I Used to Stand in Dark Hallways and Say “Kiss Me”

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About Lisa Hickey

Lisa Hickey is CEO of Good Men Media Inc. and publisher of the Good Men Project. "I like to create things that capture the imagination of the general public and become part of the popular culture for years to come." Connect with her on Twitter.


  1. As a victim of all kinds of abuse I know about guilt, shame, and blame. Although this isn’t the first time I’ve felt it, while reading this article I couldn’t help but feel pain for some of the male species. We need to teach our girls that verbalizing “yes” and “no” strongly. Of course not all, but so much sexual abuse is due to fear of voicing ourselves. It won’t protect you from everything, ladies, but use that voice strongly!

  2. Mike Domitrz= The Date Safe Project= spreading the word, traveling the country to educate kids to ask first!

  3. Mois de Fleurs says:

    I loved your article, Lisa, and it definitely rang true for a lot of the experiences I have had. I never experienced abuse as a child but my father did leave in my early teenager-hood in circumstances which seemed world-changing at the time. I felt that I had been brought up to believe that my identity was my parents’ opinion of me, so losing my father’s interest led to a big crisis of my own identity. For a while I felt that only in the company of my mother was I at my ‘point neutral’, truly being myself. This coincided with the growing realisation of my potential as a teenage girl to attract male attention. In a very similar way to you, I became extremely promiscuous, always hoping that the next man would be the one to fall in love with me, and somehow take the unbearable aspects of my personality off my hands. While I am now in a caring and long-term relationship, it has been very difficult to accept a healthy but not-fairytale love and work hard at protecting and strengthing it. If my boyfriend ever found out about my occasional lapses of fidelity, I think he would be devastated. But for me, fidelity is something which I have to work on, and which is part of me accepting my identity as a good person who does good things.
    The issue of consent in sex is still one I am unsure about, because even in the best relationship there are likely to be occasions of unenthusiastic consent, especially if there is a (temporary or permanent) discrepancy between the sex drives of the partners. I also realise that my reluctance often becomes enthusiasm as I become more turned on, but I fear this is a very dangerous thing to say because it indirectly encourages people to try and persuade others into having sex. In my personal experience, I have been in situations where I wished the next day that I hadn’t played the seductress and lured someone into bed, and also situations where I have had sex only to protect myself against someone’s negative judgement. Both of these kinds of situations are ones I wish I could have avoided, and I think that part of that is about not believing my own judgement to be right and feeling that intimicy with other people could take away the pain of being me. Attempting to accept that my (considered, reflective, informed) judgement is the only one I will pay heed to doesn’t come easily, but I hope to get there eventually.

  4. I think one of the most power points you have made in this post is that the old and blame-laded ways in which we have talked about this in the past have simply not been very effective. So trying to approach this from a new perspective is well worth the effort.

    I don’t have the experience, as an adolescent, of being drunk. I was promiscuous because I was extremely curious. And I liked sex. And I had a great deal of it. I came from a reasonably stable family background. But even so, I did end up in situations where the ‘yes’ was questionable. I can’t honestly say it was rape. I can honestly say that I was giving out a lot of mixed messages. And I gave out those mixed messages because there were social pressures and expectations at work that overrode my choices.

    If I grew up in a time when it was socially preferable for women to say ‘no’, then I think there is a similar strong but opposite pressure on women today to say ‘yes’. Either state is unacceptable because neither is an answer born of individual free choice.

    What I do think is very important is to educate young women that whether they ‘give it up’ or not is no measure of their value as women. Conversely, it’s important to educate young men that a rejection of the offer of physical intimacy is no measure of their virility or masculinity.

