Behind Closed Doors: Not entirely consensual

CONTENT WARNING: SEXUAL VIOLENCE

At Any Other Woman, you can talk about anything. Anything you want at all. Any subject, any time. We are proud to be able to provide that platform for you, it makes our hearts sing. But we do understand that sometimes there are topics that are too sensitive, too divisive, simply too hard to write about and broadcast without a second thought. No-one wants to hurt their loved ones unnecessarily and yet sometimes a story needs to be told.

This is your place for those subjects. A place for you to tell those tales you’d not considered telling before. No names, no justifications, no apologies.

You can send your BCD submissions to behindcloseddoors@live.co.uk and we promise that you’ll remain anonymous throughout the entire process.

I’ve been stepping away from the internet a bit lately.  Partly to try to find some down time and a way to connect with my life, and my husband, in a more meaningful way, partly to escape all the constant posts about domestic violence and rape.  I need to escape them not because I don’t care but because they bring back some very painful memories and those memories make it hard for me to breathe.  So from now on, I will be stepping further away, further towards a safe place, but before that happens there is this post.

When I was 15 my boyfriend raped me.

It took me about six years to get to the point where that sentence could mean anything to me.  Six years, and a complete nervous breakdown.  I sat in a lovely, bland but sun filled room in front of my counsellor and told her about how my first time was “not entirely consensual” and she told me that it sounded like I had been raped.  Facing it drove me deeper into the abyss I had fallen into, but coming to terms with it has helped me to become who I am now.

I look at that 15 year old and see no correlation with the 30 year old writing this now, but then that experience, and coming back from the nervous breakdown it triggered made me grow so much stronger that I *should* not be able to recognise me from then, or that a few months after it happened that I tried to take an overdose and luckily screwed it up.

At 15 I was scared and lonely, and this guy who was cute and into the same stuff as me wanted to be with me (after I jumped through a few hoops).  He said it was me and him against the world and I believed him.  He became my entire world.

Until he raped me, he was never physically violent towards me, instead he held his power over me in different ways.  He said he could not live without me, he threatened to kill himself if I left him or hurt him.  One time he called me up telling me he was alone in his home with a knife and he was sure there was a man outside who was going to kill him.

Both of us were mentally ill, he had depression and I had an eating disorder but somehow he managed to use both illnesses against me.  He would fake being ill so I would have to be by his side until he said he could no longer see things.  I could tell the difference between real and fake psychotic episodes but was convinced that I would be to blame if something went wrong.

Gradually I did start to slip out of his control and find my own voice.  That is when he raped me.

It is hard to stay why I stayed after that but I did.  I remember the following day, feeling like nothing could ever get me clean, I remember going to church with his family, I remember taking 7 showers, I remember trying to make life normal again.

After I took my failed overdose he rang me up and tried to manipulate me again but thankfully an amazing Australian psychiatric nurse at the hospital had explained to me that he was a bastard.  I would not let him manipulate me anymore.  At that point he came straight out and blamed me for his depression rather than just insinuating that I made him ill.  I refused to accept responsibility for him so he told me he would slit my throat. That is when I walked away.

In all of this I was not perfect.  I would try to manipulate him back.  It was a horrible relationship.  We very sporadically keep in touch and he does seem to be reformed (though he continued this nastiness for a few years) and I genuinely wish him well.  I have always hoped he’d see the error of his ways and he has apologised to me for the lies but will never apologise for the rape and I know that.

It took me about 10 years to get over it.  10 years of feeling I had to keep a part of me concealed, hide my weaknesses lest they be exploited and try to keep the upper hand in case I need to get out of a jam.  But after those 10 years I figured out a way to fully trust someone again and I met my amazing husband.  In those 10 years I came back from a breakdown to complete a degree, I got some great jobs, I met some great friends; I travelled and read and laughed.  I also drank too hard, and ate too much, harmed myself in many ways and generally treated myself badly.

I need to step away from the discussion about all this because it makes me want to do all the damaging things to myself that I did in those 10 years.  I think that we do have to fight to make things change so other 15 year olds don’t have my experience; we also need to allow those who experienced this stuff to opt out if they want to.

In person I can say “I’d rather not talk about that” but on twitter it is there in front of me. I choose not to click links where I know there is a trigger warning.  So my one request is for all the lovely AOWettes out there who want to fight the good fight is to alert people to the content of links that might make them slip backwards and let us sometimes, when we’re stressed and more susceptible to falling backwards, just enjoy cat photos and chat about babies and weddings.

