Going home did me a lot of good. I got a chance to focus on myself. Everything that had happened with Ayden and that wannabe-rapist old man affected me badly. I wasn’t sure how to deal with my trauma. I now saw clearly though, that my response – to party wildly – was so unhealthy.
I think two months away from CT to gather my thoughts helped. I wasn’t feeling like my old self, but for now, being more at peace with it all was good enough. I came back to varsity intending to focus on my academics. I needed to distance myself from the social scene and after what Zinhle had witnessed, she and Taryn didn’t fight me on my decision.
“So what are you going to do tonight?”
“Thapelo is coming over so we can finish the last part of our assignment.”
“Who’s coming over?” Taryn asked, walking into the living room adjusting her jacket. Zinhle gave me a weird look then turned to Taryn.
“Luyanda is going to be spending her evening with Thapelo. Again.”
“What? That’s like the third time this week. Is there something you want to tell us, Lu?” Taryn asked, smirking.
“There is nothing going on. We have an assignment to finish. After this script writing assignment is done you’ll see less of him.”
Zinhle rolled her eyes at me and Taryn just smiled.
“Don’t you guys have somewhere to be?”
“Okay, we’re leaving! No need to chase us out the door,” Taryn said.
“Have fun with Mr Sexy … I mean Thapelo,” Zinhle said as they walked out.
I’d only known Thapelo for about a month. We had sat next to each other on the day partners were assigned. He was fun to work with but didn’t seem ‘interested’ in me.
Not that I was interested in him – I wasn’t ready to be in any kind of relationship. Even though he was funny and super smart we could only be friends. He was very attractive and I couldn’t ignore that but what we had was platonic, no matter how hard my housemates tried to turn it into something more. For all I knew he had a girlfriend.
“And we are officially done with this assignment. I must say this is a great script. We outdid ourselves,” Thapelo said, shutting his laptop after we’d spent a good two hours chopping and changing the final draft.
“Yeah, let’s hope we ace it.”
“We will. I have faith in our work. Don’t you?”
“Yeah, of course I do.”
“Great, can’t have you doubting our masterpiece even before we hand it in.”
“You’re an idiot!” I said laughing.
“And you’re beautiful.”
I froze. All I could do was stare at him in shock. And then he put his laptop on the coffee table and pulled me close to him. I felt my stomach flutter and my heart rate accelerate. When my face was only inches away from his, he leaned in slightly … then paused for a few seconds.
It felt like he was waiting for my permission so I put my arms around his neck and kissed him. His strong arms enveloped me, pulling me onto his lap as our kiss grew more intense. We were all lips, tongues and arms for a long minute.
He got up from the couch taking me with him; we broke our kiss for a brief minute or two as he awkwardly carried me to my room. Once we were on my bed I was lost in all the passion and kissing. I didn’t realize that he had got me out of my dress and underwear until I noticed he was standing at the edge of my bed undressing. Then he crawled on top of me and began kissing me anew. We were all sensation, skin and lust. I could barely take a breath. Then I felt his hands between us and realized that we were about to have unprotected sex. I immediately put both my hands on his chest to stop him.
“We should use a condom,” I squeaked.
“I don’t have one. I didn’t exactly plan for any of this,” he said, smiling sweetly. I shifted slightly beneath him so I could point at my wardrobe under his arm.
“Fair point. I have condoms in my wardrobe on the bottom shelf. You can just grab one.”
I giggled as I watched him walk across my room in the nude. Once he was back I braced myself for the pain I knew would come. Then he began to move on top of me and all the sensual sensation from earlier evaporated. He felt my body tense then suggested that we switch positions.
“Lay on your stomach – it’ll feel a lot better. You don’t seem to be comfortable.”
Laying on my stomach it really didn’t feel as painful … in fact it felt so much better. After a few moments I was actually enjoying myself! I never knew sex could feel this good – for the first time it didn’t feel like a chore.
Thapelo had us try a few other positions and I felt no pain – it was amazing! We lay in each other’s arms, catching our breath, once we were done and I felt a unique sense of satisfaction. A few minutes passed with us embracing and then he sat up, dropping me gently on my pillow.
“I have to go. I have an early morning. If I stay any longer I’ll never leave.”
He kissed me softly on the forehead then began dressing himself.
“There are tissues on my desk. You can just throw the condom in the bin by the door. I’ll sort it out in the morning.”
