[TW: rape, sexual assault, violence]

The first time I was raped, he gagged me with his dick. I was 18. He was my kinda-sorta boyfriend--a twenty-some-year-old I had been dating for two weeks. He said to me, "Are we gonna do it, or should I just go to sleep?" He wasn't really asking a question. I would lay on his twin-size bed next to him. I was way too inebriated from the beer he made me buy with my debit card (and sign for) when I was already drunk. I was in and out of consciousness back at his apartment. I remember his hands. I remember them touching me when he thought I was completely passed out. I still don't know what all happened. 

The second time was after eating some edibles (see: weed) with my then boyfriend (a different man than the first). I was 27. We were naked on his couch. Kissing. It was lovely for a while. He kept getting closer to my opening. He wasn't wearing a condom. I didn't want him to enter without one. He said he wouldn't. My right hand was block him, but at some point, I moved my hand. Still kissing. Still worried. I said to him breathlessly: "Don't go in." He said back, "Oh honey, I'm already in." Immediately, I started crying. This scared him and he pulled away. I don't know how much of him was inside me. I was the one who apologized. 

The third time was with a man I had met from an online dating site. I was 28. I met him at a bar downtown. He was "well-educated." We went back to his place. We started kissing. Soft, then hard. Too hard. He took my clothes off. He stayed dressed. He climbed on top of me. He knew I was a submissive. We didn't talk about hard or soft limits though. Nothing had been discussed. He started slapping me hard in the face, which I didn't consent to (but I also didn't say "No" to). He then put his fingers inside me. Hurting me. I disappeared for a while. I looked up at the ceiling. I focused on the cracks. I focused on anything but him. He stopped when I started bleeding. I felt like passing out. I said I should go, and he flung my clothes at me. Once dressed, he walked me to the front door. He kissed me softly on my lips. He said he was going to masturbate thinking about me. He still had my blood on his hands. 

I store trauma from these rapes/sexual assaults in my body. Today as I write this, I am having trouble swallowing. My throat feels tight. This has been a recurrent thing for me since my first rape. I have to remind myself I'm ok. I'm safe. I have to remind myself to breathe. I have to remind myself that I'm not currently being gagged. I have to remind myself that none of it was my fault. I have to remind myself that, though I knew my attackers, this doesn't make it any less terrible, or any less "rapey". I have to remind myself that having been assaulted by three different men is not abnormal, nor is it my fault. So many reminders I have to remind myself of just to keep going. Just to survive. I am almost 30.

Does survival ever become easy? Does protecting ones magic ever become effortless? How lovely it must be to find hands that know you--hands that love you--hands that don't hurt you.

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