Friday, October 6th, 2017

I was just working on a different post about defensiveness, which I will post tomorrow. But right now, I’m gonna post this…

Ever since I’ve been talking about all this sexual assault stuff, I’ve been asking myself (and to some extent, some people have been asking me) things like, “Well, why did you go to his house?” Or “What were you wearing?” And stuff like that.

And I know we all talk about how ridiculous those questions are… But have we ever stopped to reeeeally consider how ridiculous they are? Why did I go over to his house?

Why did I go over to his house? What on earth?

Since when would going over to the house of someone you’re kind of involved in ever be the kind of decision that makes you think twice? That couldn’t be more normal!

But because something bad happened, now we have to open an investigation into why I went. Why? Why do we do that?

(I mean, I know some of the reasons… Chronic disrespect for women, a desperate clinging to the hope that we are all deeply and fully in control of our destinies and if only we can prove everyone did everything to themselves, we can keep believing that…)

And so, since we have covered a lot of this before, I’m gonna go ahead and stop this blog post here. But I would just advise that maybe the next time you ask a person something about the night they were assaulted (or you ask yourself about the night you were assaulted, believe you could do more, if that’s something you struggle with), think about that behavior on any other night, and think if you’d ask the same question.

(‘Cause, to me, at least, in that context, some of them seem ridiiiiiiculous)

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Holy goodness.

Bahahahahahahahahahahahahaha It’s almost so absurd, it’s funny.

Last Wednesday, just out and about, I saw him.

I’ve talked a pretty fair amount on here about how I kind of hermited up in my room and didn’t do much New York stuff after it happened. I deferred school. I often stopped hanging out with my friends. I picked a project (Project 882) that would take me out of town nearly every weekend. I sometimes talked about how it felt like I “left without leaving,” when it came to whether I’d stay in New York.

And then, after a lot of therapy, I was like, “I gotta get back into the world. The world’s not that scary. A) Probably nothing will happen to you if you do see him somewhere. B) Come on. New York has what? A trajillion people? Get real. You’re not gonna run into him, right?

And then, a mere 2 weeks(!) before it happened, I went to Hillary Clinton’s book signing. I was like, “I’m normal. I’m back. I’m spending all night outside in New York. This isn’t scary. Everything is fine. (It felt kind of like my official “turning point” into good.) Then, over the course of those two weeks (between the turning point and sexual assault dude), I started a new job that’s fantastic. I re-started school (that’s also fantastic). The whole re-start to my life is in progress and beautiful. Oh, sexual assault guy? Who’s that! He’s nowhere to be found. I’m free.

AND THEN I TURNED A CORNER WALKING HOME FROM WORK AND THERE HE WAS. (What on earth?!) And poof, my soul left my body.

He was on the other side of the street. And I felt a crushing wave of emotions all at once. What. do. I. do now.

I’m gonna walk the other way as fast as I can. That’s what I’m gonna do. Wait. That’s not what I’m gonna do, ’cause I’m not gonna change what I’m doing just to accommodate him in any way. I’m gonna head that way. Wait. I don’t wanna be uncomfortable just to prove a point. Wait. Where am I even going? Because tbh, I’m kinda lost and this is a weird street anyway and I’m just wandering toward uptown, but I could take a number of streets to get there.

Oh my goodness. Also, I was like, “Is that him? I most definitely know it’s him. No one’s face has been burned in my brain like his has. That’s absolutely him. And look…if I still had any unsure-ness, he’s carrying his bag. He has a semi-distinctive bag that he sort of carries in a certain way. And he’s doing that. He’s walking how he walks. He’s the height he is. I’m not having a crazy fever dream/hallucination. It’s him”

Then I had a moment of “do I take a picture? Because this is nearly literally unbelievable. And we all know the ol’ adage, “pics or it didn’t happen.” A camera wouldn’t lie to me. (But my eyes aren’t lying to me either. They should be enough!) Also, what weirdo would be taking pictures of him on the street? That doesn’t feel right. Plus, even if we just zoom right pass it feeling creepy to me, I don’t want a picture of him in my camera roll! I go out of my way all the time to avoid his face. And also, I am not gonna get close enough to him to get a good picture. I’m trying to stay away from him, not get closer. (And what do I need a “good picture” for anyway? To convince my friends I saw him? ‘Cause now I’m gonna feel like a crazy person hiding in the metaphorical bushes when nobody should need a picture. He’s in my brain enough! I don’t need a photo. (And also it’s super weird to take pictures of people on the street when they don’t know you’re taking their photo.) So, I felt way too weird about picture taking. And I dropped that fleeting thought.

