Is it rape if you’re in a relationship?

I know that talking about this is going to make people feel uncomfortable. People are going to see the title and not continue to read. I know this because I spent the last 3.5 years contemplating whether or not I was raped because I was in a relationship. I spent the same amount of time not wanting to share my story. It wasn’t until I was talking to one of my best friends about something similar that happened to her that I was validated and realized it’s a narrative we need to talk about and change.

With the “Me Too” movement growing, I think it’s important to bring this to light. As women, we often think that we can only be raped, molested, or harassed by people that we are not in a relationship with. I mean, who wants to admit that they were raped or assaulted by someone they trusted?

I remember the day like it was yesterday. We were arguing because I caught him talking to another girl. I didn’t want to look at him let alone be touched by him, but he was drinking and I was stuck with him, we were a few hours from home. I didn’t want to call my family because that’s embarrassing. We were in the hotel room and he forced himself on me. I said no multiple times, but he continued. So I just laid there and let it happen.

This night has been on my mind for a long time. When I was sharing this with a close friend, she looked at me and said “the same thing happened to me”, “I was also raped”. At that moment, you could feel the weight lift off both of our shoulders. We knew we weren’t alone and for once and for all we were validated. Bound in solidarity. The most haunting part of this experience for me was not knowing what to consider it. It’s something I know I can move past now that I have a name for what had happened.

Why am I sharing this? Because if I felt this way for this long, how many others are out there wondering the same thing? Consent is consent. No means no. Never is it acceptable for someone to force themselves on you without your consent. It doesn’t matter if there are alcohol or drugs involved, single, or in a relationship, or married. It is NOT okay. The only way to change the narrative is to share your story. I hope that by sharing mine, it empowers others to share theirs. It’s the first step to healing, and a big step to change.

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