real life

"My ex-boyfriend tried to rape me. And I'm still not okay."

* The feature image on this story is a stock image. 

When I was 11 years old, I took a vow of celibacy, promising God I would stay a virgin until my wedding night.

It was an innocent vow, made by an innocent little girl.

The vow was made primarily for religious devotion, but there was also a part of it which was for me.

The older I’ve grown, the more that vow has become a personal commitment to myself and my body.

With my wedding two months away, I’m still on track to losing my virginity on my wedding night, likely while a little tipsy and giggly with my new husband.

I’m looking forward to that special moment I’ve been waiting for for 15 years — but this opportunity and moment were almost completely taken away from me.

And that night still haunts me, to this very day.

My first boyfriend was a real piece of work — in the worst ways possible. Unfaithfulness and dominance were his calling cards. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t realise this until after I left him.

The biggest thing we fought about was his inappropriate behaviour with other women. He was charming and friendly, so add on the English accent to the mix and women were lining up on the daily.

That never actually bothered me much. Because I could understand why they were interested. If anyone should understand that, it should be me, the person who was dating him. I was attracted to him for a reason, after all. No, it wasn’t the fact that women were interested. It was the fact that he would openly flirt with them. Every single one of them. At times with me standing right there.

There was a definitive lack of respect in our entire relationship.

I should have taken this as a massive red flag.

But I was too busy being in love for the first time, and I didn’t realise the difference between normal behaviour and just plain old abuse.

Call me old-fashioned, but I find it rather disrespectful when one’s partner is making suggestive comments and sexual innuendos towards other women.

Whether their girlfriend is there or not. Even if she isn’t present, it’s still inappropriate. Just because she can’t hear it happening, doesn’t make it okay.

Although I was still devastated, it didn’t come as that much of a shock when I found out, shortly after I left him, that he had been cheating on me while we were together, with dozens upon dozens of women.

It seemed everyone had a story, and they’d just been waiting for the “right time” to tell me. Which I guess was after I’d already left him. To add salt to the wound, literally every single story was about a different woman.

That took some time to get over. Admittedly, I spent a few years being extremely distrustful of men.

And it was also after I left that I realised the level of his abuse — not only emotional, but also physical.

He never hit me outright. But he did make a habit of pinning me to surfaces as a display of physical dominance.

He was stronger than me and no matter how hard I struggled to get free I couldn’t push him off.

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This would become would be a significant piece of knowledge down the road. It was always about power with him. It’s okay to not be okay.

The night he tried to rape me, I was intoxicated and he was pinning me to the bed.

Because I already knew I couldn’t push him off with force, I resorted to the only tool I had at my disposal — covering my vagina with one hand, and laying there pleading with him through buckets of tears.

It took easily a half hour, possibly more, for him to finally huff and roll off of me in defeat.

It was too inconvenient for him to continue with the attempted rape, as he had also been drinking and had gotten sleepy.

The next morning, I would get the cold shoulder from him for not giving it up.

But before that morning, I laid in bed, my back to him, staring at the door of my friend’s guestroom wondering if I should make a run for it or not.

It took a month to admit out loud that I had been sexually assaulted by my boyfriend, and almost raped.

I didn’t want to admit to it, because I didn’t want the weight of that truth to bulldoze its way into my life and completely break me. For a time, it did.

I still have tough days when the horror of that night, and almost losing this precious commitment to my body, crushes me with grief.

It’s still difficult to stomach. I still have PTSD from it. I’m still not okay… and that’s entirely okay.

Final word. There’s a reason the epidemic of sexual assault upon young women is being called one of the catastrophes of college campuses across the globe. For the perpetrators, it was a moment of inconvenience where they had to put in extra effort to get what they wanted.

For the victim, it means a lifetime of trauma, horror and struggle is to follow.

There are far too many of us. And it’s utterly infuriating. Especially as our attackers are being given laughably light sentences, or are simply not being punished at all. The sentences we must serve, as their victims, is beyond cruel, and will follow us to our deathbeds.

But we continue, and we persevere, because we refuse to lose any more of ourselves to the selfish pricks who acted upon their disgustingly misplaced sense of entitlement over our bodies.
In the end, we are the ones who rise above. And there’s an army of us coming for every frat boy and f*ck boy and varsity player who ever thought he was entitled to another human’s being body for his own pleasure, regardless of her consent.

Scared? You should be.

This article originally appeared on Medium and has been republished here with full permission. 

You can follow Gillian Sisley on Twitter, right here: @gilliansisley

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

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