Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Why I didn't just call the cops.

[MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING for the nitty-gritty of sexual assault and aftermath. This is not a happy post and it's not one I really wanted to write.  But it's one that a lot of people seem to need to read.]

There's been a lot of talk lately in my local BDSM scene about how to make the scene a safer place.  Which is an awesome thing, but it's depressing to see the pushback it's been getting.  (If I felt safe before, I wouldn't now, not knowing how many people around me like to play the "but if you don't do XYZ then you're to blame if you get raped!" game.)  And one part of that pushback is "hey, public safety isn't our job; if someone has a problem they should go to the police."

This isn't limited to the BDSM scene.  I've heard this elsewhere in discussions of sexual abuse.  Formally report or you have no right to complain.  Formally report or you're to blame for their next victim.  Formally report or it probably didn't even happen.

Like it's that easy.

So I'm going to explain in agonizing detail how I was assaulted by a guy in a BDSM scene, and why I didn't go to the cops.  And I hope this makes a difference to all the people who think "if someone assaults you call the cops" is the be-all-end-all of stopping sexual assault.

The guy was Benny, we'd been sleeping and playing together for a couple years, and he had been throwing up the flaggiest of red flags for a long time.  He'd already done things to me without my permission.  That's putting it lightly.  I mean that I'd said no (last paragraph) and he'd gone ahead and stuck his dick in me.  Which is... I guess it's rape right there?  But I didn't even register that.  At the time it just seemed like... a thing that happened.  I told him "no," he penetrated me anyway, I was like "whoa whoa whoa hey," more annoyed than scared, and in a second he stopped.  It seemed more like an awkward, uncomfortable misunderstanding.  Like someone giving you a noogie even though you're going "hey no."

Which is why I don't believe in giving people noogies if they don't want it, by the way. Sets a bad precedent.
REASON 1: Sometimes assault doesn't "feel like assault." A million movies and news reports had conditioned me to the idea that assault is big and loud and dramatic, that there's always blood and bruises and screaming.  The idea that something quiet and weird and awkward could be literally rape didn't occur to me.  And maybe you can argue that a guy shouldn't go to jail for something that didn't traumatize me, but that's only from my point of view.  From his point of view he had a woman saying "no" and he stuck his dick in her anyway. 
To say that's not rape because I didn't start screaming is like saying it's not theft if you snatch someone's purse and they say "oh well, these things happen, I suppose I can live without that purse."
What did bother me was the time he convinced me to let him come on my face, telling me it would be totally sexy and awesome and badass of me, and then as soon as he'd come he burst out in laughter at how ridiculous I looked with come all over my face like some stupid whore.

What did bother me was the time he fingered me, I had a blindfold on, and I didn't realize I was starting my period.  He stuffed my blood in my mouth and smeared it on my face without telling me what it was, then took the blindfold off, told me to look in the mirror, and cackled with glee at my predicament.

What did bother me was the increasing frequency with which he played the hold-down game.  The way this game worked was that we'd be lying in bed together and he'd roll over on top of me and not let me move.  He wouldn't do anything to me, just use his size (he had a full foot and 100 pounds on me) to hold me down until he decided to let me up.  Which could be a while.  I'd beg him, I'd try to hit him, I'd "no, seriously, it's not funny, seriously let me go" him, I'd even try reverse psychology and just go limp, and he'd just laugh and keep holding me down until he felt like giving my body back.
REASON 2: I blamed myself and expected to be blamed. So this isn't one of those cases where a nice guy turned into a monster out of the blue.  This is a case where I had a million red flags and I ignored or excused or "that's just his way"ed them.  Was this stupid of me?  HELL YES!  Is sexual assault a fair punishment for being stupid?  FUCK NO.  But because there had been those warning signs, I felt like I had it coming, felt like anyone I told would ask "why did you keep seeing him?" and I would have no answer, and felt like I had no right to report a crime that I had "contributed" to by not avoiding. 
I'd heard (and continue to hear, and future victims are hearing it right now) the same things said about a million rape victims before me.
And then eventually he crossed a line I couldn't forgive or ignore.  I was at his house, late at night, with only one purpose, the only reason I kept seeing him: filthy kinky sex.
REASON 3: Slut! There's a lot of shame in being a woman who goes to men's houses late at night with only one purpose.  Even without the red flags, that alone is enough to get a lot of people saying "well, what did she expect?" 
REASON 4: I said "yes." I did agree to have sex with Benny that night. And there's a huge number of people (some of them cops or jurors) who think that consent to sex is consent to anything, and you don't get to say no once you've said yes.  Or if you do it's only rape by some finicky feminist definition, only "gray rape," not in the same category as "rape-rape."
So he tied me up, spread-eagle to the four corners of the bed, saying he was going to finger me and get me off while I was tied.
REASON 5: Kinky shit.  So how do you explain this to a cop: "Yeah, I said he could tie me up naked, but not tie me up naked and hurt me!"  We're in a cultural atmosphere where most people think going to a guy's room is consent to anything he might do to you; what were my odds of explaining that letting him tie me up was not blanket consent? 
REASON 6: Kinky "crazy" shit. One of the more common stereotypes about women who do kink (especially who bottom in kink)--one I've had people say to my face when they didn't know I was kinky--is that we're "crazy."  Unpredictable, irrational, damaged goods, you know, "crazy."  And it's a widely accepted fact in the misogynist community that a "crazy" woman will make an accusation of rape for no good reason, just because she's so "crazy."  That's not shit I wanted to face.
REASON 7: The kinky shit community. The kink community talks big about consent, but they also talk big about not having "drama".  Calling the cops is the ultimate drama, and if I went back to the kink community after that, I'd very likely get the reputation of "holy shit, she didn't like a scene so she called the cops on her top!" 
That's kink-specific, this isn't: the kink community contains most of my friends and it's a major source of emotional support in my life.  Having a considerable proportion of my friends turn against me when I needed friends the most--that would not be an easy thing to get through.
REASON 8: Kinky shit exposure. If I pressed charges, inevitably everyone in my life would find out about it and the circumstances.  Which would be... not good.  Not good for my relationship with my family. Not good for my job.  Not good with my roommates.  Not good for a large chunk of my future.
Things weren't going well from the start.  I wasn't really into the sex and it was obvious; usually I get off easy and this time I was just tense and uncomfortable and kinda muttering "okay, this isn't working, maybe I should just... I mean maybe we could... can we take a break? Maybe?"
REASON 9: Mixed signals. "Did you actually say 'no' to him when you started feeling pain, Ms. Pervocracy?" "Er... I said maybe could we maybe take a break."
He did not take a break.  He tried to shove his entire fist into me.  I've been fisted and liked it, but this was dry and sudden and forceful.  It was his resentment for me not being a good fuck, for me not moaning and writhing and telling him how amazing he was, balled into a fist and shoved into my vagina.  It hurt.  Fuck it hurt.

I said "red" and he didn't stop.  I said "red, safeword, stop, ow" and he didn't stop.  Like when he was holding me down, this was going to end on his time.  He kept going and I kept saying "no, really, fucking red, fucking stop." I wasn't screaming or yelling--I was feeling weirdly calm, practical, a sense of "do what you need to do now, panic later"--but I was definitely not unclear.  Eventually he did stop.  I looked down to see if there was blood on his hands but I think there wasn't.

He stepped away, but left me tied up.  He went to the bathroom and started washing his hands.  I asked him to untie me.  He laughed and said "if you're tied up, you're at my mercy."

That's when I screamed.  I screamed "YOU FUCKING UNTIE ME RIGHT NOW WHAT ARE YOU DOING FUCK LET ME FUCKING GO FUUUUUCK" or words to that effect.  And then I screamed "I'M GOING TO SCREAM UNTIL THE NEIGHBORS HEAR" and he untied me.

And then... I didn't dash out of the house crying.  I didn't attack him.  I didn't grab my phone and call 911.  I got dressed and I talked to him.  Not even "what the fuck just happened?" talked to him.  I just said "hey, this sex thing isn't working out, you know."

He said "yeah, I know.  But we had a good run there. We'll stay friends."

And then I left.  Still not crying, still not acting "traumatized" whatever that looks like, still not calling the cops.
REASON 10: Aftermath. I think I had a brief chance there to be a Proper Rape Victim and I totally blew it.  If I'd gone right to the cops, right to the hospital, maybe I would have stood a chance of being taken seriously?  But I didn't.  I didn't even think of it as sexual assault at the time.  I wrote a blog post right afterwards in which it's clear that I'm angry and shaken up but in which I don't call it sexual assault. 
Going back after a space of time, and saying "no, wait, I realized it really was assault" fits the misogynist idea of the woman who "changes her mind" or "has regrets" just a little too perfectly. 
REASON 11: Doubt.  Was this bad enough to put someone in jail over?  I mean, jail, that's a really big deal.  That's gonna make him lose his job--and he had a good job!--and really ruin his life.  From when I started saying "no" to when he untied me was, I don't know, five minutes tops.  Can I justify ruining someone's entire life over something that only lasted five minutes?  To be honest, even now I can't give an unconflicted "yes" to that question.
REASON 12: Retribution.  Benny had a lot of friends.  I didn't know them well.  I'm sure most of them thought of Benny as the kind of guy who would never hurt anyone.  I'm sure they would take his side if some random girl made some random accusation against him.  What I'm not sure of is how far "taking his side" would go. Maybe they'd just quietly hate me.  Or maybe they'd come to my house at night.  I don't know.
So I went home. I wrote my little blog post. I went to sleep.  Went to work in the morning.  Sat a little funny the next couple days. Got angry or sad a few times. Life went on.
REASON 13: It's over.  I never saw Benny again.  As far as I was concerned, that chapter in my life was closed.  Reporting would mean reopening it, rubbing my nose back in the absolute worst parts of it for weeks or months.  It would mean extending the ordeal from "got assaulted" to "got assaulted, got interrogated about it, got a pelvic exam, got interrogated again, went to court, got interrogated again," and what would I have at the end?  At best, the very mixed (see Reason 11) satisfaction of punishing Benny.  Quite likely, nothing at all.  For that kind of risk-reward, I might as well just let it go. 
Some of the stuff I've listed above may sound kinda trivial, or kinda theoretical, kinda like I'm worrying too much what people will think.  But it's stuff that if I reported, I'd have to face all at once, all the time, for a long-ass time until my life was normal again.  If I didn't report, my life would be normal again right away.
Finally, I just want to say: These are reasons, not justifications. You might see some of these and think "but that's not right, actually that thing you're worried about wouldn't have happened" or "but this doesn't add up, you still should have reported!"  And fuck, you may be right.  But these are the things that went through my head during and after my sexual assault.  These are not reasons I shouldn't have reported the assault.  These are reasons I didn't.

Is there one big fix for all of this, one way to make sexual assault super easy and simple to report?  I dunno.  I doubt it.  Or if there is it's a big, massive, culture-changing fix.  I don't have time to get into it in this post.  I just wanted to answer the question "Why don't sexual assault victims just go to the cops?"

So yeah, there are a few reasons.


  1. It's hard. It's very, very hard. A moral obligation to report sounds good in the abstract but it can easily turn into just another way that the victim gets hurt.

    One thing amenable to community action--Why is BDSM illegal in Boston, and how could that be changed? While it is illegal reporting will always be more difficult. Criminalizing consensual sexual conduct has as a nearly inevitable side effect providing protection to rapists and abusers--we see this with prostitution and with homosexuality.

  2. Our culture is horrifically under-educated about sexual assault. People really do think reporting assault is as simple as reporting a stolen wallet - wrong! And of course, if you don't report it immediately, they assume that it was consensual and you just wish you hadn't done it. Because it's not like it's possible a person just goes into survival mode until they have a chance to really think about what happened. It just gets my blood boiling.

    1. The thing about rape is that sex happens all the time. Consensually, not classified as rape. There's no such thing as consensual murder or consensual theft. These things are clear crimes. You can't say "Well, you obviously gave him your xBob but now you regret it so you're calling ti theft when it clearly wasn't." or "Officer please. If she didn't want to get beat up, why did something so stupid as fear of retaliation stop her from reporting it earlier?"

    2. There's such a thing as consensual theft! It's called gift-giving. And "but I thought it was a gift!" is actually a very common excuse for theft between friends.

  3. This was really brave of you.

    I had someone keep going even though I said no in four different ways (1. no 2. I don't want to 3. I'm, uncomfortable in a BAD way 4. I said I'm not going to do that!), and I didn't report it. Because he was a long-time partner, because we'd been friends before we started sleeping together, because I had consented to kinky sex then changed my mind because I didn't like what was happening, because I knew I wouldn't be taken seriously, because I couldn't make myself call it rape then.

    Thanks for making me feel less alone, and for working toward a world where what happened to us doesn't happen to anyone else.

    1. Not using the "R Word" is very common among victims and survivors. It's not a bad thing, really. It's just a big, scary, ugly word that we try t avoid saying as much as possible.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Rich, you and your partners can do what turns you on, but it seems more important to change the culture so that people choose not to assault and abuse. Security can be a stop-gap measure during dangerous times, but speaking as someone who wants sex to be free, unrestricted, and trusting, that solution doesn't work for me. There are probably many other people for whom it wouldn't work -- for example, people who don't want to be blackmailed. If I can't trust my partners not to assault me, why would I trust them not to use those security tapes against me?

      At the end of the day, it seems to me that the onus of this problem is not on people who are worried about assault. Abusers are making the choice to harm people. As long as people are capable of making that choice, we have cultural work to do. Maybe I'm taking your comment too seriously, but after reading that post, I am just not capable of cracking jokes.

    2. So basically, people with attitudes like Rich Goldstein are why we cannot have nice things.

    3. Holy shit. Rich, on what fucking PLANET is that the appropriate response to the horrifying story we all just read? Do you also make baby rape jokes if your mother tells you she had a late term miscarriage when she was a teenager? Are you some kind of sociopathic monster with no brain/mouth filter, sucking on your own foot while laughing at rape victims? I have never met you, but I am sure that I hate you.

      Please die in a fire that is, itself, dying in a fire.

    4. Okay, that is a completely, horrifyingly inappropriate, victim-blaming-fucktard response to Holly's post, but D? Suggesting that someone die isn't exactly a productive way to deal with victim-blaming. You want people to take sexual assault seriously? Take murder seriously while you're at it.

    5. You, Sir, are a douchebag. An epic, epic douchebag. Words do not exist that describe your degree of douchebaggery.

      Holly, this post is phenomenal and I'm going to share it with everyone I know. Thank you.

  5. Wow, Holly ... thanks for the warning. That was really rough.

    A lot of people need to hear this, though -- not just the folks who don't blame victims without realizing the significance of what they're doing, but the folks who wonder, "Is it my fault for not speaking up?" -- so thank you for being one to say it. And, speaking personally as someone who only realized that a relationship was abusive about three and a half years after escaping, thank you for making it oh so clear that sometimes we don't see that sexual assault or emotional abuse are what they are.

    You're a champ, Holly, and we love you.

  6. I hate that he did that to you, Holly. You are very brave for even publishing this.

  7. One of the patients that put me on the path towards women's health nurse practitioner was a patient, who had very obvious injuries, saying "but I said yes to X, I was doing Y, I wanted Z - this is all my fault that A, D and Q happened." And I told her "You can say yes to X, do Y, want Z and none of those other things are your fault. Saying yes to one thing sexual does mean someone gets to do whatever they want to you for as they want whenever they want." And she cried. And I asked if she wanted to talk to the victims advocates and she agreed. The social worker I worked with rolled her eyes and said "I already ASKED about that!" (meaning the advocates) Maybe. But I got the distinct impression I was the only person who had introduced the concept that what happened was not her fault. Despite having met an easily dozen people before I was around.

