NPFP: A Big F*cking Mistake

Welcome to RMB’s Naked Pictures of Faceless People, a series of guest posts from diverse anonymous writers. (Read more about NPFP’s origins.) These are the posts that are jumping to get out of us, but for whatever reason — safety, embarrassment, conflict of interest, protection of loved ones’ reputations or feelings, or so on — we don’t or won’t or can’t post at our own blogs. Anyone, whether blogger or reader only, is welcome to submit or discuss a potential post by emailing me at arwyn at raisingmyboychick dot com.

Trigger Warning: There is a trigger warning on this post for rape and withdrawn consent.

The author sent it with this note: “I’m tempted to title it “A big fucking mistake,” simply because that’s literally what happened and I find that title humorous, except it doesn’t fit the tone of the post. Name it what you want.” I happen to have a similar black humor, a dearth of title ideas, and want to name it what the author wants, so:

A Big Fucking Mistake

I don’t even know how to start. So I’ll start with the hard part.

My husband raped me. But he’s not a rapist. Well, he is since that’s the definition of the word, but that’s not how I see him. To me, he’s very loving, soft-spoken, kind, respectful. Everything wonderful. Except one time, I wanted to stop, and he didn’t.

It was early in our relationship. We weren’t the adventurous kind, so needing a safe word never crossed our minds. Sometimes you get into positions that aren’t comfortable for both people and while I originally thought I couldn’t handle it, at some point, I wanted to change positions and so I told him to stop. But he didn’t. Because he was so close. But that shouldn’t even matter. Because I said stop and he didn’t and so he raped me.

Afterwards, he knew he shouldn’t have kept going. I felt betrayed, violated. I did not want to cuddle with him or talk to him. He apologized. He knew he crossed a line he shouldn’t. And he’s never done it again. And in the years since, we’ve become more open about communication and discussing sex. We’ve come up with a safe word because neither of us want that to happen again. I know it haunts him. He takes full responsibility, but he doesn’t know how to make up for it. I don’t know how to “fix” it either. He really is a good person who is gentle in every way. Except for that one time.

It makes my life as a feminist complicated. Because “no” means “no”. And we want to paint all rapists as bad and deserving to be on the sex offenders list. We want justice, we want it to never happen again. But then, there’s my husband. And he’s a rapist. But I’m not going to call the cops on him because it’s been years, we’ve remedied the issues that led to it, and he never ever wants that to happen again. I think our relationship has grown and moved on and we are in a better and safer place. And I don’t worry for the safety of me or other women and children he is with. He has no temper or violent tendencies. The one time I’ve seen him upset beyond what he could handle, he left the room until he calmed down. And that was once in 7 years of being with him. He doesn’t deserve the title “rapist,” except he does. Or did. That one time.

What do you do with something like this? “He raped me once, but he’ll never do it again,” can sound so enabling, so apologetic. Except that it’s true. And sometimes people make mistakes, even big mistakes.

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21 Responses to NPFP: A Big F*cking Mistake

  1. This could very well be my story. “Why didn’t you stop? I was screaming and clawing at you to get you to stop – you’re bleeding!” “Um… it felt good?” It’s never happened before or since, but it certainly does create all sorts of emotional complications.

  2. Thankyou so much for this. As I grew up, it was the image of a man coming out of the trees raping women walking on their own. But more often its men we know, its even men we have consented to. Yes doesn’t always mean yes.

  3. This is my story too. We were on vacation. It was the middle of the night. He woke me up and wanted to have sex. I said no. But he was pushy, and the windows were open — Hawaii, gorgeous place — and his family was staying in the next condo, so I really didn’t want to scream or protest too loudly. And he raped me. A decade and three kids later, we’re still married. It was just a horrible fucking mistake. (And I think people should be allowed to make mistakes occasionally.)

