Tag Archives: personal

On being a perpetrator of sexual coercement

There are many times where I have been on the receiving end of sexual assault. Ranging from photos blatantly taken of me on public transport, being groped, being coerced into sex my first time, and even being raped, the list goes on almost as far as the blanket of sexual assault covers. Some of these instances are foggy, glazed over with justifications or self-blame; others are crystal clear and a triggering, fearful reminder of what was inflicted upon me.

But I have also been a perpetrator of sexual assault myself.

Back when my ex and I were still friends with benefits, each visit to his house had but one purpose. On 2 occasions, I convinced him to have sex with me even though he wasn’t into it. I still recall the first time, I rubbed his chest and said please, please, kissing him on the neck and cheek, even after he said he didn’t want to. Eventually he sighed and said okay. The second time was Valentine’s day; he was sick so I brought over soup. Again I asked him to sleep with me though he said he wasn’t up for it cause he was feeling sick. Again, he eventually sighed and said okay.

As with every sexual assault, there are 2 sides of the story: That of the Victim’s, and that of the Perpetrator’s.

How I saw it was that I wanted to sleep with him, that our arrangement revolved around sex anyways, and that my behaviour of pleading till he said yes was necessary. I don’t fully understand my behaviour then. To me, he was not the most emotionally available person, I really wanted him, and the answer was to keep asking until he said yes.

To him, I raped him.

This came from him months later when we progressed into an actual relationship, when he told me he talked to his therapist and she told him that I had raped him.

I was in shock at that revelation. I went to my best friend immediately and she reassured me that it wasn’t, that there’s no way I raped him, and he was just talking crap.

The fact of the matter was that I sexually coerced him. I convinced him to sleep with me even though he didn’t want to, and both verbally and non-verbally showed his disinterest.

Now, sexual coercion, sexual assault and rape are often misconstrued as one and the same.

Sexual coercion: the act of using subtle pressure, drugs, alcohol, or force to have sexual contact with someone against their will.

Sexual assault: a form of sexual violence which includes rape (forced vaginal, anal or oral penetration or drug facilitated sexual assault), groping, child sexual abuse, or the torture of the person in a sexual manner. 

Rape: a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person’s consent.

I believe I didn’t rape him but I sexually coerced him into sex on 2 occasions. He believes I raped him, as per what his therapist told him. The difference between the two labels, situation, and perception are different. That’s why there’s always 2 sides to the story. One thing is for sure: I know and feel like the guilty party here. I will try to justify that this relationship itself was unhealthy and I’ve received a fair share of emotional and psychological manipulation, but in the very clear situation of sexual coercion, I am guilty.
Let me segue a bit, but I promise this ties back. This has been such an amazing time of #MeToo, where men in powerful positions who have sexually harassed, controlled and manipulated women are being called out, thrown into the harsh spotlight and are finally facing the music. Women who for decades have been quietly accepting such tyrannical, abusive behaviour towards them are finally being heard.

And then a case like the sexual assault allegations against Aziz Ansari appear. I’m sure some of you have already read enough articles to understand the situation. Though Aziz may not be a Harvey Weinstein, the way he behaved still perpetuates the issue with consent in our society. It also emphasises how gray the area of sexual assault is, not just in terms of the law, but primarily in our everyday lives, culture, and experiences. Men and women alike are constantly finding themselves on “bad dates”, with primarily men who push incessantly for sex, and leave the recipient traumatised or bitterly adding another bad date story into the books.

(This is where it ties back to my experience)
I never thought that I would be relating to both “Grace”, the woman he sexually assaulted, and Aziz Ansari himself.

 

As I said at the start, I have been the subject of such behaviours for years now. In some cases, I’ve cried. In others, I’ve repressed the memory. For some, I’ve taken to blaming myself for drinking too much, trusting men too easily, being too slutty (and on and on the list goes). Yet am I allowed to be a victim, when I myself was a perpetrator?

Every conversation that revolves around #MeToo and #TimesUp focuses on how women should not be blamed for such situations anymore, how we should stand in solidarity with our fellow survivors, and how it’s time for perpetrators to take responsibility for their behaviour and not be a perpetrator.

But what do you do when you’ve stood on both sides of the issue? When you’ve both coerced, and been coerced. Do your experiences as a victim hold lesser or lose all weight?

It’s so gray and complicated because sexual consent in our society is so fuzzy. There’s been more awareness of Consent as Key, with No meaning No. In Aziz’s case, he stopped when Grace said “No”, but didn’t when Grace showed non-verbal cues or said anything but the word “No.” He kept trying to bring the situation back to one of a sexual nature. Later on, when she texted him about how she was uncomfortable throughout the scenario and he might not have realised it, he apologised to her personally, and later released a statement saying he thought it was “by all indications completely consensual” but that he “took her words to heart”.

