At the age of 17, I was raped. It took me four years to realise the relationship I was in for almost two years consisted of very rare consensual sexual experiences. One of my biggest regrets was not saying NO louder or stronger but I don't think that would have helped. I recall saying I was in pain and uncomfortable in many cases. He lived in Johannesburg; I lived in Pretoria and we were both in matric so we had to make an effort in the relationship. I was working in my matric year as a Rage ambassador and we had meetings and events every now and again in Johannesburg and so I would invite him to attend a few.
I recall being forced to go behind a bus stop in daylight just outside of my place of work at the time. He pushed my head down to his groin and I bit him in order for him to leave me alone and never ask me again. Later that day, while sitting in the garden he took my coat and placed it over my legs so that nobody could see where his hand was or what it was doing. I asked him to stop, I told him I was in pain and he didn't care.
My cousin picked me up and I went to her house, something felt off but I thought I was just tired. On Monday I went back to school and I told my best friend in the bathroom what happened. I was so embarrassed that I made it seem like it was funny but in actual fact it was the complete opposite.
In 2014 I started seeing a new clinical psychologist because of a massive breakdown I had due to depression that I had been experiencing since I was around the age of 14. I brought up an issue that I had with another very loving and special ex-boyfriend that I dated before the one who ruined me. I would tell him that someone had touched me inappropriately before and he would ask why I didn't do anything about it, why I couldn't say no or why I didn't ask people who constantly did things that made me uncomfortable to stop. My psychologist asked me about my past sexual experiences and there it was, my first lesson in consent. I was 21.
Finally so much of my life made sense. I found the reason to why I always froze in certain situations, why I always felt unsafe around men and why any sexual experience that followed my first, was something I regretted immediately. I never understood why I couldn't say no. I didn't think I had to, especially because if you are seeing someone casually or in an actual relationship, can it really be called rape or abuse?
I have unfortunately been in many other situations where I felt like I was sexually abused or threatened since then with many men, ones I wasn't even seeing. I was kicked out/forced my way out (details are a bit sketchy) of someone's res room in the middle of the night and I had no glasses on. My vision is extremely poor and so on top of that I had just been in a compromising situation, I was lost and couldn't find my way home.
I don't trust men at all. It's not that I think he's going to cheat on me or steal money from me, I don't trust him to respect my body and my wishes. It was sex that was ruined for me; it was trust.