'Stop' Is Not a Safe Word. Yet.

Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

I was talking about safe words with a guy I have casual sex with, and he said I could just use the word “stop.” I instinctively said no I couldn’t. That’s absurd. But then I thought to myself, well why not? That is the logical word to use. One syllable. Clear message. Then I had an epiphany — I realized I don’t have faith in the word “stop.”

When I was sexually assaulted/raped the word “stop” didn’t make him cease his actions. Nor did the words “no,” “ouch,” or “get off me” or even using the ever more considerate “stop, please.”

Instead, he continued and it got more violent. When I was trying to cope with the trauma I oversexualized myself and started hooking up with a lot more people. I never said “stop” in these encounters. I wanted to be one step ahead of them, and make whatever uncomfortable act or position that could happen be my idea, and thus in my “control.” Because all I really wanted was that control back. That sense of control.

I realized I don’t believe the male species understands the word “stop.” I have scared myself from using that word based on traumatic experiences that were not my fault (concluding that I was not to blame is a whole other post…).

I have scaled back on the amount of casual encounters, and have slowly raised my expectations. I am also extremely committed to regular STI testing. I have come a long way, but there is always room for improvement.

Although what me and this guy have is only casual, I do trust him. I trust him enough that I think I can try using the word “stop,” maybe to take a quick pee break, just to see if it works.

However, until then, I’m sticking with my safe word: Scotland. Or pumpernickel. Or refrigerator. I guess I have some thinking to do…

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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