Where do you draw the line?
This question follows me as I continue to process the tumultuous relationship I endured for over three years. I only ever wanted to embrace sex positivity to the fullest extent possible. Instead, I accepted Scott’s misogynistic fantasies and destroyed my own relationship with sex (and men) in the process. And even now, months later, I still question the role I played in perpetuating his sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse within relationships is less discussed than explicit forms of mistreatment. Within a relationship, this conduct is intertwined with the expectations of intimacy and is therefore more difficult to identify. Couples are supposed to enjoy sex with each other. For individuals who are into more kink-oriented activities, it’s important to accept the desires of one another. To not be judgmental.
But when does that become dangerous? At what point to you tell your partner no? When do you make your exit, realizing that his actions are abuse?
With Scott, I wanted to be open-minded; I wanted to accept his sexuality, to make him feel that he could present his fantasies to me without worry. Unfortunately, I didn’t count on his “lack of control” – his own impression of the impulsive and compulsive sexual behaviors that wore down my sense of self – when I entered our relationship.
Scott was more interested in fantasy than actual intimacy. He always felt ashamed and guilty after the climax, putting an immense amount of space between us after any sexual activity. “Bimbofication” of women was a fetish of his, to the point that he could not enjoy sex without bringing up elements related to this idea. He was chatty during sex, and not in a particularly fun way. He would demand I get breast implants or lip fillers. He’d tell me he was taking me to a glory hole, so that I could be the mindless slut he desired. He’d show me pictures of the girls he fantasized about, from subreddits like r/bimbofication, r/tightdresses, or r/boltedontits. His idea of watching porn together would be sweeping through massive amounts of GIFs he found via Reddit, all of them featuring lacquered women, none of them expressing any sort of enjoyment of sex on their end. “Slut gets reemed,” “Bimbo bitch gets double teamed,” and “Mindless fuck doll goes to a glory hole” were some notable titles.
Some days I tolerated him and even played along. Other days, I’d want to put an end to any activity we engaged in as soon as “bimbofication” entered the picture, upset and confused. Those were the most difficult times for me. He’d cajole me into continuing. He wouldn’t let me fall asleep without at least “helping” him get off. Not that I felt especially amorous after having him masturbate next to me while spouting off his misogynistic fantasies, but he would not return the favor. He would turn over, and he’d fall asleep. The concept of pleasing me and saving his own pleasure for another day was just as foreign as the concept of mutual pleasure. My sexuality was his, and his sexuality was zeroed in on extremely anti-feminist conceptions of women as sex objects.
It hurt, too, when he would not use protection when having sex with me, despite my concerns. After he had already entered me, I’d need to remind him to use a condom. Ultimately, he didn’t care about my needs. When I eventually flipped out on him, upset that he would not practice safe sex within our relationship, I told him that having sex with anyone in a way that doesn’t align with their expressed wishes can be considered rape. Instead of recognizing the distress he was causing me, or considering that his constant sexual harassment was an additional piece of the pain I was expressing, he turned the conversation on me. He said I was crazy. And he made a point to tell his friends I was, too. “She claims I raped her,” I remember seeing, sitting next to him while he chatted with a group of his college friends on Facebook.
Ouch. That was painful. I imagine he repeats this perception of things, despite knowing – at least to some degree – that he made our relationship second to his sexual addiction. He persistently told me that I only knew how to show him I loved him through sex. When I began to refuse him more often, he told me that he perceived this act as some kind of withholding of love. He demanded I have sex with other people as part of his fetish. He burdened me with his shame and anxiety after he’d finally get off from the idea – or the reality, in some cases – instead of providing the love and comfort I needed after participating in his fetish. If only he told them that, too. I have a problem where I cannot treat my girlfriend like a person. But he didn’t.
Most of the time I was with Scott, I was not treated like a person with separate needs. I was a hole that could be filled, or a slate of flesh he could project his misogynistic fantasies onto. The idea that he considers himself some kind of feminist, or someone who respects women, is ridiculously painful. The lack of consideration given to how badly he hurt me by people I was so close to just adds another slow healing burn. Instead of the abuse being acknowledged, instead of anyone close to him identifying that he needs help, I’m just another crazy ex-girlfriend.
At the end of the day, it is sexual abuse when you are not allowed to sleep without getting your partner off. It’s sexual abuse when he will not use protection, despite you telling him you are terrified of getting pregnant. It’s abuse when he will only stop if you struggle. And it’s awful when you finally fight back, be it with words or a literal physical rejection, and he cajoles you afterward, guilting you into “helping” him get off. That’s how you show you care. I know now that’s not true; it’s a means to manipulate you into satisfying his sexual addiction.