In my case, back then I thought it was fine to keep trying, because I always gave in when my previous ex kept pushing; because my first time happened even after I said No; because with all my past experiences with sex, consent was never really in the picture. I thought that was what people did in relationships/fwb arrangments/hook ups: Keep Trying till the No becomes a Yes.

It’s completely fucked up, I know this now. I no longer push or try, I am focused on it being a consensual, mutually desirable circumstance. But yet, the fact remains that I have committed sexual coercion before. The fact exists that at the back of my mind, I’m looking for a way to be redeemed for my actions.

After reading Aziz’s response to “Grace” and his released public statement, I wonder if he felt the same way I did upon realising the situation was completely different from what he thought it was: Consensual.

The question now is… What do I do? What do all these men who have finally been outed as sexual predators and rapists do? What can we (if I can even be considered as part of the victims of sexual assault) do now to make sure these situations stop happening? What do I do as having been both a victim and a perpetrator?

This piece has no real answer; I’m stuck in limbo. Horrifying, self-aware, conflicted and paralysing limbo.

 

Do You know what is to be done in this situation?

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Tactile Surreality.

Passing gradients and swirl dream dyes.

bumps, crackle, white-red sparks
chest expanding lifts,
tippity-top of the brain
rolling eyes.

oxygen widening the tubes
seeping into nubs
tinkling jerks and winces
clench

Smooth rippling tides by gentle lilies.

Self obsession a cure
for redirection
and healthy minds
healthy hearts
healthy lives.

Ease, a belief of connected souls.

snap, crunch, crackle, brittle
seeping, crystals, thick
soft, compact, tough
tender, hurried, curious.

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Jesus wept

two words

Jesus wept

I wept
I am weeping
the beauty of music is its ability to

shock our soul into
recognition of mortality

connection, flimsy contact

shaking and trembling
tears dripping
heart breaking

stiff and agonising realisation
mortal prison of flesh
the soul she cries

for she can not escape and mingle with her fragments
swirling with the universe

trapped shard in meaningless structures
false identities and constructs.

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Understanding my fear of abandonment

Let’s break it down.

Fear of abandonment.
Afraid to be left behind, to be left alone, to be alone.
To be ignored.
Fear of neglect, silence, disregard.

Fear of a lack of care and concern.
Fear that I am unloved and unwanted.
Fear that I am not worth

attention
attraction
affection

Panic sets in with a fog of fury,
rage and discontent,
outrage and offence,
disbelief and shock.

Worry and anxiety
leading to a need for control
to “get them back”

win them back

their attention and attraction back
putting me once again at number one,
the only one,
nothing should precede me and what I mean to them.

Clingy, desperate, eager to please
yes yes yes to everything just to get a positive response,
to know I am wanted and desired again.
With that, I am therefore kept.

I won’t be alone and tossed aside and made worthless,
useless,
not worth time and effort or love.

Nothing else matters but them behaving as I wish them to be,
or even just how they were talking to me a couple minutes ago.
Even if I was the reason for the change in tone

because I suggested we slow things down
and they just leave me because I don’t want them

and they oblige instead of disagreeing and fighting for me

if they Do fight for me, they appear clingy and I get disgusted.

Ironic.

But when I do it, it’s the only thing that I can do. I can’t focus on anything else but trying to “get them back” and get things back to how they were, to being wanted and loved, to having them text me.

I don’t care that it’s 2am now compared to the 7pm then. That they have work tomorrow or are busy right now, even if they are showering. If they aren’t replying, that means they don’t want me anymore and they might even hate me and are going to ignore me and give me the silent treatment and pretend I do not exist.

 

 

My mom gives me the silent treatment and pretends I don’t exist when she’s angry at me.

When I do something wrong, my parents tell me what a disappointment I am, that their years of bringing me up was for nothing because I ended up like this. It was a waste of their time and effort raising me up, useless to have done anything to have loved me.

They said cruel things like I am the worst child, that I am nothing if my mother dies, that they won’t care if I live or die and I can go and die for all they care.

When they get angry at me, I feel like the worst, cruelest human being on earth, that I don’t deserve to have lived and I am evil. Ungrateful, evil, worthless, not worth being looked at or talked to, mentioned by name or acknowledged as a living being. I become nothing. Ranted about in the third person behind closed doors but with loud petty voice who intend for me to hear everything, yet not worth the effort nor for my existence to be acknowledged by even talking about me in front of me and having me be seen.

