Trigger warning: If you have ever had sexual consent issues please know that this blog may trigger you. In this blog I will not be going into the detail of what happened to me. I will be giving clear information about consent and my motivation is a want and need for a conversation to be happening within the communities I belong to and not just when community members present in crisis at services.
Is it time that our LGBTQIA+ community has a conversation about consent? As LGBTQIA+ folk we have often been policed for our sexual behaviour or how we express ourselves sexually. As a former member of the kink community myself. I was fearful of going to the police to gain support. After facing a recent incident, I have come to realise that the conversation we have around consent within the kink community, is not a wider conversation we are having as an LGBTQIA+ community and my feelings are that as a community, we should have had a better response to the MeToo Campaign.
The UK law is clear: ‘having any kind of sex without getting consent is illegal and is rape or sexual assault’.
Recently, I have had to reengage in this conversation around where do I stand with consent, my sexual boundaries and how do I keep myself safe when I live in a large city like London. I have always enjoyed the anonymity of London, or any other major city. I unfortunately came into close contact with the negative aspects of what this anonymity presents. We all risk a great deal in our modern world of dating apps, be they heterosexual or LGBTQIA+. We entrust our lives to the other, the unknown and we do so knowingly and wantonly. I cannot judge but I realise now the danger this poses.
LGBTQIA+ bars and clubs are disappearing, primary care mental health and sexual health services are being cut and in my divine naivety, I let someone into my life and then home through a dating app. With my gender dysphoria I was having a bad couple of weeks and in those weeks this person sought out my vulnerability and found a way into my world through grooming me. In hindsight, I know I was feeling isolated and lonely. I went online to get the immediate validation I needed and for two weeks the assailant text or telephoned that played into my need to be validated. I won’t go into what happened next it is not for public consumption and I am not ready. I also need to hold on to my pride here and feel a duty to protect my clients. Since going to the police and slowly speaking to those I consider important in my life. I had always talked about ‘my sexual consent issues when younger’. My father always taught me to call a spade, a spade. My ‘consent issues’ I realise now was a lighter way of saying the ‘R’ word, I was Raped, and this led to me transmitting Hepatitis C that I was treated for and cured in 2015. There I said it and It never gets easier to say. Since the recent attempted sexual assault, I have noticed familiar feelings of shame, guilt, anger and disgust come up in me. In the week after the incident I slowly had flashbacks and was able to find the missing pieces of the puzzle and this is helping my recovery.
My belief is that silence only feeds the stigma and responsibility that one feels following being raped or sexually assaulted. I will not be silent. Family, friends and colleagues please understand I am being brave by speaking out. People will say bring a stranger into your home you brought it on yourself. I had absolutely no warning that someone would go from sane to insane in a few hours. I said stop, please leave my home and they continued. They breached my consent and before calling the police I felt I had limited choices due to the blackmail. I am not surprised that people withdraw their statements from the police, our community has often been let down by those who should have been there to protect us.
The UK law tells us: ‘A person consents if they agree by choice and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice.’
A relationship or sex is definitely off the cards for some time now and it will take a great deal of time to trust again. I am exploring what issues I can ethically return to work with in private practice. Fortunately, it is the summer and it is a good excuse to take the time and space I need to do things that nourish me. Including plenty of Jewish chicken soup, the Jewish penicillin, that cures all. My Mum’s chicken soup cannot cure my trauma experience but has certainly been part of my trauma first aid toolkit and soothes my soul at this time.
The difference is that this time I will not bow my head in shame, and I will not be silent. I am trying to learn from my recent experience, and I am still processing it. As adults it is assumed that we know what sexual consent is. My assumption before this recent event is that most adults of sound mind would understand and hear the word STOP or know when someone looked uncomfortable, they would just STOP. After an assault the most helpful things family and friends can do is let you know they are there and LISTEN to what you need at this time. Messages like “you should have known better” just shut down the conversation rather than open it up. The victim of sexual assault often blames themselves so during their recovery they need to know that whomever they have disclosed the assault to will not judge them and will be there every step of the way in however they choose to deal with their recovery. Remember this is not your gossip to tell people, this needs their consent in who is told what, as this is a very sensitive issue and needs to be treated as such.
The UK law states: ‘a person commits sexual assault if they intentionally touch another person, the touching is sexual and the person does not consent’.
Sorry in advance for too much information. I have thrown away the contents of my sexual toy box, I felt all the items were physical reminders of both incidents and that throwing them away has created space to recover. At some point, in the future in my own therapy I will explore what I want from sex again. At present I question if sex will ever be comfortable again. As a body and trauma psychotherapist, similar to a medical consultant, at least I know more about what psychological trauma treatments have a better success rate. I will increase regulation of supervision and if I feel there is over exposure in the counter transference between my client and myself, I will refer on where appropriate, to ensure my clients and my safety.
With ChemSex (drugs with sex), if that is your preferred sexual behaviour choice, the law would protect you if someone tries to do something sexually or touches you sexually whilst you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The law would be on your side that in that moment you do not have the capacity to give consent.
The police need to ensure they record incidents properly, the police need to ensure LGBTQIA+ are offered the right conditions & support for victims to come forward and give statements. Initially the police hadn’t recorded the incident properly. I learnt I had to let go of my previous negative experience of the police to be able to gain their support. I had to speak louder to make sure I was heard. Fortunately, I had good awareness of how to reach for the right support and have liaison teams following this up with the police. The police should also put the right support in place in the community.
I have written this to reclaim my power as the perpetrator during the incident blackmailed me to be silent. I hope by writing this other people will come forward too. I was fearful, I took a very close friend with me this helped (and I am grateful to them for coming), the police weren’t sure why I needed my friend there. I am pleased my friend was there as when I started to explain LGBTQIA+ and kink sexual practices, they did not understand, it interrupted my flow when talking about the trauma I had experienced to explain these acts. Police our community is going to find it very difficult to come forward, please I would ask that you allow anything that will help them speak up. Police may need some kink awareness training; I am happy to offer this to you in the future. Community members remember by reporting the assault you are not only protecting yourself but our community as a whole.
I do not want your sympathy or compassion. I want you not to be another survivor or victim. Take good care out there.
Useful organisations and websites:
- Antidote drug and alcohol service at London Friend www.londonfriend.org.uk 020 7833 1674
- Dean Street Well-Being www.community.dean.st
- Galop the LGBT anti-violence www.galop.org.uk
- Galop London LGBT+ advice line 020 7704 2040
- Galop national LGBT+ domestic violence line 0800 999 5428
- Informed Consent: www.informedconsent.org.uk
- Keeping it Kinky: www.keepitkinky.net
- Pink Therapy: www.pinktherapy.com
- Survivors UK www.survivorsuk.org for male on male rape and sexual assault offer a chat helpline facility online and a host of other support services
- Switchboard lgbt+ helpline https://switchboard.lgbt/help 0300 330 0630 (open 10am till 10pm everyday)
- Terrence Higgins Trust Direct www.tht.org.uk by calling 0808 802 1221 for sexual health support, advice and information