I rolled over on my side and watched him, all dreamy eyed. He stopped for a moment after I spoke then began looking for something. He threw all my clothing on the bed as he searched. He threw my dress right at my face and whispered an amused, “Sorry”.
As I removed my dress I felt something sticky. It was the condom – which explained why he was searching frantically. I held it towards him and cleared my throat to get his attention. As he reached for it, I noticed it was empty!
“Wait – you used a condom right? There is a used condom somewhere on the floor?”
“Uhm … no I took it off … it was uncomfortable. Surely you felt that I wasn’t using it?”
“No, I didn’t, and what do you mean it was uncomfortable? Did you–”
“It was pinching me. And come on … you had to feel that I didn’t have it on. It feels so different.”
For a second my brain stopped. I couldn’t formulate a coherent sentence. I just stared at him as he went on about how I should have felt the difference and how the lack of a condom helped ease my discomfort from earlier.
All the while he was putting on his clothing and making me feel ridiculous for even panicking about him not using a condom.
“Really it’s nothing. If you want I can go with you to get the morning after pill … if you’re worried.”
I just looked at him, unable to speak.
“Trust me, we’re fine. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
And then he was out the door and I sat there as an odd feeling slowly crept up and got hold of me. I was uneasy and realised I felt violated – which didn’t make sense cos this time I was a willing participant.
My thoughts spun round and round. Finally, I concluded that I was overreacting, that nothing bad had happened, then I slept.
* * * * *
The next morning I hoped I’d feel better about what happened but I still felt uneasy. The fact that I didn’t know how to feel about the whole thing was what got to me. Had he done something wrong … or was I exaggerating? Would my experience with Ayden make me question every sexual encounter?
I needed some insight, or at least I needed to talk to someone about it. So at breakfast, while Zinhle and Taryn were nursing their hangovers I created a hypothetical scenario that strongly resembled what happened last night – and they had a lot to say on the matter!
“Oh, that’s like a whole thing. I think it’s called ‘stealthing’. A man will take off a condom on purpose during sex – without the woman’s knowledge,” Zinhle said, as she poured another cup of coffee.
“I saw a whole thread on Twitter where this group of men where bragging about having done this to a lot of women. In some cases they do it to pass on diseases to these women.” Taryn shuddered as she spoke.
And all I could do was stare at them blankly as the shock seeped into my skin.
“I read that stealthing is considered sexual assault because it’s an act done without the woman’s consent. At the same time, it’s not something you can easily prove.”
I took a steadying breath as I watched Zinhle speak.
“I had a friend who had a guy do this to her. The bastard used gaslighting tactics on her. He made her feel like she was being paranoid and that it wasn’t a big deal. Even said she should have felt that he had taken off the condom and stopped him if she really didn’t want to have unprotected sex. Luckily he didn’t give her an STI but she had to get the morning after pill. One of the many reasons why I am glad I’m not attracted to men.”
“Oh my gosh Taryn – that’s horrible! Men can be such dogs. And the danger is you never know what sort of creep you’re bringing into your bed until it’s too late.”
I sat there … my head spinning from all they were saying. I needed to talk about what happened to me, only I couldn’t move a muscle.
Had Thapelo planned to do that to me? And what was I supposed to do now? Why would someone want to do this to anyone? And if Thapelo was really the sort of person to violate another person … what did that say about my judgement? I spent a whole month with this man and not once did I get a weird vibe from him. Clearly I couldn’t trust my instincts anymore.
How was I back here again – feeling used and completely violated? Why did this sort of thing keep happening to me? I had thought I was done with the constant feeling of being tarnished in some way.
But here I was feeling low and vulnerable all over again. Once again I was broken, used then tossed aside with blatant disregard for my well-being. It hadn’t even been four months since Ayden and I was wrecked all over again.
I barely made it back to myself the last time, I’m wasn’t even sure I could gather the pieces if I fell apart again.
Surely the issue was with me? Men looked at me and I probably reeked of weakness. Clearly something was wrong with me, or else why would I keep having to deal with all of this? How do I survive one thing only to fall head first into another? Or did I simply captivate vile and unhinged men? I didn’t have answers to any of the questions swarming my brain. All I knew was first I needed to tackle the problem at hand.
“I need to go see a doctor. Now!” I whispered in horror.
Tell us: What are all the possible consequences of ‘stealthing’, both physical and mental?