My heart beat SO sos so so so so so so fast. I didn’t realize I was gonna feel as though I was running a marathon today. Geeeeeeeez.

For me, one of the hardest parts was that I’ve completely avoided his neighborhood (and for the most part, his whole borough, even). I avoided school and the area the school was in until he was gone from there. I try to avoid walking by his office when that’s possible (even though it’s in sort of a busy and convenient area of town… I try to go around it if I can. Sometimes that’s not possible, but I’m still cognizant of it). So, for the most part, I try to avoid areas I even might see him. (The main one I can’t avoid, being that I live in Times Square and he loves theater and goes to a bunch of shows. So, I can’t avoid my own neighborhood completely. But even that I used to sort of avoid because I would uber nearly everywhere…Just from my building door to car door and back over and over.)

But anyway.

Even though I know people can go anywhere, for some reason, I never expected to see him on the walk home from my new office (when I was passing by very close to where my old office was!). If I’d seen someone from that job, I that wouldn’t have been surprising. But to see sexual assault guy there? What on earth? Why?

I know he can go wherever he wants. And I assume he has no idea where I work. But nonetheless, it just sort of felt like, “this specific area is my space! What are you doing here?”

Part of me wanted to go up to the girl he was with and very very calmly say, “Please be careful. This man’s a dangerous serial sexual assaulter.” Another (albeit much tinier, but also much (crazier? pettier?) wanted to make a scene and start yelling at him. Buuuut obviously I didn’t reeeeeally want to do that. Part of me wanted to be like, “Oh hi. Crazy running into you here” – just a cordial thing you might do if you saw an acquaintance on the street, to try to be like, [subtext] “You don’t scare me! I’m out living!”

But I don’t want to talk to him. He’s the master of making you feel terrible about yourself with one little comment. He is perfect at twisting word knives. I don’t want some kind of weird negging backhanded non-compliment that hurts. I don’t want to interact with him. I don’t wanna look in his eyes or have any more nightmares.

Ultimately, he turned to go more downtown and I was walking up. So, after we each got to the end of the small street we were walking on, we turned in opposite directions.

As I walked, I thought I saw a random pedestrian look at me weird (as though maybe I’d seen a ghost), but I kinda had. And I’m pretty certain all the blood had drained from my face. Maybe I just felt insecure and thought random pedestrian person was looking at me who maybe wasn’t. Who knows.

All I know, is I was SHOOK about seeing sexual assault guy out and about. (And I also feel cool that I finally get to use the word “shook” for something for which it is super applicable.

So, I am shook. The end.

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

Now that I’m sort of wrapping up the “advice” part of this, I thought it was important to talk about how who knows anything anyway.

I feel like I sought out a lot of advice as I went through this.

I felt a lot like I was just spinning down this hole or something, I don’t know. It has been really hard, and I didn’t know what to do.

I’ve read books. I’ve seen a therapist. I talked to friends. I tried some different things on my own.

And some stuff worked and some stuff didn’t. And some stuff worked sometimes and didn’t work other times. It’s been a rough road.

People have said all sorts of things.

When I said it felt like an avalanche was falling on me, someone said you have to feel the whole avalanche hit your face. You’ve gotta stand there and take it until the snow falls past you. Whereas others thought you more try to avoid the snow. Lots of people had different takes.

And I think we could definitely make a case for why I didn’t really have to do Project 882, or definitely more so why I didn’t have to go try to have experiences just to feel things (e.g. going to Safari Park and Sea World and stuff). Those things were as fun as they could’ve been in that headspace. But, it was a lot of money and I was chasing a feeling that swimming with dolphins probably wasn’t going to truly help. But I didn’t know that. (And that was cool.)

