Respecting “No”

The following post is upsetting. It hits that very uncomfortable spot. I didn’t write it. It was a post sent to me by Alison from Mad House Mum for consideration as a guest post on my blog. My first reaction, I am ashamed to admit, was no. It’s not the normal kind of post I would publish. It’s honest. It’s raw. I’m not saying that my posts aren’t honest but this is a very sensitive subject and I completely understand the reluctance to publish on her own blog. I didn’t respond immediately to Alison’s request. I shut down my email and got on with my day.

The post, her words, stayed with me. It was a beautiful piece of writing with an important message. Who was I not to publish this? Who was I to shy away from such behaviour? I’m a mum who promotes positive parenting. To discuss everything with my children has always been a focus of mine. Leaving things unsaid, or glossing over important issues is not what I’m about.

This is a harrowing read but it needs to be read by parents of both sons and daughters. The issue needs to be discussed. So, I’m thrilled that Alison felt she could ask me to publish this post. It is with absolute pleasure that we stand together as parents and write about these issues. Thank you Alison.

“No” means “No”

I want our kids to know that, ‘no’ means ‘no’. I don’t want this message to get diluted in the pool of porn or the ‘banter’. I don’t want it to be misunderstood by alcohol, naivety or uncontrollable desire. Because none of these factors are excuses: NO means NO!

The characters in the story below could be your son, your daughter, your grandchild or your friend. They are representative of an important issue. One that we must make sure teenagers understand. ‘No’ can be whispered, it can be a kick in the balls or a shake of the head. We must teach our children to recognise the signs and to take control.

It was a balmy summer afternoon and we were at your parents’ house. They were away on holiday and we were just hanging out. I was wearing a pretty, white Indian top that I had bought the year before. It hugged my skin and so I didn’t need a bra. It was cropped and showed off my small belly, that you said you liked.

We were sitting on the step that was on the landing upstairs. You put your arm around me and traced the contours of the lace. You started kissing me and I felt a sense of vulnerability. I wasn’t feeling it and I knew I didn’t want it. I shook my head and you replied to my silence with a: ‘yes’. Your hand and lips continued while my head continued to shake. I conjured up a quiet, ‘no’. I felt afraid. Afraid of losing you. ‘Yes’, you replied confidently and ‘no’ I said weakly back. I felt like a child. I was a child, albeit 17. We were still children.

You led me to your bedroom and had sex. But you see, I wasn’t wanting and the condom split. The little girl suddenly had to grow up. I showered through my convulsing sobs and wails. The shower head shook in my hand, making the soap that I was trying to smother across my body, difficult to spread.

You rang my doctor in a panic – the doctor who had creepily admired my budding breasts as I had grown. The doctor who always made me feel uncomfortable and submissive, now felt like my best friend. I pulled on one of your t shirts because I didn’t want him to think that I was asking for it. I wondered if I was? It was my fault for wearing that pretty top. You couldn’t help yourself. I hated your t shirt because it made me feel different. It wasn’t me. But it also made me feel safe.

He saw me out of hours – immediately. He talked me through the morning after pill. He asked me to ring him in a few days. You told me that I was at my most fertile. I don’t know how you even knew – I didn’t have any idea about how my monthly cycle worked, but you knew. You knew everything.

You told me I would have to have an abortion if the magic pill didn’t work. I couldn’t even contemplate it. I couldn’t even imagine. I was terrified and couldn’t leave your side. I was that little girl and you were scared too.

You were scared, but you weren’t sorry and I never asked you to be. Instead, when the panic was over, I took control. I called the shots in the only way I felt I could. I insisted on double protection and even withheld sex when I wanted to. I did it out of terror, not out of spite.

You had terrified me.

It wasn’t us, it was you. I had said, ‘no’ and you knew it. You knew that I hadn’t wanted sex that day, but you carried on.

It wasn’t me, it was you. You never said sorry. Perhaps you could never admit to yourself what you had done. Perhaps when it was over, you didn’t care.

Alison writes at www.madhousemum.com

84 thoughts on “Respecting “No”