    The advocates were also supportive but realistic about her chances of her case going anywhere, and she chose not to report.

  8. There's a horrid double-bind here where if the abuser doesn't show red flags the victim fears she won't be believed, and if they do show red flags the victim fears she'll be blamed.

    As a group leader I once had to remove someone from a group for sexually predatory behavior. He had a record of it as long as his arm. This should have made things simpler, but somehow it didn't. ...And we didn't press charges either. We didn't realize how serious the problem was until bad things had happened to several different women, and none of those women had reported them at the time. So every single specific accusation was stale. How to go forward from that? Wait until he did it again?

    ...and there's the double-bind again, because if we waited around for him to do it again we really *were* setting up for someone to get hurt. But without doing that we had no chance of pressing charges. We settled for throwing him out, but it's likely he went on to behave just the same somewhere else.

    1. "There's a horrid double-bind here where if the abuser doesn't show red flags the victim fears she won't be believed, and if they do show red flags the victim fears she'll be blamed."

      Brilliantly stated.

      And Holly, I frequently use the word "genius" in the same sentence whenever I mention your name. You are a genius at breaking down things that happened and emotions and making them understandable and clear.

      I'm really sorry you went through that, and really glad you used that experience to be helpful to other people and can write so honestly about it.

  9. The "misogynist idea of the woman who "changes her mind" or "has regrets"" pisses me off quite a lot, mostly because I used to think like that. Then I had a roommate who was sexually assaulted, and over the course of a few weeks the story changed from "Yay sex (even if it was kind of weird and I was kind of drunk)" to "yay sex...? (I was kind of drunk though, and I kind of said I just wanted to sleep...)" to "Fuck that guy and his friends who got me drunk, I didn't even want to drink that much in the first place and I DAMN WELL said I just wanted to sleep." The thing that changed my mind about people who change their minds is that she never did change her mind--she just kept applying new words to the same feelings until the right words finally stuck. Nothing actually changed.

    1. Same here, basically.

      I find it helps to think of the parallels with non-sexual situations. How many times have you known (or even BEEN) someone who was put in a shitty situation, say at work, and at first tried to pretend it was okay and cool and fine, but eventually, maybe even weeks later, given up on trying to convince yourself that it wasn't a shitty situation you never wanted?

      I don't know about you, but I can think of quite a few. Hell, these days when I'm not sure how I feel about something, I ask people to give me a few days before I really say anything about it. I've had entire relationships change in the time it took for a revelation about a girlfriend to turn from "huh. Okay. Well, that's a thing, I guess" to "jesus fuck what the HELL? You crazy, selfish fucking arsehole!" as my shock/denial broke down. Something as serious and consequential as rape is practically guaranteed to cause a delayed reaction of some kind.

    2. Foxglove, you put that really clearly. It was like that for me -- I knew that it felt wrong at the time, but I didn't recognize what had happened for what it was until I stumbled across the right label four years later. I kept turning the experience over in my mind, knowing that something was wrong but blaming myself for staying, until one day, "Wait ... I know a name for this. That name is 'abuse'."

    3. "he just kept applying new words to the same feelings until the right words finally stuck."

      Thank you x100000000

    4. > ...kept applying new words...until the right words finally stuck

      Yes, this. Definitely.

      Not only is it hard to face what has happened to us, and whatever self-blame we may have, but it's especially hard to use the "R" word to face it with. It smacks of loss of control that we wish we could have kept. It smacks of victim when we ourselves think that maybe there was something we could have done so it wouldn't have happened, or that people who are being raped act differently in response than we did, etc.

      It's the final acknowledgement that yes, Virginia, this did indeed happen, when we can no longer rationalize it all away. And all too often, it means facing the very powerlessness we encounter in society, the police, etc. in the face of it having happened.

      And it flies in the face of all of our societal conditioning as women, the emphasis on not complaining, not blaming, letting boys be boys, and so very much more. That's a hell of a lot to overcome to be able to finally name what we have experienced for exactly what it is.

      If anyone thinks its easy to finally be able to face this kind of language to describe what has happened to us in situations like this, and perhaps even more so in the context of an ongoing relationship, then they obviously haven't been there, and they have absolutely no clue.

      But however long it takes to come up with the words "rape", "assault", "abuse", etc. to describe what we have been through, that in NO way invalidates the fact that it actually happened - or that it wasn't wanted *at the time it happened*.

  10. Ms. Pervocracy, truth be told you probably handled that in the best possible way. Having a prior sexual relationship as you had with Benny, you would not have stood a chance in our legal system. All you would have gotten out of it is to have your private life very publically exposed.

    I'm sorry you had to go through that.

    1. "Having a prior sexual relationship as you had with Benny, you would not have stood a chance in our legal system."

      That's the worst part of the whole story, to me. Consent is on a case-by-case basis, not a blanket thing that ALWAYS applies!

      If someone asks to borrow your stereo, that means it's ok THAT ONE TIME. It doesn't mean that person can just go and take your stereo whenever he wants it.

      Why do people seem to value people's bodies less than a stereo?

    2. Laura,

      That's a very good point but it seems to be a wide spread idea. That saying yes once, it means you always mean yes.

      There was a guy I had sex with a couple times. I crashed on their couch one time because I had too much to drink and he came down and started having sex with me when I was asleep. He couldn't understand why I was angry for what I thought was an invasion.

      Had we been in a commited relationship, I probably would not have minded. But we weren't there. Well, there's that and the fact that I was sexually abused as a kid and that reminded so much of that experience it really freaked me out.

    3. You might go even a step further and say that if a woman _ever_ said yes to anyone, in our legal system it means she always means yes :(

  11. REASON 12: Retribution. Benny had a lot of friends. I didn't know them well. I'm sure most of them thought of Benny as the kind of guy who would never hurt anyone.

    This is something that can be really difficult to keep a realistic perspective on. Just last week I was out with a friend and her sister, and met one of the sister's friends. He seemed like a nice guy and bought me a couple of drinks, and I'm generally not naive or disposed to assume people are decent. We got along pretty well, and he was having a good time with some other people I knew - if you'd asked me then what I thought of him, I'd have probably said he seemed like a good bloke.

    A couple of hours later, he was very clearly taking advantage of my friend, who was more drunk than I've ever seen her act in five years - she was flirting with me, which was unheard of, and being very physical with just about everyone there, since we were all friends of hers. I and another guy there moved in to get him away (he would have wandered off alone into town with her otherwise), and he soon sloped off into the night.

    I've talked to my friend and she doesn't remember any of this, but has since cut the guy out and told her sister to do the same. But if we hadn't been there, christ knows what would have happened, and if nothing had happened then, maybe I'd have ended up getting to know him better, and maybe he would have assaulted some other woman years from now, and I'd be unable to reconcile the thought of him doing that with the friendly, generous person I thought of him as.

    Then, of course, there's the possibility that he'd never done anything like that before and never would again. Maybe he even sloped off home because he was horrified with himself.

    It could have been just a few seconds that made the difference between him being way too pushy with someone who was obviously trying to see him off, and him sexually assaulting her. My friend was drunk, she might have walked off into town with him, why didn't she say anything sooner, etc, etc. It's a complex, awkward, confusing situation, and stuff like it happens all the time.

    And then there's the whole "sometimes it's just awkward and confusing and weird, not dramatic and traumatic" thing. It makes me think of Peep Show, where Mark wakes up to find a woman having sex with him, asks her to stop, and she doesn't. His friends insist he was raped, but he doesn't want to say he was, because it wasn't traumatic or forceful - it was just weird and unsettling. Apparently some people were very unhappy about that whole episode (it's a comedy, for one thing), but I actually think it was a Good Thing overall. A similar thing happened to me, for a start, and I just sort of ... didn't do anything. I mean, a woman I knew was all over me and I didn't want her to be, and I just sort of didn't really know what to do. I didn't fear for my safety or anything, and this was in a home we shared, so it's not like I could just go home. I was in her bed. If someone told me that story with the sexes switched round, I and most people would say fucking hell yeah, that's sexual assault, call the cops, or at least cave his head in with a lamp. But it's not that simple, even years later.

    Anyway, I'm rambling now. But thanks for writing this.

    1. Reading the story about your friend, I wonder if it was more than alcohol. Could he have slipped something in her drink? I'm very glad she didn't leave with him.

  12. Those were my reasons too.

    ...thank you.

  13. Holly you are one the most brave and strongest people I can think of. Thank you so much for putting writing this.

  14. Thank you for writing this post. My first time was with a guy when I was too drunk to say no. I don't remember him and barely remember what happened, but I do remember it was not what I wanted. So many of the things you've said here echo my personal thoughts exactly.

  15. Sending you so much love right now. Thank you for putting yourself out there and reliving such a painful memory to bring attention to something so important. So, so, so much love. You're incredible.

  16. Two days later I called the cops. It took two days for me to realize that I was raped, because I consented to X and Y and then screamed and cried while he did Z. A good friend told me "just because you agree to lend me five dollars doesn't mean I get to take your whole wallet". While it's not the best analogy, it made everything click for me.

    I agonized about going to the cops. Turned it around and around in my head until I was literally sick.

    Everything you thought they would say to you, they said to me. There was no way to prosecute, there was nearly no evidence, and the cop even said "so he probably doesn't think he did anything wrong right?"

    But there is a record of the "incident". Nothing will happen with my case, but there is a record. In the event he does something again, maybe having that record will help someone else prosecute if they wish to do so.

    Was it worth it? Was the humiliation and pain etc. etc. of going to the cops worth having a record of it? It's been over a month and I still don't know.

    I totally, completely, 100% understand why you did not call the cops. I just thought by sharing my story, it would help to see that "calling the cops" isn't like this be all end all move. It can be a lot of hassle for nothing. I did call the cops and people still blame me for what happened, the pain is still there and I'm still lost.

    Thank you for posting this.

    Rose Lily

    1. I'm sorry that happened to you and I offer the traditional Jedi Hugs.

      I worry sometimes that stuff like this discourages people from going to the cops, but... hell, not as much as the cops do.

    2. I reported my sexual assault about a week after it happened, but was too stressed by what the police officer was saying to try pressing charges. I don't think the police officer understood what had happened (both of us were trans). Although, I'm not sure if it was due to me freaking out about being around police officers. I wouldn't try reporting a sexual assault again; I had believed it wasn't my fault and that I was justified in feeling upset about it until I tried to report it.

  17. The only thing you SHOULD do is what is best for you. If you felt better/safer not reporting it, that is what you should have done.

    But this post is amazing and I hope you sprea it all over the internet. Hell, I hope teacher read this post in class and cops use it as a training tool.

  18. I appreciate posts like this very much, as many of these things apply to me personally.

  19. Holly, I cannot tell you what an influence you have been on my life. There have been an innumerable amount of times where I have read your blog and felt, "THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I HAVE BEEN THINKING, BUT HAVEN'T HAD THE LANGUAGE FOR!" You are intentional and caring in a way that makes me proud to be a consent-lovin' gal. Long time avid reader, first comment.

    I had two similar situations happen to me over the last three years. One has scarred me immensely and the other I felt similar to what you described in the beginning of it being an "awkward misunderstanding."

    One thing that has continued to haunt me, though, which you didn't address in your post--I have completely cut ties with both people, but I am worried that they might abuse others. I feel responsible, somehow, if they do, even if I'll never know. There is a lot of self-shame in that, I know, but it's hard to be so intentional about my communities and the people in my life and leave that up for grabs.

    Again, you are strong and I love it.

    1. Anon, I've worried about that too. I think ultimately all the responsibility for what they do to others lies on them. Benny's a person too, he's not a mad dog, and if he decides to hurt someone else, that's his decision.

      Even so, I went through a lot when I found out Benny had a new girlfriend. I wanted to "warn" her, but ultimately couldn't. I do feel guilty about that.

      Which fucking sucks, because if anyone needs to feel guilty here it's Benny, and worrying too much about my responsibility is too much like letting him off the goddamn hook.

    2. "Holly, I cannot tell you what an influence you have been on my life. There have been an innumerable amount of times where I have read your blog and felt, "THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I HAVE BEEN THINKING, BUT HAVEN'T HAD THE LANGUAGE FOR!" You are intentional and caring in a way that makes me proud to be a consent-lovin' gal. Long time avid reader, first comment."
      That, exactly that. Thanks Holly!

    3. I did warn the 2 girls he had set up to be raped before he did it to them too, they didn't believe me.
      I convinced them that we needed to go to the police after he raped them and tell them about his assaults.
      It took me a year to get there myself.
      I was girl #3, they were #4 and #5.
      Our legal system has a clause, you have to intend to rape for it to be counted as such.
      Our cases were dropped on account on him just meaning to have intercourse with us while sleeping.
      I still feel responsible for future victims, like he wanted me to do when he was laying the blame on me for the next 2 girls.
      I couldn't stop him by going to the police. Not even his harassment of me. Until I disappeared by changing number, moving a couple of times, change my nickname and community.
      9 years last month. Still feeling like I left a monster roaming free.

    4. Before you knew him, a monster roamed free. After you knew him, a monster roamed free. You have no obligation or responsibility to fix other people. It does you credit that you tried.

    5. > I have completely cut ties with both people, but I am worried that they might abuse others. I feel responsible, somehow, if they do, even if I'll never know

      You are not, of course, responsible for what he does, which I'm sure you realize intellectually. That's a whole different thing from getting it on the emotional level.

      I do understand the feeling, though, and the desire to warn others. I'm especially worried because my ex has gotten himself into a leadership position locally where he has particular access to the newest and most naive people in the scene. And since I know only too well how he comes on to subs whether he's got consent or not, because he did it with me, and only too well how he lies because of the lies he told me, it totally freaks me out. I see him posting flat out lies and objecting to things other people do that he himself did to me, and I just want to hurl.

    6. "Our cases were dropped on account on him just meaning to have intercourse with us while sleeping."

      How did they not interpret this as rape? How were you meant to give consent??

      I know someone who did jury duty on a similar case. He thought there was no consent so it was rape. He was the only one who argued this point. However, by the end of it he managed to turn the jury 50:50 so it was a hung jury. Unfortunately there wasn't enough evidence to convict the guy in the end, and my friend ended up miserable for weeks because of the verdict. He was devastated by the outcome.

  20. I saw an article by Paul Elam that specifically said women are responsible for rape because of not reporting it. I know he's pretty extreme but it makes me wonder how many people think like that. This post needs to be read by as many people as possible.

    1. Paul Elam has also said he would acquit a rapist even if he knew the guy was guilty just on principle so I'd say he's well beyond extreme.

  21. Holly, you sure as hell don't need my approval, I don't mean to sound like I'm offering it. I just wanted to say, that was a truly outstanding explanation. Absolutely everything you said make perfect sense. Not that I wasn't sympathetic to the difficult situation assault victims face already, but I've never heard it explained so throughly and logically before.

  22. Here's another reason:

    I reported it once, and police told me that that couldn't happen, because my rapist was my father, and a minister, a volunteer little league/basketball coach: a pillar of the community. That just doesn't happen, here.

    But yeah: I get what you're saying. And I hope writing about it has helped your recovery from it.

    1. I'm sorry that happened to you. And yeah, there's a lot of different reasons "just report it" doesn't work. A lot.

      Among other things, there's the Catch-22 of "a pillar of the community? couldn't be!" versus "a sketchy marginal character? you were asking for it!"

