Posted by Neha
I was cyber-raped.
I didn’t say no. I did say yes. But I was raped. I was screaming “no” inside me. But I still said yes. The no wouldn’t come out of me.
The details are still hazy, because I’ve tried to erase my memory of what happened. I’ve tried to move on and forget that it happened. But every now and then, I see someone supporting “yes means yes” or saying consent is sexy… and my doubts and fears come back. The questions come back again, at me. The questions I’ve already asked myself a zillion times. The questions I rushed to ask online when it was over, and he’d left, and I’d left, confused and lost.
After all – wasn’t it me that went there for a hook-up? Wasn’t it me that asked for sex? Wasn’t it me that followed him into the room when he lead the way?
I mean – I could have left at any time. This wasn’t even in-person. This was a virtual world. I could have just closed SecondLife – quit the app, shut my computer and walked away. He couldn’t even have retaliated. He hadn’t met me before. He wouldn’t ever meet me again.
I mean – this isn’t the first time I hooked up. Not the first time I had cybersex. Even with strangers. I’d done roleplay – BDSM roleplay, rape roleplay… and I’d enjoyed it too. I’d chosen what to do, when to do it, how to do it. I’d laid down strict lines of consent with each of them. And I was in control.
I mean – this isn’t even the first time I’d been assaulted or tricked online. I’ve been catcalled. I’ve been harassed by griefers. I’ve been manipulated into threesomes. I’ve even had times when having cybersex that I wanted to say no, I’m done, I’m tired, but I didn’t. Because I’d wanted it when we started it, and I loved it, and I trusted that guy, and didn’t want to disappoint him.
I didn’t want to disappoint him. Yes. That sounds familiar. That night, when I went looking for a hookup, and said yes to him… he made me feel uncomfortable. I felt like I was no longer in control. That the lines were no longer mine to be drawn. That I was his play-thing.
And I wanted to scream. I wanted to run. I wanted to tell him, “No, I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to do this” but I didn’t.
I didn’t want to disappoint him.
And I was blaming myself. After all – maybe I hadn’t been clear about my lines of consent before I came to the hookup joint. Or when he’d approached me. Maybe I should have spoken first, before he could take control.
He commanded me to strip. I asked if I could keep my dress on. He told me to at least take my panties off. And then he pinned me down on the table, and we had sex.
We didn’t say anything to each other till he was almost done. I kept making sounds of pleasure, because I didn’t want to disappoint him.
I just wanted it to end, so I could go on with my life. I kept screaming “no” in my mind, but quietly waited for him to be done.
He was done. We got up. He asked me if I liked it. I said I did. And then we went our ways.
It didn’t end there for me. I got up, got offline… and I was searching for articles. Searching for more people like me. Searching for if it’s still rape if I didn’t say no. If it’s still rape if I said yes. Searching for another voice that could explain why I felt betrayed and lost and confused. Why I felt like a part of me was broken, and beyond repair. And hardest of all – this wasn’t in person. He didn’t even touch my body. And cyber-rape is almost never talked about, except as a joke, or it’s compared with in-person rape to play it down which – comparing trauma was never the point. Needless to say, it took me a long time to call what I went through “rape” or even “cyber-rape” and my friends had to even tell me what I’d gone through was awful, and not okay.
I never met him again. He has no idea what was going through my mind at the time, or that I wanted to resist. That I never even wanted to start. Because I said “yes”, didn’t I? So wasn’t he “entitled to my body to do as he pleases”?
In fact, I never want to go back to that place. Anything associated with what happened that night – anything I remember at all, after all of the memories I’ve struggled to push out of my mind – I throw away or hide.
But the problem isn’t that man, or that hookup place. The problem is how we, as women, are told that our bodies are for the pleasure of men. The problem is how consent is too often oversimplified. How too often it’s reduced to check-boxes of yes and no.
I’m not here to give a solution to that problem. But I’ve been waiting for a long time, scared of telling anyone what I went through, for the fear of being judged, for the fear of my trauma being invalidated. For the fear of me again being denied my voice, like that night when I felt compelled to say “yes” because I couldn’t say “no.”
I’m here to reclaim my voice as a survivor of cyber-rape.