Hoe is the TD’s anonymous sex columnist. She is a student at Drake and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hey everyone, sorry I’ve been so out of touch lately. I’ve been, well what can I say, “busy.” Today, we have a guest writer for my usual column. This is a column for all of you to read and take seriously. April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and well, after you read this column, I want all of you to think about this girl’s testimony. If you or anyone you know have been the victim of sexual coercion or any form of sexual violence there are resources on campus for you to utilize.
I’m going to tell you a story. It’s interesting and important and even involves sex. I hope you’ll read on.
Once upon a time, my friends-with-benefits and I were fooling around, no shocker there. We’d been hooking up for a good six months at this point and it was a lot of fun, though we had never actually had sex. He was a friend, and as in many friends-with-benefits relationships I actually had a crush on him.
We were lying in bed, and things were getting hot and heavy. We were enjoying ourselves and he wanted to take it to the next level. As any good, considerate guy would, he asked me if I wanted to have sex. I told him I did not want to and did not offer an explanation, because I recognized it was my right to say no. We went back to messing around.
A few minutes later, he asked me why I didn’t want to have sex. I gave him my reasons, which he dismissed and disarmed. He told me we have such a great time together and we were so close to actually having sex anyway so we might as well do it. I held my ground and told him I didn’t want to.
We went on like this for a while longer. Us still touching each other, him asking me to have sex, me saying no, sometimes accompanied by an explanation, sometimes not. Then, he stopped asking and I was relieved.
After a while, he asked me again. “Can we please have sex?”
I thought to myself, “If I just say yes and we have sex, then he’ll stop asking me and it will be easier. I might as well and then at least we can get it over with. I just want it to be done.”
I can’t remember if I told him yes or if I just nodded my head. Either way, we had sex and I laid there with a knot in my stomach knowing that I did not really want to be doing it while it was happening.
When it was over, I rolled onto my side and started to cry. I couldn’t control it and it wasn’t a deep sob, just a quiet unstoppable stream of tears. He asked me what was wrong and I told him I hadn’t wanted to have sex in the first place. I asked him to leave and he said he was sorry as he went back to his own room.
The next day, I mentally beat myself up over having let this happen. I did not want to have sex with him, I regretted it and thought it was my fault for not stopping him.
The day after that, however, I went to a speaker on campus and she spoke about sexual coercion.
Coercion is when someone convinces or forces someone to do something he or she does not want to do. Sexual coercion, then, is when one person pressures or manipulates another person into complying with a sexual act. She gave the examples of a boyfriend telling his girlfriend that if she loved him, she would sleep with him, and of a girlfriend holding the expectation of male sexuality over her boyfriend’s head until he agrees to let her have sex with him. She explained another example is if one person asks the other to have sex or receive/perform oral sex until eventually the other person gives in.
At that moment, I felt like someone had thrown a brick at the center of my chest. I realized that was exactly what had happened to me just two days previously. I wanted to scream, to cry, to freak out, call my mom and most urgently, to leave.
But I didn’t. I stayed and I listened and I learned. I learned I had been sexually coerced. I was a victim, a survivor. I learned about the guilt I had been carrying inside. The fact that I had let him have sex with me. That, I hadn’t stopped him. That we had sex because I allowed it to happen. I learned this guilt was undeserved, that he should have just accepted the “no” the first time. It’s understandable to get worn down.
I was sexually coerced by a friend of mine.
You are not the first or the second or even the third person I have shared my story with. And if you are reading this and are realizing you have been sexually coerced, that the sexual act you thought was consensual was actually a product of coercion, please know you are not the first or the second or even the third person to have this reaction either.
The biggest issue with sexual coercion is that too many of us do not know what it is. Survivors, like myself, go around blaming themselves for an event “gone too far” and for not “having stopped him/her.” Others do not realize that asking someone over and over again to participate in an act wears people down and results in individuals saying “yes” to acts they do not necessarily desire.
I want you to know that you are not alone. If you have been sexually coerced or have coerced someone into an act, it is not a new phenomenon. The process of healing can be a slow one. It will go at whatever pace it will and I urge you to let it out and seek help, whether it be from a friend or family member, a counselor or another resource.
Learn about sexual coercion, about what is truly consensual. If you have a story yourself, share it. Who knows how many fellow survivors and potential future victims you might reach.