Consent and Fetishes
When you get into a relationship with someone you love, there are things that you never would imagine could happen, least of all to you. There are things that you don't imagine happening to anyone, and when they do, they change your entire outlook.
I won't mention what happened in detail in this article and I won't be mentioning any names.
There are many stigmas surrounding consent and boundaries, especially within sex, but when you get into a relationship with someone, the layers of boundaries can start to become distorted over time, especially when trust grows and love comes into play. I remember watching an episode of Eastenders in 2016, the storyline between Roxy and Dean, and being appalled that in this day and age that the idea that someone can't say no within a relationship was still even having to be talked about- to me, this was horrid, and for anything like this to happen, to me, was an alien thought. This all changed little over a year ago for me when I was sexually assaulted myself within a relationship.
Communication within sex is important on all levels, regardless of whether you are in a relationship or if you have met them that night, communication is key from all parties involved. Regardless of what people wanted the night before or even 10 minutes ago, presumption is never ok. People overthink communication and think that it needs to be something more formal or that asking all the time can take the spark away. Simply being open and asking simple questions to make sure that everyone is still ok with what is going on is all it needs, a simple clarification; “does this feel ok?” or “can I do this”. If they are silent, this doesn't mean that they are wanting or enjoying it, you should always ask and make sure. When this happens, sex is fun and also consensual.
As a gay man, I come from a community which loves to explore fetishes and explore what we can do in the bedroom, this is totally normal and should be judgement free in every form possible. As long as everyone is safe, legal and consenting, this is completely normal and natural, after all, it's a form of exploration. One thing that has become more normal are the more extreme fetishes and the idea of losing all control has become more of the norm. The idea of having a top and a bottom and one being more powerful than the other, in most circumstances, this is totally natural and can be very fun, but there is a fine line where this can go either way. The idolising of someone being in charge can distort and blur the lines if not handled carefully.
Growing up, men (gay or straight) are taught that they have to be strong and not allowed to cry, and that men can't and don't get raped, and this is simply not the case. The sooner we recognise this as a society, the less damaging this will be. My eyes were opened when this happened to me, and by someone I loved and trusted, someone I had let into my life for nearly three years. It changed my entire outlook on sex, myself and others. The idea of trusting someone new in my bed, long or short term became really difficult for me to comprehend, the idea of letting someone else see me at my most vulnerable and not knowing what could happen.
This was just over a year ago and a lot has changed in my life. I have had time to grow as a person and be able to be secure in myself, despite all of this. I’m far from being at peace with it all but I know I am in a much better place in my head, mentally. I've struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life, but this added another level of complexity on top of that, another battle to face. In the year since it happened, I’ve only told two friends, so a lot of the struggle has still been with me and me alone.
I've had people block me on dating and hookup apps because I’ve said I'm either not looking for or not ready for intimacy. I've had people tell me that I should get over it, or to the extreme where it didn't happen and that I've twisted things in my own head. I've had to fight back against the stigma, not only from others, but the stigma that has built up in myself. It wasn't till I had counselling earlier this year that I could give it the correct name. I've spent time trying to fight against the love I still felt for him and accept what did happen, putting aside all notions of “but he wouldn't do that”. It's a struggle to separate the two sets of feelings.
I've learnt ways to cope over the past year, ways to be ok internally. For anyone that is struggling with this themselves, you are not alone, there are people out there that want to help. Your friends and family will want to help, will want to be there to support you.
Take all the time you need to feel ok. Don’t rush into sex if you aren’t ready. I did too early and it didn't help. Take the time you need to heal. Take the time you need to feel good in yourself, you are most important. I want to get back to a place where I am ok day to day, but also with the idea that sex is healthy, and a relationship can be a good thing. I've started to set aside any anger and upset that has risen because of this, not for them, but for my own peace of mind and ability to try and move past this, for me.