There’s been something on my mind a while. So, I’m trying something.
I appreciate I got dark a short while ago, and I’m sorry that I feel I need to go there again. But I feel it’s something more people have experienced than are willing to talk about, not just amongst women, but also in the gay community.
Trigger warning: rape.
There are times when I don’t feel entirely in control of my actions. Like a character in a computer game or, imaginably, in a fantasy roleplaying scenario. Someone who isn’t real, but they are to somebody. It’s an eerie thought that I often can’t shake.
Perhaps I don’t want to shake it. Not entirely. Because it gives me an out; I can pretend that some actions aren’t my own. I can dissociate myself from feelings of guilt and shame. Except I can’t. Because it’s not an out. It’s just another confirmation to me that my free will is a limited quantity, and that ‘doing my best’ is far more constrained by genetics, experience, and whatever other natural and supernatural forces may or may not be compelling me at the time.
So there’s this time I can’t stop thinking about. It happened maybe seven years ago. The first time I moved to London. I was new to big cities, and I didn’t have any friends. I moved in during the descent into winter, which was depressing enough.
But I remember looking up this club. It was a gay club, and I was feeling pretty lonely after three months of looking for work and occasionally managing to bump into old, slightly disinterested friends who had moved on with their lives and why shouldn’t they have done so?
I remember hesitating, trying to control myself. I wanted to go, but I’d been to places like this before. Gay clubs. By myself I was useless. I would go stand in a corner and try to drink enough to pluck up the courage to say something to someone I found attractive. Except I never could, so I ended up being a weird guy in a dark corner trying not to stare people out.
But I went anyway. The music was good, but the bar was empty save for a few older guys who looked up briefly at me to see if I was their type or not, and if we were in the same league. Either I wasn’t or we weren’t, but they carried on staring or drinking or both, and no one bothered me. So I found a corner and waited.
I was there maybe two, three hours before the place was getting busy. I’d obviously misjudged it. This wasn’t the sort of thing I knew the rules of. But everyone seemed to come in with a friend. Once or twice a guy or two came up to me and asked if I was into them, or something a little weird, or a lot weird. Sorry, no – not tonight, thanks – and, really not, good luck with that.
Finally, someone approached me. He was tall, spoke with a thick, attractive Spanish accent, and pulled me in without telling me his name. By this point I’d had four or five drinks, so I went with it and let him pull me into a darker corner of the bar where he kissed me and groped me, then he invited me back to his.
Somehow, I agreed. My brain gave a little warning beep but I was far too drunk and horny to listen, so I went with him. I couldn’t remember the last time someone touched me like that. I could barely remember when someone had touched me at all. I was too shy, too geeky, even though I had good hair and strong cheekbones.
We got to his place and the vibe changed. His tone became harsh, and he instructed me to take off my clothes and suck his dick. It was a turn on, so I did. He grabbed my hair and pulled me around. The warning beep became a distant alarm. “Stop,” I said.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “I won’t do anything you don’t want me to. Trust me.”
I trusted him.
He kissed me and encouraged me back onto my knees. With each passing minute, he pushed the boundary a little further. I grew less comfortable. I tried to pull away, but he was stronger.
“No, no,” I struggled to say between him forcing himself on me.
“Look darling,” he began, “I told you. You just have to trust me.”
“But I’m telling you no,” I said.
“I promise I won’t hurt you,” he said.
He was hurting me. He already had. He had already gone over the line.
But I let him carry on.
He turned me around and pushed me onto the bed, and started pushing himself inside me. I pulled away, but he pulled me onto him and I gritted my teeth in pain.
‘What’s happening?’ asked a voice inside my brain, like the captain of a ship who’d just arrived after being woken by an emergency phone call, expecting a lucid response. Because somebody better have one.
The other people staffing my higher brain functions coughed awkwardly. One of them quickly hid the tequila and the party hats. ‘We’re under attack, sir.’
‘Yes, but… in the rear? How did you let this happen?’
The captain asserted himself into his chair.
‘Come about. Get out of there. Use force if you have to.’
I pushed him off me again and grabbed my clothes. I’d already let him in. The damage had been done. But I’d be damned if I let him finish what he’d started.
“Where are you going?”
“You’re going to leave me? Like this?” he asked, incredulous.
“I told you no. Three times. You didn’t stop. I’m leaving.” I said in sentences short enough that a three year old bully could understand.
Normally, bullies don’t let you into their gangs, but this was one club I’d been forced into.
“Cunt. Faggot. Whore,” he spat, but with nothing real left to say. He had already hurt me more than that already.
I got myself to the door partially clothed, having gathered up the rest of my things. I never once looked at him again.
I ran down the stairs to his flat and out the front door. Only when it clicked shut behind me did I have the courage to whisper, in quiet accusation,