Without the recognition of “consent” and its impact in sex, often nay-sayers ridicule survivors who suffered non-violent forms of sexual assault.
I received this message today from a brave woman I’ll call Sofia, in order to protect her identity. What follows are her words:
“I’m so grateful to have found your talk on Ted Talks. You share my history & spoke my story.
I was sexually abused by a family member at 12, forcibly raped by a so called boyfriend at 14, but the worst of all for me was in the form of assault by an American man I met online in 2016, who ‘love bombed’ me when he was here in the UK. He talked of “soul mates” and “marriage” and encouraged me to fly out to see him in Atlanta, where he said he was stationed for work away from his home of Queens, New York .
He had me pay for everything despite knowing I’m a single mum, introduced me to no one, and had so much sex I was exhausted. He sodomized me, which is something I had said I didn’t want.
I felt so confused by him when I came home, but I had fallen for him and wanted to believe him when he made promises of love and forever togetherness. He was always stringing me along to promise to talk soon but he never did. I was full of confusion and anxiety so at Xmas my friend in LA did an online search and discovered he had lied about everything; his name, his age, where he was from. He was married and living with his family in Atlanta!
He apologized when I told him I would rather have been forcibly raped than have had my head and heart f**ked with. He said he’d explain and give me closure but of course he never did. Embarrassed to admit this, but I even tried to keep a connection, hoping I would finally get to understand what the hell had happened to me. But in the end, of course, I felt so ridiculous, so stupid, such a fool, so worthless. I secretly wished for my cancer to come back and wipe me out, and my grown up sons could have the house and be better off without me.
I was unable to hold my job down and had three months off sickness due to stress, anxiety, and depression. I am unable to ever see myself getting in the ring again. I work seven days a week now, keeping busy so I can try and block it all out. I “Googled” today to see if there was such a thing as “rape by deception,” and found your blog. Thank you so much for speaking out!”
As a survivor, myself, of both a violent and a non-violent sexual assault, I can attest to the overwhelming defilement that non-violent sexual assault causes. In many ways, the damage to me was greater from the non-violent assault than the violent one.
The biggest takeaway I’ve gained in my quest to prevent all forms of sexual assault is that only by recognizing the true nature of “consent,” which applies in all sexual conduct, can we begin to conquer any form of sexual assault, including violent rape.
The weapon used to undermine the victim’s sexual sanctity really does not matter any more than the weapon of choice to murder the victim matters. What matters is that the offender undermines the person’s sexual sanctity at all, by any means. Defilement results irregardless of how it’s accomplished. Violent crimes are punished more harshly than non-violent crimes, and for good reason. But both are crimes! And both should be included in penal code because all sexual assault victims deserve justice.
Defining consent will make it possible to hold ALL sexual assault offenders accountable, including the violent ones…… and, unfortunately, that’s what prevents properly defining consent in our laws from happening. Legislators don’t want our courts overwhelmed with sexual assault cases. They don’t get it. Sexual assault is a crime, no matter what method of defiling the victim the offender uses.
I’d like to express thanks to Sofia who had the guts to tell her story and give me permission to air it. On days when I wonder whether what I’m doing will ever make a difference for people, it’s letters like hers that keep me going! So if you write to me and I fail to write back, please simply write again. Sometimes letters are unintentionally overlooked. I try to get back to everyone who reaches out.
Your Consent- The Key to Conquering Sexual Assault will soon be released on Amazon. You can secure a pre-release PDF with this link. If you supply the email addresses of your state’s legislators I will forward the PDF to them on your behalf, and if you are an educator who would like to educate your students about consent, there will be no cost. However, please keep in mind, all funds raised through the sale of Your Consent will be used to enact #FGKIA, Freely Given, Knowledgeable and Informed Agreement, the true meaning of consent, into law.