  5. One of the best men I ever dated somehow, despite all my best efforts, never had sex with me. He slept with me, held me, hugged and kissed me, but gently and firmly didn’t go any further. He taught me so much, that took me years after we split to figure it out. If you’re abused as a child, you genuinely don’t have a ‘no’ button in your head. You take for granted that you will have sex with any man that shows even passing interest, and don’t even question whether you want to or not. Sex is currency exchanged for love, intimacy, and an abatement of the dreadful loneliness abuse victims take for granted. This doesn’t excuse rape or abuse, but it does make things difficult for men who aren’t aware of what’s going on. It takes a very strong and aware man to know the difference when the girl he is with has no idea that sex can be consensual, and whether she is consenting or not. Of course, women who don’t know the difference are a gift to abusive men, and I consider myself very lucky to have known this man who taught me that relationship and physical intimacy doesn’t mean I automatically have to screw the man. I now have a standard, and an awareness of how a good man treats women. Thanks for your article, so much resonated with me and helped me understand some of the ‘whys’ that I still struggle with.

  6. Thank you so much for this fantastic article. It’s such a fresh departure from the knee-jerk “let’s blame everything on men” attitude that so many people who wish to talk about rape have.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Thanks. I just don’t find the “let’s blame everything on men” mentality to be productive in the least.

      • i don't believe you says:

        Wow! Just Wow! I don’t think I have ever read a more honest, raw and complex post written about a woman’s sexual past. Even in the midst of friendly company, women rarely admit that they use sex, but here you are confessing on the internet to using it as a form of power and therapy.

        Like yourself, there are plenty of folks who would like a more productive discussion about sexuality that doesn’t assign blame and point fingers, but the mere mention of the “R” word does just that! You can’t have a truce while using the word rape.

  7. Thank you for writing this….so brave…and so full of all the ambiguities and, ultimately, the violence that pervades relationships between men and women…or really girls…you were a child then….and the horror that comes with that realization…

  8. I’m not good at avoiding the blame thing. I thing blame is a good thing. I guess that makes me the weirdo but I honestly see criticism as a great force for good. However I’ll try to play by the rules (looks like the party’s over anyway).

    What’s the deal with all the rape talk? Why do people go on about it so much like it is so important? Getting kicked in the balls is also a form of sexual assault but people don’t endlessly go on and on about it. I don’t get it. I have maybe some ideas but …. I don’t think I am on the same page as some of the weird remarks here at all. Especially on date rape so-called.

    On the consent thing, what the heck is up with that? Why is it such a huge deal to figure out? I never had sex with anyone and had even the tiniest doubt about their participation. But even if I did… well why is it any different from any other human activity? Want to go to lunch? Maybe you are ambivalent. So I start off that way. if you don’t want to go, won’t you tell me? Why can’t communication over sex work just the exact same way that any other form of communication over anything else works?

    Why do people think having sex with someone who is asleep is automatic rape? I don’t mean legally, I know the law is all fucked up. I mean morally. Do you really want to say that a wife who wakes up her husband with a blow job is a rapist? Because I don’t see it.

  9. Lisa,

    I’m sorry I could not even get through the entire piece. I know too much of this story. But I am so sorry you went through such early years. Sometimes I just hate humanity.

  10. Frozen Flame says:

    It’s best if we raise young men to simply operate on the assumption that a clear, reasonably sober “yes” is not a “yes” at all. Does that mean they’ll miss opportunities to score when a “veiled” yes might have been legit? Maybe, but at least we’ll also spare them the burden of having hurt a woman in a very dark and irreversible way. A minor setback for a guy who can always schedule a date with Rosy Palm to relieve the frustration, and the benefit is it prevents something that’s not only tragic for the woman, but the doubt that will plague the man.

    Because yes, men have consciences. And the fact that they didn’t “mean” to take advantage while they were drunk doesn’t mitigate the hurt they caused, but the fact still stands that they’ve become monsters against their better judgment, just as the woman has become a victim against hers.

    So, as Men, let’s settle for nothing less than a clear, concise “Yes.” And if she says “No” or anything that might *be* a “No* at the last minute, then we stop right there, pack it up, take our ball(s) and go home. Just like women, we deserve for sex to be fun, and to engage in it with a clear conscience. Heaven knows there are enough obstacles to that as it is without us adding to the problem.

