Warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault.
The truth about consent is that it can change. Someone can give consent, but can revoke it any time they start to feel uncomfortable or unsafe. This is what happened in the case of Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer, who has recently been accused of assaulting a woman during their relationship. What started off as consensual encounters ended in violence. What this case highlights is the complexity of consent and how sexual misconduct can occur anytime regardless of whether or not consent was given in the first place.
According to the woman, Bauer strangled and punched her during intercourse on two separate occasions. And because it happened more than once, many criticize and wonder why she agreed to see him again. But it’s much more complex than that. Some may consent to BDSM and rough sex at first, but if they start to feel uncomfortable or unsafe, they have the right to refuse at any time. Additionally, it’s common for women to consent to unwanted sex. In one study, researchers studied the relationships of college women and whether or not they would consent to unwanted sex with their partners. They found that the main reason why a woman would consent to unwanted sex is because they feared their partner would lose interest and leave them. Others believed that sex was a relationship obligation (Impett & Peplau, 2003). We don’t know for sure if the woman in Bauer’s case felt this way, but we do know that consent is not as clear-cut as we think.
For a while, laws about consent and sexual assault were not favorable for the victim. They had to prove they actively resisted by yelling out or screaming, and had to have two witnesses testify. Additionally, marital rape laws were not established until recently. Back then, the thought was that married women lost their rights to refuse sex from their husband, and that their husbands couldn’t commit rape in the eyes of the law (Smith, 2001). Today, anyone can be charged with this crime no matter the relationship or situation. The definition of consent has also changed where now, consent must be verbally given throughout the entire process. In the case of Trevor Bauer, the fact that he did not repeatedly ask for her consent should be accounted for.
In recent news, Bill Cosby’s sexual assault charges have been overturned due to legal technicalities. This event can be very triggering to many survivor groups because it shows how the system can easily fail those who have spoken up about their experience. According to Jeglic (2021), “sexual abuse is the most underreported crime, and it is estimated that only about one-third (37%) of survivors report the crime to authorities”. Not only that, but “only 25
out of every 1000 sex crimes result in incarceration for the perpetrator” (Jeglic, 2021). It can seem like Cosby got a “free pass” because of his fame.
It is pretty difficult for me to write about this topic because I, myself, have experienced being wronged through legal technicalities. The first time I actually had the courage to speak up about being sexually assaulted resulted into nothing. I was so disheartened when the person I had spoken with about my assault told me there was nothing they could do because of certain legal
technicalities. Now, my situation might not have the same severity as the survivors dealing with the Bill Cosby case, but the feeling of being failed by the justice system is one that I, and many other sexual assault victims, are far too familiar with. Saying that you feel hopeless or helpless
does not do the feeling justice.
This event can be extremely difficult for survivors because it can feel like the justice system has failed them. It can bring feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. In these situations, it is recommended that survivors use techniques that can help them cope with these triggers. Jeglic (2021) mentions 5 techniques that survivors can use during these times. The first is to stay away from social media. Given that Bill Cosby is such a high-profile celebrity, there is most likely going to be a lot of social media exposure about the issue, and that can be triggering to some survivors. A couple of other techniques revolve around practicing mindfulness and grounding techniques so that survivors can feel a little bit more at ease regarding the news about him going around. Another strategy is to stay away from drugs and alcohol because numbing the emotional pain that comes with hearing traumatic new only makes things worse for the
survivor. Reaching out to the ones you love and trust is also recommended so that they know that you are struggling. It is important to remind survivors that they are not alone during these times because of how it feels like everything and everyone is going against them.
Jeglic, E. L. (2021). Why Bill Cobsy’s sentence being overturned can trigger survivors. Psychology
Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/protecting-children-sexual-
This is an update on the podcast episode, “Eat Your Heart Out Dr. John Doe”. In it, she shares her traumatic experience with her psychiatrist and the lasting effects of it. If you haven’t listened to it, I would highly encourage doing so before reading this blog post.
Yesterday, I got a call from some attorney’s assistant I’ve never heard of asking if I would be willing to testify against Dr. Doe in court. My heart dropped. I sometimes feel like it was all a distant memory never needing to be reminded my “no” wasn’t enough. However, every couple of months, or even years, I get a phone call from someone new asking me to recount a horrible memory that always leaves me shattered. Then I remember the hands, the smell, the corrosive stubble against my skin. I remember my defenses “I wore a long sleeve”, “I didn’t lead him on”, “I was vulnerable”. The lump forms and the tears start, and I feel like I am in that office trapped, surrounded by drawings that patients drew for a man who abused his power and abused me. It has been six years that those events took place. The events that carved out a piece of me and replaced it with a dying ember that crackles at the call of each new investigator. I never felt believed, I always prefaced I didn’t have evidence and I would understand hesitance to believe, but that I wouldn’t lie about it. Each time they wrote notes, while I choked my way through the retelling. Some would offer me water and tissues, some would tell me to calm down. There would be months or years between calls that always felt so sudden. I would be watering the plants and get a call. I would be with friends and get a call. I would be at work and get a call. I don’t think I’ll ever get accustomed to the idea that there might be someone somewhere dialing my phone number right now to ask me more questions. But if they do, I hope they are kind and patient with me while I feel the ember spark again and burn another piece of me away.
I haven’t decided if I would testify. The idea of seeing Dr. Doe cross his arms like he would as I talk in great detail about the events makes me feel scared and vulnerable. When I would talk to an investigator, all they did was take notes. This time, I could be objected because of word choice. I could be interrupted because I was crying too hard. I could be asked to be quiet as they flip through their paperwork making sure there is no contradiction. Their power over my words and my story as I sit in front of him feels like some sort of emotional torture I may be too scared to endure. That’s just the objections. There would be cross-examination. They would ask me all these leading questions that would have no relevancy on his actions designed to manipulate me. The jurors would scribble if I took too long or not long enough, if I cried too much or was stone cold, if the years have taken a toll on my memory and I wouldn’t be able to recall a trivial detail. It all just seems so much.
I haven’t decided if I wouldn’t testify. During the last call from an investigator I was notified there was another. I don’t know her name or what she looks like. In my heart she looks like me but stronger. She didn’t wait. She chose to be this strong woman who is asking for my help not be dismissed. Her hand is outstretched to me with pleading but fierce eyes. I want to apologize to her. Maybe my inactions caused her to suffer like I did. I have stayed up thinking about would I say to her and how sorry I am. She wouldn’t need consolidation she would demand the same strength of me.
I have agreed to meet with the attorney and discuss everything. And as I continue to feel the very real tremors of the powerful MeToo movement, I empower women in their choice, if that is the same as mine or not. Each trauma is a unique scar that heals at its own pace. I wish you all that unique healing as well collectively supporting each other.
Thank you for reading this update on my journey. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will be as open as I safely and legally can.