duck. I woke up when he opened the bedroom door, and I saw him standing there, just his dark silhouette in the doorway. He loomed there looking at me for a moment, and then suddenly he threw himself on top of me, pinning me down with his weight. I shifted under him as he started kissing my neck, telling him politely, “No, Kevin, not now. I need to sleep.” He didn’t stop, but grabbed my hands and held them down so I’d stop trying to push him away. “No, stop, I have to work tomorrow.” He was pulling my pajamas off and I started fighting, trying to push him and protesting, “Stop, stop!” But he wouldn’t listen. He said nothing, just held me down under the weight of his body, tearing at my pajamas, swatting my hands away when I tried to grab or shove him. I was crying hysterically, protesting louder and louder, and we fought progressively harder. It continued on, in a violent struggle on the bed, as he used his strength to try to get me naked and force me to compliance.
Then suddenly, the look in his eyes changed. The animalistic passion disappeared and they became clearer. It was almost like he suddenly remembered that rape is bad. He stopped, rolled off me, and said sorry. He fell asleep, and eventually after I’d calmed down, I admittedly went back to sleep next to him.
Worse things have happened to other victims of intimate partner violence. I’m lucky that the lightbulb went off in his brain and he stopped trying to rape me. But in those five minutes or so that he attacked me, I felt what it’s like to be a helpless victim of a physical assault. Fortunately that was the extent of the experience. I’m also lucky that he was my boyfriend, so I consented to sex with him many times, though not that particular time. It would’ve been much worse if it was someone I never consented to sex with. Regardless, it was not at all consensual by any stretch of the imagination.
People question why women stay with men who hurt them, and the reasons are usually very valid and important: financial dependence, fear of further violence, protecting the children. But reasons of that magnitude are not why I stayed with him. I stayed because I was so physically (though not very emotionally) attracted to him, and I stayed because I wanted to see where his music would go. I also stayed because I felt sorry for him, for what a wreck his life was. He still needed me. But even though I stayed, things did change after that incident. I saw a glimpse of the abuser he really was, underneath the charisma and charm. My rose-tinted glasses came off, and what I saw was scary. I should’ve explored those feelings further, but I didn’t at the time.
I didn’t tell anyone about it for almost six months, and even then, I only told a couple of my closest friends. I was embarrassed, I guess, and while we were together I still wanted to protect him. I didn’t want people to know he was capable of being violent. But now I think it’s time for me to be open about it, because silence helps no one. What happened to me is on the low end of the scale of intimate partner violence, but it was real and it was scary, and I have much sympathy and empathy for other victims.
So why speak out? Just for awareness. To remind people that these things happen, and they can happen to anyone. Anyone can be a victim or a perpetrator. Anyone can be hiding this secret. Trust victims. Believe them.