[Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse]
Looking back on it now, I missed so many red flags about the first guy I had sex with. Of course, I wish I had noticed all of them at the time, but the one I regret not seeing the most was his views on consent. We talked it out before we actually got together. He was older than me (albeit not more experienced) and he tried to make me feel comfortable – or at least it seemed that way before the fact. He told me that since I was younger I had more boundaries and so I got to set the limits.
What he didn’t tell me was that he would ignore those limits. I went in with a false sense of safety, thinking that I would be in control. That I would have a say in what happened. I didn’t recall until later that in one conversation a little while prior (over text, of course) he told me not to use the words “no” or “stop.” I asked him why. He told me that those words just made a guy want to keep going. He said they were “hot” – that they were, as he put it, “forbidden fruit.” He told me instead to use a safeword, something silly that would make him want to stop. Because my desire for him to stop wouldn’t be enough motivation. Because expressing my unease would only serve to arouse him.
He told me to use the word “pineapple.” He picked me up on a Wednesday night over spring break. The text simply read “here.” I said a quick goodbye to my mom, who thought we would be hanging out at the mall. I kept my face turned away from her to hide the blush creeping into my cheeks and I dashed out the front door. I was already regretting the decision, and I had been since almost immediately after we had made the plans a few weeks before. But I had already agreed to meet him, and I didn’t want to disappoint him by backing out. I did tell him that morning that I was having second thoughts, but he told me not to worry. He said it’d be fun. He drove us to the parking lot of a local park. We got in the back seat. His words were unkind and his tongue made me gag.
The pain nearly brought tears to my eyes. He was starting to scare me and all I could think was that I wanted to leave and I wanted the stabbing pain to go away so I asked him to stop. And he did, for a moment. And then he kept going. The cycle repeated a few more times until he told me he wasn’t going to stop when I asked anymore. I remembered what he told me, and so I tried his word. “Pineapple.” But he didn’t stop. I started crying. I was so ashamed. I put my hands over my face so he couldn’t see my tears. I didn’t want him to see my body anymore either, but I couldn’t hide that. He saw what I was doing and stopped for a moment.
He took my hands away from my face and leaned down to kiss me and told me it was okay. The thought sprouted somewhere in my brain that he loved me and that’s why he was doing this. He had too, right? I stopped crying, and he kept going. I didn’t cry again until later that night, after I got home. He got his forbidden fruit. I wish I had known so many of the things then that I know now. That it is not your job to please anyone and that you have the right to back out at any time, be it before or during. That you always have the right to say no and that it is not your partner’s choice to listen to you or not. That if someone really loved you, or even cared for you, they wouldn’t go against your wishes. Sexual abuse and rape are not crimes of love or even, in most cases, of lust. They are demonstrations of power, of domination, and of complete and utter disregard for the victim. It is never your fault and it is not something to be ashamed of. If you need help dealing with sexual abuse, call 800-656-HOPE for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.