  1. I don’t know quite what to say. This is written so beautifully but touches such a nerve as I am in the beginnings of bringing up a daughter. It’s this that I worry about, to teach a child, a teenager to have the strength to walk away, to not be afraid what anyone thinks, or who you might lose. It’s terrifying. Such a wonderfully written post by Alison – I adore her blog – I’m so pleased you decided to publish as it’s such an important message xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so glad you published this, it is so hard to sometimes publish things on our own site due to things we ‘need’ to write being too personal to share with people we know. I sometimes have to hold back posts due to the fact that other parents at my children’s school have discovered my blog. As a past victim of rape in my late teens I know how important writing about it can be, yet I don’t share it on my blog. But I do believe it is important for parents out there to know that this happens!! We need to empower our girls and teach our sons respect. So I am so proud of Alison for writing this and of you for sharing it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh you’re so right – so hard as I know my children but also friends and family read my blog so I completely understand why Alison didn’t want to publish on her site. Oh Mackenzie I’m shocked and I am so sorry to hear that you went through such an awful experience and I hope this wasn’t too painful to read. The message is one that needs to be read – I know that you understand this. Thank you so much for reading and commenting xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have worked through everything I went through, and now when I read posts like this it just reaffirms to me why I want to teach my girls to love an respect themselves so much. I think you are amazing for sharing it, so thank you xx Popping back from #MarvMondays

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  3. I always find things like this uncomfortable to read, but it’s a subject which shouldn’t be left in the shadows, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us!
    As a mother of a son I intend to bring him up with the same understanding of “no” as I would if I had a daughter.
    I hope that what I plan to be an honest approach to parenting will guid him down the right paths it life.
    Such an important message within this post! #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a son and a daughter and I hope that I have taught them well enough that you can say no and it really does mean no. It is a scary world that we live in.
    #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow this is so powerful! I’m a little lost for words. Well done for publishing it and well done Alison for finding the courage to write it! People need to see things like this, both men and women need to know no means no. It is not ‘teasing’ it is not ‘being difficult’. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my gosh, what an amazing post and so very brave. I am honestly dreading my girls growing up and hope they are always respected. Thanks for sharing for #marvmondays x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh my goodness. What a piece. I loved it but it’s very hard hitting. It absolutely should be spoken about and I suspect that girl in the story is. It one of a kind. Brilliant post, thank you for sharing. #marvmondays

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  8. Just makes me shudder to even think about it but what’s worse is that we’re in a state where it needs to be written. It needs to be said. That’s such a harrowing thought as parents and as human beings that we have to have these conversations. This is beautiful, but terrifying. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know – it’s so sad that it has to be written but that’s what is so powerful about the blogging world and women uniting together – these messages can be heard and they can help others. I’m so pleased I agreed to publish! Thank you for your comment xx

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  9. Woah… I love Alison’s blog and she is always spot on. Although this makes for uncomfortable reading, the poignancy and emotion of the writing is brought out beautifully, It’s the line… ‘this could be your son, daughter etc’ that really makes it so very, very difficult to process. We just want to bury our head in the sand when it comes to our own children but we mustn’t. Thank you for agreeing to publish this haunting piece of writing and thank you for Alison for writing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She’s great isn’t she? It’s a beautiful piece of writing, I agree and you’re right, we so often want to bury our head in the sand but this message is an important one. Thank you so much for reading and commenting xx

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  10. Gosh this is moving and makes me feel incredibly unsettled. Well done to Alison for sharing this; it’s so horrible she had to go through this experience. But sharing these genuine real-life stories is so valuable in educating people. I know that soaps etc cover it, but it’s not the same when it’s in the context of a drama. I hope that our childrens generations will all be more respectful of one another and, as you say, respect a “No”.

    #MarvMondays

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a powerful piece of writing – this serves as a stark reminder that no means no, regardless of the circumstances. I dread having to have this discussion with my daughter as she enters her teen years – I wish it wasn’t something that even needed to be said. #DreamTeam

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really wish that too but it was important to raise – it’s posts like these that really help guide our parenting so that issues are discussed that we may perhaps overlook if not written about in such a heartfelt way. Thank you for your comment x

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  12. Alison always knows how to strike a nerve and this piece is no exception. As you say it is hard hitting, but it has to be to strike the heart of all the parents reading it. Being respectful in a relationship and understanding “no” whether spoken or unspoken is a topic we have discussed openly in our house. No is a universal term and this is a unisex message which cannot be reiterated enough. XX

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I have two sons and a secret, selfish part of me is relieved I never got the girl I had originally hoped for, because of these sorts of issues. What a sad thought 😦 I will be raising my sons to have a firm, unwavering understanding of consent, that’s for damn sure. xx #kcacols

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  14. This strikes me on so many levels, some of which I will not get into. However, this is the exact reason why I am teaching my boys that you don’t touch a person without permission. Regardless of the intent. At 6 and 4 these morals will be taught, so I never have to worry that they will be on the other side of this. #KCACOLS

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  15. Wow – great writing, harrowing read. So sad that we still have to talk and write about this as an issue in this day and age. Sometimes I think things are getting worse – sexting, social media etc. Scary times for our kids 😦
    #kcacols

