CW: sexual assault, abuse
Hey there Shy’s. Perhaps you’ve noticed I’ve been away lately, perhaps the thought never crossed your mind. In truth it hasn’t been all that long since I was last posting regularly, maybe a month or so. Objectively that’s not very long, but it feels like a lot considering that for a while I was logging on multiple times a day. I’d like to say I was just busy, and that would be partially true, but it’s not the whole story. I’ve been avoiding the site because I know it’s a place where we are open and vulnerable to each other and I haven’t been ready for that. Frankly I’m just starting to emerge from the mental equivalent of fetal position.
I made a post in March titled “Does Your Primary Limit You?” in which I described the experience of being dumped by my secondary partner because they disliked my primary partner. Things went downhill rather quickly after that. I took stock of my relationship with him and decided that things couldn’t continue as they were. He initially seemed to agree, looking into the logistics of getting his own place once our lease ran out in January. However in retrospect it seems that he was bluffing, hoping the prospect of him actually leaving would make me change my mind. Instead in only convinced me that I had made the right decision.
I know now why it’s said that the most dangerous stage of an abusive relationship is leaving. As I began to assert my independence and embrace the prospect of being single, he became increasingly aggressive towards me. This came to a head on St. Patrick’s Day. My back was sore, so I asked him to help me into the bath. He agreed, being very solicitous and bringing me Epsom salts. He then started taking off his own clothes and got in the bath. I thought that was a little odd, but didn’t object. He stated an interest in taking a bath separately after I got out. Consequently I was surprised when he followed me into the bedroom as I went to get dressed, or should I say tried to get dressed. He leaned over and lay on top of me as I tried to put my panties on. At first it seemed playful, and I just asked him to get off so I could get ready for choir rehearsal. Unlike other times, he didn’t budge. He asked to do more and more, eventually demanding that I have sex with him before I left. I declined four times, but he still wasn’t getting off of me. At this point I was running half an hour late for my rehearsal so I told him to just get it over with. He entered me immediately without even pausing to put on a condom. After a few minutes it was over. Oddly, he was the one who cried afterwards rather than me.
On the way to rehearsal I felt hollow inside. I wasn’t ready to call it what it was, but I still had a distinct sense that what had happened crossed a line. Once singing, I sang “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair” with an unusual degree of enthusiasm. Afterwards I was scheduled to audition as part of an octet to perform the song “Quiet”, composed for the 2017 Women’s March. Singing the opening lines “Put on your face/Know your place/Shut up and smile/Don’t spread your legs” I almost broke down crying. Still, I wasn’t ready to explain to my fellow singers why I had been late, and stuck with the half truth that I had missed my train.
Afterwards I went to an Irish pub nearby, as I had originally intended to do, but with a very different mindset. I grabbed as much Guiness as was put in front of me. At this point I began getting a string of passive aggressive text messages from my boyfriend asking where he was and if he could join. I responded that I would prefer not to see him but wouldn’t tell him not to come to a public place. This led to him berating me for not giving a straight answer and insisting that I state my preferences more clearly (fat lot of good that did me when I actually tried it.) We eventually agreed to the “compromise” of meeting at a nearby bookstore. While he traveled over my phone died and my primary concern was that I wouldn’t be able to contact him; the psychology of abusive relationships can be strange like that.
After hanging out at the bookstore, we went home and attempted to have a Serious Talk. He asked why I was still angry about what had happened that morning, since he had apologized a whopping three times. He also pointed out that he had forgiven me when I supposedly cheated on him by being naked with someone else he knew I was dating. Having not clearly established a rule against this, I didn’t view it as infidelity, but that is a discussion for another time (if ever.) In that moment I realized how much he had been holding a grudge over that incident. After I officially declared my intention to end things with him because of what he did, he exhorted me not to cope by hopping into bed with strangers “like you usually do” – despite the fact that I have never had casual sex in my life and have had only one additional sexual partner besides him. I mention this context not to slut shame, but to highlight that only a person with a highly distorted view of my sexual behavior and beliefs would make such a statement.
The next day I called my best friend and said I had something to talk about. I considered trying to beat around the bush but eventually elected to just spit it out – “I think I got raped yesterday.” She listened to me and confirmed that what I had experienced was textbook sexual assault. At this point we had already been planning a visit in honor of her birthday, but agreed that it would be a good idea to bump it up a week so she could give me moral support. Once I finally said the words, my feelings became very clear and I told my now ex-boyfriend he needed to move out ASAP.
The process of moving him out was a saga unto itself, so I think I will end the post here and add an explanation of that later on. Thank you all for your wise advice on these matters, both directly to me and in general. Particular thanks to N00Bi for helping me talk through what happened and encouraging me to maintain strong boundaries and prioritize my own emotional health. It would be lying to say I feel ok at this point, but I have a lot of support and I am healing. I’m optimistic that I will get through this.