Saying no multiple times, then yes, is not consent.

Content warning: sexual assault

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By Chloe Turner

I’m writing this article to document a personal experience and share it with others who may have had similar encounters.

In 2014, I met a man at a Melbourne venue and invited him home with me. We had average sex, spent the night together and went our separate ways the next morning. We chatted a bit and planned to spend some time together the next weekend. He came over late one Saturday night. We watched half of a stupid movie then slept together again. After having sex once, I needed to sleep for work the next morning. He didn’t. He began to rub against me and ask for more sex. I said no, I need to sleep for work.

Finally he said “You can just lie there, I’ll go on top.”

I told a couple of my close friends he said this and they excused his behaviour as socially awkward. I agreed with them, dismissed it and lied to them saying I didn’t go through with the sex.

I did go through with the sex. I felt pressured into saying yes to him, in my own bed. I felt like I had to say yes because we’d done it once already. I felt like he had some kind of ownership over me. I didn’t sleep much that night and lay there feeling really angry. I left as soon as I could the next morning and tried not to think about it at work that day.

I kind of blocked this out until I got more involved with LISTEN and started hearing similar stories from others. I mentioned my experience with a couple of other LISTEN members but again was too embarrassed to say I went through with the sex. This denial was to make them think I was strong enough to stand up for myself in this instance when really I felt quite weak.

It’s only now, about a year and a half after, that I have identified it as sexual assault. We’re so used to experiences like these. We’re brought up on a culture that’s all about ‘winning’ the girl or convincing her to sleep with you, reading books about how to get women in bed. It’s ingrained in TV shows and films. This type of sexual assault – asking someone to sleep with you repeatedly until they ‘give in’ is just so common that you dismiss it as nothing as I did. I knew it wasn’t right so I lied about it to my friends because I felt weak.

It’s also been hard for me to identify this as sexual assault because I didn’t put up a fight. I wish I had said “Are you kidding? Get out of my house, get out of my bed, I don’t want to see you again.” but I didn’t. I lay there and went through with it even though I didn’t want to.

I recently saw a comic called ‘Trigger Warning: Breakfast’, which perfectly illustrated these feelings for me.

I still see this man at gigs and feel like I have to say hello and be polite because I don’t want to make a scene or hurt his feelings. He’s so ingrained in the music industry with our mutual friends and bands he plays in I fear that if I were to confront him, I would have no support or people would dismiss my story because I didn’t put up a fight. Because I let him have sex with me even though I didn’t want to.

So I’m writing this article to share my experience. I want other people to read it and realise that this behaviour isn’t OK. If it’s happened to you, or if you’ve done it to someone, it’s not OK. Consent is more than just convincing someone to say yes. If you say no once, that should be enough.