Dear Miss Meghan,
I’ve been seeing someone casually for about a month but when he’s drunk he turns into a different person. He gets really aggressive and he’ll pin me down or block the door and I don’t ever say no to him because I want him to like me. Sometimes I don’t have the chance to tell him to stop because it happens so fast. I really like him and I don’t want him to think I’m prude or anything but sometimes I wake up with bruises I can’t account for. How can I get him to stop acting like that?
Dear Bruised and Battered,
YOU DESERVE BETTER! Sadly, we can not control, fix, save, or change someone else without that person’s help or desire to change. It would be nice if we could, and a lot of people certainly try, but there is nothing you can do to stop someone else from acting a certain way. Being drunk is not an excuse to physically (and emotionally) harm you.
I so get not wanting to push him away and that, at times, he has admirable traits that make him attractive or caring or endearing. Or that when he apologizes (does he apologize?) he can be vulnerable or open. However, those moments do not, and can not, make up for the moments where he is violent (physically, but it also sounds like he is sexually, violent towards you).
When he is being sexually and/or physically violent towards you, he is not seeing the wonderful person that you are, or how much you deserve to be treated like an actual human being. He is objectifying, de-humanizing, disrespecting, de-valuing, and/or manipulating you.
The fact that you don’t even have time to tell him stop implies that he does not care enough to take the time to ask you what you want. His actions seem selfish. It seems like sexual assault. It seems like you are not giving your consent.
So I ask, if he gets to act selfishly, why don’t you? Why don’t you get the right to get your needs met a.k.a. the need to not be physically harmed by someone, or the right to personal physical and sexual safety?
Reading your letter, the advocate in me wants to yell “PRUDE? Since when did not wanting to have sex with someone because they are hurting you become a bad thing?” It breaks my heart that women still have to hear terms like “prude, slut, whore, tease, etc” from men, and other women, for making healthy choices about when and where and with whom they want to have sex.
It is not your fault that this has happened, but you can do something to make it stop. Please contact the Counseling Center or reach out to 1−800−799−SAFE(7233), the National Domestic Violence 24/7 hotline. If you are in immediate danger, please contact Public Safety at x4911.
Also, my contest for the best pick-up lines/ways to ask for consent to engage in sex play is still open (as it seems we still have some work to do about what consent is). Prizes will be given for the best submissions and I’ve gotten some really good, some bad, and some hilarious ones so far, so send me a quick email with your one liners to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Sincerely tried and tired,