**trigger warning: sexual assault**
But for the TL;DR version:
I want to collect stories from women and men that share, from personal experience, what non-consent has looked like in their lives and the effect that remains. I want to post those stories (anonymously) to keep the conversation going and to change the general consensus of what sexual harm is.
What follows are a few of the stories of non-consent that I’ve collected from generous contributors, told in their own words. And I’ll update again as often as I feel comfortable, as new stories come in. They can be difficult to take in so I beseech you to utilize self-care in your reading. Check in regularly with your feelings and follow along in a way that is safe for you.
To read the older stories that I’ve collected, go to Stories Make Change: Update 1.
I’m overwhelmed with the way that you all have trusted me with your stories. If you have a story that you feel like hasn’t been told or one that seems to resonate with the others, please use the anonymous form found here or email me: libby (at) xoxolib.com
It was the summer before I started high school. My friends and I went to get our sports physicals at an area high school. There were hundreds of kids there and we stood in line for what seemed all night. When it was finally our turn we were ushered into 3 different rooms but it seemed like my room was very isolated. I remember thinking it was a little strange but I wasn’t too worried. Afterwards we went out for ice cream and I remember feeling totally out of it. It wasn’t until a few months later when I casually brought up that it seemed strange that the “Doctor” needed to feel my breasts so much for a sports physical and my friends told me that their doctors didn’t do the same that I realized what had happened. We need to start talking about how power influences consent. Did I ever tell the doctor to stop touching me? No. Did I think I had a choice? No.
After a long road trip, I got to his house. I was starving but he said he didn’t feel like going out for dinner. He made us some cocktails, instead, and we sat on the couch, talked and watched tv. He kept asking me how I was feeling. “Are you drunk yet?” he kept saying. About three drinks in, I realized that he hadn’t even finished his first. I even asked him about it and he shrugged it off saying he wasn’t that thirsty and could he pour me another? Sure. Why not? It was late. I was going to sleep on the couch, I was on vacation. I was with someone I knew well and trusted. What’s the harm in getting really drunk? In our years of knowing one another, he’d never made a pass at me. I was in the safest place I could be.
The rest happens in snapshots. His tongue in my mouth. His hand up my shirt. Me actively registering that this wasn’t fun at all but maybe if I just went with it? And besides I AM staying in his house–he’s the one doing me a favor here.
More snapshots: his pants off. His hand on the back of my head as I’m choking on him. Me going above and beyond to try to enjoy myself. Faking it so hard so that I won’t cry but I did, anyway. Rolling around in bed and wondering what’s wrong with me.
The next day we met up with some friends who told me that I didn’t seem like myself. I wanted to tell them but I didn’t have the vocabulary for it. And the next night a similar scene played out as well. Me, pouring my own drinks this time wondering how much it would take for me to black out and not remember what was about to happen but I never did. Him, touching, grabbing, jabbing at me and inside of me. Me, wondering why I’m not having the time of my life.
Never once being asked, “is this ok?” Never once feeling allowed to say, “no”. It wasn’t rape. But it wasn’t what sex is supposed to be.
I came home with an infection. I told my doctor everything. He insisted that if I was going to keep sleeping around like that I needed to be put on some kind of birth control. Without listening to a word I’d said, he wrote me a prescription and asked me to leave. I had to remind him about the infection and he huffed and finally wrote an Rx for that, too.
As a recovering drug addict I can easily say that I’ve put myself in less than ideal situations in regards to my spiritual, emotional and at times physical safety. Years ago I was experimenting with ketamine. My “friend” was showing me the ropes (so to speak). He set up our doses and let me try first. I’m not quite sure how much time went by, but after I regained consciousness, this man I’ve known for several years was on top of me and inside of me. I’m very thankful he stopped after my protest and there were others in the house. It took me over a year, being away from the drugs and the toxic relationships to realize “oh, that was rape, wasn’t it?!”
I had a crush on a Senior when I was a Freshman. He was so gorgeous and 18. I was shy and chubby and couldn’t look hardly anyone in the eye.
I had a long walk home from school and every day he drove past me in his beautiful car. One day, several blocks away from the school, he pulled over and offered me a ride. I was too shy and said no but after a week or so of his asking, I finally got in the car.
And then he started picking me up in that same spot every day. In the car he would tell me I was pretty and wink at me and smile. His smile would make me weak in the knees.
One night I went to youth group and he was there. I’d never seen him there, before. He told me that he heard that I’d be there. He offered to drive me home and I accepted. We had this friendship that no one knew about and this was the first time that I’d ever gotten into his car in front of other people. He put his hand on my back as he got the door for me. I was overwhelmed. I was just filled with butterflies and excitement. I felt like he wanted to show me off but now I just know that he wanted me to feel special.
But then he didn’t drive me home. He drove me outside of town and stopped the car and told me that I was pretty, again. He kissed me and then he put his hands up my shirt. I was stunned because a boy had never even seemed interested in me, before. He tugged on my shorts but I batted his hand away and said, “what are you doing?” He got really mad. He told me that I was lucky that anyone would want to even be with me since I was so fat. Then he tried again but I was confused so I asked to go home.
He was so angry, he drove me almost-home. He made me get out a few blocks from home and told me that the walk would be good for me. We never spoke again.
I didn’t tell anyone what happened when I got home and sat on the floor with a bag of Oreos. My mom snatched the cookies from me and told me that if I got any bigger, I’d never get a boyfriend. I was just thinking, “good.”
I’m still collecting and assembling stories. I have new ones in my inbox all of the time. I’m humbled by your bravery and honesty and trusting me with it.
My hope is that these stories will create a community of “me, too” for survivors, spark a conversation for change for the future, and prove that these are not one-off situations that are happening in the world.
This is what a culture of non-consent looks like. This is what we need to change.
Thank you to everyone who has submitted so far. If you’d like to share your story, click here or email me: libby(at) xoxolib.com