Being in a Relationship Isn’t Permanent Consent

A #SurvivorStory by Sophie

It all started the Summer going into my senior year of high school. Chase had added me on a couple of my social media accounts in the middle of my junior year and I saw that he went to a high school a couple of towns over from mine so I added him back. I had been struggling with anxiety and depression since my freshman year of high school and was quite reliant on smoking weed at the time. I found out that he was actually a drug dealer so one day right as Summer was starting I decided to reach out to him to buy some weed. I snapchatted him asking to buy and it sparked a long conversation. He seemed really cool so when he asked me to hang out a week or so after starting talking I agreed. We started hanging out pretty regularly. At the time I did not have much sexual experience and wanted to take things relatively slowly with him. As we hung out more and more Chase would get really frustrated with me when I didn’t want to go further with him.

I can still vividly remember sitting in his car at a nature preserve while he ate McDonalds (part of my anxiety makes it hard for me to feel comfortable eating in front of some people) and him just yelling at me for not wanting to suck his dick. Thinking about it now still makes me tear up. Each day we hung out became a struggle. Chase mocked me for still being a virgin and would continuously try to force me to lose my virginity to him. Each time that I would start to really considering ending the relationship with him he would do something really nice or show that he really paid attention to me and I’d convince myself to stay. At the beginning of the relationship we spent most of the time that we were together out, we were rarely just hanging out at one of our houses. But, about a month into us hanging out we started to go hang out in his basement pretty consistently. Whenever we would start to hook up it would always end badly. When I would start to get uncomfortable with where the hook up was heading I would tell him I wanted to stop and expected him to respect my request. That rarely ever happened. Most of the time he would then pin me down and either force me to give him a handjob, blowjob or force his fingers deeper inside me. I would yell at him to stop and that I didn’t want to do this anymore. No. No. No. I repeated. But at a certain point I just knew he wasn’t going to listen, it was like he couldn’t even hear me objecting. At that point I would just shut down. I stop refusing and would numbly cooperate with whatever he wanted from me. I just let this cycle continue over and over throughout the whole summer. It didn’t even register with me what was really happening. It wasn’t until one night in the middle of September of my senior year when we were hanging out in his basement on the couch watching The Office. We started to hook up and then the next thing I know he has me pinned down with my pants down and he was trying to force his dick inside of me. I pushed him off telling him it wasn’t funny anymore I wanted to go home. I ran to my car as he followed me rambling off half-assed apologies. I ended the relationship the next day. Even at that point I still hadn’t connected the dots and realized what had happened. I knew he was making me do things I wasn’t comfortable with but we live in a society that doesn’t always teach boys that that isn’t ok. I had just convinced myself that he was just another horny teenage boy and that this is what it meant to be in a real relationship.

I barely talked to him after I ended the relationship. He would reach out to me about every other week for the next couple of months asking to hang out, saying his mom really wanted to meet me, saying that he would give me drugs for free if I fucked him. Occasionally I would respond but most of the time I just let the messages unread.

It wasn’t until February 28th, 2018 that I finally realized what I had gone through. I will never forget that day. I had to come to school early with the rest of the senior class to sit through a mandatory assembly. To be able to go to our school’s prom we had to sit through an hour and a half long presentation about the dangers of sexual assault on college campuses. During the assembly we watched parts of a documentary that interviewed college students who had experienced sexual assault and their stories. I sat there watching and listening to a girl explain her story and I realized that the things she was saying had all happened to me, with him. I started silently sobbing in my seat. I couldn’t stop shaking. I left the assembly and ran to the bathroom having a full on anxiety attack. I immediately blocked him on all social media accounts. I was so embarrassed. I was embarrassed that I had let it go on for almost 4 full months. I was embarrassed that it took me almost 5 more months to realize what had happened. I blamed myself. I could’ve ended it after the first time he did it. I could’ve made it more clear that I didn’t want to be doing what he was making me do.

Once I pulled myself together in the bathroom I went to class. I had a class with one of my really close friends so I was hoping she would be able to provide some much needed comfort or support. I tried to make light of the situation as I told her. I didn’t provide any details I just turned to her and said that the presentation earlier made me realize that I had gone through that with Chase. She looks at me and goes; “haha he sucks”. And that was it. She turned away after that and the class continued. This reaction wasn’t what I had expected or needed but I didn’t think much of it. The next person I told was my boyfriend at the time. I told him I had been sexually assaulted in my last relationship and he just said “ok” and then he started a new topic of conversation. I held back more tears as I realized maybe I was just overreacting? Maybe it wasn’t a big deal? Chase had basically been my boyfriend at the time so maybe I was wrong? After that I decided not to tell anyone about it for a while. I didn’t think I could and risk receiving more reactions like those.

A couple weeks later I was driving around with my best friend. We had been best friends since we were in kindergarten and I figured that if there was going to be anyone that would be able to give me support it would be her. I parked the car and told her my story. Not the whole thing, not even close. But I told her enough. We both burst into tears. I was finally able to talk to someone about the way all of it made me feel and the way that recognizing what happened was destroying me. I had never felt like I was really inferior to a boy before being with him. I had constantly felt like I had no control like I was being suffocated by his power over me. I told her about the times when we would be sitting in the back seat of his car and he would have me pinned down forcing his dick into my mouth and having to twist my arm back behind me to try and open the door to get out of the car. Even writing about it now I still feel overcome with emotions as imagine myself right back in the back of his Jeep. My best friend listened to my story and helped me understand and accept that just because I had been in a relationship with him did not mean that gave him the right to do those things.

My best friend’s response gave me the strength to tell my older sister who encouraged me to start going to therapy. That was a scary idea to me because through all my struggles with anxiety and depression I never felt like therapy would be the right option for me. I tried to ignore my sister’s request for a while until she said that if I didn’t start going to therapy she would tell my parents. I have a really complicated relationship with my parents and I couldn’t bare the idea of them finding out. So I started therapy. I’ve been going every other week now for over 6 months. It took me a really long time to open up to my therapist about it but once I did I saw that it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I felt so free. I’m learning to accept what happened and realize that it isn’t my fault. I’m starting to move on but its not easy. It all happened over a year ago but it still feels like yesterday. I’m still so angry at him. Angry that he gets to move on and live his life like nothing happened while I have to live with it everyday. I have to explain to each new partner that I have that I can’t give them a blowjob because I was pinned down and forced to too many times. I have to live through the panic attacks and breakdowns when sexual assault is mentioned in classes, programs, or in the media. I’m only just starting to recover from all of it. I’ve surrounded myself with people who love and support me and give me the help I need. I am now in a really healthy relationship with a boy that I love so much that treats me like the most special person in the world. He doesn’t realize how much he helps me get through it all each and every day. He sees the strength in me even when I don’t. Recovering from sexual assault was the last thing that I thought I would have to go through but I’m doing my best with the best support system. For now I still think about it every single day so that is my first goal. Go one day without thinking about Chase or the assaults.

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