    2. Unfortunately, a very high percentage of abusers are exactly those pillar-of-the-community types. It's precisely how they get away with it, because their public persona is such that no one believes they are capable of it.

      In turn, of course, that makes the person reporting it look crazy, vindictive, etc. - especially if she's outspoken and loud about it.

      Denial is strong in many places and circles.

  23. I had a completely similar experience Holly. I'm still going back and forth over reporting it even though it happened a year ago. Though in my case, the person it happened with, his life is already fucked up. He's in jail for other crimes now so it would really only be my life that I'm throwing a wrench in. If it ever happens again, I will definitely report it but I doubt it will since I told him in no uncertain terms never to contact me again. Actually, its happened twice, two different guys. The first I was just too ashamed to admit anything and sporadically keep in contact with due to us having mutual friends....a lot of mutual friends. Thanks for writing this. I have started to write out reasons such as this multiple times and just can't ever bring myself to. I can write about what happened just fine but as to why I haven't reported it...I just can't do it.

  24. I didn't report it, either, and this sentiment of "your experience as a victim isn't valid unless you report the crime" is what finally caused me to stop talking to one of my internet contacts. He was an asshole in a lot of ways-- including NiceGuy-ing my best friend, never to her face of course, usually to me-- but I felt iffy about cutting off contact until that moment.

    I didn't report it to the police, but I did tell my close friends about it-- and several of them still thought that A) I was lying and/or B) it was my fault.

    Even when it works properly, I feel like the system punishes victims more harshly than the rapists. And you know what? Even if that weren't true-- people shouldn't fucking rape people. This is like telling bullied kids to 'just tell a teacher' when they're attacked-- the authorities do fuck all in most cases, and the victim is blamed. If they report it, they're a whole list of bad things and it's their fault. If they don't report it, well, how dare they feel bad, because tehy should have reported it.

    Until this whole attitude changes, I expect nothing else will-- not significantly.

  25. This. So much this. Everywhere you turn people try and point fingers at you. Everyone wants to blame you, or they downplay it. Heck. I didn't even click to the fact it was sexual assault until years after the fact - because, again, it wasn't some huge, dramatic, painful thing.

    What it *was*, was a *huge* breach of my trust and of the autonomy over my body. He too held me down until I did what he asked of me, true, it was an embrace but he would not let go. Not for minutes. LONG LONG minutes. Minutes in which I would start shaking and asking him fervently to let me go. And then he would tell me I am unnatural for disliking hugs from him. Because he was my family. Because it was NEVER sexual because he wasn't touching me inappropriately, because I had been corrupted by society to renege and hate a very normal physical act. It was *all* my fault. The sexual element was all in my head.

    I would like to think I am over it, but, even now I get jittery around men (especially when they come near me). Would I have reported him? No, absolutely not. I was already being blamed at that time for tearing the family apart (for not living up to his unattainable standards and not obeying his every whim).

    Would I do it now?

    Not worth it. I haven't seen him in years. He told me he never wants to hear from me again. To go through all the episodes again, be dissected before a judge and jury, have to see him again, and have to deal with that barrage of "it's all in your head" attitudes and "you weren't really sexually assaulted". No, just no.

    The silver lining: I have learned my limits and I have a supportive partner who spent the first months of our relationship keeping at least 20cm distance between us (my personal space) and always asking if it's okay to hug/touch/hold (he still asks about the more sexual stuff, but hugs are now a given as ok; and on the odd occasion I don't feel up to it he never makes me feel guilty or bad).

    Holly, I really applaud you. This is a very difficult thing to discuss, and to do it so openly - you are nothing short of a hero. Thank you SO SO much for posting this!

  26. Yes. Excellent Holly - thank you for posting. You really captured the triple-head-fuck of guilt we get caught in: guilt you 'let' yourself get into that situation, guilt you 'let' it happen, and then guilt for 'letting' them get away with it. When you dissect it in such detail it becomes obvious where the blame lies. That's why discussions like these are so important, I think.


  27. Holly, thank you for writing this. Thank you for sharing your experience, and so sorry to hear that happened.

    I completely understand all your reasons, though. More than once, I've been asked why I didn't pursue legal action against the ex who raped me repeatedly.... and, I have to say, a lot of my reasoning was rather similar to yours. Coupled with a healthy dose of him saying 'I only do it because you've been refusing for X number of years' and many incidents of me quietly complying because it was easier than trying to say no, and losing.

    The system is utterly fucked up. It's just the same here in the UK.

    People want to downplay it because they want to believe this stuff doesn't happen in real life, because they want to believe the 'nice guys' really are nice and that the women accusing them are crazy. To quote/paraphrase Judith Herman (her book 'Trauma and Recovery' basically helped save my life) - it is EASIER to believe the perpetrator, because that doesn't require someone to do anything. Believing the victim requires action, and most people just don't want to take that action.

    It's so screwed up. I just wish I had any idea how we could go about fixing it.

    1. This is actually pretty much my whole view of the world.

  28. First time I've posted here, although I've been reading for a long time. First up, I've meant to say for a long time, from reading your blog, you're someone I've come to admire very much - thank you for everything you've shared.

    I remember the original post you wrote when this happened and - yeah, it's horrible. Some people are just shit and either don't understand or don't want to understand. Consent is everything and nothing should happen without it. And even if it's been given once or twice or a hundred times, that doesn't mean it's automatic or can be taken for granted.

    Anyway, the rest of this will be triggery for rape, humiliation and shaming.

    As for reporting something afterwards - well, I was gang raped when I was 12 by three 18-year-olds at my school. One of them took pictures as well which were passed round the school and eventualy came to the attention of the teachers and so I was called in to see the headmaster. No-one else was, as only my face could be seen in the pictures. Anyway, he told me that I was disgusting, that I would die of AIDS and that I was going to go to hell.So, I learnt from that - whatver happens to you, don't tell anyone - it only makes things worse.

    I had another experience about twenty years ago. I was living in Vienna teaching English and had nowhere to live. I met another bloke who had a flat rented and said I could stay with him while I got myself sorted out. He was very upfront about the fact he was gay and that we'd be sharing a bed - but he emphasised several times that he didn't fancy me in the slightest and that nothing would happen. Personally I felt he didn't have to go on quite so much about not being attracted to me, but I'm bisexual and quite comfortable about sharing a bed with most people, so no problem. If anything, I was a tad disappointed as I thought he was quite nice looking and I wouldn't have been averse to a bit of fun.

    And so things went for a few days, until I woke up one night to find that he had one hand down the front of my shorts and was trying to stick a couple of fingers up my arse. I moved out. About three weeks later. We never spoke about what happened.

    I still find it hard to know whether that was rape or what the hell it was. I didn't tell anyone. I mean, I was in bed wearing a pair of shorts and nothing else with a man who I knew was gay. Plus, I had eight inches and about 40 pounds on him, so how many people would believe that I could possibly feel threatened by him? And in other circumstances - like if he'd asked first - I'd have been quite happy with what he tried to do. As things stand, I still have nightmares about it from time to time.

    1. Just realised - I meant to put my name at the end of that.


  29. Big giant uge, predictable and only if you want them jedi-hugs!

  30. I don't think even a massive cultural shift would fix the problem of sexual assault. I know we have pretty violent media but regardless culturally we still consider murder to be just about the worst thing you can do, yet plenty of people still commit murder. The best I think we can do is change the culture so that in situations like yours you those reasons not to report it wouldn't exist. I'm not entirely sure how to do that though.

    1. I don't think anything will ever eliminate sexual assault, but a massive cultural shift could massively reduce it as well as make it easier to enforce laws against it.

      I don't know about the "we consider murder to be the worst thing you can do," actually. There's sections of the culture where under certain circumstances it's much worse to be a coward. And there's sort of the same thing going with sexual assault. Yes, we disapprove of it, but there are a lot of situations where we don't disapprove of it nearly as hard as we disapprove of failure to be a Real Man or Proper Woman.

    2. And there's good historical evidence that a massive cultural shift (away from kin-based vendettas and honor killings) has radically reduced the amount of murder that takes place. Because we've given up the idea that there's something you can do to "deserve" murder, or that murder can be "made up" or compensated for—ideas once codified into law, but operative as social norms for quite a while thereafter.

      So yeah, social change can do a LOT.

  31. Thank you for posting this.

    You mostly use the phrase "sexual assault", which is of course accurate because rape is included in sexual assault. And I imagine you want to tackle one issue at a time when talking about it, which seems wise. This is the "why not just go to the cops" post not the "what is rape" post.

    But those were rape, both the stuck his dick in you after you said no and the stuck his fist in you after you said red events.

    1. I'm kinda saying "sexual assault" because it wasn't a dick? It's a semantic thing and not one I'm terribly invested in.

    2. Penetration with any body part or object is within the current FBI definition of rape.

      Holly, I'm so sorry this happened to you. Thank you for your brave writings!


  32. I'm pretty much completely at a loss for what to say about that. I think I'll go with "Wow, that's really shitty. I'm glad you seem to be dealing with it pretty well. I wish that hadn't happened to you."

    But I don't know if even that is appropriate. :(

    1. It is, and thanks. :)

      This stuff is all years old now so (for me) it's not really that raw a wound, just something I'm using to explain why the question "why didn't you call the cops?" is so ridiculous.

  33. This reminds me of the first time I had sex.

    We'd cybered before, but had said we didn't think we'd be able to actually have IRL sex. Neither of us had a condom. Neither of us planned for or expected anything to happen.

    And then we were sitting on a bed, and somehow we both came to the conclusion that when you're already on a bed, sex is kind of expected of you. I didn't want it. Based on things he said afterwards, he didn't really want it either.

    What do you even call that? Did we rape each other? Who is the victim here, and who the assaulter? Is it society's fault? Is there anyone to blame or forgive for this?

    How do you get closure when you aren't even sure how to classify the non-consensual (and not pretend non-con) sex that happened to you?

    1. I think the answer pretty much comes down to "you get to classify it." You get to call it what helps.

      Regardless, that sounds super crappy and I'm sorry that happened to you.

  34. I had an incident on a bus a few years back. It started with a guy sitting next to me (trapping me in my seat) and talking to me, and of course I replied because 'you don't ignore someone who's talking to you'. He started getting 'intimate' with his questions, and not knowing what to do but wanting him to f*** off, I kept dropping that I had a boyfriend. I also have massive social anxiety and this was pushing me into emotional overload (it's the human equivalent of your computer making noises and then BSODing).
    This meant that by the time he did something that was beyond Not Appropriate (he touched me), I was not functioning as a rational human being. All I wanted was to get off the bus and do something that would calm me down.

    And that's why I didn't report it. At that point, all I wanted was what I wanted after any awkward or uncomfortable social situation: a drink, a quiet place to be alone, and a distraction. More social interaction (even with the bus driver) would have been too much for me to handle.

  35. I know this is entirely not what you wanted to get across in this post, but you've pretty much completely described why I am so terrified of walking into a kink space.

    Like, the non-kink world, I EXPECT to be completely rapetastic, because that's the world, unfortunately. I know how to operate in it. But to hear about a scene that pays so much fucking lip service to consent, and then IS FUCKING RAPETASTIC just... enrages me in its hypocrisy.

    I feel like the lip service makes it WORSE, because then they think they've already solved the problem so they have even more invested in ignoring it.


    PS to kinksters: please do not go trying to reassure me how really truly awesome and consentastic your space is and how really, kink isn't REALLY like that. IT'S MISSING THE POINT. I would rather know what exactly your spaces are doing to deal with people like Benny.

    1. Also, Holly, I remember reading that entry you describe and being D: the whole time. I'm sorry it happened.


    2. I completely don't blame you. I've come to realize that my involvement in the scene is a risk, one I can moderate a bit by surrounding myself with good people, but ultimately it is a risk.

      It's a place I enjoy; it's not a place I can let my guard down.

    3. Other than "public play" settings, I am not sure how it works any differently from non-kink social groups... I do know that if we were in my local dungeon/playspace and someone shouted SAFEWORD, we'd all come running (and some of us would be armed).


    4. RE: Holly

      And yeah, you know, it's a scene that you enjoy, so it works for you. With my current feelings, I think it would be a very bad place for me. So far, making individual kinky friends looks to be a lot better for me.

      RE: flightless

      I certainly believe that... except what I read about happening is nobody safewords, bad behavior like groping and boundaries-pushing continues, it's an open secret but nobody actually does anything about it except maybe quietly warn newbies. I never read about, "Today I called out an asshole, and the community dealt great." I read about... stuff like what Holly mentions here.


    5. I think, speaking as a total non-expert, that on some level boundary-pushing is part of the _idea_ of it, since after all it's inherently a scenario where you give up power. So to some people the idea of pushing boundaries, or being pushed, can be hot, and they may wish to play that out or decide to play that out. But that's exactly why the safeword **must** be honoured! It's your way of saying "Look, that thing you're trying to push me on is so far over the line I have completely lost interest in this scenario and just want out of it" and if you don't respect _that_, you're assaulting, plain and simple.

      tl;dr: your problem has been solved, the solution is the safeword, if people fail to take it seriously then that's the problem, if that's widespread in your group then your group is dangerous and you should get out.

    6. FeepingCreature - I'd say the solution is negotiation and safewords. If I haven't agreed to let you push my boundaries, then you're already over the line, and the onus shouldn't be on me to safeword.

  36. Also, regarding reporting:

    We did end up reporting ours, years after the fact, knowing full well nothing would ever come of it. (Even if we had walked in the day of, which we never would've, nothing would've happened. It was that kind.) We were lucky; the cops we spoke to were all very kind and professional, not the nightmare we figured on at all.

    And you know what? We STILL got criticized by some folks for "not being over it," for obviously having a vendetta. (FOR REPORTING SOMETHING THAT NEVER COULD'VE GONE ANYWHERE.) You really can't win!


  37. Thank you for sharing this story. Very brave of you. I saw a friend go to the cops after a rape and be respected, but still told 'don't bother prosecuting, you'll never win'. Especially since she'd been to therapy at some point in her life, and had had a number (any) of sexual partners. The next time, she didn't even bother calling them.

    Since this guy was a member of your community, did you 'out' him? Or would that be like going to the cops with all the reasons not to listed here? I've heard that a reason why a victim "should" call the police is so that if it happened again to another person, there'd be a record. I'm kinda wondering if naming an abuser semi-publicly would have a more direct affect, but maybe that's the wrong question to ask. Maybe it'd be even more difficult to report inside a community than to police.

    1. I privately told a couple people, so they could look out for him at munches and parties. But he wasn't a regular in the kink scene; he was more of a "I play at home, but I can't be out in public with those weirdos" type.

      ...Which I've come to see as another red flag. I totally understand kinky people who don't want to be part of the community for safety or privacy or personal reasons, but when someone thinks they're above the very concept of a kink community, that doesn't speak well of how they think of their kinky partners.

  38. I'm so sorry he did that to you, Holly.Thank you for this post, and the strength it took to write it.

    I have a long history of not feeling like I had the option to say no in sexual situations - no entrapment or brute force - so it's hard to explain to people why I feel so freaked out about a lot of physical contact up to and including sex. I'm only just starting to work through it.

  39. I want to say that your posts are having an effect. You've moved me many times to raise my awareness and redouble my efforts to not rape anyone. You've taught me how to recognize manifestations of rape culture and call them out.

    Yeah. Just so you know, you're attempts to spread consent culture are working.

