“Hello, hope you are well! There is a colleague of mine who told me that he loved me and wanted to be in a relationship with me. I have never dated anyone and he was fully aware of this. I told him that I want to take it slow and that sex if off the table. He agreed. However, as time went on he started to make me do things that I didn’t want to do. I said no, and refused as much as I could. Sometimes, I couldn’t bare him asking me over and over and again and did things to get it over with. Around the 5th day, he was taking it too far and I refused, which he wasn’t happy about. I felt guilty about saying no several times and actually spoke to my friend who told me that everything that has gone on is wrong. During a night shift, I told him how I felt and how I was upset and hurt over the things he did to me. He apologised. I asked him for time and told him I will contact him when I’m ready but he didn’t give me the time. Instead, he called, then messaged me saying that I left him etc. The thing is, I work with him. We work together at the same ward in a hospital. He has been promoted recently and everyone says good things about him professionally, which is obviously good. But hearing his name all the time, seeing him, is just traumatizing. I don’t know what to do. Could you please help me? ”
Thank you for your question and for sharing more about your situation with us. It’s important to know that if you have a question there will be others out there with similar scenarios quietly seeking answers so we do always appreciate the questions
To support you I would like to share some insight about consent so you can see if you feel your scenario with your co-worker was consensual or not.
Consent should be freely given when it comes to s*xual interactions. It should be a process of each party taking part in the act freely giving their consent to the individual act and consent must be communicated in multiple acts within the content of s&x as a whole. What I mean by that is that just because you consent to one thing sexually, if you do freely give consent, it does not mean you agree to everything. It’s your body and it’s important to know that nobody has the right to pressure you in the moment or over time to do things with it that you do not want to do.
Also, you should know too that you have the right to change your mind with what you do with your body at any time. That could be before an act, during an act or afterwards if it wasn’t for you then you do not have to do that again and you do not need to justify yourself to anyone.
No is a complete sentence. If you say no it doesn’t mean “no not now” it means “no not ever” unless you freely communicate your desires or change your mind on your own accord at any point in your life.
Consent that is freely given also has to be informed consent. Informed means you have the right to take your time, ask questions, understand what happens before, during or after something sexually and so you can be fully in the loop about what you might be doing. When you are in the know then you are able to make an informed decision and feel even more in the driving seat about what you do with your body.
Get specific about what it is your consenting to. eg – yes to that but no to that. Open to that position but not to that. Open with physical touch but not okay with penetration. Okay with dating but not okay with any sexual interaction at all. When you’ve been specific and the person isn’t seeing you, hearing you or understanding you then there may be a bigger problem to consider.
If you do not consent to something enthusiastically and don’t feel excited about doing it then do not do it. “When in doubt to absolutely nowt” If you feel awkward, upset, uninformed, unwilling, unwanting, unsure or anything that isn’t enthused about the act and you don’t have a desire to do it – don’t do it and nobody has the right to gaslight, pressure, persuade or tell you what to do.
Safety first – if you do consent to anything physical safety first. I’m not just talking about contraception for safe intimacy, I am also talking about you feeling emotionally safe with someone. S&x is one of those things that should be talked about before, during and after so all parties are on the same page and if they aren’t then there should be no engagement with each others bodies or emotions until they are.
If you feel that you need more support for the experience you have had I recommend Brook Sexual health for support and Talk Listen Change for support around any distress you may have experienced and still be experiencing. Please take good care of yourself and let me know if you need anything more – please email firstname.lastname@example.org for any personal sessions if you would like.
Your body, your terms. Always.