  4. Nice people can do awful, awful things, which is why campaigns need to be aimed at perpetrators.

  5. My husband drove drunk once. In ten years together, it only happened the one time. I always said that was a deal breaker. Except it wasn’t. My husband is amazing in just about every way. But he makes mistakes and this was a big one. But I just can’t call him a drunk driver. Yeah, except he was, that one time.

  6. Thank you, thank you for writing this. There was a period of time when my boyfriend was going through what must have been one of the lowest, most desperate times in his life – his mother had just suddenly died among a whole bunch of other crap. One night we were in bed and he wanted to have sex and I didn’t and he just kind of did anyway. I didn’t really resist, but just felt kind of sick to my stomach until he was done. That was years and years ago and he’s never done anything like that before or since. We’ve had conversations about consent and stuff since then and I don’t consider this one event as an example of the kind of person he is. I just see it at a time when he was really messed up and ended up hurting me when he couldn’t handle what was going on in his life. It’s not okay that he did that, but I can forgive him for it, and feel safe in knowing that it will never happen again.

  7. could be my story, too. Or, nearly. I said no. He kept saying yes. He never used force, he was just annoying me, insistent. I finally said “whatever” and just laid there. We try to never talk about it. I suffered a lot of physical pain for two years after. He cries if I bring it up. We are best friends. What do you do with this? How do you label these big fucking mistakes? My mind rationalized and forgave, but my body never did; which part of me was right?

  8. Anon for a moment

    Yes, thank you for this post. Nothing like this ever happened with my husband, but I feel sympathetic to the dude who assaulted me in a similar way. We were both drunk, he didn’t really think about it, he dates men exclusively these days so did he really want it that much… even though he raped me, I don’t think of him as a rapist and I don’t think of him as a bad guy.

  9. I think there’s a missing place in our (society’s) dialogue about rape, and that’s rape that the rapist doesn’t realize it is rape at the time. We have these hard lines where either you’re a rapist or a good person. There’s no room in that dichotomy to talk about that one time you had with your husband. Or how my husband, when I first met him, thought it was ok to ask over and over and over again, for different things (that would all lead the same place, sex) after getting an intial no. Or that time when I was 18, I did things with a guy who said yes, and then never said no, but in hindsight clearly wasn’t ok with what was going on.

    I really have problems with that last one. It never even occured to me, for years later, that he might not have been ok with it. He had a hard on. He didn’t say no. It must have been ok! Except, no, it really wasn’t. And I can see that now. I couldn’t then. I would never do such a thing, knowingly. Except I didn’t do it knowingly. So I now have a fear of what other horrors I may unknowingly be perpetuating.

    And there’s no place for me to talk about that. Except, I guess, here, like this. I don’t know how to be who I am, who I want to be, when who I was did that.

  10. I did this, once, to my husband. He didn’t say no, and I thought he was enjoying it, but afterwards he said, “thanks, but I wasn’t ready. I was asleep, and would have rather stayed that way.”
    I have never heard him more terrified, and I have no idea how to talk to him about the situation.

  11. Continued trigger warning for same topics:

    I have a similar story, kind of. We were together for several years and had a good relationship, but the first time I had sex it was after he had been asking and asking and saying it would be fun and I’d like it and asking. For months, until the answer changed. There were other times when we’d start with one activity, and he would ask for another that I didn’t really feel like doing until I’d do it. There were several times throughout the relationship where even though something hurt I wouldn’t say no (and would say it was fine if he asked). He had told me to tell him if something was wrong though and I didn’t, so what does that make me that I let him keep going in a situation that he wouldn’t have wanted if he’d been aware? At first he was uncomfortable with sex during menstruation, but when I let him know how rejected and gross I felt he consented. Kind of, under pressure. Should I have hidden those feelings more and tried to get over it? After the first time he really was okay with it (or so I think). I don’t think of him as a rapist, or of what I did as being that – overall I always think of us as having had great communication and being very compatible. Except those times when it wasn’t, and sometimes that was my fault.