Categories: Behind Closed Doors
10 interesting thoughts on this

10 Comments

  1. Posted August 12, 2013 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    I am definitely one of the people who links a lot so from now on I will make a conscious effort to include trigger warnings!

    I both can and can’t believe how many wonderful women have had to go through this kind of shit.

    Thank you for your words anon x

  2. Anon
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    I am always somehow surprised when another woman, somewhere out there, has the power and strength to write about an experience like this. I shouldn’t be. It’s too too common. It f*ing well shouldn’t be but somehow just is. And that makes me so so angry for us all.

    My own experience was different. He was a stranger, I was drugged and have no memory of the event, for which I am thankful. But the aftermath I understand only too well. But I am not commenting to highlight my story, only to reach a friendly hug across the divide and say that, in a myriad of small ways, I get it. And you are not alone.

    It feels like it defines you. But it doesn’t. It really doesn’t.

    I am so proud of you. X

  3. Anon
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I would just like to say a massive thank you to Anon for writing this. It is an incredibly brave and raw post.

    I find, having read this, that I am realising I should confront my feelings about this as I, too, as a 15 year old was subject to ‘not entirely consentual’ intercourse. I’ve never told anybody – husband, friends, parents. He dumped me soon afterwards, too, telling me that I wasn’t good enough [in bed].

    Just writing that makes me feel sick and I wish it didn’t make me feel so ashamed that I could talk about it openly.

    It sounds like you have a lot of support Anon, not only through a good councellor. Please be kind to yourself x

    • Hollie
      Posted August 12, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Please find somebody to talk to about this. Be it a friend, husband, your mum or a councillor. Like anon you need to come to terms with what’s happened to you and to have some support through that process.

  4. Elsie
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure where to begin with my comment today. It takes a lot of courage and strength to write & post something like this & to allow the thoughts & feelings associated with an event such as rape, an abusive relationship or manipulation to resurface which makes me feel so proud of whoever you are for being able to do that. (Sorry! Sometimes what I’m trying to say comes out so cheesy & cliched.)
    The internet is wonderful in that there are places like this where we can all support & cheer one another along.

    I agree whole heartedly that there are downfalls in that you are only ever a few clicks of a mouse away from reading or seeing something that can have a triggering effect. I know I sometimes find myself looking for a positive message about something & before I know it I’m reading content that I know can potentially contribute to negative thoughts or actions but equally turning away from it is almost as hard as reading it.
    Aged 15 I would not have considered ‘not fully consensual sex’ as rape, I would have thought that I had in someway been in the wrong which is SO WRONG. I don’t know if it was to do with education; as at school we were educated that rape was a violent act carried out by a stranger or given the impression that date rape would be something that happened when you went on a date with someone you didn’t particularly know that well. It was never really discussed that a partner could rape you. I don’t know what I would believe if I was at school now – if the way in which rape is discussed is different. There’s been so much in the news lately that it makes me hope that the education is different and that there is a better understanding as to what rape is.
    I hope that the the time away to switch off & reconnect with life helps you and your husband, thank you for writing so honestly.

  5. Sharon
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Just wanted to say thank you for such an honest post. It must have taken courage to write and submit, so admire you for doing so x

  6. Posted August 12, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    This must have been difficult to write about, but thank you for doing so. I have never really seen trigger warnings for people who have been raped, the same way that you see trigger warnings for people with eating disorders. I’m sorry it has been difficult for you, and hopefully you can take the time to enjoy how much you have achieved and that you are in a different situation now, compared to when you were younger.

  7. Lottie
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for bringing the issue of ‘trigger warnings’ to peoples attention. Such a valuable thing. If this post changes anyone’s use of twitter/social media then it’s a good thing.

    Well done on this post. You have been through something awful and totally undeserved. I wish you continued recovery, strength and happiness. On a lighter note, who doesn’t love cats, weddings and babies?!

    Thank you-hugs x

  8. Victoria
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Such a brave woman, so strong and thank you for sharing that, it can’t have been easy to write let alone to live through. I feel deeply touched by your words… oh and a great thought first thing in the morning – who doesn’t like cute pics of cats, weddings and babies!

    Love xxx

  9. Amanda M
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    This definitely plays into the whole conversation going on the other week of not knowing what to say. I read this yesterday and didn’t know what to say. But I’ve come today to say that – although I still don’t – I admire your courage and resilience. I had been planning one of these posts which definitely looks like insignificant whining when I compare it to what you went through.

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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