    Again, if that means you miss out because a woman who said no “really” meant yes? Again, the consequences of being wrong about that are too grave. Have some self-respect, guys. It’s not our job to figure out what someone “really” means. Don’t let that cloud your judgment.

    And if that means that communications between the sexes become clearer and leaves less room for foggy interpretation as a result of such a fundamental change, consider that a bonus. Because that needs to happen as a whole, and this is a great place to start.

    • Frozen Flame says:

      Sorry, I meant “It’s best if we raise young men to simply operate on the assumption that IF A YES is not a clear, reasonably sober “yes” IT is not a “yes” at all.”
      Sorry to comment on my own, but I felt the misreading would have proved terribly far from what I was conveying!

  11. You lost me at I was 16 17 I was gorgeous isn’t every girl at that age… Haven’t you noticed? Is a contrived sidenote. You’re using your youth as an excuse for your rape. Im 20
    Years older then a 16 year old and had had more unconsensual sex then I can remember. You can’t blame youth or naiveté for rape. It’s happens at every age…. And for you to sensualize yourself over rape/youth is narcissistic.

  12. J.G. te Molder says:

    Well, it’s really simple what we should teach teenagers: if you’re a boy, stay the hell away from girls and women when they’re drunk!

    Not because you’d hurt them, but because the new FBI definition and state laws, is that if she’s drunk, she was raped. Never mind she stuck a needle in your arm, pumped you full of a knock-out drug against your will, tied you to a bed then outright raped you then there, possibly with the help of que-tip forced down your urethra to keep your penis up; only penetration is legally rape, and she being drunk, means you as a guy raped her! “Forced to penetrate”, or rather “forced envelopment” is not rape according to the laws and not according to the FBI definition of rape.

    Beat up, forced down, tied up, a weapon in your face, drugs administered, a hand over the mouth to keep you quiet all against your will, those are all signs of a real actual rape, and those are the only actual rapes.

    If you got yourself too drunk to be able to stop yourself from something you no longer want to when you handed an eager yes moments earlier, there is no rape. Least of all if the boy is just as drunk. At least, if you apply the law equally:

    1. If you getting yourself drunk is enough to remove agency and thus you are being raped, getting in a car after drinking and killing someone would mean you get to walk because your agency would be just as much compromise so you can’t be held responsible for killing people with your car.

    2. If both partners are too drunk to have agency, then just like above with the drunk car, you can’t he held responsible for any decisions you make because you can’t make any informed ones. This would go of course, for both participants in the drunk sex, result; by equal application of the law, neither person can be held responsible for any rape that may or may not have taken place.

    3. If both partners keep their agency under equal application of the law, and sex with someone drunk is rape, we must conclude that both partners, male or female, raped each other, meaning that a guilty verdict means that both partners must go to prison.

    The end result is simple logically and sanely speaking; drunk sex cannot possibly be rape, otherwise you get things that are just plain ridiculous and an entirely selective, discriminating application of the law.

    • “those are the only actual rapes”?

      This is a truly chilling point of view.

      If a person is incapacitated for whatever reason, you’re not to have sex with them, because that IS ACTUAL RAPE.

      • So how drunk is incapacitated? Passed out? Blacked out? 0.08% BAC? One drink? One sip? What if both partners have been drinking? Did they rape each other? This definition of rape runs into a lot of contradictions that need dealing with. Unfortunately, too many people default to ‘it’s rape if they say so’.

      • poester99 says:

        If both are near incapacitated drunk, who is raping who? What if she initiates?
        Again, it’s extremely unclear. With the vagueness of the new rules if SHE has had anything to drink AT ALL it is rape. It’s intentionally vague to make sure a lot of he said/she said’s end up with convictions.
        If he’s near incapacitated drunk, he still retains all the liability.
        It’s just stupid to get very drunk at a party unless you have someone (who’s less drunk or a dd) watching your back.

