Please read my story before continuing.
I used to consider myself an open person with the exception of my experiences with sexual assault and domestic abuse. I was so afraid of encountering some of the many misconceptions that people have. But A (my kickass boyfriend) is a very open and genuine person, which I admired from the beginning. Wanting to be more like him, I began to slowly open up more to people around me. It doubled as a way to expand my support system… which was practically nonexistent until then.
He actually found out a tiny bit about my past experiences the day he asked me out. After we talked about our expectations for a relationship (I said “respect” in a heartbeat), he ended up asking me if I had any “negative experiences” with past boyfriends. I didn’t really want to answer the question, but not answering it means “yes.” So I just briefly told him that N didn’t respect me and took advantage of how naïve and trusting I was.
Less than a week later, we were kissing when he put his hand on my waist and slid it up to the side of my ribs (and not in an attempt to go to second base, to be clear). It was harmless, but it was enough to set me off. I jumped and he pulled back to see what was wrong. It was so unexpected that I didn’t know what to do. I just tucked my head into his shoulder and said “Oh my god” a few times. He started explaining that he meant nothing by it and *demonstrated* what he meant to do which only triggered me again. I told him that I knew he meant no harm. It’s just a reflex that I have from that “negative experience” that wasn’t rape… and I didn’t explain any further. He felt really bad, of course, but I told him he doesn’t need to. He didn’t do anything wrong. After that he just held me for a while as my blood pressure slowly went down.
To this day, I’m surprised that I actually told him about my past a week after we began dating. We were in my dorm and this “negative experience” I’d alluded to twice now came up in conversation. He told me that I don’t have to tell him any of that if I don’t want to. He said all the right things – that it won’t change anything if I do because it’s the past… I could hardly feel more safe in that moment.
And so I told him. I gave him a brief account of my time with N and how he chose not to respect my well-articulated boundaries (but I’m pretty sure I didn’t use the word sexual assault so I wouldn’t freak him out too much). I told him that I wish I would’ve handled it differently. And I told him how it affects me. He couldn’t believe it. I heard his voice break and looked up to see tears in his eyes. “That’s so disrespectful.” I was amazed by how affected he was. He couldn’t fathom how a guy could do that to me and said he would never do such a thing. I found it ironic that I ended up being the one to hold him while his tears subsided.
Since then, he’s become the most important person in my support system. He may not fully understand what I’ve been through, but he does his best to help me through all the struggles. We celebrate my victories together and he reminds me to stay positive when there are setbacks.
If I keep on writing about how great he is, this post will at least double in size, so I think I’ll make another post to talk about what he does to support me now that he knows what happened.
Thank you for reading this article. You can find my backstory here.