The time I violated my girlfriend’s consent
We were 16. We’d been dating for a few weeks. I was SO enamored of her.
We were alone together in her room for the first time. We started kissing. I was excited. She looked nervous. I thought she was just shy. I thought that she must want this as much as I did, but just had less experience and didn’t know where to start. I took her hands and placed them on my breasts. And then I kept going. I made all the moves. It stayed mostly above the waist. At some point we had to stop for some reason — I think maybe it was just time for me to go, I don’t really remember — and we stopped.
I had a bounce in my step the next day. We’d shared something special! I couldn’t wait to do it again. And then she confessed to me that she hadn’t wanted it. That I’d pushed her way past what she was comfortable with, and she hadn’t known how to say no. Her shyness had actually been reluctance, and her passivity had not been a matter of her happily allowing me to take the lead, as my over-confidence and desire had imagined, it had instead been the only form of resistance she’d known how to offer. Men can absolutely have their consent violated too, but I’m fairly sure that her socialized-as-female experience (be polite, don’t hurt people’s feelings, your body is for making other people happy) played a role in the options she’d felt capable of exercising.
I felt terrible. I couldn’t take it back. She accepted my apology and never threw it in my face, but still the facts were clear and plain and damning. It was her first time with a woman and I’d made it into something she regretted. She broke up with me not too long after. I have no idea if it’s something she ever thinks of.
I was not a monster. I did not violate her consent on purpose. The culture around me had led me to think that my actions were perfectly appropriate — no one ever asked first before they started making out and groping each other in movies. But the fact remains, I violated her consent by not even seeking it in the first place.
I don’t carry around guilt from that experience. I was young, I didn’t understand the things that I understand now, it was a mistake. But I do make sure to carry around the lesson.
Asking IS NOT HARD. Knowing that you hurt someone is. If you hurt someone, and they tell you, they are doing you a huge favor, because they are giving you the opportunity to learn and not make the same mistake again.
I have seen someone on this site state that it’s impossible to know in advance what someone else will consider a violation — that part is true! — and that therefore all you can do is go with your instincts and stop if they say to stop — THAT PART IS DUMB AND INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS. Talk. Ask. Check in. Use your damn words. Always err on the side of asking permission rather than begging forgiveness. I don’t care if it feels awkward to you. Practice it until it’s easy. Learn to love it.
Helpful phrases for talking about consent: http://16-secrets.tumblr.com/post/55145342742/16-wa…
I’ve also seen multiple people on this site act like the worst possible thing that could happen to you is to get accused of a consent violation. Because of this, they want people to shut up about the times that they perceive that they’ve been violated. They want people to not listen to accusations of violation because maybe they’re false. Above all, they want all of us to not take consent so damn seriously — to realize that there’s “real rape” and then there’s whining. All I can say is that if you think any of these things, your priorities are so far out of whack that it’s damn ugly. Read a few accounts of the panic attacks and depression and alienation that can accompany consent violation (not just in cases of “real rape”), then read some statistics about how distressingly common assault is, then get some damn perspective.
If you get accused of a consent violation, and it’s something that really happened, own it. Apologize. Thank the other person for speaking up, because they do not owe that to you or to anyone else. Learn from it. Talk about it. Your reputation is NOT what’s most important here… and yet, in fact, most people will actually respect you far MORE for being straightforward and honest and adult about it.
If you get accused of a consent violation and it’s NOT something that really happened [Note: By this I don’t mean that you feel like your intentions were misinterpreted, or there was a difference in expectations or a miscommunication, I mean if the other person is straight up unambiguously lying, saying that you did or said things that definitely did not occur… I personally have never known this to happen to anyone I know, but the possibility of patently false accusations often comes up in these conversations so I’m including it here to try to preempt that potential derail of the conversation] — far, far, FAR less common than the former scenario, judging both by my personal experience and by all the numbers I’ve seen, but I’m sure it does happen in some cases — then calmly set the record straight. Don’t use the experience, or someone else’s experience of this, as a reason to silence others who may be struggling to speak their truth. Not only is silencing victims a horrible thing to do, especially in our culture which already does so much to try to achieve that goal, it also just makes you look like an untrustworthy douche.
There will always be people who violate other’s consent on purpose. To those people I have nothing at all to say. But the rest of us are not immune from hurting each other and are not excused from responsibility for building a culture where concern and respect for consent is the norm.
Submitted by – PlumBat