Strictly Moderated: Open Thread For Male Survivors

Trigger warning for descriptions of rape.

Note: If you are a man who has survived rape, abuse, incest or other sexual violence, please consider receiving support from RAINN. Their National Sexual Assault Online Hotline volunteers are specially trained to deal with male survivors; they also run the 1in6 Online SupportLine, to provide support for male survivors of child sexual abuse, and many other excellent services directed at men.

On the various threads about rape of men, many men have shared their experiences with abuse, sexual coercion, sexual assault or rape. I thought it would be a good idea to have a specific thread where men could share their experiences and receive support from other commenters. Women may feel free to share the experiences of their male partners, friends, family members, etc., with rape.

I have a couple of motivations for this. Partially it’s to raise awareness: a real-life story has as much resonance as a hundred statistics. Partially it’s to help male survivors feel less alone, the same way that support groups for female survivors do– the experience of knowing that other people have gone through the same thing you have is often healing, and even sharing the story in a supportive environment can help the healing process.

This thread is a safe space and will be strictly moderated. Rape apologism or questioning of another commenter’s experiences will be immediately deleted. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend who just told you zie was raped, don’t say it in this thread.

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Comments

  1. This is the first time I’ve ever told this story to ANYONE.

    I was in college, freshman year. I went down to a party at the college apartment complex (small school) and managed to lose my keys to my room. I needed a place to stay for the night, so a girl I had been talking to (friendly, mildly flirty) that night offered that I could stay on her lounge couch. When we got to her apartment, she said that she forgot that she had agreed not to let people they didn’t know sleep in the general living area – so I’d have to sleep in her bed.

    We went to her room, and she started making out with me – I was reciprocating (as I was pretty drunk and feeling horny.) Eventually we were both naked – and she was using her hands on me. I laid back and closed my eyes – I heard her shuffling around (I thought she was getting on the other side of the bed because her hand was tired.

    The next thing I know, she was on top of me. I stammered for a bit. At the time, I was convinced any girl I had sex with – I had a duty to date (that’s a story for another time.) Since I really didn’t want to date her, barely knew her and DID NOT have a condom. I said “I don’t want to have sex.” She laughed “Too late!” I turned my head towards the wall and felt helpless. I couldn’t hit her, because men don’t hit women. I had a minor panic attack.

    After a few minutes, she got off of me. I pretended to pass out.

    I realize that my story isn’t “that bad.” But it’s my story. I don’t consider myself a “rape victim/survivor.” But it was not consensual and it did not stop when I verbally expressed it. I don’t care what this is “called” but I know it made me feel terrified and helpless and I still remember it to this day.

    • (hugs) Thank you for sharing your story with us.

      You can define your experiences in any way which helps you; if you don’t wish to identify as a “rape survivor,” then of course you don’t have to. However, continuing intercourse after one partner says “no” seems, to me, like a pretty clear-cut instance of rape.

      • typhonblue says:

        Remove this if it’s inappropriate here. But I wonder if it would be helpful for some survivors to be able to label what happened to them as rape but not see the person having done it to them as a rapist? In other words, they were raped but the person who assaulted them was clueless as to what they were actually doing?

        • I firmly believe in the ability of any survivor to define their experiences in the way that’s most healing for them and, given the wide diversity of human beings, I have no doubt there’s at least one person out there helped by the idea that though they were raped the perpetrator was not a rapist.

          In addition, in some cases (without saying anything about how common they are), what you describe may be the case. For instance, a woman who thinks that an erection equals consent may rape a man without being aware of what she’s doing. Which is one of the many, many reasons sex-positive sex education is something we desperately need.

          • If I can comment on this, I’d really, really like to. Please delete if you find it to be offensive or damaging.

            When I come across women with similar stories to mine who call it “rape” – my hackles get up. I can feel my heart race, I can feel my face flush. I get angry.

            It’s like I just want to say “Damn you, woman! You weren’t raped. That was just an unfortunate non-consensual sexual experience! Man up!” and then I realize the in-sensitiveness of my statement and how I would feel if someone said the same thing to me.

            But then I wrap myself in the warm confidence of knowing that I don’t call it “rape” so it’s different. Somehow, it’s different. Right? Please tell me it’s different.

            I want it to be different. This is so fucked up.

          • typhonblue says:

            “It’s like I just want to say “Damn you, woman! You weren’t raped. That was just an unfortunate non-consensual sexual experience! Man up!” and then I realize the in-sensitiveness of my statement and how I would feel if someone said the same thing to me.”

            I wonder if this isn’t behind a lot of the so-called MRA rape apologia. When it happens to men, they just have to suck it up and move on. So when people make a fuss about the same situation happening to women, they get angry.

            “I want it to be different. This is so fucked up.”

            How different? Different from what?

          • @typhonblue “How different? Different from what?”

            I’m not sure. I think, in that sentence, I want women’s “rape” (with my circumstances, but the genders reversed) to not be allowed to be called “rape.” Because I’m Gender Egalitarian, if something doesn’t work with the genders reversed, then we need to find a new way to work it.

            But in a more general way – I want the world to be different – I want unwanted sex to be as rare as unwanted free cake.

        • I have seen exactly that, though it’d be a betrayal of confidence to give details. Sometimes thinking of someone as a basically decent person who made a terrible mistake that hurt you… that’s easier. Maybe it’s even more accurate. To put it another way, I think telling someone not to forgive, when they want to, is as wrong as telling someone they have to forgive when they don’t want to.

