So I have been trying to write this for a few days now. I dont know if it is fully shame or shame and embarrassment but I dont get to far. It starts off as a rambling mess of excuses and apologies to anyone who may read it. And here I am again going down that path. Maybe I should just start somewhere.
I have struggled a long time regarding consent and non-consent in my past. While I understand the very young me couldnt provide either the older me could. The problem is I didnt. I have never verbally said No, Stop. For a long time I understood that to mean consent. It meant that I wanted it although I couldnt ask for it. It meant that I led the situation to this end. I led him on whether that was through non-verbal queues or by showing affection and being intimate without sex. Throughout my teenage years and through additional experiences I felt this must be true. As I listened to people discuss various aspects of sexual assaults, I learned that majority of people who would hear my synopsis would feel the same way. I laughed too hard. I kissed him for longer than I should. I had him at my home without my parents there. I went without resisting. I walked a certain way. I talked a certain way. I was alone with them longer than allowed. I placed so much shame on myself for what I saw as my role in what happened.
As I got a bit older and found myself in a situation where I actually consented, I began to questikn what consent looks like. When I did consent, it looked much the same but the way I felt during was different. I am not sure I can explain that fully but the internal fear was there but in a different way. I was fearful because of what I knew could happen but not fearful of what I wanted to happen. I wanted to replace a good experience to replace the bad ones. I wanted to be with this person. That experience had me questioning what non-consent looks like. The sad part is it can look the same as consent but feels way different. For many it is actual verbal queues and outward physical resistance. But for many more, like myself, it is a nonverbal queue. It is being physically present but not mentally present. It is not being a participant in an act that I should be. It is not fight or flight response. It is a I just need to not make this situation worse response. It is a if I can just get past this moment then I can avoid them every moment after this. It is if I make a scene or report it someone will think I did this on purpose and ruining someone else's life for nothing response.
Non-consent can and does look like all of that. But that internal battle of did I consent or not continues. I exam it from all angles and switch back and forth from it was nothing you did to it was entirely your fault to somewhere in the middle. I was responsible for this part and them for that part. The fact is despite what my elders said on what assault looks like they didnt tell me what it looks like with the evil monster who was a beast with the strength of 1000 men. They didnt say that it looks like normal but you know it isnt right and cant escape from it. They didnt say that the damage from not resisting in a visible way feels just as bad as when you resist visibly. The damage you keep for the remainder of your life has to be treated the same as the other. They didnt tell me that yoou still feel shame with the added aspect of doing nothing to stop it. Even when others feel that something occurred and try to get you to talk about that same response will cause you not to speak. Because you think that they will believe you caused it too. They will say you did something the lead them on and the only thing thag that changes is that you feel worse for believing someone would help you.
So that's the battle all these years later. Did I consent by not resisting? Is that such a thing? Or is it just my scapegoat so people, and myself, dont see me as a promiscuous young girl who wants to cover it up by claiming assault? I know this less extreme exists but getting others to see it and know it applies to me is much harder.