Just because I love you…
I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on social media of women coming out and saying “me too”, that they have also experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault. And this is my two cents on the topic (and I will apologize in advance this is written in a voice of straight women):
I was debating whether I should also say something, although I will admit I have never been sexually harassed or assaulted (excluding your everyday catcalling or getting hit on or approached in a harassing way or groping in a club/bar)…by a stranger.
However, I have been sexually harassed, assaulted, abused, manipulated, etc. by my former partner. I grapple with using the term “raped”, which is of course a privilege I have that rape victims do not have, and this is just an internal conflict on the definition of rape: if it can be defined as unwanted sexual penetration that has been forced on me (that force not having to mean physically forced) then yes, I have been raped. However, my experiences were not the same as other women, but I am here to validate women like me.
Just because you’re in a relationship, doesn’t mean it isn’t rape. Just because I loved you, doesn’t mean you didn’t rape me.
Those two sentences don’t directly relate to my personal situation, but I’m sure there are women out there who can identify with those statements. A little bit on my situation:
My ex is a narcissistic sex and love addict who manipulated my feelings for him to use me emotionally and sexually. He made it clear he would break up with me if I didn’t sexually please me, so I would go out of my comfort zone and do fetish-y things for me him because he made it known that was the only way I would feel loved back by him. The only way I would get attention from him, is sexually. When I told him I thought it was too much, he would break up with me. He knew I loved him, and he used it to make me do things for him. Yes, there is a part of me that let him do those things to me. But there’s a whole psychological therapy background explanation of my past on why, but I won’t get into that here. Moreover, when my friends and family don’t understand why I stayed with him for two years and let him do all those things and let him off the hook when he cheated on my sexually and even worse to me, emotionally, because I wasn’t pleasing him enough, they completely underestimate the whole point of being manipulated. Love can be compared to a drug or hypnosis, etc., and I was in it. The narcissistic and sociopathic conditions of my ex contributed to his lack of empathy, ergo his lack of care of what he was doing to me. If you’ve dated a guy like this, you know exactly the frustrations this entails.
He is also, a social justice activist. He recognizes his white male English-speaking privileges, and proclaims himself to be a feminist and a fighter for women’s equality. However, whenever I would bring up what he was doing to me, he would yell at me. I once caught him messaging his ex-gf, and he called me sexist “because she’s a girl. If I was messaging Nick these things you wouldn’t care.” And in my head I would think, did you really just say that? You are a straight male messaging your ex-gf these things and you claim to be a feminist and you just called me sexist over this? Moreover, in my abortion I had earlier this year, he completely utilized his “male white privilege” and wasn’t there for me when I had to go to the hospital and go through with it. I pleaded with him to understand how hard the abortion was for me, and how much I’ve always wanted kids and loved babies and the PTSD I would get from the experience, and he would just say “well what do you want me to do about it? It’s just biological you’re a girl I’m a boy I can’t experience what you’re about to and you can’t expect me to. I have a life to live you can’t expect me to be there for you whenever you need me.” While yes, of course I know this, if he were to truly recognize his male privilege that is not something one would say. I got pregnant partially because I wasn’t on birth control at the time, and he completely blamed me for getting pregnant because of that.
This is fake-feminism.
You cannot claim to be a feminist and say things like “well I have my own life to live I can’t deal with the pregnancy/abortion all the time” but I have to because I’m a woman. This is an inequality that nothing will fix because it’s biological, but to be an ally have some damn empathy. Don’t just bathe in your own white male privilege and say “sorry that’s just how it is”. But that’s another rant for another piece.
My point is, for someone who claims to be feminist, he is part of the problem. And on the topic of sexual assault/harassment/abuse/manipulation, people like him, contribute to invalidation.
Just because you’re in a relationship, doesn’t make it okay to sexually abuse or harass or assault you partner. Just because they love you, doesn’t mean what you’re doing is acceptable. Just because they love you, doesn’t make them your sexual toy.
Referring back to my first statement on my internal conflict with what “rape” means, I will also note that in my relationship with my ex, he forced himself on my sexually physically, yes, but also through manipulation.
You can be forced or coerced into sexual activities through non-physical force.
You can be tricked, lied to, used, manipulated, etc. into sex or any unwanted or uncomfortable activity. Even if you love your SO, and he or she may say they love you too, coercing you into these actions is not okay. Lying and manipulating you into getting into sexual intercourse when you don’t want it at all and never necessarily say yes to it, that is abuse.
I am writing this to say to women like me, women who don’t know or are unsure if they’ve fall under the “me too” category, you can have experienced sexual abuse, assault, or harassment even in a relationship perpetrated by your significant other. To some this may seem obvious or perhaps it’s a sentiment they’ve been pushing and posting for years. But I’d like to reiterate: just because you love them, doesn’t mean it’s not assault or abuse or harassment. If you’re living together, and the first thing your SO wants to do when he or she gets home is throw you on the bed and start touching you or kissing you, but you don’t want that, IT’S NOT OKAY. If you’re SO tells you they love you and they’re in love with you and forces you to sexually do things for them either through physical or emotional means, THAT’S NOT OKAY. I do not want me or other women in my position to have their experiences and their trauma invalidated simply because it was a relationship and there were feelings. You cannot say we chose or agree to this mistreatment by choosing to be in a relationship with them or choosing to stay in a relationship with them.
To those who undermine the pain of our experiences just because we were dating them, you are also part of the problem in why more women don’t come out in this way.
To those who were afraid to come out because they loved the person who sexually assaulted/harassed them, yes, you too.
And me too.