    Another man, we were both drunk and making out and he kept asking and asking and asking to go further (“it’s no big deal, why don’t you want to?”) until I gave him a handjob. I wouldn’t let him put his hands under my pants. It was very much the model of “you started something now you have to finish it”, even though that exact phrase wasn’t said.

    I never “felt raped” whatever that means, in either case. Sad and lonely and annoyed and disconnected sometimes. It makes me sad that the only sexual experiences I’ve had involve initially being pressured to do more than I wanted. But I said yes. I felt obligated even though I know all the reasons I shouldn’t. It brings up a lot of complicated feelings.

    Thank you for sharing your story, and thank you Arwyn for giving us all this space to do so.

  12. It’s so complicated. Because I think there *is* room in a gentle loving relationship, for one person to gently and lovingly say “are you sure? Because I really really want to.” And then for the other person to start off in a place where s/he is not ready, but willing to be convinced, and after a few kisses and cuddles and so on, is warmed up and ready to go. And sometimes in an otherwise gentle and loving relationship, these lines get blurry, and people do make mistakes.

    I’m sorry this has happened to you, and to all who have posted. But thank you for posting – I hope it helps sort through whatever you’re thinking and feeling about it now.

  13. Wish I had the courage to use my name

    Thank you. Thank you to Arwyn, to the OP, and especially to Anons 11.11 @ 7:51pm and 11.12 @ 10:49. My first boyfriend and I had a situation where he told me afterwards that he’d wanted to stop – he hadn’t said ‘no’, but once he pointed it out, I realized that there’d been signs that I hadn’t picked up on. I never thought of myself as someone who could be a rapist, but … there was that one time.

    I *completely* agree that we need more language for this kind of thing, and a way of addressing the fact that there are a lot of ‘one times’ that often don’t make it into the discussion.

  14. My husband raped me. It was a muddy situation because we kind of sort of negotiated that some day when I wasn’t in the mood he could push. He picked the day that I turned my sister into CPS for abusing her kids. I was completely hysterical. I felt like the worst blood traitor and monster. Then he pushed. I fought back as hard as I was physically capable. In some ways, that was a really good thing. I was raped a lot as a child (I was the youngest child in an incestuous family). This was the first time I have ever fought back violently. I think that it was really good for me to get to a place where I finally had a physical, visceral understanding that I can not prevent a man from raping me if he is really determined. It’s not my fault. Not that I think that other rape victims should try this tactic in order to gain that knowledge. It’s been a very hard road through that. We saw a therapist together for a while. It’s been years.

    We are still dealing with the consequences. I think we will for decades.

  15. I think on some level I had internalized the whole “a good partner forces hirself to be sexy even when ze doesn’t feel like it” trope. I had an arrangement with my ex-husband that was, as Krissy said, “when I wasn’t in the mood he could push”. I carried that attitude over with my current boyfriend, even though we’ve never made the same negotiation. I decided I’d just do it myself by pushing myself into sex reluctantly (which is how I… not “allowed myself” to be raped, but set a precedent? It’s not my fault, I know, but I still feel… yeah…). That didn’t even work, it only resulted in me coming up with ever more elaborate excuses as to why I wasn’t in the mood. Finally I just snapped and was like “sorry, I just can’t force myself to do this!”
    I think he finally understood what that mindset was doing to me, so he said (rather recently – since my previous comment, actually) “look, anything less than enthusiasm isn’t acceptable – I won’t do it. And it’s okay if we don’t even have sex more than twice a year, if that’s what happens. I much prefer happy cuddles to reluctant sex.” And I felt… happy? relieved? grateful? And I felt so unfeminist for feeling grateful that my boyfriend had insisted on enthusiastic consent.