 

I would watch as they argued and my dad would blame my mom saying she was at fault for everything, while she told him how useless he was.

I listened and took it in too, because it would be used on me too, the same words. Taught not to get a man like my father, here are all the things NOT to get in a man. Anyone who looked at me and called me beautiful and took what I told them, repackaged and gave it back to me, paid me a smidge of attention, was worth my world. Sad.

I accepted these guys though I knew they weren’t good people or healthy for me because I accepted that my worth was that of being second choice. Never first. That’s why all the married men. Justifying with open marriages is but a weak way to assert my false self-worth to stubborn ol’ me. That’s why till now, part of me thinks that my exes’ breaking up with me because I wasn’t worth being the only one when he was still so young, and not talking to me for a whole week (radio silences) because studies > talking to me, which he felt were tedious like updating his life to a jail warden, are somehow justified.

Why should I be afraid to have them not text back or initiate conversations, to have other people in their lives that aren’t me, or not prioritize me over every and anything. That’s so needy. So dependent. I am worth so so much more.

It’s just not apparent enough to myself just how much I’m worth though.

 

Gotta fix the two of them. Self-worth tied to fear of abandonment, and I have to work on them or I will fall forever into this tar pit of murky, cloying desperation and fear, neediness and full-blown panic attacks, extreme behaviours and controlling habits.

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December

It’s the day after my birthday.

No expectations were had and thus I had probably one of the best birthdays ever. Went to the botanical gardens with my ex colleagues and drank mojito, ates chips, talked (read: screamed) about sex and overall just had a ton of fun.

Went for dinner with them then came home and slept.

It’s been an interesting December.

After 3 months as the content marketing manager and PR manager at a wee startup with a boss who doesn’t know how to run or talk business, nitpicks and is incredibly rude, we find out he didn’t get the investment he’d promise would come in; that that was the only investment the company was banking everything on; that our boss got a new investment late in November and decided thus to reject an offer by a shareholder to take up over 40% of the shares where in return they would hire us all and pay off all his debt. Thus, I lost my job. And haven’t been paid for the last 2 months.

But, I’m waiting to hear from CAAS about the ATCO position, which I really really want because unlike marketing, it makes sense. I’m not manipulating people to buy something that they didn’t necessarily want. I’m helping land planes and make sure planes take off safely, ensuring people get to their families and loved ones all around the world. 

It’s interesting also because I think I’ve grown up quite a bit in the past 3 months. With my focus on growing my career, I’m no longer hung up on the need for “love”, or rather Attention. In this period of waiting, I’m bored and thus downloaded tinder, but now I’m bored of it too cause unlike the past, I no longer need the attention to feel worthy. I know I am. Working gave me that confidence when I saw my ability to grow and take on challenges in 3 months, and I saw my natural talkative self blossom in PR and networking and business development. It was fascinating, confidence building and so very encouraging.

I’ve also cut down on my pills, down to 1 every 4 days and my mood isn’t actually bad between those 4 days. The weight gain with these pills are a little crazy tho, so I’ve been focusing more on my diet. But this lazy girl ain’t working out like she should, so there’s that to work on.

Got a freelance writing job so at least I’ll have some disposable income until I get the job offer and confirmation, up till February when work begins.

I haven’t written in a while. Maybe I’m too bored but there’s nothing for me to really write about. Nothing seeking escape via dreams or words. 

I do miss writing though, so perhaps I’ll start a mini challenge of writing everyday till Christmas day. 

Hope everyone is doing well this festive season, and that y’all are surrounded by loved ones and loving ones.

Lotsa love, Aziel

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Storytelling

Back in 2014, when I was in Abu Dhabi for a Global Shakespeare Festival event hosted by NYUAD, one of the classes that struck me deeply was the one on storytelling. Our TA was telling us about Shakespeare and writing, and his own travelling experiences. Now I can’t fully recall where he was or who he talked to, but I remember very vividly a picture of the man.

He was old, skin folded with years of experiences etched across his face. And his eyes were light, piercing brown, staring deeply into my heart through his projected image, transcending time and medium. So the TA went on in detail about his trip and finally came to the topic of his conversation with this man. The man was telling him about the history of storytellers with his tribe, his ancestors. The importance of their roles as they passed on stories weaved from real life encounters and lessons learnt. That the soul of a storyteller lives on and is almost lying right beneath the surface; a storyteller never escapes their true calling. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about that moment since then. I’m at a stage of my life where I’m looking for a job right now, more specifically a career. It might be where I come from in terms of country and family upbringing but I’m taking the job hunt too seriously. This first job is to make my entire career. I’ve been stuck the past couple of months by fixating on finding a job that is stable financially and career-progression wise. But after lamenting a lack of response from a job I hyped myself up over (since I rejected a job I truly wanted for it), I’ve thrown in the towel: No more jobs that my parents want me to have; no more succumbing to brain-numbing careers. I want me something I care about.