        Is that the ideal? It seems a lot of women are fine with the government treating them like children.

        • Steve Steveson says:

          Unfortunately this seems to be what is being said many times over on this site. Two people equally drunk, have sex, OMG!!!!! HE RAPED HER!!!! She only said yes because of the drink!

          I’m sorry, but when both people are drunk and both people say yes (even in a non verbal way) it is not rape. Saying so is denigrating men and playing to the idea that all men are violent, evil and debased. Rape is when one person has sex with someone else against there will. Two people having sex, even if one or both of them regret it in the morning, is not rape, it is just a bad idea.

    • I get that this is an old post but I just had to comment on this statement.
      Rape is when the word NO (with no mixed signals) is violated.
      My rational:
      Do you think the quiet girl who gets pushed into drinking by her friends then gets assaulted by a man who is older and completely sober even when she clearly tells him NO (despite being drunk) is at fault? Yes, drinking young is childhood ignorance I’ll give you that. Isn’t it just as sad when drinking with a few close friends (who told you that they had your back) turns into one of the most painful nights of your life? I get it that women take advantage of men. Yes, old news I’m afraid. You know, the stupid girl who lies about her age, goes to bed with you, then sues the crap out of you or puts you in jail. However I think both parties need to be held liable (would it kill you to check her damn ID before hopping into bed?) and girls, stop preying on men ’cause you have daddy issues. Learn from their mistakes and carry on. I think women can indeed rape men (even though for some stupid reason the national rape statistic doesn’t think so).
      I agree that ALL genders need to grow up, but I don’t believe that rape is necessarily the “Beat up, forced down, tied up, a weapon in your face, drugs administered, a hand over the mouth to keep you quiet all against your will, those are all signs of a real actual rape, and those are the only actual rapes.”
      I bet it would be a different story if your male best friend took advantage of you while you were drunk. But YOU were in a safe environment! But YOU said no. And guess what? YOU weren’t tied down with a knife to your throat.
      Feels different when the shoe is on a different foot huh?

  13. You were exploring your sexuality…drunk but still I don’t see it as rape or anything you should be especially ashamed of, really…I don’t even remember the night I lost my virginity o even the girl’s name, but she didn’t know mine either so I guess it was fair to a point…

    I had so bad experience in my subscouncious in my first time I loathed one night standing’s fom that on to the point I am unable, as my friends say, to ”answer the call’ in parties, not because I felt guilty of rape, but just because it was an experience I just didn’t remember the day after so it was pointless really…

    • poester99 says:

      Stupid, Stupid, many people don’t see that as innocent carelessness by two young adults any more. With only a slight twist you could have had your future destroyed and gone to jail.
      Best to avoid it entirely, like you say.

  14. I don’t usually comment but there are so many shockingly negative comments on this article, I just wanted to quickly say how much I appreciated this article. I think it presents a needed perspective, offers insight to an ongoing dialogue, and encourages compassion for all those affected by sexual violence in our society. Thanks for writing!

  15. People need to a take more seriously, to many men and women think its about sex although I don’t see any type of crime beside statuatory rape there is need for everyone to behave better

  16. Hunter @Green Detective says:

    Behind your message of rape advocacy is bigger issue of child abuse and alcoholism. 25% men, and 50% women report physical abuse in childhood. Research recovery, and give yourself compassion. Every day. New script. Follow your heart, and forgive. Take back your joy.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Thanks for your comment. And yes, I was trying to get at the tip of the iceberg about how child abuse and alcoholism combine to make very bad decision making.

      But anyone who knows me knows how much I am now able to “take back my joy”. 110%. And there is no other life than the one I am living joyfully, at this very moment.

      • I can’t read all of these negative comments. Some are very misguided and ignorant.

        I sincerely appreciate this piece, and have been seeking help for similar reasons. This doesn’t seem to be the best place for this discussion, which is rather unfortunate, considering this is an incredible site. I hope there comes a day where we are able to talk about this without shame and blame. Until then…


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