I don’t know that it’d be even worth making the arguments as to whether I should’ve done this or that with all the decisions I made over the past year and a half, because I don’t think any of those things truly hurt me. Could things have been better, and could I maybe have made smarter decisions and some better times? Sure, maybe, I guess. I dunno. But would I have magically “healed” any sooner? Probably not. And nothing super irreparable-seeming has happened. So, it all is what it is.

But I guess that’s the point. It all just kind of is what it is. I tried things ’til I got seemingly better. Some advice was really helpful, some not so much. But I think everyone is trying to be helpful. (At least, I want to believe in the best in people. So, I’m gonna go ahead and assume everyone is trying to be helpful.)

But we’re all seeing the world through our own lenses! We might be seeing a way different world than you are. And what might work for us might not work for you.

None of us know anything. (I mean, I know, we all know some things. And certainly people in certain fields (such as mental health) probably know a lot more about trauma than the average person.)

But at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to figure this life out. And for every piece of advice you find that works amazingly for someone, it’s turned out horribly for someone else. If you have a piece of advice that has helped you many times before, there may come a situation where it doesn’t work after all.
[Side note: that’s one thing I loved about this episode of The Bold Type. Something happened, and the outcome wasn’t that the girl “learn some lesson,” but instead her boss was like, “that’s what worked this time. And this time, it might be something else.”]

And I guess it’s weird to learn that even though we maybe “think” we’re learning through life (and we are) that different things we think we sooooo can handle this time around teach us different and new lessons. (How long do you think we’d have to live before we could stop learning super tough lessons? I dunno. But it’s much longer than this, or at least it seems so to me.)

So, anyway, basically, I just wanted to reiterate that none of us (including me) know anything anyway. So, if you’re looking for advice on how to get through a traumatic experience, sure, talk to everybody, and read the books, and try what you want. But at the end of the day, you do whatever you need. There is no “right” answer, as far as I’m concerned. There’s whatever works for you.

So, you might not take everything you hear from everyone. (You might not be able to, as some of it’s different!) And maybe none of the advice I gave here works for you. That’s totally cool. Just throw it in the trash then.

No matter how much somebody cares about you, or wants to help, they still might not know what you need. And you might not either. So, we try things on ’til something fits.

I feel like I’ve been pretty rambly in this post (and I doubt anyone is surprised by that, haha!). But basically, none of us know what we’re doing. (I apparently don’t even know how to write a blog post!) *tap dances out of frame*

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

I just did some blog posts on what to do if you’re assaulted, but what do you do if your friend is?

Again, this is just my personal advice. Go check some other resources and do what you think feels right. But from my perspective, this is the advice I would give.

