Lisa* was out with her date Melvin* when things got a little hot and heavy. As they made out in her car, Lisa suggested that the pair spend the night in a hotel room. After checking in, one thing led to another; the pair agreed to have sex, and Lisa helped Melvin to put on a condom. Everything was progressing as planned – until Lisa felt Melvin ejaculate inside of her and noticed that the condom was nowhere to be found. When she confronted him, he sheepishly admitted that he’d removed the condom mid-way through sex and apologised for not informing her beforehand.
“A mix of emotions hit me all at once,” says Lisa, a 32-year-old sales executive. “I’d basically just had unprotected sex, which is something I would never do, but worse, I had not even agreed to it. After getting over my shock, I told Melvin off and made it clear to him that I didn’t want to see him again. He acted like what he did wasn’t a big deal and mocked me for being paranoid. I couldn’t believe it.”
The next morning a panicked Lisa went to the clinic, worried sick that she’d contracted a sexually transmitted disease. Her doctor told her that she’d have to wait at least a week to get tested since many common infections, like chlamydia and gonorrhoea, require about seven days to be detected. Others, like Hepatitis A and Hepatitis C, may take even longer.
“For the next week or so, I couldn’t eat, sleep or work,” shares Lisa. “Not only was I worried that I’d caught some horrible disease, I was also scared that I had fallen pregnant. A million questions ran through my mind like, how would I take care of a baby as a single parent? I was also angry with myself for not noticing when he removed the condom. I felt violated and demeaned.” Luckily, medical tests later revealed that Lisa had not fallen pregnant or contracted anything nefarious. She was relieved, but vowed never to be so cavalier or reckless during sex again.
Stealthing: What is it?
Lisa’s cautionary tale is an example of a horrifying practice referred to as ‘stealthing’. Agreeing to have unprotected sex with your hubby is one thing, but when your partner secretly and purposefully removes his condom before or during sex, you’re dealing with something that’s akin to sexual assault.
Stealthing is not new, but one of the reasons why sexually active young men are doing it is because there’s a burgeoning online community actively promoting the sick behaviour. These communities glorify the “thrilling” act of the man “going raw” (that is, having sex without a condom) so that he can ejaculate inside his partner. The men on these sites talk about how good it feels (for them) and insist that they have a right to do it since all men have a “natural instinct” to “spread their seed” and “reproduce”. Worse, these guys are actually proud of the fact they have “stealthed” their sexual partners and even brag about it within these portals.
Even if you’ve agreed to have sex with a guy, stealthing is a form of sexual violence or, some might say, rape, because you did not consent to him penetrating you, sans protection. Think about it – if he had asked your permission to remove the condom mid-coitus, you would have said no, so why would you be okay with him removing his condom without your knowledge?
What to do if you’ve been ‘stealthed’
Stealthing poses a whole host of risks like pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. In addition, women who have been “stealthed” might also experience emotional distress that lasts well beyond the morning after.
If your sexual partner removes his condom before or during sex despite agreeing to wear one, he has essentially committed an act of sexual violence against you. If you find yourself in such a situation, don’t wash or rinse off the evidence. File a police report immediately, and make it clear to the police officer that you did not consent to having sex without a condom. You should also see a doctor as soon as possible for a pregnancy test and to screen for sexually transmitted infections.
Of course, paying attention to everything that’s going on before and during sex is important to protect yourself from being stealthed in the first place, which is why it’s not a good idea to have sex when you’re intoxicated or in a dimly lit room. You want to be focused enough to know where your partner’s hands are and to understand everything he’s saying to and asking of you. It sounds like a mood killer, but being more alert and aware than usual might save you a ton of worry and heartache later on. Says Lisa: “I regret trusting Melvin the way I did, but had I just been more present that night, I might have noticed him removing the condom and would have been able to stop him before he ejaculated inside of me. I shudder to think what I’d be going through right now had I fallen pregnant or contracted an STI from the experience.”
*Names have been changed.