By Tarquin (name changed to protect the identity of the author

I used to be into some rather rough and kinky sex. 

Back in 2009, when I had just moved to this country from North America, I used to meet up with this one resident assistant at a uni halls who liked having a guy show up in his flat, use him every way round leaving whatever fluids, totally ignoring any aspect of him getting off and leaving.

Weirdly enough we had the same name, so for the sake of comedy in this rather dark story, I’m going to call him 'Tarquin'.

I choose Tarquin because “Rape me, Tarquin” is an objectively funny phrase, and as I said to my social worker a few years later when I was jobless, homeless, and technically living illegally in the UK while hiding from my abusive husband, “No, god, this is absolutely a laughing matter. The day I stop laughing you need to have me sectioned immediately because that’s where suicide hides.”

I met up with this guy again last week. He had moved on to a new job, we had both found chemsex, and remembering how much we enjoyed our play, we decided to do it all again and spice things up a bit even further. It was all going rather well except then he said, “Fucking rape me, Tarquin” and I instantly wasn’t into it any more.

Why?

In the intervening years, I had married a guy in his mid-thirties who I thought was the love of my life. And one time, just before we were married, we were having really normal lovely vanilla shower sex except we had had a bit too much to drink, and I wanted to stop, but pinned a bit against the corner of the shower with him at the rear, saying “No, I think I need to stop now, honey” wasn’t working. And he was really enjoying himself.

As soon as I didn’t want it any more, the adrenaline rush of the lack of consent instantly sobered me up. Being 8” taller and going to the gym a bit more than him meant that I could remove him from my person, and move him to the side and get out before he could notice or even mumble a coherent word. And once the shock of the loss of consent wore off, I got out. Fast.

I towelled off in the living room, put on my going out clothes from that night again as fast as I could and left the house. It was 5am, the sun was coming up, but I didn’t care. I was going to go for a walk, because I knew if I went for a walk he would be passed out in bed without an orifice to stick it in relatively soon.

The rest of the morning is a bit hazy. I think I walked around Camden for about an hour, listening to an old episode of Radiolab to keep me calm and distracted. I loved listening to the episode about Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan. They wed as their most important life’s work, the Voyager record, sped off on a billion-year journey into deep space. That was love.

As anyone who knows dear ol’ Tarquin well, I am always thinking ten steps ahead. But this was different. I knew I didn’t want to face the fact that I was planning on continuing my life in the UK on a spousal visa with the man who had just gone from being my fiancé to my rapist. And ten steps ahead here was terrifying, so I chose to stop thinking ten steps ahead. I chose to bury those steps deep down inside me, hiding from reality.

I buried it all so deeply that I still married him. I still convinced myself that he was, as Salma Hayek described Alec Baldwin on 30 Rock, ‘el uno’ and that we would live happily ever after and I would absolutely always want to have sex with the man who drunkenly mumbled “huh” when I said stop.

I was obviously wrong. Nowadays, I’m one of the 300 or so men the Home Office has granted “Indefinite leave to remain as the victim of domestic violence by a British citizen” since the visa’s inception in the early 2000s. 

Curiously enough in a move that makes me wonder if Theresa May had a stroke that temporarily granted her empathy, she and her Home Office expanded the definition of domestic violence to include far more than just rape and beatings. And I couldn’t prove rape but I could prove so much else.

That process took me a year of hard work with a social worker, an immigration solicitor, a divorce solicitor, and some very close friends who still don’t know the full extent of the damage. When I finally received the visa and was out of the worst, I could barely function, let alone find a new job. I spent two years floundering and wasting my divorce settlement up my nose and mixed with squash, and only recently did I find some form of peace and stability.

But last week, when I tried getting rough and raw with another man who I knew wanted it, I still couldn’t. I cared. I didn’t want to hurt him at all, even if he wanted to be roughed up a little. I couldn’t push myself into that fantasist non-consensual space just because we both had wanted it at one time.

When someone gags on you and your historical fantasy guttural response of “Yeah take it” becomes an immediate retraction and a breathless “Oh my god did I hurt you?” something has utterly broken.

What I know now is that “Rape me, Tarquin” is an oxymoron. Anybody who says that mid-coitus doesn’t know how it feels to lose consent with someone else inside you. I didn’t really know what consent was until it was taken away from me. I wish we knew some way to teach this feeling, this empathy, to gay men without sounding like stuck up conservative preachers. There’s sex-positivity and there’s rape and there should be at least some latex between them but some days it feels like there isn’t.

Now that it’s happened the once, I recognise it far more often. I no longer accept that sex has to happen even when I don’t really want it just to be polite (which I now recognise is insanity and a completely separate essay). If I’m at a sex party and someone still subscribes to the “No actually means yes” theory and refuses to stop when I say “No, I don’t want that,” I hop in an Uber immediately because I know within minutes I’m going to be back on that street in Camden five years ago wondering what I’ve gotten myself into and why haven’t I moved on.

The only way I know how to have sex now is under the influence of something, not because I don’t want sober sex, but because I’m scared of the flashbacks that come when I’m sober. I don’t want to unleash that on some poor unsuspecting shag. But I don’t know how to repair that damage. It’s a chicken and egg situation. Do I meet someone, like them, let them know what’s wrong and hope they don’t run away and THEN realise we have no sexual chemistry, or jump in with a stranger, cut off my emotions and hope for the best?

I don’t really date much these days because I know I’m not ready to unleash this crazy on some other poor sod, because I’m almost positive that’s actually what my ex-husband did to me. One afternoon when we were first dating, he told me a pretty dark sexual assault experience from his early 20s when he was on holiday and what I realise now is instead of coping with it he buried it deeper than even I could.

So now that I’m in my mid-thirties, as consent constantly weighs on my mind, all I know is what I don’t want. What will make me stop laughing is becoming him for some other man.


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