  1. If it has just happened, try to get them immediate help. See if they’d be open to talking to the police and/or getting a rape kit done. This will prove invaluable now, and the window is very small to do it. They may be in total shock. So, you can be the one taking care of important logistical stuff. It’s hard to know what to do. Help them.
  2. If it’s been a little while and they are just looking to you for support, one thing I believe is that you should keep a very hard line of, “this is not your fault.” I know the reason your friend is coming to you is because they love and trust you. So, you’re very close with them. That means you probably have had a million conversations throughout your friendship that have gone very back and forth and meandered.You could analyze a text conversation for two hours. Hmmm who is in the wrong here?in some ways, it will feel easy to talk about assault in the same way. I know that we stand up on social media for victims in a large blanket-over-everyone way. But when it comes down to one-on-one conversations – especially if the perpetrator was someone the victim was involved with in any way, it might become slightly easy to morph in to a “normal” relationship conversation where they start making excuses for the person, and you just jump to agreement, because you’re on the same “team” as your friend! And you see the best in people, so you’re cool to make excuses for a little mildly bad behavior. But this isn’t that. So, don’t let it become that.When they start wondering if they caused it, you don’t have to shut them down. You don’t have to squelch their feelings, or not allow them to feel or to talk. But you have to take a very (very) hard line that what happened to your friend wasn’t okay. There is no excusing it. Your friend is not being dramatic. And they did nothing to cause what happened to them.I just cannot stress this one enough. So many survivors will minimize. I have heard horrific stories that so obviously rape where people still question, “Well, I don’t know. I mean, was it really ‘rape,’ that’s such a scary word?”And I’m not saying you need to go so in the opposite of minimizing that it scares them or makes it all seem too much. I’m just saying they will do enough minimizing. I know it’s in our nature to agree with our friends for the most part. But this is the one time where there is a giant line in the sand of agreement. Once they’ve told you they’ve been assaulted, if they start to talk themselves out of the seriousness of it, or explain to themselves why actually it’s aaaaall their fault for not fighting enough, you just keep being supportive with whatever your own special way of saying, “you did nothing wrong.”(I hope that all made sense. I sort of feel like those paragraphs were potentially confusing, but hopefully not!)
  3. Almost lastly – and I’m stealing this one from the RAINN tips, because I think it’s good advice.   “Avoid phrases that suggest they’re taking too long to recover.” It’s gonna take however long it takes.If you need to help them remember to go to therapy or take a medication or something, that’s a helpful thing to do – that’s a way to show you are indeed hoping they get better, without putting the pressure on them that they’re not healing as fast as you’d want.I do understand that it can be exhausting to be a confidant of someone with major depression or PTSD or any of the other side effects of being assaulted. It can be exceptionally hard on you. There are resources and support groups for friends and family of people dealing with that. Maybe join something like that, or look up online resources for help.If you absolutely cannot be active friends or partners with someone dealing with those major issues, then give only what you can. Or say you’re sorry for having to do this, but that you need to take a break from them. While it is very hard, from the survivor’s point of view, to see people leaving your life – often because you’re sort of pushing them out… It can get so lonely and add even more sadness on top of a well of sadness. But for me, I was already putting enough pressure on myself all the time that I wasn’t following the magical timeline of “getting better” in my head, that as sad as it was to feel more and more alone, it would be even sadder and/or more frustrating (for me, at least) to be with someone who can’t wrap their mind around “where’s the Aurora I know?! Get up! Be happy!” That pressure is a lot.
  4. And that’s what I have to say. (Number 2 is of utmost importance here.) You can read more RAINN tips here.You got this. I believe in your sweet friendship ability!
Sunday, October 1st, 2017

I’ve spent some of the last posts telling you my own personal advice for what to do after being assaulted. But I think it’s an important asterisk to add that while I believe you can always get help, you can’t always get “justice.”

If you need therapy, or if you need medication for PTSD, or STIs, or anything like that, I believe there is some way to get them. (I hope – I hope that’s not just a ridiculous belief from a privileged place, though I am aware it might be. And if you live in a city where it’s impossible you can comment how wrong I am.) But while I’m hoping to believe you can always somewhere find some sort of support group… what you might not get is help from where you expect it, or where you feel like you need it.

If it happened at work or at school, it is possible you will not have people in your corner there. It is possible that you will want to leave, unfortunately. And that won’t be right, and it won’t be fair. But it might be the best/most possible thing for you at the time, if there is not a system in place to keep you away from your perpetrator.

If your workplace or school is not helpful, you may bring the legal system into things. But that might be daunting for a million reasons. You may not have the time or the money or the energy to go through it. You might just not wanna see your reputation, and every life choice you’ve ever made, dragged out and strangled on the stand. And that’s okay.

You may hope the police could help you, but sometimes they don’t. Maybe, again, my privilege is showing by being a “non-threatening” white girl who’s for the most part only had great experiences with police (and also super few and far between). But when I told the police officer that the man who assaulted me and totally ignored me said, “I knew you didn’t want to, but you needed to,” because he was helping me to “get over” the guy from Los Angeles, instead of telling me that was gross or wrong, she said “Was he? Was he helping you? Were you at that point in your life?” As though he was actually being “helpful” in any way by forcing me to have sex in my bed before I was ready.

And we could argue that my story has maybe too much nuance, and it would be hard to be prosecuted. But I have heard first-hand accounts of people who went to the police who had clearly been raped, with bruises giving specifics soon after it happened, who were asked “But why did you go over there? But you’d done sexual type things with him before, right?” Basically grilled and given the 3rd degree, as though they are the criminal.

