“Learning to say stop”

**Trigger Warning: rape and sexual assault**


I’ve been reading, listening, trying to comprehend the stories I’ve been hearing about rape and sexual assault through liberation work. I do this all the time, but I never thought it applied to me. I’m not sure when the penny dropped, but when it did, it echoed in my mind for a good while. I’ve only shared this with one person, who told me that it was something worth thinking about, worth writing about. This wasn’t a rape or assault, I was fully consenting, it’s just that I now recognise that I wasn’t consenting the whole time. So, I went to my hometown, and my friends and I bumped into an ex of mine, the last one. I hadn’t been with someone in over a year, and I missed sex. I really missed sex. We talked and flirted, and I not only enjoyed the attention but I felt comfortable. We kissed between the beers, the big old sofas, the low dim lights, the chatty friends and passer-bys. He walked me home, and on the way we pressed against the wall our familiar bodies. We went back to mine, and quickly began what I now recognise as our routine: I was excited and turned on, but halfway through it began to hurt more than it created pleasure. I tried to say something, or switch position, but I didn’t. A little while later, he came, and as we lay panting I looked at the blue darkness, I felt his breath on my arm. We slept, and as per routine, began again at my instigation a few hours later. I still wanted sex. This time hurt more, and I couldn’t pretend…I called his name to make him stop but couldn’t find the words to say. He thought I cooed his name in pleasure. By the end of this time, I was sore (and would be for a few days after), but felt like I had done my duty. What duty!? I ask myself now; they were not my partner no longer, and I never owed anything, nor ever feel that I should do. He never called me again, but nor did I he. We both used each other, he satisfied my itch, although by scratching it too hard. It was a year and a half before I got any sexual libido back. That’s when I realised it must have been more than nothing.

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