    - David

  40. A lot of love to you, Holly.
    That's another one of your posts that I feel like making the whole world reading, because it's both so complex and yet feel like simple good sense. And so humane.

    My deepest sympathies to all the victims of sexual assault out there.

  41. I love you for writing this. That could apply to nearly any of your posts, but this one in particular is amazing, on account of how hard it is to write these kinds of things, and how important it is for them to be out there. I have a bunch of thoughts on this and consent culture, and I kinda want to email them to you directly instead of just commenting. I'm interested in hearing your personal thoughts. Is that ok with you? I know you have your email up there, but, well, consent culture?

    1. Sure, go ahead. I can't promise a totally coherent response, but I promise to read it!

  42. Thank you for writing this Holly. I've been raped, too, on several different occasions.

    I didn't report either. My reasons are all very similar. I've also got "It was really just a finger in my ass, not like he'd raped me with his penis or anything" and "So what if he pressured me into trying anal stuff, he asked once if I felt pressured and I told him no, I have strong boundaries" and "I always tried to be so nice when I said I didn't like him taking his frustrations over being injured and unemployed out on me in BDSM sex/when I said I didn't want BDSM every time because it was emotionally hard for me and could he please maybe sometimes try and ask first before initiating sex with smacking me or calling me a dirty slut?"

    I keep an eye on him on Fetlife and Facebook, which is a self-defeating thing to do and also an invasion of his privacy, but I can't seem to help wanting to know - is he going to an event I want to go to? Who is he dating? Should I warn them? Is he showing some sign of remorse? I don't know, basically to torture myself. In his 'About Me' section on Fetlife he's always had 'I practice good consent, so when I say no it doesn't mean ask again.' Blood guaranteed to boil at least once whenever I see that.

    After we broke up, he got really into the BDSM scene here (we had started exploring it together), and since after we broke up I went through/still am going through a period where BDSM sex esp, but also any sex of any kind squicks me really easily I went into hibernation, I literally cannot be involved in our community at all now. They know him, they seem to love him, he has several play partners, and who am I? Some crazy bitch with silly accusations about fingers in butts.

    Today I saw that he listed 'Consent' as one of the things he's into and I wanted to scream.

    I suppose sometimes I feel like I'm too untraumatized to be a victim and to deserve justice or anything. Too okay and my rape too inconsequential to go around ruining his life. And when I am feeling hysterical and depressed and furious, almost like people would laugh at me over being so upset about 'just' a finger in my ass a few times when I didn't want it.

    Of course, that's if they believed me in the first place. He is fairly well known in our queer a member of a group with a specific focus on creating consent culture, and has therefore given a few presentations at national and local conferences about good consent.

    Man, I really thought I was safe with him. Even after I found out that he has a history of violating consent, I figured that because he saw it for what it was, expressed remorse, and seemed to have figured it all out (helloooo, that consent workshop was hella thorough about all the ways one can say 'no' without uttering the word), he was reformed. Something about leopards and spots goes here, maybe.
    He excused his behavior by telling me he could tell my ass wanted it, and it was just so sexy he couldn't help himself - after all, he's just soooo into asses, they're his fetish, I knew that. I don't think there's any reforming someone who can give a lecture about consent and then turn around and do/say shit like that.

    And jeez, reading about all the horrible things Benny did to you, things that are hard to say of individually 'That's the last straw!' but which add up to be this miserable nightmare...It's really helpful to read that it's okay to be hurt by those things, those things that aren't crimes, but which are, frankly, cruel and twisted things to do to someone. The stuff my ex did that hurt the most are those kinds of things.

    Sorry for such a TMI unloading comment, but thank you for your blog and your honesty. It really does help people out here.

    1. I'm sorry that happened to you. I want to point out one thing in your account here:

      You say "I'm too untraumatized to be a victim," but then you talk about following his activities online so you can avoid him and keep track of him--that's not entirely untraumatized behavior. It's not inappropriate behavior if it's necessary to ensure your safety, but it's also not the way someone who was totally not hurt so why complain would act. It's evidence that you are hurt and I don't blame you.

      It scares and upsets me to know there are people like this in consent culture initiatives. He's not even the first one I know about. That's something we're going to have to seriously deal with if this consent culture stuff is ever going to get serious.

  43. Thank you for sharing this. Your ability to keep analytical distance without (seemingly) being numb to your sexual assault strikes me as admirably well-adjusted and a great mental place to help others from. It's something I continue to work toward.

    It's rather chilling to read some of the comments on the Goodbye Benny post, seeing people argue over whether your experience qualified as rape in their eyes. I believe that type of casually evaluative reaction is much of the reason so many survivors keep their mouths shut even in non-offical fora. I really wish we could all agree to cut that shit out when listening to a survivor's personal experience unless we're literally on a jury.

    1. To be fair (oh no), I did sort of encourage that because I hadn't decided it myself, and you can also see me making excuses for him in the comments.

      To be unfair, it's still creepy that people were "yeah, those excuses make sense I guess" instead of "no, you don't have to make excuses for him."

  44. Thank you for posting this. It's a tough topic of read (and write) about, but an important one that will surely open up plenty of discussions.

    I had a talk with my mom the other night about the person who raped me. Her response was more or less what you'd expect: "Why didn't you get away from him? You could have called someone." I suppose I could have, but your list of reasons for not doing so is nearly identical to the one that ran through my head - particularly the fallacy that if it wasn't dramatic, it wasn't really rape and I had no right to complain. There was that same calm and just wanting to get out of there, get home, and be by myself for a while. It didn't even register for a couple of days what exactly had happened.

    I still hesitate to label what happened as rape, since I was coerced into saying yes after protesting for a long while, but finally said no again. That tiny moment of consent puts everything into question for me, and I still find myself wondering if maybe I did have it coming (although, logically, I know I didn't). I imagine that's probably what he wanted.

    It's sick that these things keep happening. My heart goes out to you and everyone else who has experienced sexual assault.

    - Jen

    1. I don't know what happened, but based on what you're saying... the word "yes" is not magic. If you said the word "yes" but you didn't want to, and it was really obvious to any reasonable person that you didn't want to--that's rape. It's not some game where someone can say "you said the magic word so no tagbacks!" It was sex you didn't want.

  45. Thank you, Holly, for continuing to write and talk and be open about your assault. The fact that you've shared so much makes me feel less alone, and helps me to realize (slowly) that what happened to me wasn't my fault.

    I also didn't report my assault because I made my rapist use a condom, seeing as how it was clear he wasn't gong to stop pressuring me for sex. For a long time after the assault, I felt so guilty that I didn't do more to stop him or leave the party, but I remember quite clearly telling him I wasn't comfortable with having sex, and repeatedly pushing his hands out of my pants or away from my breasts. But it was late at night and I couldn't take a bus home by myself in the middle of the night lest something worse happen to me

    Somehow I felt that handing him the condom and lying back because I couldn't do anything else meant that I was the one at fault, and that if I tried to report the assault with the cum-filled condom as evidence, someone would just say that if we used a condom, that implies consent. It makes me sick thinking about how much more hellish my life would have been with a trial and questioning, and a rape kit. And then I feel guilty for not reporting it, because what if he does that again?

    Sorry I rambled, but I wanted to thank you for sharing your story with all of us.

    1. I find it so painful how all the tactics we use to minimize the damage - like asking the rapist to wear a condom because the situation is bad enough without STDs or pregnancy - are then turned against us. As if using what small power we could access meant we had the power to stop them, like negotiating a small concession means we could have negotiated ourselves out of the situation entirely. In no other areas of life are we expected to be able to do that.

  46. You don't have to make excuses. I can see your thought process regarding filing a police report. And I wouldn't know what to do in that situation either. However, it should be known on some level within your BDSM community that this guy does not play fair, or follow the rules. He violated your safe word. That is the piece of information that needs to be shared about him.

    1. I'm not making excuses. I'm explaining, because a lot of people don't understand. It would be sufficient for me to say "I didn't think it was in my best interest to report," but with more detail hopefully more people will understand why that wasn't such an irrational decision.

      Some of the leaders in Benny's community (I've moved away since) do know about him. Still, that was a decision I made; I don't think that's something that I'm obligated to put my neck on the line for. If I hadn't told anyone, he would be the one who was failing in his duty to let people know he was dangerous. I didn't get that job by being assaulted.

  47. I'm sorry. I remember the first time I was held down against my will was when my boyfriend in high school and another friend of his decided to give me birthday spankings. They got carried away and definitely crossed the line where it was not fun or consensual. I went home and was furious at being treated like that. I was going to break up with him but my boyfriend called and apologized, he was contrite. I'm sure that this was an eye-opening experience for him, too, to realize that this seemingly playful situation had spiraled out of control.

    Next, I was attacked, attempted rape, when I was studying in France my first year of college. I got away but have never been the same. Since then I have become more attuned to my instincts. We have them, but lots of times we disregard them. If some situation or person gives me bad vibes, I don't care if I have to act rudely, I make tracks. Just like with you, I'm sure that now if someone's behavior were to raise a red flag with you, you wouldn't disregard or down play it.

  48. This was incredibly brave of you. I think this post was entirely needed concerning the question of why rape victims don't go to the cops, and it's very selfless of you to give your own account when it's a terrible, painful thing for you to recall, much less write down and share on a blog.

    A couple of years ago I discovered by accident that my younger sister had been raped in her early teenage years, but has to this day never spoken about it to any but a couple of extremely trusted people (myself not included). I was angry and horrified that she had been hurt like this, and I was confused as to why she didn't just tell someone like the cops or our parents. I've never asked her about it, because she hasn't told me herself, and I don't want to force such a painful subject on her and betray her trust. But over the years I've realized that she must have her reasons for not going to the police, and, as difficult as it was for me to read this post and, I'm sure, for you to write it, I'm glad that you've written this addressing a question that causes so much confusion.

  49. First of all, Holly, you are such an amazing, strong voice; thank you for sharing. I'm sorry you felt like you had to explain your reasoning; at the same time, I'm grateful that this resource now exists for other women in your situation.

    This past year, I've come across yet another reason many survivors have for not reporting to the cops: a legitimate lack of faith in the criminal justice system. How are undocumented women supposed to report a crime to the police without the fear of deportation? How about women of color who live in urban communities that have historically been abused by the police? How about the countless number of women who are victimized AGAIN by the sometimes ruthless and terrorizing interrogation from cops? This isn't to say that women who want to report shouldn't; rather, the police have not given all women reasons to trust them as reliable sources of healing and retribution.

  50. Thank you for telling your story. Despite being into BDSM most of my life im still held back by that fact that im dead scared of being reported despite it all being regulated by safewords and mutual aggrement and in Sweden a recent case where the mother of a girl into BDSM reported her partner for assault have brought up even more complications. Its a sad thing when someone breaks trust especially in the scene. Best of wishes and be woodsie well!

  51. Holly, thank you for writing this. I am so sorry that that happened to you. You have my total and unconditional support in any and every way you choose / chose to deal with it. So does every other person who has been a victim of this kind of unconscionable behaviour. Be well, and do keep writing - your work is inspiring.

  52. I remember reading this story last year

    This man kidnapped this woman at KNIFE POINT and kept her tied up in his house for almost a month. During her trial and all over the media, there was question about whether or not it was REALLY assault because - get this - "why didn't she fight back or try to escape sooner?" and "he seemed like a nice guy with a 'way with women' (that one really boils my blood) and lastly "the neighbours heard her talking and she didn't sound scared." Aha! The fact that she didn't obviously attempt to fight the man who was much larger than her and had weapons means she must not have been a "real" victim - she must have been there willingly!


    I know there are stories like this all over the media, but this one was just so close to home. I thought, how horrible to think that something so obviously terrible could possibly happen to a woman (or me) -- that I could be kidnapped for weeks and assaulted, and then STILL have my own actions thrown onto the chopping block and be accused of making it up. That in itself is a huge discouragement for someone thinking of reporting "anything less" (which....let's face it is just about ANYTHING because this one is about as bad as it gets).

    1. Lord Domly Pants's BaneFebruary 24, 2012 at 11:58 PM

      "why didn't she fight back or try to escape sooner?"

      Because she didn't want to get stabbed to death?

  53. I am so very sorry this happened to you. I also thank you for sharing it.

    I agonized for a bit before responding here. I have been reading your blog for several months now, and I respect and admire you, your experiences and your ability to share them. And because of that, I truly wanted to remain logged in with my real name and account, because that's a way I like to show respect on the internet. However, there is a person out there who would potentially find what I am about to say, and the consequences would be pretty horrible. Or maybe it's simply residual fear talking. Either way, I'll stick with anonymous for the moment.

    I spent three years being married to a man who sexually assaulted me. It didn't start out that way, though even from the beginning, the sex was always 'Well, this is something we're doing, it's something people do." In time it morphed from that in to "If I just say yes, he'll stop bothering me and it'll be peaceful around here for a couple nights" to "If I could just be sexually attracted to him, maybe he wouldn't be so angry all of the time, this is my fault, it's not *that* uncomfortable...." then "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, whatever you want...." and finally in to something like "He's hurting me, I don't want this, but if I say no...."

    Always the '....' It got to a point where he couldn't get off if he hadn't made me cry, either in frustration or pain. I never said no. Not and stuck with it. At the time, living in the midwest, being married to and living with him, reporting it would have meant absolutely nothing.

    And then there was the added complication of our very young autistic son whom I loved more than anything, whom he resented for that fact on top of the resentment and denial of 'My son is not perfect.'

    The situation never devolved in to a classic domestic abuse case. I suspect it could have in the long run, but have no way of knowing. The situation is now years behind me, my son is almost ten and I am married to the most wonderful, loving, supportive and understanding man (who frequently reads your blog with me), and pregnant with our first child together.

    And still, I wonder. And I fear. And I jump at shadows. I still have nightmares about him, even though I can talk about what happened (rarely, mostly to my husband, if it becomes too overwhelming). When I want to risk talking about it, even though we don't live in the same state, I always wonder if it'll get back to him that I've said something. And how angry he would be, because, through all of it (and I have to assume now, though I hope he's changed for the sake of the people around him) he never saw what he was doing as sexual assault. It was simply his due as a husband, and what kind of bitch was *I* to deny that to him?

    And that, my friends, is grade A Horseshit.

    But it took me a long time to realize that.

    I'm sorry this happened to you. But would it be inappropriate/selfish of me to also say I am grateful that you could share this, because it made it easier (not easy) to type this out and share it, even anonymously? I hope not. Thank you Holly.

  54. I am so sorry this happened to you. I want you to know that I've been spreading this post among my social networks to help build awareness for the problem of reporting sexual assault. This is such a concise and detailed explanation and account that I think the more people read it, the better.

    I can't imagine this was easy to write, so thank you for doing it.

    In addition to consent culture as part of the solution, I think we also need to build a culture where it's perfectly ok to call out people on behavior we don't like, publicly, without retribution from our community.

    I wonder if Non-violent communication might be helpful in making this easier - if everyone is speaking publicly of their experience with a person - how a situation made them *feel* - then the conversation moves away from "person A is bad because they did thing X" to "I felt Q when person A did X" and it's harder for anyone to defend person A or dispute the situation.

    If larger numbers of people in a community are even just *feeling* uncomfortable with the same person's behavior, maybe more people in that community will listen.

    1. My experience, where a former play partner of mine caused both rape trauma and abandonment trauma (though the abandonment has been by far the more difficult of the two to deal with), is that talking openly about *any* facet of this, without his name attached and without sharing my story, has caused social blowback. I'm currently getting a bit more as I work on bringing consent culture to my scene.