I’m not gonna say police officers are never helpful. That’d be a crazy blanket statement. The transit officer who took my statement after a man reached up my skirt and grabbed my vagina was very helpful. When I apologized for wasting her time on such a small crime, she was quick to say, ‘No, no, no. I’m so glad you came in. This all needs to be reported, because the more it’s reported, the more we can try to help stop it. We can’t stop who we don’t about.’

So, you might have a lovely interaction with the police! You might have an exceptionally helpful boss or dean or whatever. You might get help in all of the places you hope to. I don’t wanna paint a super bleak picture full of impossibilities.

But you also might not. Friends you love might not have the capacity to truly understand, and they may say the wrong thing, or just misunderstand what it’s like to go through the healing process and therefore not be there for you in ways you wish they could be.

You might not get justice. You might not get the kind of support you need from the people you often lean on. When I say I think there’s always gotta be some way to get help, that doesn’t mean I think there’s always a way to get perfection, or the outcome you want, or a “fair” result…  I just mean for the time being, you focus on what you need to deal with the situation.

Dig your heels in and fight at every turn, or dig your heels in and quietly refuse to leave your life situation you love while you steel yourself to see your rapist everyday while choosing to give up the “fight” because all of that is too hard, or go the totally opposite way and leave to some other city or state (or country!) and totally get away from it all, or just do whatever you want! Whatever it is you have to do for you.

I don’t think there are any officially, specifically, definitively  “right” choices when it comes to all of this. I just think you have to do whatever it is you feel is best for you.

Ultimately, you just gotta try to stay alive, stay functional, and hopefully find a life you can be happy living (even if it’s not the “fair” one)…

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

Continuing on with the “advice” (ish) section since I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m not a lawyer, officer, or doctor… So, not really advice, but the only real pieces of wisdom or knowledge I have that I think might maybe be worth passing on…

I feel like I had two different ideas (“just get out alive” and “you can’t be responsible for anything he does in the future, if you couldn’t get him published for what he did to you”), and they kind of amalgamated into this one idea/one post, because I sort of think they go hand in hand…

I did some advice posts on what I’ve learned throughout this ordeal, and if I knew what I knew now, what are potentially better ways to have some hope of justice afterward e.g. (trying to preserve evidence better, not giving him the benefit of the doubt (reporting him first instead of talking to him without any law enforcement present to be like, “did you hear me? Was I clear?”, etc).

Hopefully, I’ll never get into this type of situation again. (And I have learned a lot of tools in therapy that make me think I’m at least less likely to be in a situation like this with someone I know again. I think I can better recognize warning signs and might be able to remove myself from the situation early enough if anything like this happens again. (Maybe! I also know these situations sneak up on you sometimes really fast. So, i also don’t think I’m immune.)

But the one thing I think is really important to make very clear in any of these advice posts is that the number one goal is to get out of there alive.

That’s something we went over in group therapy a lot. A lot of the other survivors I met go around and around in their heads, thinking they could’ve or should’ve done more – they should’ve fought harder or screamed louder… But the running thread is that everyone was scared. And we didn’t 100% know what to do.

And the thing the group therapists told us over and over again was that the main objective was to get out alive. And we did that.

It still sucks that it happened. It still sucks to have PTSD. But as much of an uphill battle sit is to heal from that… an alive person maybe can heal. And a dead person can’t.

I’m not saying don’t fight. Sure, fight! Scream. Do whatever you want to do. It’s all up to you and your judgement of what’s best in the moment. But the most important thing is that you leave alive.

There are some of us who worry if we didn’t do the “right” thing and if we didn’t get “justice,” that our perpetrator might harm someone else in the future. For me, that has been one of my biggest fears. It hasn’t all just been about “justice” for the justice sake of it… It’s also, for me, been about knowing that he assaulted at least one other girl before me… knowing it’s a pattern… knowing it’s a reasonable thought to think it very sadly might happen to someone else… and being incapable to stop it.

