*Trigger warning: depression, self-harm, rape
I never quite expected to be telling a story to strangers that I am not quite sure I have accepted myself, yet here I am doing exactly that, because despite my reservations, it needs to be spoken about. And I must be clear, this is MY story. I am not speaking for anyone else when I tell it. Everyone experiences things differently and heals (or not), in different ways. This is my journey from being raped to rediscovering sex, and let me tell you, it has been one hell of a ride!
At 18, I met Jack. Jack was a friend of a friend and seven years older than me. He was introduced as ‘the quiet one’, and he fit the description well; he barely said two words (this is not an exaggeration, he once let our food burn to a crisp rather than tell us it was ready!) As someone who was outwardly loud, but inwardly shy and anxious, I felt for him and we became friends. We would go on days out as a group, have nights in, plan adventures… the lot. We came as a pair and everyone knew we were best friends. But what they didn’t know is that I was being controlled and it was only going to get worse.
It is worth noting at this point that I suffer with my mental health and have done since a young age. By the time I met Jack, I was drinking heavily and self-harming often. To put it bluntly, I was reckless and had no fear or safety awareness, so I was all too happy to take risks and I constantly longed for approval from others in order to gain short-lived self-worth. Jack knew this and chose to use my self-harm as a way to control me. It began subtly; he told me he understood why I did it and that it was ok to do, which progressed to him asking to see and touch my cuts/burns to make sure I was safe. I thought it insane that someone would actually care about these things, but I didn’t question his motives. Why would I? He was my best friend; he was Jack. I didn’t question him when he decided it would be best if, when I was drunk, I self-harmed in his company so he could “stop me from going too far” because he was always sober. So when he pulled out a knife and handed it to me and watched me cut, or brought one on nights out in our friends houses and gave it to me when they left the room, I accepted it was his way of caring. I now know how very wrong that was.
After a couple of years, a few of us went away for a celebration and stayed in a hotel. I was sharing with a female friend and the men were in other rooms, but we all came together to drink and hang out. On the second night, we partied too hard, too early. By around 9PM, I was so drunk I passed out. Not asleep, but unconscious. Jack and Rachael had to break into the bathroom to find me on the floor where I had landed after being sick. Rachael left the room to go and get bottles of water and food to help sober me up. Except, I don’t remember any of that. All I remember is waking up and feeling a weight against me, looking straight ahead and seeing the back of Jack reflected in the bathroom mirror, pinning me against the wall and what I now acknowledge as, raping me. I could hear Rachael banging on the hotel room door and shouting to be let in, and then nothing.
I woke up the next day and went to the bathroom feeling achy, sore, and confused as to why there was what seemed to be a man’s semen in my underwear. Surely, I hadn’t remembered last night correctly? I was so drunk… I must have thrown myself at Jack. Fuck. I couldn’t bring it up though because for some reason, it felt wrong, so I stayed quiet. And I continued to stay quiet each time he raped me when I was drunk from then on. He would always tell me I was too drunk to stay out, or to go home to my parents and so would have to go to his. I remember one time sobbing in the car and texting my Mum that I had never felt so low and I needed her. She told me to come home and she would fix whatever was happening. She would have as well, but I wasn’t allowed so I told her I was fine and would see her tomorrow. I didn’t know what else to do.
This is where the self-blame came into play. It couldn’t have been Jack doing anything wrong, so it had to be me. It couldn’t have been rape because I knew him. We were best friends! It wasn’t violent, I never fought him off, I shouldn’t have been so drunk, I didn’t say no every time… the list goes on. Until my friend sat me down and told me that she thought Jack was raping me and if it was true, I had to tell her. I laughed. I actually laughed and couldn’t stop. I explained to her what had happened and how it was just a drunken thing that happened sometimes; only she didn’t laugh. She sat me down, held my hands and explained that I had been raped and it stopped then. And it did.
I never reported him, but I told him I wouldn’t be doing it anymore and our friendship was over. He tried to threaten me with self-harm, saying he would do it too, and anyone who knows me, knows this broke my heart because I couldn’t cope with anyone feeling as low as I did. But my friend took control and wouldn’t allow me to act on my sympathy and she forced me to start acknowledging the last few years without pressuring me to act on it. She came home from college to help me when I overdosed, she sat with me whilst I lied to a counsellor over the phone that my depression wasn’t actually that bad, she made me eat, and she laughed with me when I finally let the light in.
