A woman questions sexual consent

Amy Dickinson
| Tribune content agency

Dear Amy, I am a woman in a long-term relationship with a man.

We have a good relationship, we talk about things and we agree on most things. When we disagree, we communicate, clear the air, and move on.

The other night, my partner woke up in the middle of the night and had sex with me which I did not like and would never have consented to, if asked.

At the moment, I did not stop it or verbalize the non-consent.

It took me a few days to process the incident. Then I tried to talk to him about it.

He said he vaguely remembers it, but claims not to remember any of the details.

He told me that he feels bad that this happened and I asked him for time to continue processing my feelings.

He wants to go right back to our regular, physically affectionate relationship, but I’m not sure I’m ready. I don’t think I want it yet.

I know he will be disappointed, but respectful if I ask him to stop the sex, but this can’t last forever.

How can I continue to process my emotions about this and work to build emotional and physical intimacy with my partner?

I can’t afford therapy right now, and I’m not sure how I feel about talking to anyone about it.

Can you give me any feedback?

Confused and Worried

Dear Confused: Since this episode is so out of the ordinary for you two, I would wonder why your partner did this and why he says he doesn’t remember it. Do you have a sleep disorder? Is he taking a drug that has affected both his behavior and his memory?

If so, he obviously needs to disclose it to you.

If not, your memory is unacceptably vague.

The issue of consent between lovers may seem complicated, but your partner having sex “with” you in the middle of the night is rape, regardless of whether you verbalized the lack of consent at the time.

This is your body. Asleep or half asleep, you were in no position to offer or refuse consent.

Because he won’t acknowledge your legitimate concern about his behavior, your partner simply wants to resume your physical relationship, but that wouldn’t solve anything for you.

You seem to pose it as your problem to solve. it is not You shouldn’t “ask her for physical intimacy” as if she’s doing you some kind of favor while you “get over” this episode.

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If he wants to resume an emotional and physical relationship with you, he should work hard to understand your reaction and regain trust.

I ask you for advice. RAINN.org offers a 24-hour chat “helpline” where you can communicate with a volunteer advisor.

Dear Amy, This has been an ongoing issue between my husband and I:

If I ask a question like, “Do you mind if I turn off this show or listen to it?” he will answer “yes” or “no”, and these one-word answers do not make their meaning clear to me.

He says it’s my fault for asking two questions, but maintains that even a short two-word answer would make his meaning clear.

He thinks I’m being unreasonable and should limit myself to one question.

I think my way of asking is just polite.

am i wrong


Dear Madam: If you want a simple answer, ask a simple question.

I agree with your husband that your habit of asking two potentially opposing questions (“Do you mind if I turn this off or do you listen?”) forces him to answer in more than one word.

I agree with you that your way of asking is polite.

And I hope you both agree with me that spouses should always do their best to be generous in all their communications.

Dear Amy, “Looking for Love” is a 72-year-old man who wrote about not having intimacy in his marriage for 20 years.

It would be good to see if he helps his wife with the housework.

If he treats her like the staff at an assisted living facility, he shouldn’t complain that she doesn’t want to be intimate with him. This would violate your employment contract.

This suggestion is based on my being the staff at the assisted living facility that has housed my 74 year old husband for over three decades.

been there

Dear been there: Ouch.

You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.

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