  16. These situations are always really complex and mixed up emotionally. I have a situation like this in my past as well, a bit different than most others perhaps. I was in a threesome where I was more interested in the girl than the guy, I had lovely sex with her where he mostly watched and was only tangentially involved, which I was fine with. But later that evening he ended up going down on me when I was asleep, woke me up, and then had sex with me while I was half-asleep. I sort of reasoned it away at the time as “well, I consented to the threesome, so I had to have expected this would happen,” except I hadn’t expected it would, not that way, anyway. I was much younger then and very naive, and it’s been years now. It doesn’t really bother me but I would be a lot more careful in future if this sort of thing were to come up again.

    My current partner is fantastic about this, actually. I do have a bit of a kink for being woken with fondling and caresses and basically foreplay, and I have given him permission, while awake, to wake me up this way. But he is super-careful about ensuring that it’s really what I want at the time, and if I’m making grumpy or irritated noises when he touches me, he will just back off and not carry on. Most of the time I don’t remember anything about this, but there was one time when I was dreaming and I thought his hand was something else, the way you do in dreams, and I was a bit annoyed/irritated by it as I was waking up. He moved away as I woke up and realised what was going on, and I was simultaneously unhappy I’d missed out on lovely fondling and very happy that he’d paid enough attention to learning enough about the noises I was making to know that I wasn’t happy to be touched at the time while asleep.

  17. I am so glad that I happened to stumble across this site and this particular post. I have had similar experiences and have never heard this topic discussed before. It seems that in our culture the issue is so black and white; it is always rape or not rape and the other person is either a rapist or not.

    For a multitude of psychological reasons that I don’t fully understand, I have had a hard time being assertive from my first sexual experience. From the very first guy that I gave a handjob to, I have been saying “yes” (verbally or non-verbally) when I meant no. And consequently, feeling like shit.

    My ex-boyfriend would essentially manipulate me into having sex with him when he knew that I did not want to. If I said no, I would pay for it because he would refuse to come to bed with me and stay up drinking and watching porn. He would also become coercive to get me to do sexual things that I was not comfortable with. He never “technically” raped me.

    Now, I am fortunate to have a wonderful, gentle partner. And yet, I still feel that I cannot say anything if what he is doing doesn’t feel good or if I don’t feel like having sex right then. I swear to myself that I will speak up because I know that he will be kind and gentle if I tell him to stop or to try something different, but it’s like I just freeze with fear and keep my mouth shut. After reading this post and the comments, I feel that I just might get up the courage to talk with him about what I like and don’t like and to be assertive enough to say “not right now” when right now isn’t a good time.
    If anyone has thoughts or advice on this, please share.

  18. Pingback: People make mistakes | TRiG's links

  19. So much of what Alias said rings true for me. I could have written the entire first half of that comment myself. I don’t know why I have such a hard time speaking up about sex and allow myself to consent to things I don’t really want, when I am so outspoken and independant in other facets of my life. I, too, was once raped by someone I loved, and I never said a single word about it. I didn’t know how to define what had just happened, so I never did anything about it. I just went on with my life as if it had never happened, always wondering how and why and exactly what “it” actually was that occured. He raped me and I never told a single soul. Until now, because I know that no one here will judge me for allowing it to happen, for not pressing charges or even breaking up with him at that point. Thank you for allowing me to have my voice here and know that I am not alone.

  20. Never told anyone about this but when I was 17, I slept with a guy for the first time and I was too young to know it wasn’t that great to begin with (thought that was normal) but after awhile he kept going on and on and on and on…I finally asked him when he would be done and he said “when I’m finished” ….and after a very long time he finally finished. I always privately thought of that as rape. Even though I knew I said yes in the first place….I was saying yes to something that was suppose to be warm and giving and wonderful, not just serving as the hole-of-the-moment. To be fair, he was as young as I was, had no idea of how to be kind in bed or considerate, or probably much of any idea of what he should do….but to be really fair….he never showed any interest in learning.

  21. Wow thank you for this post and all the honsety. Several posts about syaying yes when you mean no really resonated with me. I wonder can we open a debate/dialogue about the ultra sensitive issue of child abuse!

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