• Aby Deal

Letting Go of Guilt & Refusing The Narrative - Trigger Warning Sexual Assault/Consent

I have for many years categorized the story I am about to share with you all, as the result of poor choices on my part. I have not talked about this at length or even shared this story with my own family.. It was not until I began going to therapy and talking about all of the things that have brought me to this point in my life that I realized the impact this situation had on my worth and trust in peoples intentions.

When I was 16 years old, I made the foolish decision to go to a party with my friends and have a few drinks. We did this on occasion at the time, and I would crash at my friend Matt’s house. That night staying at his place was not an option, and obviously having been drinking, I choose not to drive home. I was on the verge of blacking out, and my friends called a guy we went to school with and that they knew of, who was sober and asked him to take me home.

We all knew the person picking me up, and considered them a safe place, and my friends never would have let me leave with someone they didn’t know would be a “safe person” to get me home. The plan was for me to pick up my car in the morning, I am not sure how I was going to explain that to my parents, but I just wanted to get home.

That night the young man who picked me up took advantage of the fact that I was incapacitated. I woke up in their bed confused, half dressed, and knowing in my heart what had happened that night, I held back tears.

The only thing worse than waking up that morning was knowing that I couldn’t remember if I said no, and thinking “how dumb was I” for putting myself in this scenario in the first place, maybe I drunkenly did something to give this boy consent. I woke him up and asked to be taken to my car so I could go home, we drove there in silence.

I never told my parents, and I have told very few friends out of shame for having been taught better not to put myself in compromising situations. I did however tell the friend who sent me home with this person that night- who then got suspended from school for three days for slamming the person into a locker the next week. I have to this day written this story as an unfortunate scenario, I put myself in, but the unfortunate part is that this young man took my incapacitation and vulnerability for consent.

I am grateful that from this experience, I did not suffer in my romantic relationships. I have had loving and caring partners who always made me feel beautiful, appreciated, loved, and valued physically, emotionally, sexually etc. This is not the case for many women, and that is why I feel it is necessary to share my story. I’ve watched too many stories pop up, specifically in the plus size community over the last few years, where we excuse unwanted sexual advances as “bad attention” or that the women must have done something to make the man think this was okay, and this is unacceptable.

Yes, I was young, I was dumb, and I made mistakes, but nobody deserves to live in guilt for another person’s lack of respect for your boundaries or your body. I had this mentality in my head growing up that, things like this do not happen to a big girl, but it did, and it does. Your size is not a limitation to inappropriate behaviors, if anything, it makes you a target because people think you are desperate for love and attention. It is because of this scenario I am careful with how I conduct myself as an adult now attending events, where alcohol is involved. It is because of this scenario I know to advocate for myself on every known level when I am uncomfortable or uninterested in someone’s sexual advances because I refuse to be a victim.

I made a post last summer following an event at a BBW bash in Vegas where a man attempted to grab and rub on me several times through the evening, and harass me through the night. Although I had alerted the promoter of the event of this behavior and how uncomfortable it made me, this man was “talked to” and allowed to stay at the event where he continued to harass myself and other women at the pool. This is ANOTHER disgusting behavior, that needs to change but I digress... the real root of the problem was the response I was met with on social media.

When I made a post on Facebook about it the next day I was met with comments from an male individual who attended the BBW bashes letting me know that if I “acted” like a lady and dressed like a lady, unwanted sexual attention would not come from men. I want to make one thing very clear- You can and SHOULD be able to dress however you want to without fear of an unwanted sexual advance from a man. I was wearing a bikini that night when this man began harassing me at a pool party. I should not have to justify that my body was covered, or that I was sober, and told this man on several occasions PLEASE stop touching me or to remove his hand from my ass. This behavior is unacceptable, case closed, point blank, period- You cannot tell me otherwise. I do not have to explain why it's unacceptable to touch someone without their consent or to continue to do so after being told to stop.

I think sometimes we as women, allow ourselves to feel this guilt, and allow ourselves to take on this "narrative" that we should act a certain way to avoid attention or dress a certain way to avoid this kind of attention but I think that's bullshit. I refuse this narrative. Yes, I am a grown women, and I will take responsibility for my part in my actions as an adult, I have learned from my mistakes of my younger years to ensure I do not put myself into compromising scenarios as an adult, but I will also not allow men to make me feel as though I deserve their unwanted attention for the way I dress or dance. I deserve respect, I deserve to be valued, and I deserve to have my boundaries respected.

Men, If you do not hear a no, you still DO NOT have consent. A yes is the only form of consent you should accept. If a person is NOT in their right mind to make the consent known, you need to assume automatically it is a no. Lastly, I should not have to cover my body for you to keep it in your pants, we are all grown- time to start acting like it.

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