      So my experience is that, no: People are generally not interested in making this distinction, and the social blowback will still happen regardles of how "I statement" you make your feelings.

  55. I too am so sorry this happened to you. I did have a comment on how you reacted to the assault. I was date raped so it seems similiar in a way. My immediate reaction was so detached and opposite for the situation that I did question whether it really was rape. Since I've talked to many women in date rape situations or where they knew their assailant and their reactions were pretty consistent with mine and yours.

    I fought him the whole time but afterwards I just said, don't let me fall asleep. It was a brutal rape, I found pieces of the condom he used in my underwear for days. I couldn't control my bladder for weeks afterwards due to the trauma. I think this detachment or calmness is a form of coping, protecting ourselves or a processing tool to deal with extreme trauma. I freaked out about an hour later but that initial response haunted me for years until I realized it was a fairly typical response to trauma.

    This happened when I was 15, I didn't tell anyone. He was captain of the football team and frankly I was not popular and felt I should have known why he was with me. When it happened I wasn't where I was supposed to be and would have been in big trouble. So only my best friend knew, she was in another room but I eventually disconnected from everyone for a year or so. I'm sure I was depressed.

    I'm 58 years old now and felt like I had really put it in the past but it recently came up in a healing I was receiving as an issue that still affected my trust with men.

    The healer's recommendation was a session or two of EMDR (Rapid Eye Movement Therapy) which is great for trauma. I did it once before to help with anxiety stemming from a bad car accident and it worked great. In one session I got to see this whole thing differently, become empowered and truly felt a sense of resolution and forgiveness for myself.

    How I know I've resolved this for me is once Facebook became popular I tried to find him on it. I hoped his life sucked (mind you this is 40 years later so clearly I still had issues around the rape but it didn't occur to me to now get help). Well I would search every few months or so and nothing ever came up. I also did Internet searches but he has a common name so I never could find anything either. A few months after the one EMDR session I searched again and there he was! Clearly he had had a profile on Facebook for years but probably a good thing something was keeping me from finding him. I read and saw that he has two daughters and his favorite book was some kind of spiritual awakening title. And I felt no animosity towards him or any desire to email, call him out, nothing. I finally felt free of this experience.

    I highly recommend EMDR for any trauma. It works quickly not requiring years of therapy (which I did do in my 30's but clearly didn't help with this). Anyone wanting more information about EMDR or just to talk I'm amme4now on Fetlife.

    Take good care of yourself, get help if needed, and keep talking!

  56. Thanks for sharing this. People always say "well you didn't say no". I try to reply "I didn't say yes either" but it doesn't always work. So next time I'll point them at your blog.

  57. I really struggle with the, If I am not severely traumatized, was it still sexual assault?
    The answer seems really obvious to me when it comes to the stories of other people. What happened with you and Benny, what happened with the fifty other stories in these posts... everyone has reasons they felt it wasn't that big a deal, or no one would believe them, etc. And in all of those stories it is so to meapparent that they were treated horribly, they were assaulted, and that it was an extreme breach of trust (at the very least).
    But I don't know if what happened to me is rape. I said no, he penetrated me anyway. But I didn't fight, I didn't scream, I didn't cry. After he was done I didn't freak out or run away in terror. Is that still sexual assault?

    1. If someone steals your wallet, but you don't scream or cry, is it still theft?

      I don't think a crime can be defined by how the victim reacts. Your experience shouldn't "not count" or be considered okay just because you didn't react in a particular way.

    2. Yes, it was most definitely still rape. Indeed, the crime is not defined by how the victim reacts, but by *what the perpetrator did*.

      How you react or don't react helps define how you cope with the aftermath, and may determine what you do about it, if anything, but does not in and of itself have anything to do with defining what actually happened.

      If at the end of the day you really were OK with things overall, then the guy just dodged a major bullet that could very well have had his name engraved on it. It was his lucky day, and to some extent, sort of yours as well.

      But why *was* it basically OK with you? Was it because it really was? Or because there's something inside you that thinks you need to put up with this sort of thing and find a way to excuse it?

      Not pointing fingers here, just saying that we deny what has happened to us so often because we have some idea that we are supposed to just let things go.

  58. The Story My Mother Doesn't Know

    Sometimes I wake up
    Heart racing, panting
    Sheets soaked
    Stars in my vision
    The grunt and strain of your violation
    Resonates deep within me
    My ears ring with it
    Your heaving pants
    Leave ghosts of hot breath against my ear
    The shadows of your teeth on my neck
    Raise goosflesh on my arms
    And a shiver I can't resist crawls up my spine
    The shaking is inescapable
    And I tremble in the desperate darkness
    Bedside lamp flickering
    Lost in tumultuous remembering
    The slide show stills of your bad judgement
    Cloud my tear-drowned vision
    The walls press close
    Claustrophic panic threatens to take me away from myself
    In the confusion, I strain to remember how to forget
    Meaty hands gripping my thighs and forcing my knees open
    Dirty nails digging into my wrists, pressing
    I worry the fragile little things will snap
    Like twigs
    A bare chest, infinite weight
    Forces my breath from me
    When you force yourself onto me
    Into me
    Under my skin and into my belly
    Sickening nausea as the room spins into blackness
    Blind and trapped
    All I can hear is the heady breathing
    The grunts and the pants
    The rocking
    Jesus God the rocking
    The pressing
    The cutting of the morning light
    My mind, like a shattered mirror
    Filled with shards reflecting the incoporeal night
    And pain that makes breathing an unreasonable demand
    But my reflexes won't obey
    I tried to open my mouth but instead of words
    I spit blood
    My shame is a prison
    My silence, the locks
    My friends, the turnkeys
    You really were pretty drunk last night...
    I wasn't drunk, I was dying
    You really were pretty drunk last night...
    I've been drunk before
    This wasn't drunk
    I wasn't drunk, I was dying
    You really were pretty drunk last night...
    You really were...
    You really were...
    You really...

    Sometimes I wake up
    Stars in my vision
    The grunt and strain of your violation
    Resonates deep within me
    The shadows of your teeth on my neck
    Raise goosflesh on my arms
    Six years gone
    You still haunt my dreams
    And nightmares I can't escape
    Six years
    And this is the first time
    I've called it by name


    I wrote this a few months ago, able for the first time to start using words to express what had happened to me. Partially because I found this blog. So, thank you, Holly. Thank you.

  59. Hey, me too. Took me three years of being out of my emotionally abusive relationship to realize just how much was wrong. When you're in an abusive relationship, it fucks with your head. You make excuses for them - and, of course, you don't want to look like a victim, and everyone will go "but you've been together for so long" and dismiss it. At least you think they will.

    My assaults were those "Hey hey hey what are you doing, I guess you're just going to do it anyway, uh, maybe I should say something instead of just tensing up and acting all uncomfortable", "well he got me to say yes first even though we both knew i didn't want to", "hesitation and uncomfortable posture doesn't count as no so how could he POSSIBLY have known",this-isn't-really-assault things. I didn't report them because I didn't know what they were, and I didn't want to look stupid for getting myself into a situation like that. Only now do I have the perspective to see how totally fucked up the entire situation was, and I'm still a little afraid he'll somehow hear what I've told my friends while working through my feelings on it and drag it up again like it's a new accusation that I pulled from thin air.

  60. Fuck, Holly, I don't know what to tell you you should have done. I'm sorry this happened to you.

    1. That's the point. You *shouldn't* tell her what she should have done.

  61. Ok, I have a very strange question for victims. I got an offer to take of it for me. I turned it down. How would other victims feel about professionals handling that when they are home. Would that make you feel better or worse? Safer or creepy and guilty?
    It certainly gets around the issues of reporting but I know I am not the only one with issues around someone being a vigilante for me. But maybe for some women it would be what would be what would help. I don't even know how I feel about this.

    1. I'm not totally clear on what you're talking about, so I'm going to go with "A friend offered to beat him up for me". Correct me if I'm wrong.

      Personally, all I think vigilante justice would accomplish is dragging it up again. It wouldn't give me closure, it wouldn't change his attitude, it would give him a reason to try to contact me, and I don't want to be the cause of any violence (that isn't in immediate self defence) even if it is against somebody as screwed up as he is.

    2. No, he offered to kill them. It would have made things safer, this was an extreme situation.

      Why would you ever beat someone up? That does't even keep it from happening again.

    3. This is one reason why I didn't tell many people about being raped. I knew at least two men who would have killed him for it. I didn't want to be responsible for murder. Strangely, deciding not to risk getting him killed made me feel better... like there was something in this situation that I had control over and could make a choice about.

  62. Wow. It's so brave of you to write this, and I admire how clear sighted you are, and how well you present your reasons and emotions.

    It is so sad and unjust how much peoples prejudices affect the legal system, and the mentalities of victims.

    I'm a part of the scene in Sweden, and while it's a much more open minded country than most, prejudices still are everywhere and lack of education is widespread.

    What we really need (except educated masses) is well educated doctors and government officials, that can understand how BDSM works (or should work) and deal with these kinds of situations!

    I wish you all the happiness in the world, and I hope that in the future you'll listen to the red flags, and instead find a good partner and be able to enjoy BDSM as it is meant to be enjoyed.

  63. I am very sorry, for what you have gone through, and my story is in no way meant to put a big question mark on your story but just another showing how complicated it can be.

    I have been on the other side of the scales, being the one accused of rape.

    Our sex life had always been kind of rough, and the word "no" was frequent in our games. Early on in the relationship we had talked about safewords and agreed about one. Then one night it was apparently different which I didn't recognize.

    I could not, during or after, for my life see any difference in how she acted. She said no at the time, but did not use the safe word, or get aggrevated in any way. A short time after that, she spread the word among friends about me raping her, and for all i know she told the truth from her point of view. The story more or less ended with us breaking up and i tried to explain my point of view to my friends. Though i guess, there will always be a doubt in their minds.

    I have never gotten the chance to really talk with her about it. But i have been feeling very crappy about that episode for a long time, and I just can't get it out of my head. I have even cried when talking about my feelings on the subject with some close friends. There is all the questions in my head about "How is she feeling now?", "Does she trust guys now?", "Could I have seen it, had I just been a LITTLE more aware?". I'd say that i´ve been pretty badly emotionally damaged by this event also.

    Again, I am not saying she was lying when she told people. But there is two sides to every story.

    1. There's two sides to my story, too. I'm sure Benny's side makes him out to be a wounded little angel and one of the many reasons I didn't formally report the assault was so that I would never have to hear his side, hear people believe it, hear people tell me it's so reasonable and mine so unreasonable, maybe question myself if he wasn't right after all.

      Also: dude, it's just unnecessary to post this here. My story wasn't about a questionable accusation I heard. My story was about something I am 100% certain happened exactly the way I'm telling it, because I was there.

      Why bring up "sometimes rape accusations are lies," when I'm telling a story that isn't a lie and is all about how I never made an accusation?

  64. To the anon directly above me:

    No, there are not two sides to every story. There may be two sides to your story; I don't know enough to make a call on that. But the attitude that there are two sides to every story is part of the reason rape victims are so scared to come forward.

    @Nancy, I agree that EMDR can be very helpful. I know someone who used it to help deal with PTSD from surviving a violent (non-sexual) assault and it made a big difference.

    My reason for being hesitant about going to the police? I've done it before. I don't know if a sexual assault took place, but I'm very sure that I was drugged at a club in Boston several years ago. A friend and I both were. I lost 7 hours of memory. She lost more. We both ended up essentially unable to walk and were very lucky that we had friends to make sure we both made it home. Before that happened, though, I apparently disappeared with some guy. I have no memory of this, which is why I have no idea if I was sexually assaulted or not.

    We went to the police. We filed a report. The officer I spoke with basically called me a liar and repeatedly "asked" me if I was sure I hadn't just had too much to drink. I know I hadn't.

    Why should I trust the police when the only time I asked them for help, they called me a liar and reduced me to tears?

  65. But there is two sides to every story.

    Really? What do you think is the other "side" to Holly's story?

    1. I am sorry, i didn't mean to offend anyone. Please note: "my story is in no way meant to put a big question mark on your story but just another showing how complicated it can be."

      But if you ask to hear two persons stories from any event, their stories will always be different. Maybe just a little bit on tiny details, but they WILL differ. There is a reason for that saying.

    2. But unlike your story the other side is almost always. "I decided to do something dreadful to another person" This is not complicated and we should not care about the other side, we should be care about prosecuting if possible, although Holly explains clearly why it isn't always best to try. Holly's attacker was being deliberately cruel and should be treated accordingly.

      Do not let your, very rare, experience confuse you about how this usually works.

      Rarely there can happen that an experience is horrible for one person but not a deliberate attack by the other. I think this needs a word other than rape. It sounds like you did not rape that woman but something went horribly wrong. That has nothing at all to do with Holly being raped. He did that on purpose, it was a vicious terrible rape. Rape is not complicated. Almost no story has two meaningful sides.

    3. Anonymous, again, since you have asserted that there are two sides to EVERY story, and that there is a reason for that saying, then clearly there must be another side to Holly's story. What do you believe it is?

  66. This may be the subject of a different post, but I couldn't help thinking, all the way through reading the post and the comments: what about the way that Society aids and abets people like Benny? I would say "rape culture," but I think it goes deeper than that.

    The thing is, non-consent and female submission is romanticized and glamorized and presented as the most wonderful kind of "love" in our culture (USA, at the very least.) What's one of the most common romantic tropes? Man overpowers resistant woman, either through force, circumstance, or sheer persistence, and, once overpowered, the woman now realizes she loves him, which makes all the rapey behavior suddenly not rape.
    Or think of doormat songs like Sandy Posey's song "Born a Woman."
    This stuff is not just in smutty porn, or stuff that creepy guys tell other creepy guys in locker rooms. It's in _everything_ you see or read or hear from birth on. It's in most Disney movies. It's in most TV sit-coms. Romance novels are full of it.
    Non-consensual romance/sex is sexy.

    And from what I know of BDSM culture[*], the same dynamic goes on in BDSM circles, only worse. I remember there were an awful lot of posters extoling the joys of safeword-free BDSM, TPE, 24/7 submission, going beyond submissives' stated limits, and the like, and they seemed to have a lot of listeners. The BDSM fiction I saw seldom mentioned consent or negotiation, and often were clearly non-consensual. Benny's conduct would have fit right in to the sort of scenarios that these people were glamorizing, except, of course, that the person in Holly's role would have ended up loving it.

    I do not doubt for one second that Benny was deliberately doing stuff he knew Holly didn't like and would never like. But I think the reason so many people -- in and out of The Scene -- don't take Holly's pain and sense of violation seriously is that Benny's behavior fits so many tropes of "mind-blowing sex."

    The only thing that doesn't fit is Holly's experience of it.

    [*] What I know is based on reading on-line discussions of BDSM back before most of that discussion moved into members-only online spaces. I spent many years reading soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm and a number of websites that people mentioned there. YMMV, of course, but, cynic that I am, I have a hard time believing that people have suddenly gotten a lot more virtuous in the intervening decade or so.

  67. Holly,

    Thank you for sharing. This has really helped me process some of my emotions around my own assault.

    I'm seeing a therapist who keeps pushing me to do more sexual-assault specific treatments (he is not qualified for that but I love him otherwise). BUT when I went to our local sexual assault center she told me that what happened to me didn't count. Said that 'I know we talked about consent as a spectrum but..."

    Needless to say I never saw her again. And now I am really reluctant to do any group therapies because I am afraid of similar reactions. But I know that I have things inside that are tight, and hurt, and need to be unpacked.