I worry about having another women’s struggle on my conscience. It is exceptionally hard to think if I had done things “right,” maybe he’d be a registered sex offender. Maybe she could be warned. Maybe he’d never meet her if he was in jail. And on and on.

But alas, I didn’t go to the authorities soon enough. I didn’t work to preserve any evidence. (I showered immediately.) I wasn’t thinking about the long term effects of anything. I was just thinking about how to get through every next moment.

And I feel a sense of guilt in that – believing he might hurt someone else.

And it’s been one of the hardest things to let go. But I think at some point, I just have to say, “I did everything I could when I could.” I did go to the police. I went to a lawyer. I told the guy himself what he did was wrong and he should never do it to another woman. I cannot be responsible for the lives of women he might hurt.

That hurts to type because I do feel a little responsible – like somehow in knowing the truth about him, I should be able to stop it. But I can’t. And I just have to hope that he doesn’t hurt anyone else and that if he does, they can get help like I did.

I haven’t been able to fully let the burden go about women he might hurt. But my advice I’m trying to give to myself is that I am not responsible for them. I can’t be. I did what I can. I can help the world in other ways. But I can’t be responsible for his future actions…

Which leads me back to my original point.

Your job is to get out of there alive – to save yourself – whatever that means. That might mean being quiet and still. That might mean fighting back. But in that moment, your responsibility is fully to yourself. And while it might suck to feel like you weren’t a victim in the “right way” – that people may questions your actions because they “would’ve done it differently!” or somehow known exactly what to do (as they may think or say to you), remember that you were still a victim and there is no “right way” to be that. Someone did something terribly wrong to you. And you deal with that the best way you can.

Your one and simple pure job if this terrible thing happens to you is merely to get. out. alive.

And if you did that, well, then you still have a life to live. There is always hope while there is a life to live. And you did that. You got out alive. You did your job. You did it. You did it!

Friday, September 29th, 2017

(Trigger warning: Some details of sexual assault mentioned; not super graphic)

This seems to be a thread that has come up a few times since back when I shared my very first story right around a year ago.

I talked about how a man had been hurting me and I asked him to please stop, and he wouldn’t. I would have happily had sex with me had he not been hurting me, but he was really hurting me. I kept asking over and over for him to please move positions. He was really hurting me. And he wouldn’t. And that ended with me bleeding.

And someone on twitter was like, “Oh, the girl who’s upset that the sex is bad and claims assault.” And I’ve heard that about the more recent assaults (from last year) that I’ve been talking about.

I don’t mind having some laughs about “bad sex.” Heck, I wrote a comedy song about bad sex as one of my audition pieces for BMI.

If somebody does a sex move in a way I’m not used and it’s not really doing the same thing… That’s  potentially some bad (or maybe even just neutral) sex. Sex is not always the most mind-blowing exceptional wonderful thing that’s ever happened.

But there is such a super giant difference between a night where you’re like, “we didn’t really have any fun. We kinda just didn’t really like the same stuff, or didn’t mesh, or didn’t do it for each other vs. “I was crying in front of him. I was shaking with fear. I told him I was afraid. I told him I was crying because he made me uncomfortable. I said I wasn’t okay. He shoved his dick in anyway.” They’re so different!

And I feel like I would try to make some case here for the nuances of things, but I don’t really think there is a lot of nuance in this.

I guess the only thing I can think of that’s even sort of nuanced is that the specific word “uncomfortable” covers a lot. (A lot.) If I thought a chair wasn’t as nice as another chair when furniture shopping, I might say, “this one is a little uncomfortable.” I have told people before, “you made me a little uncomfortable the other night when [whatever small thing out in public, whatever].” I’ve even used it in different ways during sex. You might be having sex in a weird position, or against a weird piece of furniture, or you’re hardcore balancing on something weird, and you’re like, “I’m a little uncomfortable,” which means something way different than crying and being like, “Please. Can we please not do this? You’re making me really uncomfortable right now.”

