Graphic by Haley Morkert.
CAITLIN SEGRAVES | STAFF REPORTER | email@example.com
Content warning: References to sexual violence and suicide are included in this article.
As someone who is authoring a consent article, it is probably no surprise that my life has been impacted by a lack of consent.
Despite the content warning at the beginning, I want to offer yet another warning. I want you to take a slight pause as I explain what my article is about; most importantly, I want to tell my story, but I don’t want anyone to relive theirs.
Firstly, no matter who you — the reader — are, your life has most likely been impacted by sexual violence in some way. Statistics say that your friend, your sibling, maybe one of your parents, has firsthand experience of sexual violence. That is also assuming you don’t have a story yourself. I am sorry if you do.
This is hard.
I’m struggling with how to even start. He was my high school boyfriend and the first real relationship I had. We talked about our future together, and his mom and I were on texting terms. I thought I loved him, and I thought he loved me.
Okay, deep breaths! Mostly telling myself to breathe, but it’s always a nice break for everyone else, too.
This boyfriend, we’ll call him “John,” was sweet to me in the beginning. We flirted for a majority of my sophomore year of high school, and we started dating the beginning of my junior year. “John” was always kind of mysterious to me — not in a moody broody way, just in that he always surprised me with details about his life. He alluded to his father’s abusive ways, a love for Edgar Allen Poe — major red flag in my opinion — and a teetering relationship with alcohol.
We broke up for the first time 5 months into the relationship.
I know, saying “the first time” should help you understand the highly toxic nature of the relationship.
After getting back together due to his pleas and apologies for being controlling, we had sex for the first time.
As many high schoolers with strict parents do, we had sex in a car behind a movie theater. Don’t do this, it’s technically public indecency and is just not conducive for great sex.
Now, my first time wasn’t good. But it was consensual. We had both agreed on it, I was on birth control — not that I need to justify that, but I had ridiculously horrible periods — and he had a condom. It was smart, safe and desired by both parties involved.
What occurred over the next several months of our relationship was not.
“John” consistently manipulated me, guilt-tripping me into having sex with him, ignoring me asking him to stop and telling me I was crazy. At this point, you might be thinking what my friends at the time were thinking: “why don’t you leave him?” Or “why don’t you just break up with him?”
Every time I even thought about it, he told me he would kill himself, drown his sorrows in drugs and alcohol, and all that jazz.
I didn’t feel like I could leave him. I just let him f*** me so he wouldn’t question my love for him. This went on for months. One of the last times we broke up, he told me that we should have sex “to see if we still had a spark.” He wanted to see if we still had a spark to see if our relationship was worth saving.
Of course, I thought I loved him. I would do anything to appease him; if that meant letting him inside of me, so be it. I was numb to what he had been doing to me at this point.
It took me a few months after our final break up to fully realize what he had done to me. I still can’t stop myself from thinking about him, from spiraling about who he might be hurting now.
So, why am I sharing this? Who benefits from me telling my story?
I have no idea. Part of this is selfish; I have wanted to tell people on a broader platform for so long, but I’ve always been scared.
But I also want other survivors to feel heard. Maybe you’re in a relationship like what I had with “John,” or maybe you’re recovering from something similar or going through something completely different. We all deserve to find the strength to stand up for ourselves against abusers like “John.”
I don’t know how else to finish this other than offering resources; please reach out if any of what I described sounds familiar, or if you’re hurting in any way.
Your partner shouldn’t hurt you.
National Numbers to Call
National Sexual Assault Hotline – 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)