    And I am afraid that when he talks to that therapist from the assault center that he will believe her and not me

  68. Me? I was "seduced." He and I were both drunk and crashing on couches at a mutual friend's place. We'd met that day. He paid a lot of attention to me, and I liked him. The couches - this is relevant - were pushed next to each other at right angles, so after the lights went out he was able to reach over and touch me. Not much, of course - just stroking my hair. No big. He kept asking to kiss me, stroking my temples. I just wanted to go to sleep, but I still liked the attention. Eventually I got tired of him asking, and finally agreed to let him kiss me. Straight-up saying no would have been RUDE, right? I wasn't a BITCH. And I didn't REALLY mind it.

    "Now go to sleep," I told him. Hah!

    He kept gently nudging at my boundaries for hours. He wound up on my couch. And yeah, I was turned on at that point. Lucky for me, because if I hadn't been... well, so what? Then we realized he didn't have a condom, and I actually walked with him to a convenience store to go get some. It was about 7, maybe 8am by then. Got the rubbers, went back to friend's house, went at it on the couch. It was fine. He didn't hurt me.

    We became Facebook friends afterwards, and to this day he messages me sporadically. He used to like talking about how much he "missed my face" and wanted to "split me open," but either it finally started to bore him or I managed to mumble-type something something about how I'd rather talk about something else something. Last summer - god, it's been years, plural, now - he semi-seriously invited me to come visit him in New York. He and I last spoke maybe two months ago. Said he was thinking about moving back to my town, and that I was his biggest motivation for doing so. Because he missed me so badly. More idle talk, right? I've never brought up our night together, but always wanted to ask him how often he's done that, and to how many people.

    I've never been able to explain to myself why I've let him keep contacting me. Except that, well, I'm not a BITCH. And now it's been so LONG. And besides, I LIKED it. So.

  69. I was sexually molested. In front of a doctor. By my father. And the doctor. The doctor was giving me a physical, and invited my father to "check out" my "development". Both of them fondled me for several minutes, making remarks that I was "coming along good".

    Why didn't I report it? Because a doctor is supposed to examine a patient. Because a father is responsible for his son's health. Because a doctor will never allow something bad to happen to you. Because my mother is crazy, and I didn't want to be crazy too. Because I didn't want my father to hate me. Because both of them were we;l;-respected in the community, and "great guys" (I heard that about my father so many times a day I'm surprised I'm not diabetic).

    Because it took me fifteen years to figure out that I hadn't been responsible, that I wasn't "bad" for how I felt.

    Thanks, Holly, for letting us find our sanity. You've inspired me, I hope I can inspire folks as well.

  70. Didn't count? How could it not count? I am so sorry to hear that, I hope you get better help.

  71. Thank you for writing this. Thank you more than I can put into words.

  72. I think I can relate to this in some way.

    A while ago I guess I was the "victim" of ... forced intercourse. I still have a hard time calling it rape, even though I know it technically was. It's not easy to accept that the man you love would do something like that to you.

    My boyfriend and I have been in a monogamous relationship for a few months now.
    I wasnt on the pill when it happend (we normally used condoms) and he kept bugging me how much better it would feel for him to do it without a condom and how much he wants to do it. Apparently regardless of the consequences. My answer was NO of course.

    But this one time he laid down on top of me without a condom. I thought he only wanted to cuddle, since I had told him I wont have unprotected sex with him. But I was wrong. He suddenly pushed inside me. I wasn't aroused and he is rather big so it hurt like hell. I yelled at him to stop over and over again and tried to push him away but he was way to strong. Eventually he stopped and luckily I didnt get pregnant.

    He apologized and I forgave him.

    Anyways, a few days ago randomly said to me, that the thing he did to me back than was worth it. These few moments of unprotected pleasure were worth the pain he inflicted on me. I was shocked haven broken off all contact with him since then.

    I do love him but I am really confused because usually he is such a sweet and sensitive guy, but when it comes to sex he turns into an entirely different person.

    I havent told anyone in real life what happened yet. (I'm 17 and he is my first real relationship).

    Do you think he deserves another chance? Do you think he can change?
    If anyone has been in a similar situation I would be really grateful if you could give me some advice.


    1. I have been in a similar situation and the answer is you did absolutely the right thing--and a difficult thing, I know--by breaking off contact with him. Someone who would not only force you to have sex, but would tell you it was worth it even knowing it hurt you--that is not a good or safe person.

      It's up to you whether you tell people in "real life" but no, he does not deserve another chance. He may change or he may not, but you do not need to put yourself at risk to give him that chance.

    2. Also: I think you've laid out your own case pretty well here, and frankly, I'd bookmark it to reread if he comes back asking you for another chance. If he tries casting this as "that misunderstanding we had," come back and reread in your own words what he did. Remember that you're not overreacting (being a little angry that someone raped you is not overreacting!) and that this is seriously a matter of safety, not just "feelings."

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Backing up Holly - stay away from this guy.

      I know you may love him and it probably hurts even more as a result, but don't ever try to trick yourself into thinking he can change something like that.

      This isn't quite the same situation, but it has some similarities, so maybe it will help you.
      My first boyfriend, whom I loved very much, left me for another woman. Some of this was attributed to being long distance, but it also made me realize something very awful about him that I had made myself ignore for the entirety of our relationship: his objectification of East Asian women ('yellow fever', if you will).
      His new Japanese girlfriend could hardly speak English and he actually came back to me asking for advice about her and that they had virtually nothing in common - oh, and he said he had a dream about us hugging and 'screaming' that we missed each other (oh, please). I actually had reconciled myself with the break-up really quickly, despite it being the first time I had my heart broken, because I don't try and get people back who decide they don't want me that way anymore. But THIS - that he placed his own self-interest over my feelings in that way made me realize actually how selfish he was and made me feel like some kind of emotionless Asian sex toy - and I do NOT expect that kind of disregard for my feelings to be something he will be able to change. If he does, I don't care to be around for it - I have better people to meet in my life... and I have. Yours is not just a matter of feelings, but also your safety. Please don't compromise that.

      At seventeen, don't waste your time on this guy. There are so many other people out there who are not only sweet and sensitive, but are consistent about it and won't put you through that kind of pain for their own pleasure.

    5. RUN. RUN AWAY.

      He is NOT sweet and sensitive, no matter how he acts in any other context. Someone did that to me once, I was your age, he was the "first" and he also insisted that it was worth it.

      Please, stay away from this person. It took me a year to escape and IT IS NOT OKAY. Sweet, sensitive people don't do shit like that.


    6. Kelly,

      I agree, you should run. Good on you for trusting your instincts enough to leave already; don't second-guess yourself. Trust your gut, and it will keep you safe.

      This behavior (and possibly worse) *will* repeat otherwise - and your going back to him will tell him that this kind of behavior is acceptable, and that you will just forgive him for it again.

      Recently, I recovered a number of old emails between my now-ex and myself that had been lost in a crash several years ago, while we were still together. I knew that he had continued to repeat the bad stuff while we were together, but I had entirely forgotten that he did *exactly the same things* at the beginning, during our first round together. I'd stayed with him for several years hoping that the wonderful guy I'd thought I remembered from the beginning would show back up, only to realize that I had entirely imagined him right from the start, in no small part because I always wanted to think the best of him, and because I was seduced by his many good qualities, including, yes, the sweet side of him. I had totally rationalized away the issues exactly as your mind is trying to do now.

      In the end, the bad stuff will win out when a guy shows he is capable of this sort of behavior and excuses.

      A guy who really respects and cares about you - and has any self control - will *not* rape you. By definition, that is *not* a sweet, sensitive guy.

      It took me a couple of years to figure out that *good* men just don't do this sort of shit, either, no matter how good they are a lot of the rest of the time. Someone who does is, by definition, *not* a good man.

      It's hard to face, especially if you really like the guy and he has many other good qualities, but believe me, you will have a far, far easier life if you learn to weed out the bad apples like this now, while you're still young, than if you start out giving them a pass.

  73. Thank you for writing this Holly. I think situations like this need to be openly discussed more, in vanilla contexts and the BDSM community, and not swept under the rug like they usually are. I've never been raped, thank gods, but I've had to deal with a few very scary and not at all cool situations. I don't want to exhaustively rehash some of the worst moments of my life, because they suck, but I do want to share one of the worst situations that happened in a BDSM context because it has colored how I have felt ever since.

    About 7 or 8 years ago (I was about 22 or 23), I had a girlfriend (I'm female) who wanted to explore BDSM with me. It took us awhile to finally get to that point, but looking back I should have known it was a bad idea. Like you I had several warning signs about her that pointed to her not being so cool. She liked to hurt me in public, and not just minor things either. In the middle of a ball pit full of kids she yanked me up by my hair hard, it was mortifying and it hurt my neck. She also bit me very hard in public, so hard that she ground down on the tendon and muscle and I had a dark red bruise for weeks. When I told her that it wasn't cool, she told me I was overreacting. She told me I was “heavier than most of the people I’m attracted to" on several occasions, as if it was an explanation. Yet she would string me along somehow, by saying that it would take her time and I was a great person... But then she would make out ridiculously with me in public whenever she got the chance.

    Bottom line, looking back I should have gotten out much sooner than I did, but I didn't. She was definitely not the person to venture out into the local BDSM community with and yet I did. So the first thing we went to was a FLOG party...not a munch, a FLOG... It was fun and most of the people there were really cool, but I was still too insecure and unsure to let anyone Top me, even casually. It was at the FLOG party that she met the guy who replaced me. Since we had no restrictions on dating or playing with other people, I was fine with her dating him. They wanted to scene that night (all of us were switches). I wanted some time to think, because I wasn't comfy with it, and so we ate at Steak N' Shake and talked, but it was hardly a negotiation. After dinner they got very pushy and I relented, but only if we went to my place and I topped. I don't need to rehash everything, but to make a long story short I Dommed them both at once that night. They seemed to really enjoy it, but I didn't want to have sex with this strange guy, so I wouldn't take my clothes off. I untied them, left them on my bed, and they had sex. Afterwards, they both said they really enjoyed it but were disappointed that I wasn't willing to 'play' with them (i.e. have sex). Her new boyfriend was actually mad, saying that he wanted to show me that he could please me, whatever that means.

  74. They had practically begged me to come to the next FLOG party, but when I got there all they did was play head games and bully me. Their goal was to get me to bottom for them and they went about it by tearing me down and making me feel like I was a bad person. They had bottomed for me, so there was no difference. To them, it was just my turn. I was way too uncomfortable I didn't trust them and they took my reluctance as an insult. After an hour or so of being treated like (and called) a selfish bitch and 'not a real switch', I got really upset and I left. That was the last time I talked to either of them.

    Should I have gone to someone and told them about this at FLOG? I don't know. At the time, I felt like it was a private thing, but I was being bullied to go to a stranger's home and be tied up while I was at FLOG. I'm very glad I didn't. I also felt like I was just a stupid newbie and they would just ignore me or, worse, tell me I shouldn't come back. What ended up happening was I stopped pursuing BDSM for several years.

    I realized how overly nice I had been and it scared me. What if someone who was better at convincing people managed to convince me to come to their house and tie me up? What about the people that this happens to? I don't know specific BDSM examples, but I have friends who have been raped and their kind and trusting natures used against them, to get them in bad situations and then to cover it up. I work in mental health, as well, and I've heard horror stories and seen the broken lives. Also, BDSM plays on fantasies of rape and abduction and I'm not fool enough to think that there aren't for real monsters who use the community. This coupled with my own not-so-happy past pushes me away from BDSM... But then I realize that there are a lot of cool people in the community and they say there are safe guards that keep people safe. I don’t want to be unfair. Also, I would love to explore this part of myself with trusted friends. Pushing it away felt like I was denying a large part of myself, if that makes any sense.

    Sorry this post is so long. You’ve brought up something that I’ve been thinking about for awhile and I still don’t know the answers.

  75. I read your post and your comments.

    I have been round the BDSM scene for many years and have heard this story a few times and it never gets easier in the telling nor the listening.

    Even now there are people out there that say "I will do anything and I dont want a safeword" and a few oldtimers sit there and shake their heads as they know what the upshot is.

    I think your blog should be required reading for everyone, scens and non-scene and those that dont get it should be made to read it again until they do

    As we say here in Blighty, more power to your elbow


  76. Thank you for so much for this. I'm just coming to terms with recognizing some of the things that have happened to me as rape. Like - wait, seriously, grabbing my head and forcing me to go down on him was actually rape, not just an awkward social encounter. And - waiting til we were super drunk and then asking and kissing and touching and pushing until my no's turned to silence was actually rape, not just a failure of self-discipline. I've wondered and struggled with why I never reported any of them, why I blamed myself for them more than blaming the others involved. I've also wondered how many other women have had these experiences, like me, throughout my teens and twenties, and if they've felt the same way afterwards. You've successfully articulated the very messy thought process that happens in the aftermath of such an occasion, and have made me feel far less alone. Thank you.

  77. Thank you so much for posting this, it takes a lot of guts to stand up and tell one person that something like this happened to you let alone a group of people.

    It's extremely important for people to learn what is ok and what isn't, I was in a situation where I was saying "no" to my live-in boyfriend at the time, it felt wrong but I wasn't entirely sure that it was - how could it be rape if we shared the same bed?
    It took talking to people, like Holly, to realize what was happening wasn't ok, by that point it was already a thing of the past.

    Because I didn't know it was wrong, I put up with it for a long time, I don't want other women to face the same thing.

    Thank you for being brave enough to share your experiences, so hopefully more of us can be aware of what's out there.

  78. When I was 16 I was fooling around with an ex boyfriend, I'd already said that I wasn't going to have sex with him, we were just fooling around... When he'd come up to kiss me he penetrated at the same time, I froze and said no and then struggled with him. Here's the fucked part, I *think* I could have thrown him off of me. But this is what went through my mind, he would have ended up in the ER if I threw him, because of the furniture in the room (I can't remember what it was), I would have missed work, and my parents would have found out, which was the LAST thing I wanted because my dad was stressed, sick and going through chemo.
    I ended up just going limp and waiting for him to finish (only a couple of minutes).

    It took me months to realize what had really happened to me. The first person I told was my boyfriend at the time, I was in tears, and his response was "You should have told me sooner, I'd have made more of a point of using protection!"
    Years later I confided in my mother, her reaction was worse. She actually told me that I hadn't been raped, that because I *could* have stopped him it couldn't be rape, because she'd had that happen to her when she was a teen there was NO WAY it was rape.

    It took me several more years to come to terms with all of it, especially with my moms reaction. At least now I can see it for what it was, her trying to protect her own mind, because if she admitted that *I* was raped she'd have to admit that she was.
    What I know now is that my daughter will know better than I did, she will know that NO means NO and that even if she said yes she's allowed to change her mind. More than that, I've got a 50 calibre rifle and I won't even bother with the cops if someone hurts her.

  79. An additional reason for me is when things go by "inches". You know, it starts off with his hand on your knee. And you don't say no. And his hand moves up an inch or two. And you don't say no. And it moves up a little further. Now you're a little uncomfortable, but willing to see where it goes, so you don't say no. And so it goes until you are actually seriously uncomfortable with the situation, but how can you say no now, when you didn't say no only an inch ago, and what's the difference between now and half a minute ago - if you didn't like it you should have said no halfway up your thigh and its too late now...

