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You Owe Them Nothing: A Defense of Ghosting

"Why was it always my job to make these men better?"

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Written by MK Lords.

Art by MK Lords.

cw: stealthing, sexual assault

“Maybe you need to be bad,” my therapist told me with a mischievous smirk. I sat there reeling from the loss of two partners after months attempting polyamorous mediation. No amount of gentle, nonviolent communication resolved anything and I was so focused on doing the right thing that I had lost myself once again.

I used to believe that most issues could be resolved with conversation, and that tactics like ghosting were pretty shitty. But I found peace when, instead of confronting yet another man who violated me, I took the opposite approach. I became the ghost I’d disparaged.

Appeasing abusers had become second nature as a survival tactic which is why it took me nearly 25 years to get therapy.

LGBTQ+ folks are statistically more likely to be sexually abused over the course of their lives. We often have targets on our bodies whether we’re out of the closet or not. We also tend to make exhaustive efforts to prove our worth to heteronormative culture–if they could finally see us as human maybe we would be treated as such.

Appeasing abusers had become second nature as a survival tactic which is why it took me nearly 25 years to get therapy. I needed a break from serious relationships. Instead, I set better boundaries with casual hook ups and was upfront about my limited emotional availability.

One of these hook ups pinned me down, stealthed me (non-consentually removed a condom during sex) and ignored two more hard, verbal no’s before finally letting me go. The detachment with which he did this was alarming, and I left stunned, but also oddly resigned. The dissociation that followed prevented me from even believing I’d been sexually assaulted. At first.

But this blindsided me and eventually I felt stupid, then furious.

Much worse violations have happened that I can’t write about, so this one felt surreal in the lack of fear and trauma that followed. I’d spoken out against sexual abusers since coming out again in my mid-20s after re-closeting for safety. I knew the red flags, I knew how to strongly say “no”, and I advocated for other survivors. But this blindsided me and eventually I felt stupid, then furious. I felt like it wasn’t enough of a violation to pursue “justice” over.

What justice is there in a country committed to re-traumatizing survivors, if they are believed at all? What justice does a queer person really have when they know the police can’t be trusted? Past terrifying encounters with law enforcement taught me how disposable a person like me is to the system. Going to the cops was not an option.

I had a choice to make. Do I confront this man I barely know or do I ghost? Still healing from other assaults, I realized that the trauma of retreading abuse would only add time and grief to my recovery. “Talking it out” only reified the pathways I was trying to escape. I was sick of having my time wasted by people who surely didn’t give a second thought to my humanity. I was exhausted from trying so hard to get them to see me. And I owed them nothing.

No amount of words will get someone to treat me like a human being if they’ve already decided I’m an object.

As someone cursed with a body others feel entitled to, I’m acutely aware that I need to defend my space if I want any.  It wears on you. No amount of words will get someone to treat me like a human being if they’ve already decided I’m an object. Actions speak louder than words, even  yelled.

At a certain point, you get bored with your own tragic backstory.  This felt like another notch in the Traumatized Queer™ belt. I resent that queer people have to trot out their trauma in a consumable way or hide it entirely to exist under heteropatriarchy. No amount of lecturing this guy about why what he did was bad and why he shouldn’t do it again because it’s bad, mmmkay, was going to make him be better. Why was it my job to make these men better? I’m not Mr. Feeny in a very special episode of Enby Meets Hook Up Culture.

Words would not have an effect on that man, so I ghosted him. So much of my time had been lost to guilt and shame. I wasn’t going to feel bad over it.  I wasn’t going to get him to try to understand me, and it felt liberating. I took the power back that words had failed to give me.  No long, weepy conversations with empty promises of being better, no denials, no harassment…no loss whatsoever.

Ghosting the man who assaulted me made me realize that the power of silence is sometimes stronger than the power of saying no if our no’s fall on deaf ears. My disappearance needed no explanation. My interest in men plummeted anyway, and this experience compounded that dwindling attraction.

Not spending the time to rehash Sex Ed 101 with some loser opened me up to more time with people who cherished me because of who I was, not what my body could provide for them.

Did all this abuse turn me queer? Hell no, but even if it could, so what? Not caring about what heterosexuals think of my gender or sexuality was the start of my journey so many years ago, and I hope more queer siblings find the tranquility that comes with the rejection of assimilation. We have the power to guard our time and emotional resources with many tools.

Not spending the time to rehash Sex Ed 101 with some loser opened me up to more time with people who cherished me because of who I was, not what my body could provide for them. It was in this platonic space I found true healing.

We spend lifetimes justifying our existence when no justification is needed. We’re told “hurt people hurt people” over and over, and it’s not untrue, but harm exists on a spectrum of severity. Choosing blunt disengagement with someone who has harmed you feels good–especially if you’re expected to be selfless, accommodating, and long-suffering. In this regard, we could all stand to be a little more bad.


About the Author

MK is a Florida firecracker residing in Los Angeles. A former nomad turned city dweller, they chronicle adventures through storytelling, satire, poetry, photography, & podcasting. These stories appear on Medium, Soundcloud, & Patreon, with the chapbook ‘feral’ available on Amazon. MK is parent to one succulent, with goals to expand their succulent family. Donations to Venmo @MK-Lords keep coffee & hope alive.

Follow on IG: @mklordz | Follow on Twitter: @mklords


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