Get out of the storm.

There are so many pressures that come with being a teenage girl; suddenly feeling that the world requires you to look a certain way, being in the ‘right’ crowd in high school, and keeping up with what’s in/out. It’s also the time we start thinking about love and relationships.

You have to sit through PSHE where the teacher explains sex from a weird scientific point of view, and talks about contraception – in my class I remember one girl asking if a crisp packet was sufficient in that area… When I actually started dating my first boyfriend I was so scared of relationships in general that it took me four months to agree to being his girlfriend. I was 15 years old and I had my first kiss which actually freaked me out a little. He was a teenager as well, although two years older than me, and I didn’t really know anything about emotional abuse and always believed in second chances.

When it started it was subtle things – he’d take control of small areas of my life and I didn’t realise what was happening at the time. Gradually it got worse and worse and I felt like I was stuck in this overwhelming storm that would rage around me and I just had to stay in the eye where it was calm and safe. The problem with doing that is that I could never actually get out of the storm, and often I’d get tossed into the thunder, which in my case was being told I couldn’t see my friends and family, being screamed at on a regular basis, having my self confidence knocked by the constant criticism of my character, and, later down the line being physically pushed around, grabbed, and thrown to the floor.

This was also the time I had my first sexual experiences. I wish in my PSHE class they’d taught me about consent and not feeling under pressure. I wish they’d talked about how when you have your first sexual experience you should feel comfortable and it should be something that you want and enjoy.

For me, my high school boyfriend asked me for some kind of vague consent in a roundabout way and he wasn’t clear on what I was consenting to. When it actually happened I was confused and sad and felt manipulated and alone.

He had taken me away from my friends and family, knocked all my self-esteem out of me and put me in a position where I was afraid of him and his anger. Consequently I felt I had no control, no courage, and no right to say no. And from that point onwards when I tried to say ‘no’ or ‘stop’ he didn’t listen, and he pushed me further into a place where I felt uncomfortable and confused.

Now as a woman, and a strong one at that, I’ve grown so much and become a person that I love and admire. Feeling under pressure, or uncomfortable or confused should not be a part of any sexual encounter ever. Neither should force or cruelty or abuse.


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