  80. I wish you could +1 some of these comments :)

  81. I didn't report what happened to me because he was a soldier in the Army, I was married to him, and his command was already blaming me for his alcoholism and inability to control his own behavior while on-duty. Like with you, there were a lot of red flags. It was an environment of abuse. When the rape was brought up a year later during the divorce, the court-appointed mediator asked me, "That was over a year ago. Aren't you over it yet?" Somebody gave that guy a psychology degree.

  82. This post was enough trigger (in a good way) at the moment that I'm not up to reading the comments right now, but I wanted to thank you for sharing this story. As a sexual assault survivor, I wish I had access to more stories like this in the aftermath to help figure out what was actually going on with me emotionally. Your line of, "I wasn't screaming or yelling--I was feeling weirdly calm, practical, a sense of "do what you need to do now, panic later"" pretty much sums up my emotional reactions to most things. Normally, this is good, but has the flip side is that I often don't have a good pulse on how I am reacting to things emotionally, because I'm actively choosing not to react to them in the moment (and it's not always easy to see how the "hidden emotions" are manifesting. I'm only recently realizing how certain hang-ups and reactions are related to my sexual assault and its accompanying emotionally abusive relationship, 4 years later (about 6 months of pretending it didn't happen, 6 more of trying to get away from the guy and 2-3 years of "That's over and done with, so I just won't think about it." It's taken dating a guy who was also in an emotionally and sexually abusive relationship previously to really start processing some of this crap and to realize my own emotional reaction to it and the triggers I didn't even know I'd developed. I feel like having the chance to hear the stories of other sexual assault survivors would have helped me process all of it a lot sooner.

    I've seen found and submitted to And It Was Wrong ( It's a really fantastic project to collect and share out the stories of female victim of sexual-not-okayness (all levels from not okay gropey-pushy-badness sexual harassment to rape and everything NOT OKAY in between). The only requirement is that the story ends with "And it was wrong." (In the words of the project founder: "The stories end with the words "and it was wrong" because it's amazing how often we forget that very basic thing. This common ending also helps us find community in our variety of experiences as we come together to say that these experiences should not have happened. ")

    The stories are submitted anonymously and shared out in various venues (according to the comfort level of the submitter)--online, in classrooms, speak-outs, prevention workshops, etc. It's been very meaningful to me to read others' experiences to help sort out my own and I wanted to share the resource.

  83. I am really sorry to hear this. I have always wondered about the line between sexual sadism and sexism.


    1. There really isn't one. Some vanilla people are rapists and some kinky people are rapists. Let's not make this all about his sexuality.

  84. I was molested for 5 years by my dad when I was prepubescent and I'm now calling it rape because it was. It put a lot of weird shit in my head that made it very difficult for me to say no even when I wanted to, so a lot of the sex I had afterward was not precisely consensual. I never said no or fought in any way because I didn't know I could. It didn't mean I wanted it.

    Last year, maybe 15 months ago, my boyfriend had some sort of sleep disorder thing (he has sleep apnea) and he rolled over in his sleep and held me down and fingered me and there wasn't anything I could do about it because he's much bigger and stronger than I am. His eyes were open, so I thought he was awake, and I kept saying "no, please stop" and he didn't. I completely freaked out and I don't know what happened next, but I do remember the next day I couldn't let him touch or come near me and he had no idea why. When I told him what he had done, he was horrified and gave me a little time, but two weeks later he had largely put it out of his head because he didn't remember doing it at all, so his guilt and awful feelings faded fast. It wasn't "him," so it wasn't his problem. He didn't understand why I had such a hard time around him for a while. He did get the CPAP machine, though. Now I'm sometimes afraid to sleep next to him, because even though it only happened once in twelve years and even though he always stops when I ask him to (if he's awake), it could happen again.

    I can't call it rape around him because he won't own to doing it, and NO ONE would believe me. Not one person. But I feel like I was sexually assaulted and I can't feel about it anywhere but on the internet, away from him and our friends.

    I am also in the BDSM community, but I only talk, I don't play. Playing is too dangerous.

  85. Hi Holly,

    I've been reading your blog all day, from 9 this morning, and we're heading close to evening. You are talented beyond belief. And thank you for writing this, it's a very courageous piece and though I could imagine it making you feel vulnerable, it's proof of your strength, and I take my hat off for you.

    Unfortunately it's so saddening that so many women (and men) can relate to this particular subject.

    I wrote an article for a magazine we publish a while ago, and partly it's about my reaction to sexual assault. If you have time, you might want to read it.
    you can find it here:

    Thank you again for your words.

    And, I'm sure you know but I need people to tell me this sometimes:
    You did nothing wrong



    Here is a particularly horrific example of why a person could hesitate before reporting.

  87. Thank you for this post. I don't even know what to say except that I felt completely alone and now I don't. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    - K

  88. Holly, I read stories like yours & the others above and wish there was something I could do to: 1) Punish the offender, 2) Protect the people he will hurt in the future, 3) Change the world to make everyone know this type of thing is wrong and not acceptable, and,4) in many cases, it would be nice to remove the memories from the victim.
    But I'm just a man, and all I can do is tell people like you that I'm sorry it happened, and work to make my views about things like this known, and try to educate people about what is right.


    1. I'd keep my memories, thanks. They may be painful, but knowing I was assaulted and couldn't remember it would not help.

    2. I'm in that boat. Not knowing is maddening.

    3. That's how I feel (1-3) I want to scream at the top of my lungs "open your eyes, pay attention, someone next to you is hurt. Can't you see it"

      Holly, you are amazing.

  89. Holly-
    I've been reading your blog for about a month now, and I first want to say thank you! Your blog is fantastic and I'm grateful for everything you share on here.
    I've recently experienced a sexual assault, and I have decided not to report. I identify with at least half of the reasons you've listed, so thank you for helping me see my own feelings on this are valid. I wanted to ask you, and I'm sorry for being intrusive or if I'm being disrespectful, but I'm wondering, do you regret not reporting Benny to the police, or ever wished that you had?
    Thank you again for sharing what happened to you. I really do appreciate it.

    1. I'm sorry that happened to you.

      And I don't really regret it. I regret that he never got any punishment (I think he still honestly doesn't believe that he assaulted me), but I don't think that going to the police would have made that happen. I think it would've dragged me through the mud and he would've played the self-righteous victim and in the end I would be in more danger of it coming back to haunt me than he would. So I don't regret avoiding that.

  90. thank you for writing this

  91. I know I'm a bit late commenting here, but I wanted to thank you for this post. For the first time in around 5 years, I feel like I finally understand what exactly happened to me.

    He crossed the line. He touched me without my permission, and even though I didn't say "no," he never asked me, or cared if I wanted it. He abused my trust, and took advantage of my vulnerable emotional state to get what he wanted. He used the excuse of making me 'feel better,' when the truth was that he wanted to do that with me, and he found the one moment when I was too upset to push him off me and refuse.

    It seems so simple now, looking back. But for years, because I didn't feel like it was "rape," because I felt like it was my fault for not screaming "no" at the top of my lungs, I couldn't see that before. I didn't really put the pieces together.

    So thank you, thank you.

  92. Thankyou. Thankyou thankyou thankyou.

    That's all I can say, because I can't seem to find the words (for once) to express just *how much* reading this has helped me. Even now, all these years later..

    Just, thankyou. You are the rad.

  93. So very eloquently and precisely put, Holly! I'm sorry you've had to go through this, but glad to know that you are joining others of us who are speaking out and refusing to let theses perps get away with things entirely, who refuse to slink away silently into the night.

    My reasons for not reporting my now-ex to the cops included most of these, and more. If you still care about the person, and still have hopes that you can sort things out between you, and delusions that what happened were isolated occurrences that won't happen again, and you know they'll dump you if you go to the police - in short, if you aren't ready to end the relationship yet for whatever reasons, despite what happened - that's a powerful inducement to not report.

    In my case, I also let concerns for others whom *I didn't even know* stop me, from his estranged wife (with whom by then I sympathized more than with him) and his clients. For various reasons, I literally put other people who weren't even involved ahead of my own safety, something I'm far from proud of now, but the reasons seemed reasonable at the time. He is internationally renowned in his field, and is one of the very few people who is actually really competent in the area where he works, and I was concerned about where his clients/patients would go.

    The fact that he is so well-known and locally well-respected was also a huge factor itself. Try going up against someone like that, who also has a gazillion times more money than you.

    Threats are another big one. My ex has threatened more than once to sue me if I even continue to talk about what he did to me. His current sub has made her own threats as well. I've long been afraid of him physically, too, and when you already know from experience that someone is capable of harming you nonconsensually, and without giving it a second thought, and even feeling entirely justified and never even apologizing, you never really lose the worry that it will happen again even when the relationship is over.

    Other people have to live with much more violent threats to their safety if they go to the police - or to the safety of their loved ones, including children and pets, etc. Another abusive ex of mine threatened to have my entire family killed if I didn't go back to him once I left and that was well before I realized he’d raped me.

    He was also friends with the chief of police in the area where he lived. This kind of connection does not exactly encourage people to go to the police, either.

    And finally, sometimes what they do to us might not be actually, legally "rape" per se, so what do we even call it, even once we get to the point of being able to name that *something* was done to us nonconsensually? What is it if they violate limits that don't involve penetration of any sort, like failing to respect safewords with impact play or doing anything that has been made off limits? What do you call it if what you were doing would have otherwise been basically consensual except that the manner in which it was done was not, or the force with which it was done far exceeded anything you'd ever consented to? Or they blow off your medical issues and needs and you end up having a problem because of that?

    I do agree with the person who said it's a good idea to report them anyways, even once you realize the cops won't do anything, just so there's a record.

    I finally got to that point myself, and predictably, the cops did blow me off as just a disgruntled ex - but there is at least a police report on file to show a track record if he ever tries this sort of thing on anyone else. It will help paint a picture, and point the police to other sources of documentation, plus hopefully help any future victims know that they are not crazy

    Even with the cops blowing you off, too, there is something incredibly empowering about just making that report, and knowing that it will sit there as testimony to what actually happened.

  94. ... I totally want to give everyone on this comments page a hug and make the world better for them.

  95. i just wanted to say thanks for writing this post.

    i was sexually assaulted 5 months ago. at the time i didn't think it was assault. i said 'no', but he held me down and did it anyway. for literally months i did not admit it. even now, i can't say it out loud. i still feel like i'm overreacting. i can't tell anyone, because what would i say? what would they say? there were no witnesses, no lasting marks. i still feel like it's partly my fault, but then think...shouldn't saying 'no' and begging for someone to stop be enough? i feel like there are these social pressures that make some rape/assault abhorrent and everyone is in agreement on that, but then there are other rapes/assaults that are wishy-washy to the general public. like the victim/survivor was asking for it even though he/she said 'no' or didn't consent. why is that? why is there shame in admitting what happened? i didn't hold myself down while i begged to stop and said no. i didn't tell myself to stop fighting and just take it. but if i tell people....everything changes.

    thanks again for writing. i am still tangled in my emotions and figuring things out, but i connected with your story, and that makes me feel less alone.

  96. I was sexually assaulted too and I have PTSD from it. I'm a rare find, I am. I can't be sure there's another rape-parable out there quite like mine. And yet I was lucky, I was so so so lucky.

    I'm a transman but back then I was still trying to be a girl, like it would all go away if I were just a girl. I did my best to sleep with women and brag about it but I didn't really like women. It just made frat boys respect me more when I kissed girls. Then there was Paul. He was a year younger than me, he was Campus Christian Fellowship, and he was sweet. My friend was into him and I wasn't. Still, after a few drinks I still loved sucking dick as much as I did sober and Paul was there. Maybe I was dressed like a girl and maybe I flirted with him.

    We went away from the party and back to our tent for a drink and he kissed me. I love kissing, it is so much fun. But he kissed me and I kissed him back and the next thing I knew my pants were off. And then I was begging him 'Please don't fuck me. Please stop hurting me. Please, I'll suck you off. Just please stop hurting me." When he left there was blood all over my underwear where he had busted my hymen. I changed clothes and went to sleep, exhausted and confused and scared.

    I woke up and he was on top of me, kissing me and stroking my abused privates.I cried. That's all, I just cried. He was big and I was small and he wanted his hand inside of me and I didn't so all I could do was cry.

    My friend came back and yelled at us for fucking in her tent and she banished him to her jeep. I was still crying and I said 'thank you' and when she turned on the flashlight she went green like she wanted to throw up. My face was bruised all over, like I had been in a car wreck or something. He had bitten and smacked and sucked on my face until it was just a blue-black mess.

    Yes, I went to the police. Yes, I took him to trial. He got twelve months probation after two years of litigation and that was with me fighting tooth and nail to get him in trouble. The next time I was assaulted I didn't even call the cops. By that time I was living as a man and knew my case didn't stand a chance in court. It is bullshit to be raped because it ruins your life and no one gives a single fuck, especially in the south. For some reason women deserve it and transmen deserve it even more. After my second assault I broke down crying in group therapy demanding to know if I 'was asking for it' or if I 'looked rapable'.

    No one should be hurt like this and minorities even less so. Still, we're the ones they attack because we don't look credible to police and we don't look good on the witness stand. T

  97. In my case, I couldn't report it because:

    * I let him stay over at my apartment (as a friend) for an event in town (he did not live there) and my husband was there most of the time, but he had to go to work in the morning on Saturday and it happened after he left.

    * The apartment was a studio and there was some point where I was taking a shower and walked around in various amounts of undress while he was around. We'd been together for years in the past and were "still friends" so I didn't care about him seeing me naked and I asked him and he said he didn't care.

    * He didn't penetrate any orifice. He simply shoved his penis into my breasts and there was a very tiny bruise under the breast near the rib area. It still made me feel like I was drowning and losing my sense of Self. I could barely breathe and felt like I was paralyzed. The bruise went away after a couple of days. There was no evidence.

    *I was asleep when he climbed on top of me and started doing it to me. I pretended I was asleep until he was done. Then I took him to the bus station, and we didn't talk about it and he went home. He called me a couple times after that asking what I was up to like nothing had happened- I didn't return his calls.

    *I still have nightmares, but you can't get someone arrested for a bad dream.

    I think that I am doing a lot better than if I had accused him of rape or tried any legal charges. Mainly it's because we had a sexual history, I was naked/nude around him at some point (in a non-sexual way according to him), and I had kind of been woken up a couple times the night before with him reaching up into the bed (he was sleeping on the floor) and trying to fondle me while he was obviously jacking off or something....while my husband was right there....and I didn't do anything- I just climbed over my husband and went to sleep for the rest of the night with him on the other side. I had alarm bells going off, but I didn't believe he would do something so horrible- I didn't believe that after all I had gone through with him, how well I knew him, and how geeky and awkward his personality was, that he would actually engage in sexual assault.

    But he did.

    Sometimes I wonder if he's ever done this to anyone else, but luckily I don't have to see him, and he's moved out of my hometown so if I ever do move back, I should never have to worry about encountering him.

    The worst part was after what happened- the aftermath of how I felt, and the simple fact that it made it hard to trust people because if *he* could do it, then anyone could do it. And if no one believed me or tried to minimize it when I did tell them...that just made it al the more worse in my eyes. My husband believed me when I finally broke down and told him about it (thank goodness- I was terrified he'd think that I had cheated and simply felt remorseful because the guy who raped me had been in a polyamorous relationship with both of us in the past). It's just all kinds of complicated. And there is no clean or easy answer.

    But at least I feel safe.