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  16. You absolutely did the right thing sharing this Helen. Alison does not shy away from the difficult subjects and this is no exception. It is uncomfortable to read and that is exactly how it should be. Some high profile rape cases have caused the subject to be raised in my family a few times and I have discussed the issue of consent with my older girls. But the essential point here is that it needs to be discussed with boys too and it seems from the comments here that many mothers are now planning on doing exactly that with their sons. Well done my lovely! Will share to FB page. xx #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you, Sharon – it wasn’t without much consideration but I’m pleased with the comments that everyone felt the same. It is sad that it needs to be raised but hopefully this will help guide conversations with teen boys and girls xx thank you for sharing too xx

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  17. Thank you for publishing this for Alison. It is so well written as many of the previous commenters have said. It’s pieces like this that need to go viral because it’s such an important message that both sexes need to acknowledge really. No does mean No however it is said. Thanks for linking up to #familyfun

    Liked by 1 person

  18. It’s hard to find the words here because this is such a harrowing post and topic but it does need to be discussed. It’s so sad that we have to teach our kids the dangers of some many unthinkable things. Beautifully written by Alison and well done you for publishing it xxx #coolmumclub

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a powerful piece with a powerful message and from the comments it has achieved what I wanted which was for parents to address the issue with their children as they grow about respecting no. Thank you for your comment x

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  19. I’m finding it difficult to come up with something to write about this. I have a daughter and the thought of her being harmed this way breaks my heart. I was abused by an ex when I was in my teens. I don’t talk about it ever. Thank you for being strong enough to share this, Alison. #ablogginggoodtime

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry sarah as I know this post will be so hard for some to read which is why I deliberated about publishing but for me to have that luxury to shy away from the brutal truth felt wrong and if this can help others, as you say, then it was right to publish. I am sorry that you have had such a negative experience – breaks my heart as a mum of girls xx

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  20. I read this at the start of the week and I couldn’t leave a comment because I couldn’t find the words, because I didn’t know what to say. However, sometimes we have to force ourselves to find the words because it’s too important not to say something. We have to applaud this post, it makes us feel uncomfortable and it might scare us but that is exactly why we have to find the words, why we have to share this. No means no and we need to be shouting for that to be heard. A very important post that is beautifully written #ablogginggoodtime

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    1. I know – I completely understand as that’s how I felt once I’d read it but as I’ve probably said in previous comments I didn’t think I should be allowed that luxury of being able to turn away from it and ignore it – I have two girls – I need to be able to talk to them about this so that they understand how to say no and also to respect no. It will also be a conversation with my son – it should go without saying but sadly these situations do arise and therefore somewhere along the line the issue of respect is not being taught – I do not want it to be my children who haven’t learnt that or those of others. Thank you for taking the time to come back and comment x

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  21. What a heart in mouth read. Young girls are incredibly vulnerable and I shuddered to think the situations my girls may find them in, in the future. We must for sure, give them the knowledge and confidence to make the right decisions and be strong when they need to be.
    Thanks for sharing #coolmumclub

    Liked by 1 person

  22. What a brilliant piece of writing. I’m so glad you published it. It’s such an important message and one I think all parents want to instill in their children as they grow up. #FamilyFun

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I’m glad you decided to publish this Helen, although I’m sure I would have had the same thoughts as you before hand. Alison’s writing described the situation so clearly. There is more to violating the no means no than physically forcing. There are important lessons to teach our sons & daughters here. Thanks so much for sharing this with us at #BloggerClubUK

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Gosh, I don’t know where to start. I am so pleased that you did publish Alison’s piece. It’s hauntingly written and so raw. Brave. It’s one of those topics that I find frightening to think about, let alone discussing. I have a daughter and this would be one of my worst nightmares. Thank you for sharing Alison’s post with the #DreamTeam xx

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Heart-wrenching. Well done for posting it and well done for her for writing it. I can’t write everything I would like to say, I’m glad she’s in a place where she can write and share her story. #kcacols

    Liked by 1 person

  26. So I’ve been seeing this on the linky circuit for the last week ‘saving it’ til when I am exhausted and blogged out and want a treat, like you save your favourite chocolate. A post by one of my top ten fave bloggers on the blog of another of my top ten fave bloggers. Doesn’t get much better than that! But that’s where the happiness ends because no story on non consensual sex is a happy one. This post stopped me in my tracks. #ablogginggoodtime

    Liked by 1 person

  27. The first thing I did when I read this was whisper “Jesus!” This was beautifully written and stirred something in me. When I was 17 and had run away from my home I went to a party and passed out on a sofa. I awoke with someone on top of me and I said no and luckily they stopped and got off. Ive never told anyone and unfortunately due to the fact that family read my blog have never written about it. I am lucky nothing big happened and when I said no he did listen. Please know it is not your fault.
    Well done helen for hosting xx
    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime

    Liked by 1 person

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