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This post deals with domestic violence and might be triggering for some readers.
But I find my own experience is hard to articulate and I don’t often see it reflected in the current consent and sexual assault discourse.
My name is Geraldine Bilston, and I am a victim-survivor of intimate partner violence.
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Sexual coercion is when a person is threatened, tricked, forced or pressured into unwanted sexual activity.
My experience of sexual assault intersects with intimate partner violence, and the whole experience is often still very blurry for me.
Despite the time that has passed since I escaped, I still feel a deep sense of shame around what he did to me.
This was a relationship that deeply affected me. Copping a barrage of verbal abuse in day-to-day life left me pretty broken... but being told I was a useless f**king b**ch while having sex destroyed me in such a profound way that I believed myself to be utterly worthless.
I began to see the world through a different lens, one where I started living in a way where I saw his acceptance of my existence as something to be grateful for.
Hardcore porn DVDs and online sites were never hidden from me; in fact they were so accessible to me, I completely normalised it.
I did however see the degrading nature of their content with a dark sense of foreboding, now knowing what may be in store for me.
I don’t know how I would ever explain to you what it felt like to live with a man who regularly verbally abused me while we had sex, and who I still yearned to be loved and respected by.
I don’t quite understand it myself.
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Winding back the clock to when we first met, things were great, and progressed quickly.
But not long after we moved in together, there was a time when I was too tired to have sex. He became very aggressive, and he kicked me out of the house.
I was upset and confused, and when he began to tell me how he had never met anyone with so many mental issues I completely accepted his diagnosis of me and begged for him to love and accept me.
On reflection that moment in time set the tone for the rest of our relationship.
This is a man who was bigger than me, physically stronger than me, and was wielding power over me... what I understand now is that he was never, ever braver than me.