[Side note: One thing I will say about that word though, is if I have been weirdly positioned on a piece of furniture, and someone during sex has been like, “are you a little uncomfortable?” and I say, “I mean, I’m okay, but I guess, yeah, a little,” – they’ve always changed. They’ll just pick me right up [with permission and respect] and be like, “How about this? Is this better?” “Why, yes it is! Thank you!”
So, while “uncomfortable” specifically doesn’t always (or even often) mean violent or criminal or truly hardcore boundary-crossing, I’ve still always known people to try to fix an uncomfortable situation. For the most part, people don’t want to feel uncomfortable, and generally, people don’t want to make others feel uncomfortable.]

“Uncomfortable” is maybe too all-encompassing of a word, and one perhaps I use too often. And I did use it a little too often when trying to talk to sexual assault guy about what he did. But I also used words like, “horrific,” “nightmare,” “cry myself to sleep every night,” “yes, you took away my agency,” etc., and those aren’t words I use about just like some random not-super-enjoyable sex.

As far as it relates to my last post of basically “if in doubt, go to the police,” I’m obviously not advocating that if something is a little awkward or some guy was pressured you a little that you just run to the police. Of course I don’t think that.

Sometimes, as I have been talking about assault so much, that is a question that comes up or is posed to me – “well, where is the line between assault and just kind of awkward or sort of pressured sex (because they have some parallels sometimes)?”

I think for the most part it’s clear, but a couple of distinctions that helps with clarity (if it’s needed) is – 1) Did they ignore your boundaries? (I was completely clear and he went way past them as I cried.) 2) Were you under threat? (Any reasonable person in my position would say yes. I was under threat with him.)

I have been in a small handful of situations (really not that many) with men before, in which for whatever reason I wasn’t super in a mood to do a very particular sex thing that night (e.g. maybe I’d be happy to have sex, but I didn’t feel like getting on my knees) or whatever, and they’d be like, “Oh, come oooon.” And sometimes I’d be annoyed. But most of the time I’d do it anyway.

…And a couple of times when they were being a little pressure-y and it felt a little gross, I even had a conversation later of just like, this behavior kind of makes me uncomfortable and it’d be nice if you didn’t do it again.” But it wasn’t assault. It was merely annoying (to me). (I can talk to people about being uncomfortable or a little unhappy without thinking or implying they assaulted me.)

But in this instance, it was far more than just “annoying.” Annoying doesn’t begin to cover it. He was threatening. I don’t know how clear I’ve made this on the blog that the reason I laid there and did practically nothing while he had sex with me was because I was under real threat – that’s one of the defining characteristics that makes it assault) – being threatened.

He didn’t extremely directly come out and say the very exact words that “if you don’t let me have sex with you right now, I’m going to badly injure you” but based on maaaaany things (that in so many words would give you the extreme vibe of that sentiment) which he’d said that week – and especially that night leading up to it, and physical ways in which he intimidated me as well, it was beyond reasonable to think that if I did anything else, I would’ve been seriously hurt.

He is a very vey smart man who kept most (maybe all?) of it out of writing, and made it explicit enough to scare me, but perhaps not explicit enough to use in court. So, is it prosecutable/provable in a court of law? Seemingly not. Did it happen? Yeah, it did.)

He was strong and on top of me. He had a documented anger issue. He was very threatening. My case (sadly, and like many others) may not have been prosecutable. But it doesn’t change that it was assault. (Not prosecutable and not real are two different things.)

So, anyway, I just wanted to be very clear that I’m not trying to give irresponsible advice of like, “Pressured in any way, even a tiny bit? Run to a police officer! Have any tiny relationship communication issue? Get the law involved!”
But, “Get threatened? Have someone climb on top of you and completely ignore you when you’re crying and saying out loud you’re crying because of him and how he’s scaring you in that moment? Have someone who makes it very clear you’re gonna be in a boatload of real trouble if you dare to anything other than cry and lay there? Yeah. Go to the cops. That’s sexual assault. Or don’t go. It’s your life and your impossible decision (that I talked about the other day).

Anyway, the point is, even though for some weird reason it’s come up multiple times, I don’t think slightly bad or slightly uncomfortable sex or kinda blegh guys are assault or assaulters. I think sexual assault is assault. And they’re different. And hopefully I’ve said it in the post in a clear enough way to make sense?