    And honestly? I've come to the conclusion that next time (if there is a next time), I'm simply going to have to kill the assaulter if I possibly can. They say the same thing if you have a gun and you try to stop a home intruder- shoot to kill because the home intruder will make up a totally different story when it goes to court and a dead criminal can't make up lies. So I'm doing my best to get better at lethal self-defense. If I have the option, I will strike to kill without hesitation. I will know the signs. I will take the power back. And perhaps rapists will take pause in the future if they know that they might be visited by death if they engage in their abusive behaviors.

    But maybe that's just part of the fantasy I'm using to cope with all this shit. I'm not really sure anymore.

  98. I don't know how to reply to any of these comments or even this blog post. It all makes me really upset that such horrible things can happen to anyone and that people feel that they can't feel safe/happy/secure/ect. any more. I can never fully understand the pain someone has gone through because I've never experienced something so horrid but I am really sorry that anyone has had to endure that whether they're over it now, or they're still dealing with it.

  99. Thank you so much for your post. I stumbled upon it randomly. I finally know that I am not alone. I consented to be hand cuffed but was sodomized against my will. That was over 2 years ago and I still think about it. I wish now that I had gone to the police. But reading your experience has helped me to understand that I'm not the only one that has had to struggle with such difficult circumstances. It gives me a lot of clarity.

  100. So, why do we overlook/ignore red flags? WHY? I've done it, you've done it, we need to stop it.

    EVERYONE should read the book "The Gift of Fear."

    It's an excellent guidebook for protecting yourself against stalkers, predators, sociopaths, assholes, and selfish bastards.

    It tells you what cues to look for, and reassures you that your gut and intuition are correct, and you should not doubt yourself.

    Empower yourself. Train yourself to be aware of red flags, and when you see them, remove yourself from the person or situation before it gets worse.

    Too many times in the past I've been too nice and forgiving, and I got burned. Nowadays I'm wiser and realize there are only so many hours in the day. I prefer to spend time with quality people, good people, RESPECTFUL people.

    Benny is undeserving.

    1. I read "The Gift of Fear" years before Benny assaulted me. Shit isn't magic.

  101. I ran across this while going through another kink social media sight. I've read the post, the replies, the comments, and put some time into thinking about what can be said. All the platitudes and sympathy are echoed by me, and indeed you are a braver person than I can imagine for posting this, and learning, day by day, to move forward with your life. I struggle with my response here, not because I have no sympathy or understanding, Ive, both seen and stopped abuse in the past, from a good friend physically abusing his girlfriend, to a stranger I heard screaming down the block(turned out to be a rape in progress, who DOES that in public?). I think my struggle is more about personal disbelief and my own sense of morality and right and wrong. My mother was abused by my father until she left him, and I saw it first hand... I suppose some people can see that and decide that it is a proper state of things, and go on to abuse or be abused as an adult, me I went the other way. I find even the THOUGHT of abusing someone, or taking any kind of advantage to be repugnant and sickening on a very personal level. I literally can't seem to comprehend the mindset of someone who does things like this. Reading post after post about people who have suffered and shared similar experiences is heartbreaking, and all of you have my deepest sympathies and respect for your courage. No one should be forced into such positions, and no one should be forced to go without any sort of justice for these crimes. I got involved in the kink community late in life... and the freedom and ease that so many of my friends in the kink lifestyle have with personal expression still amazes me at every turn. It is helping me to recover from my own trauma, which his post has helped me to put into much better perspective. I was severly injured in a work accident several years ago, and it has left me with permenant damage to one leg that has made the simple act of living that much more difficult, forced me out of a 12 year career, and back to college at the age of 40. But I can at least have those options to improve my life... options that suddenly seem like a much more precious gift than they were a few hours ago. I hope that everyone who reads this post, and is involved in ANY sort of kink, comes away with a simple understanding of a truth that is now even more clear to me than it was before. You as a person have a resposibility to everyone else you are in contact with to aid in ensuring their saftey in this lifestyle. Best friend, casual acquantince, total stranger, it doesn't matter. The responsibility lies with all of us to make sure that play scenes, events, anything involving groups of kinksters gathering to express our sexuallity and desires, are safe, sane and consenual... stopping somone who goes to far is not bad play party etiquette, it is personal responsibility to the victim in the scene, and to yourself. I for one would never be able to look at myself in the mirror again if I knew I could have done something to stop a bad situation and didn't act. And I believe that if you are someone who is being vicitmized, or whos' safeword is being ignored, or ANYTHING else that is scaring you, or confusing you, or making you uncomfortable, you have a right and a responsibility to yourself to call for help.... there are more people like me in the lifestyle than you might think or believe, and I pray that they are willing to act to keep you safe.

  102. I don't mean to victim blame and text is really not good on getting across tone, but I wanted to comment on "REASON 11: Doubt. [...] Can I justify ruining someone's entire life over something that only lasted five minutes? To be honest, even now I can't give an unconflicted "yes" to that question." I'll point that it takes only a few seconds to shoot a gun (and probably kill someone with the right shot) and I'm sure you'd agree murder is a great reason to go to jail/ruin someone else's life. You could probably steal a car in five minutes and that's grand theft and enough to ruin lives.

    While I can understand doubt over whether you were traumatized enough to ruin his life, but never feel doubtful over the short duration of the crime.

    1. These aren't reasons you shouldn't call the cops. They're reasons I didn't. I know they're not all rational; they were still real.

      I'm trying to promote understanding here, not claim that I did the right thing for all the right reasons.

    2. Yes, I was just commenting that, god-forbid, anything happen again, don't feel any hesitation calling the cops based on that reason. Plenty of serious crimes take only five minutes.

  103. I guess my question is...At what point do you realize that you were not raped the last time by were raped MULTIPLE times by him?

    1. I already know that, but thanks for telling me, buddy. Glad you got the situation well in hand.

      Sorry if I'm touchy here, but you're being condescending.

  104. I really appreciated this post. Eight years ago I lost my virginity to the guy I was seeing, and it left me with all sorts of bad feelings. We had sex a totally of three times, and the third time I said no, but it didn't feel like rape because he was my boyfriend, and it wasn't forceful or violent. We broke up shortly after that, but it left me confused, hurt, and ashamed of my sexuality. It took several years to admit to myself that it was rape, not just "sort of non-consensual." Even now, I haven't told anyone else about what happened. He was just that jerk I used to date.

  105. This is an old post, but I want to ask: Why didn't you beat him up after he untied you?

    I will not go into details, but all four of them gave up after I put up a fight(I drew blood, broke tallest's guys nose)

    1. Um, yeah, I'm not fucking Rambo, sorry. I wasn't Rambo to begin with, and I sure as hell wasn't Rambo in my state of "oh my God did that really just happen" immediately after being assaulted.

      Plus he had about a hundred pounds and a foot of height on me.

      Plus what kind of fucking question is that? Seriously? That's not remotely an okay thing to ask a person.

  106. So glad I found this blog post again! I've regretted not bookmarking it (to show anyone I know who ever asks "why didn't she call the cops") ever since I first read it a couple months ago, but will be sure to fix that!

    Before I read this, I intellectually accepted that not every victim feels able to go to the police, and that this doesn't mean they weren't really assaulted. But despite intellectually accepting that, I didn't really understand it. I still thought to myself "Yeah I know it can be difficult, but still, wouldn't it make more sense to at least TRY?"

    You managed to get through my thick skull. The way you described your reasons, it just somehow clicked and made perfect (albeit heartbreaking) sense. Thank you so much for your willingness to speak out and educate people who, like me, just didn't "get it." Obviously, no one needs my, or anyone else's, "understanding" as a stamp of approval to validate their experience. But I hope that it'll make me a better ally.

  107. Reason 5 sounds very familiar. I have an ex who talks to me an uncomfortable lot about his sex life, and I tried to explain to him my thoughts on bdsm, because he had really weird and unhealthy opinions about it. I just really didn't want him to hurt any women in his life because he didn't get the concept.
    When one evening we got into a fight he grabbed me and wouldn't let me go, i tried to talk to him about this, and he said: If you are into bdsm (which I never said I was), how is there a problem with me pushing you around?
    How can one even begin to explain what the problem with that is?
    It is really not that hard to understand, and I thought it was already widely understood that people like a lot of different things in bed, and pain is one of them.
    But with that he basically told me that if I like sex with men I shouldn't mind if I had sex anytime with anyone.
    I tried that argument. After his reaction to that I suddenly realized he was just batshit crazy.

  108. First of all, Holly, I am so sorry that you had to experience that but I applaud you for being willing to talk about it in an open forum like this.

    Holly...and to the rest of the BDSM readers,

    Until our scene is both accepted in society and in the eyes of the law, it is up to us (subs or Doms) to protect ourselves. Everyone in the BDSM scene needs to understand the heresy of violating the safe word and we in the scene need to treat it just like that...heresy. And its the sort of heresy that carries Biblical consequences.

    Its up to all of us to do what the Law cannot.

    I've personally only had one Dom violate my safeword. Long story short, I went for my nine mil and kicked him out of my bed, my house, and my life. He tried to bring me up on assault charges - DA wouldn't prosecute.

  109. This was a good article. I learned a lot. Thankyou for bravely sharing your experience. Until today I had no idea how most of this worked.

  110. Thanks, Holly, I really appreciated hearing your story and I have a similar story but a little less kinky. I did have some red flags from this guy previously and didn't take it seriously and I really did forget about it. when I reported the rape the detective basically said "why did you go over there then if you knew that is what he's like?" WTF I already blame myself and my fucked up self esteem and to be told this and interrupted while I'm telling my story just made me recoil. :( So I believe you were right to not report it. Nothing has happened to the guy who did this to me, he gets to continue his blissfully detached life.
    And the answer to why I went over there in the first place is: I spoke to him on the phone and said the only way I would come over and stay the night is if there was NO SEX. I then went to his place, told him no sex again and he manipulated the situation to his benefit and forced his way inside me. So if that's not rape, what is? Of course the way I handled it after it happened was totally "illogical" I pretended like everything was okay, because I was exhausted wanted to forget about it, wanted to be hopeful, wanted to not be scarred once again but I am scarred. Molested when young and now Raped. My life is looking up...
    Is it wrong that I would like to speak to him and ask a series of questions, b/c I really think he's a psychopath and would like to know for sure.

  111. "Why didn't you report" is a question that makes me sick to my stomach. I was in an almost perfect situation to prosecute. I understood right away that I was violated (unlike the many times before when I was abused or "taken advantage of" but felt like I had some culpability.) I was in shock for most of a day - sobbing and couldn't say anything but "he raped me, he raped me, help me." I am a white woman with the money for a lawyer. I was a clean-cut 21-year-old who was physically much smaller than my attacker. It was not a date rape situation; he was a much older friend of the family whom I trusted to walk me home after having too much to drink. There was no flirting, no kissing, no implied consent. He just pushed me down, pulled down my underwear, and then left me lying in the woods stunned and alone, still half-undressed. It happened so fast I had no idea what he was doing at first - I thought he was bending down to help me up after accidentally pushing me over. I called the police the very next day, as soon as I could stop crying long enough to speak and was thinking straight enough to find a phone.

    The dispatcher on the phone said it was my word against his. That because it was too late to do an effective rape kit, it was impossible to prosecute. She said that since it would never go to trial, I "shouldn't bother coming in to make a report" because it was "a waste of time." Whose time, they didn't say; I suspected theirs, and that they knew best. But I knew it was "really rape", even if the law couldn't help me.

    I told my sister, who was the closest to this man. She said that I was either lying or it had been my fault for coming on to him (this supposedly happened in the woods, after we left the company of any witnesses.) I told my mother, who said that since my sister refused to believe it happened, neither could she because she "couldn't take sides." I told my boyfriend; I don't know what his excuse was, but he apparently didn't take it very seriously. The day after it happened, when I was still sobbing and in shock, he bought everyone lunch (including my rapist) and was annoyed with me when I wouldn't stop crying long enough to eat.

    I left my boyfriend. I cut off all ties with my sister and I rarely talk to my mother. I will never forgive her for not helping me. I have lost my faith in human decency and the legal system, except in very rare cases where I have extensive evidence that they can be trusted. I'm now with a very good man who was patient enough to move at my pace and build trust over many years. I also have a very good psychiatrist.

    I only think about it now some of the time. And then I cry. And I write about it. I still need medication to get through the day and I still have nightmares every night. I am working hard on getting better. I wish I could do more.

    - Sasha

  112. A very similar thing happened to me when I was young and new to both sex and kink. Now, nine years later, I've only just been able to start calling it rape, and then only because two people I know who got "rape-raped" confirmed to me that they would count it as rape (and even then one of them had to minimize it to "date-rape" as if it didn't really count).

    I don't even know that I would want the guy punished; he struggles with Asperger's syndrome, so one of my "reasons" is that he didn't understand that no meant no because he can't read people, so maybe there was a greater chance that he genuinely thought it I was joking when I said to stop. Intellectually, I know that's bullshit, that if anything, Asperger's makes people *more* literal and not less, and besides, knowing he has Asperger's, he should be erring on the side of taking people at face value for their words. Emotionally, I still feel vaguely protective of him, and there's something in me that says, "Aw, but he didn't really *mean* it."

  113. Thank you for posting this. I never reported my rape/gang-rape which happened multiple times at the hands of my then dom. These are all my reasons. I see your red-flags. I see also me being to young and inexperienced to know about safewords. All my previous experiences I hadn't needed a safeword. It was me in control and if someone said stop or even looked upset or uncomfortable I stopped. That was not the case when I decided to finally explore my submissive nature. I had always wanted to be like the girls that I had domme-d for. I craved it so much I couldn't get off anymore. I found a man I thought I was safe with. I didn't realize until some time after my virginity was taken by gang-rape that I was in a VERY abusive relationship. There were signs. He knew I hated the cane and yet he would use it with glee. I thought this was normal he was challenging me to go past my limits. I knew really that when I said stop he should have. I always had. I knew but I wanted that submission so badly that I set it aside. I came with him. Every horrible thing he did I eventually came to. EVERY single one. When I finally agreed to give him my virginity and he invited friends of ours to take me too saying I had a rape fantasy, which I had confessed to him when he said what was the scariest thing that turned you on yet I had expected that to stay private or at least be talked about before we did anything like that. These friends had been told I would fight that I would say no and that it was part of what I wanted. They had no idea they were really raping me. I told them after other times of it happening that each time I hadn't wanted that but it scared me that it made me cum harder than I ever had. I cried into their shoulders. They were just as much victims as I was as far as I am concerned. If I had turned in that dom they could have gone to jail too. I couldn't live with that so I never reported. There are many other reasons but that is the reason that makes me see that I made the right choice for myself. I have immense guilt/worry sometimes over the fact that that man is now in jail for raping another woman. I could have saved her but I didn't and that took a lot of therapy to get over. It took a lot of therapy for my friends to get over what happened and even worse that I didn't leave him the first time I was violated. I didn't confess to these poor men that they were really raping me till after many occurrences that ate at them. I helped to keep them alive after they found out. One of these young men tried multiple times to kill himself an the only thing that kept him from doing so is that I kept going after everything he had done. That I did walk away in the end. I was scarred for a long time after and thought I could never allow myself submission again but I ended up married to a wonderful man who would never ignore my safeword. A man I can trust with my life. I am better now and I have let go of all the pain and shame that used to consume me. I am so grateful to that other woman who was brave enough to put that monster away I still wish though that I had been able to be that brave for her. Thank you for putting your pain out there and helping others see that rape is not a cut and dry crime. Hopefully something will change and the victims of rape will stop being put on trail for what has happened to them but until them there will be countless victims who never confess their pain just because of their own fear like you and I of the reasons of the trail of their character and circimstances.