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All Rape Is Legitimate Rape

I’m a Mormon woman who wanted to reserve sex for marriage. I was 28 when I was assaulted. I dated actively and had a great career at a major hospital. I’m confident, energetic, intelligent and the last person you’d expect to have problems saying no to anything. And I didn’t. I didn’t have problems saying no to sex (and haven’t had a problem since this experience). But my boyfriend that year wasn’t happy about my decision. Every date, every minute of a date – it was all sexualized. I said no and reaffirmed my decisions about sex so many times. One night – I honestly don’t know what happened. Maybe I just ran out of energy to resist. But I felt sick and the whole world felt weird that night. And after it was done, he said, “Well, now there’s no more reason to say no, right? You’re already ruined.”

I’m sad to say I didn’t immediately fight back. He’d upset my whole world. He was very convincing that I’d wanted what happened to me – that my decision for virginity was shameful, and his choice to take it from me was heroic. For a week, I didn’t know what to do. He hurt me twice more in that time frame, even though I’d told him – again – that I didn’t want to have sex outside of marriage. He just made fun of me and told me I felt “sick” because I had been “brainwashed” to believe that sex was bad. Eventually, I trusted my sister and my church leaders with the truth and they helped me break free.

I never went to the police. I knew that everyone would think what he thought – that as a Mormon virgin, I was being ridiculous and that I’d “wanted it” but just felt shamed by my culture. Sadly, I can’t even tell you how often I’ve been right about that. Just tonight, ten years after my assault, a friend I’d disclosed to ages ago told me that we “have different perspectives” on what happened to me. Personally, I don’t understand why anyone’s perspective but mine matters. I didn’t want to have sex. Someone forced me to have sex. Saying no to sex, no matter the reason, is legitimate. And feeling shock, shame, and confusion after assault is normal. I’m not responsible for anyone else’s bias, bigotry, or false beliefs. But ignorant remarks remind me why victims stay quiet and how important it is to let victims speak to me without judgment.

— Survivor, age 38


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