Warning: this section contains graphic descriptions of childhood emotional and sexual abuse; adulthood sexual aggression through verbal and emotional coercion, blackmail through threats of suicide, and sexual assault through the use of physical force; unidirectional and reciprocal abuse; depression; suicide attempts; prostitution; and language barriers between a patient and a psychiatrist and between a victim of intrusion and the local police contributing to a sexual assault.
I later moved to another town where I found better work and could move into a healthier home. Still struggling with the temptation to return to alcohol, knowing my inability to resist peer pressure, and recognizing my emotionally vulnerable situation, but feeling increasingly lonely, I started to choose my friends cautiously. I eventually discovered a Baha’i-administered youth group and was impressed by both its abstinence from drugs including alcohol and its ability to welcome me independently of whether I professed the faith. That helped me to forget alcohol and made me feel ‘normal’ among other teetotallers. I’d then experienced being a visible minority for the first time in my life, but the members quickly put me at ease through their lack of ‘anti-racism’ and their apparent blindness to my race and even to my lack of faith. Though I sometimes felt awkward as an outsider in the group, I felt comfortable with the lack of pressure to adopt the faith along with the positive drug-free and promiscuity-free peer pressure within it. This was particularly comforting given my dread of any sexual relationship and the emotional attachment that could come from it: if mere negative peer pressure could give me panic attacks, how was I supposed to handle a sexual relationship with someone?
I soon met another non-Baha’i in the group who appeared even more solitary than I was. I befriended her and then introduced her to some of the others thinking that I could help her make new friends that way. She said she was a Muslim and wanted to know where she could buy a Koran in English. Though I didn’t follow Islam myself, I knew where I could get an English translation for her and so we exchanged phone numbers. Though she knew fluent English, she knew Indonesian too and that attracted me to her as a potential language-learning partner to improve my own Indonesian which I continued to learn.
A few days later, I’d contacted her and invited her to meet me at the book shop where I worked where I’d bought one for her. She arrived at the appointed time and I gave her it. She thanked me for it and then left.
She kept my phone number and later contacted me again. She wanted to make friends with me outside of the youth group. I’d never learned to defend my boundaries and I knew it, so I made it a policy to never meet a person alone and especially not in private until I knew her well. After my negative experience with a homosexual man, I applied this rule to any man who I believed could be homosexual too. Since I felt safer in an organized group, I’d proposed that we meet at the next gathering of the Baha’i youth group or at a Muslim one if she preferred that. Though I enjoyed the Baha’i youth group, she didn’t and she disliked the local Muslim youth meetings too. We’d met at a restaurant on the first date and then just walked around and talked. She invited me to her place for supper on a few occasions and I countered that I would look for another group. I knew she liked international topics and a UN Association existed in town. She agreed, and I contacted the Association to see if we could organize any kind of group there. Though the Association’s president liked the idea, I couldn’t get a group started for reasons that I can no longer recall, though lack of time and sufficient interest on my part was the main culprit if I remember correctly.
Since I’d moved and was now studying in college and was already busy anyway, I contacted her back to tell her that it didn’t work out and to wish her the best. That’s when she pleaded me to come to her place for dinner. I feared that she might be too attracted to me but my prejudices told me that to meet a Muslim whom I’d first met at a Baha’i youth meeting at her home should be safe. I’d read the Koran and so was aware that the Koran prohibited fornication and that a Muslim can marry only a believer in God. I was also aware that many Muslims interpreted a believer in God to be specifically someone who professed Islam, and I didn’t profess Islam and was still questioning even my belief in God. With that, I felt safe enough to meet her for dinner. That’s when I learned that she’d declared refugee status and was in Canada with her brother, aunt, and uncle-in-law. Her uncle-in-law worked for the Canadian government and so lived apart in the same city with her aunt, she came from an upper-middle-class family and so her father could afford to rent an apartment for her and her brother, and her brother always spent his time with his girlfriend so she stayed home alone. I soon learned that she also feared being alone and was just as emotionally unstable as I was if not more so.
After dinner, she begged me to stay the night and quite emotionally so. Frozen in a panic attack that I’d not experienced in a long time and emotionally no more able to refuse her than I could my dad but desperately wanting to return home, I tried a dangerous gamble. Trying to manipulate her into agreeing to let me go, I made an unwanted sexual advance towards her. Ironically, I didn’t want to have sex with her at all and so I was violating both of our boundaries. Instead, I was trying to scare her into letting me leave. For reasons that I can’t explain, when she begged and pouted for me to stay, I froze at the prospect of putting my foot down, turning my back to the door, and leaving; yet I could somehow make an unwanted sexual advance against her even though I didn’t even want to have sex with her.
I believe that there were a few reasons for this. Public media had taught me to defer to women and especially visible-minority women as the oppressed sex and races even though that conflicted with my desire to defend my own boundaries. I knew the common belief that a straight man always wants sex even though my own personal experience contradicted that. Misguided by these stereotypes about men, women, and different races in my head combined with my dad’s education to defer to women, my public-school and family sex education reinforced by public media of the seeming prudishness of celibacy, the belief that rejecting her could hurt her, and my desire to not hurt her, I thought on some twisted level that for me to ignore her begging and pouting and to turn my back (the back of a straight man who by definition always wants sex from an attractive woman) on her might insult her beauty and so could offend her. Instead, making an unwanted sexual advance towards her would acknowledge my physical attraction to her while still, based on my education of how a woman should react to a man purposely violating her boundaries, cause her to fear or at least dislike me and so push me away which would then give me my queue to break off the advance and leave. I know that my logic was twisted like a pretzel, but I honestly never learned in any rational manner how to defend my boundaries against a woman and especially a member of a visible minority and so tried to do so in the only way I knew how: that was by violating her boundaries in an attempt to force her to respect mine.
I approached her sexually hoping that she’d push me away and let me go home. I was wrong. She did push me away but only sexually and still wanted me to stay. I then made another sexual advance but this time with one hand wrapped around the front of her neck as a gentle warning to her. She laughed and asked if I intended to strangle her. Still trying to intimidate her, I asked her what she thought. She told me to remove my hand from her neck as she gently pushed me away again.
I again took that as my queue to leave and she again returned to pleading, begging, and pouting for me to stay. Emotionally exhausted from the psycho-sexual sparring between us, I finally acquiesced.