Money is still an issue cause I believe in the whole Work to Live motto, but at the same time I want to try my hand at job opportunities outside of my comfort zone. I’m craving new experiences, I want to learn and grow and push myself. With that comes the need to be slightly picky because I don’t want to settle for a job that gives me nothing right? I know my worth as an employee, so I’m gonna seek our employers and job options that recognise my hard working, experience seeking, eager-eyed self, dammit!

Okay so it’s only been 2 real days since I restarted the job hunt, but I think I’m going about it in a better way. Not limiting myself to those I think I can do but also pushing the applications to those which I want to be able to do. Additionally, I know what I want out of it. A job that allows me to meet people or share a vision is important. Meet people in the sense of creating a connection, talking and sharing. That seems more like personal life perhaps, but I would like to be able to meet people from all walks of life, hold fascinating conversations with, basically engage in storytelling. A little tough when there’s the need for corporate professionalism and my job is most probably to sell the brand/services, but if I could find a way to engage in storytelling and listening while earning a living through it? Damn.

If you guys have any suggestions of such a job, I’ll love to hear it.

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Anxiety 

Jumping between sweet nostalgia and fear lumping in the throat. Panic at the thought of meeting up and connecting, talking and sharing, fear and inability to breathe, constricted throat, wife awake tight lungs.

Sadness, salty singular drops down one cheek and tiny cold winds spreading across the chest before they’re sacked back in or blown away

by the suffocating paralysing fear of connecting and communicating and potentially reconnecting. 

Hunched shoulders making the body small tiny invulnerable protected and hidden 

The fear is big and swallowing me whole starting from the blocked throat tempting me to drag in deep puffs of oxygen and revive the cruel paradox of survival instincts, reaching throughout my belly and soles leaving them knotted and cold, that chill that can not be touched between the layer of atoms preventing us from truly touching anything, forever apart and forbidden true contact with everything for all we feel is the repelling of atoms against ours so the love and touch we draw our comfort from is false. A lie. We are only feeling their repulsion their rejection.

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I am a woman

I am a woman.
I bleed once a month, for typically 7 to 10 days.
I crave food, chips, carbs and sleep the week before,
my mood dips and I cry while laughing at everything.

I am a woman.
I have hair on my legs, under my arm,
on my arm, on my crotch,
between my breasts,
under my belly button.

I am a woman.
I am blessed with the privilege of creating a child in my womb.
I won’t be judged for liking feminine clothes.
I can like men without being labelled “unnatural”.

I am a human.
I am able to feel a plethora of emotions and
I am also able to feel nothing at all.
I am a female human.
I am a woman.

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Falling back

Since 5th July, I’ve been down and out. Falling back into cruel depressed routine. Must be cause I’ve stopped taking fluoxetine for about a month and the long half-life pills can’t help me out after a month long hiatus. 

Waiting for a job offer, waiting for graduation. The ceremony is on the 27th but I’m torn between wanting everyone I love to be there, and not going at all. My best friend won’t be able to make it because she’s in Malaysia. I don’t have enough tickets for my sister and her family to come. I don’t really have that many close friends to invite, plus those that I do have are working adults and the ceremony is on a Wednesday. 

If I start work before the 27th, will I have to go back to the office? I wonder if I will be celebrating after the ceremony. If I will take pictures of course mates. I don’t even want to see anyone. 

I so desperately want to be in love and be in comfortable togetherness but my need to have someone else fix my problems and make me feel better constantly is toxic, for both parties. Until I can control my problems better, through medicine and counselling or other means, I shouldn’t date nor even allow myself to fall in love.

But how do you control your heart without losing the ability to love fully? Need my magical pills again.

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dandelion

Real dandelion ring , dandelion seed jewelry , good luck ring , dandelion wish , mini terrarium jewellery , botanical jewelry , make a wish

(Real Dandelion Ring, Ruby Robin Boutique)
(Old Cabin – Where Did You Go)

fingerprints melded with heated sand
sunlight shy of heat
embalmed with memories and longing

night sky drifting, spinning, glorious ascent
floating beneath starry gazes
watching as life springs up under cool soil

musky wood, bonfires, community
dreams and wishes, soft breath
counting the hours on puffs of dandelion

sink into smoky wisps, curling,
the fire sparks and flits
captivating potential for destruction
locking eyes, thorned connection.

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