After Jack, I didn’t want another man to touch me. I was left in pain, both physically and emotionally, and I developed a fear of sex. I would constantly make excuses to not have sex, and completely tense up whenever I allowed it to happen, closing my eyes and praying it would end quickly so that I could shower and forget about it for another few months. This cycle continued for years and I thought I would never enjoy sex again. My friends would talk about their exciting sex lives, my colleagues would talk about their earth-shattering orgasms, and I would stay silent.
But over time, those feelings shifted, and I started to want sex again. Not only did I want it, I started to get excited at the thought of it. I met Liam and it didn’t take long before we were in bed together. For the first time in what felt like forever, I thrived off having a man between my legs. He made sex fun and exciting, but what he was even better at, was making me open my eyes as to how I wanted more.
I began to crave rough sex with him… the pushed against a wall, hand around my throat, fucked deep and hard, kind of sex. At first, this confused me as the thought was somewhat triggering and I worried about lines becoming blurred between my past and present experiences, but as it happened, I realised it was nothing alike and never could be. There was one huge difference: consent.
I felt strong again. Confident enough to ask for some of the things I wanted, which included spanking, biting, bondage, anal sex, and more. I loved him taking charge and telling me what I had to do. I enjoyed being ‘used’ by him. It all felt incredible, but as these things do, it came to an end and that left me thinking… I wanted more and for it to be more extreme. The relationship with Liam helped me to discover my kinks and fetishes; I loved playing the role of submissive and being degraded. Over time, I have become more intersted in expanding on this with further kinks, including being owned, being a brat, wanting to be gagged, spat on, and even pissed on.
Now, I know what you may think. How can somebody who has been raped and experienced being so powerless when it comes to ‘sex’, enjoy being used and degraded in the bedroom? I’d the same thoughts, and I had many conflicted feelings about it for some time. I felt like I was doing harm to women who had been raped by being one who now enjoyed rough sex and being controlled by a man. I knew people would judge me if I told them what I was into, after being assaulted. I didn’t think people would believe I was raped, because surely nobody who ever went through that could possibly want to be used by their partner? But I have come to realise that there are many parts to it that make it entirely different.
Firstly, as I touched upon before, consent. Rape is not sex; there is no mutual agreement. For me, before embarking on any submissive role, I have a relationship with the person other than sex. I wouldn’t be submissive for a one-night stand. I have to know the person I am allowing to dominate me so that I can feel safe in knowing they understand pre-agreed boundaries. Also, I do not drink anymore so whatever I agree to, I have done so in sound mind.
Secondly, I wasn’t violently raped. In no way does being slapped, choked, or gagged, replicate my experience so it doesn’t ever feel like I am reliving a memory. However, I must add, women who have been violently raped can also enjoy rough sex because of point one!
Thirdly, it is healing. When I decided to reclaim my body and sexual experiences, I felt liberated. It took a long time to get to the point, where I felt safe to do this, but when I did, I felt a strength that I thought I had been stripped of. Knowing that I could say stop at any point and would be listened to, made me relax enough to enjoy every second, so much so that I never did say stop. It felt natural and easy to hand the control over to someone else, because the trust was absolute and solid. The fact that my trust was never broken only heightened my desire to experiment further, whilst knocking down years’ worth of self-hate and abuse.
Finally, aftercare. For me, this is the second most important factor after consent. As much as I love being called a “dirty little slut” in the bedroom, it is crucial that there is respect outside of these roles. This works both ways. Making sure that the other person is still happy with how the roles are defined, that they feel safe, whether they enjoyed certain new experiences or not, and if they want to continue, is essential. As is asking about things other than sex, like how their day has been, how they are feeling, what they are eating for breakfast, what they are watching on TV that night. Your Dom/Sub is a real person with a likely ‘normal’ life. It’s important to talk about those things too (it is to me, anyway!) Also, these roles won’t happen every time we have sex – it is not the be all and end all! Often, I crave slow, passionate, loving sex. I need that connection to still enjoy the filthy side and for me, I get the best of both worlds when there is a balance.
I went to hell and back. I wish I never had, but now, I get to explore new things in the bedroom with more confidence than I ever thought possible. If it is with the right person. If anything, I just hope that it makes people stop and think before judging or shaming anybody else’s preferences. You own your body, so own your kinks, as long as they are consensual and legal. I was terrified to share this. I never would have as myself, but I wish I had been told that it is ok to enjoy sex and have such fetishes after rape. The best part of writing this was realising that my story didn’t end there. I get to enjoy the next chapter that I will be the author of.