        • this is patently obvious in the case where the person raping you was asleep at the time. fwiw.

        • typhonblue said:

          But I wonder if it would be helpful for some survivors to be able to label what happened to them as rape but not see the person having done it to them as a rapist?

          It might not be helpful to all survivors, but this is a very interesting legal analysis on the concept of “rape without rapists,” e.g. when the “act of rape” has occurred from the perspective of the survivor, but the “crime of rape” did not occur because there was no mens rea. For example, the initiator made a judgment of consent that was reasonable under current norms by which consent is communicated (which is unfortunately highly nonverbal)… but turned out to be wrong.

          Some of the conclusions of the article seem dated to me, and keep in mind that it’s a legal analysis talking about the requirements to find someone guilty of a felony that they can go to jail for. Many people might hold a wider non-legal definition of rape.

          In EE’s story, it does not sound like the woman made a reasonable judgment of consent at all, even by current norms.

    • Thank you for being courageous enough to share.

      I realize that my story isn’t “that bad.” But it’s my story. I don’t consider myself a “rape victim/survivor.” But it was not consensual and it did not stop when I verbally expressed it. I don’t care what this is “called” but I know it made me feel terrified and helpless and I still remember it to this day.
      Like you say its your story so you are the one that decides how how “bad” it is.

    • doctormindbeam says:

      I said “I don’t want to have sex.” She laughed “Too late!” I turned my head towards the wall and felt helpless. I couldn’t hit her, because men don’t hit women.

      This part really got me. I’m sorry for what happened to you, and that you didn’t feel you could defend yourself physically. I don’t advocate violence, but it doesn’t seem right that you should have to endure whatever you want to think of that experience as because you were taught never to strike a woman (I presume, even in self-defense).

      • Just to clarify here, my mother raised me to be a non-violent man. She DID however say, that if I was ever being attacked, that I had the full right to defend myself, man or woman.

        I just didn’t get the memo that non-consensual sex was an “attack,” I suppose.

        And generally: Thank you to everyone for the non-judgmental response. I was honestly terrified that when I wrote this I might’ve gotten a response along the lines that I should’ve fought her off – or in some other way blamed me. I really think that hearing that from you all would’ve put me in a dark place. Thank you all for not going there.

        • typhonblue says:

          “I just didn’t get the memo that non-consensual sex was an “attack,” I suppose.”

          I’m not surprised. Men rarely get the message that their sexuality is something they have a right to defend. Alternatively many men would rather be raped then hit a woman.

  2. Ramesses says:

    I was sexually molested when I was 16, but I don’t think it has affected me much. However my experience and how I feel about it now has left me a bit curious. Was there something different about my molestation, whether in type or degree, that it has had such a minimal impact on my psyche and sexuality, is there a temperamental difference that leads to some being more scarred by it than others, or perhaps some other factor or combination thereof that I’m not considering?

    To say it hasn’t affected me much is, of course, conjecture. Who knows how my personality might have developed differently had I not been assaulted. Perhaps it has been a contributing force to my current attitude that despite my best attempts, there are something I can’t control, and one of those things is my bodily integrity. I’ve internalized the idea that the act of some man molesting me says nothing about me and everything about that man.

    Of course I conduct myself now with the expectation that I won’t be molested, just as I conduct myself with the expectation that I won’t be physically assaulted, but I’ve come to accept that in large part whether those things happen or not is something outside of my control. What is in my control is the ability to tell my story, and to help bring about a society in which sexual molestation against men and women is less prevalent than it currently is.

    • Not everyone is affected equally by traumatic experiences. In war, for instance, some people end up broken for the rest of their lives; others who have experienced the same thing manage to return home and not suffer many negative consequences at all. There are some kids who manage to survive abusive families with only minor negative consequences. Why wouldn’t it be true with rape?

      This isn’t to suggest, of course, that people who suffer traumatic experiences and become fucked up for the rest of their lives because of it are somehow making it up, or weaker than people who don’t. There are hundreds of reasons why people might be more resilient– a strong support system, a lack of previous traumas, simple brain chemistry– and none of it is anyone’s fault.

      • Ramesses says:

        The interesting part for me has been how others feel the need to tell you how you should feel about it. I didn’t feel it was my fault, and I decided that some experiences are simply out of your control. At the time I felt clever for being able to get away, and felt like I had learned something.
        Others, however, insisted that I should feel traumatized. School counselors told me I wasn’t processing the experience, that I was suppressing my feelings. Friends told me I should feel angry about it. Letting go of my need for control was actually quite liberating.
        Until that point I had been quite depressed, and frequently contemplated suicide. In letting go, I realized that life is random, control is an illusion, and we can (to the extent our psychology allows) interpret our experiences as we see fit. I realized that humans are an adaptable species, and that we can accommodate ourselves to just about anything. (When I later found myself in jail facing some serious charges – a case of mistaken identity – I was surprised at how quickly I acclimated.)
        A perverse thought I entertain on occasion is whether or not I owe my would-be rapist some small debt of gratitude for initiating this change in perspective. Had he not tried to rape me, how might I have been different? Would my depression have abated or would I have been successful in acting upon my plans? Ultimately it’s unknowable, so I don’t worry about it.

        • typhonblue says:

          I don’t know if I should post this on a thread for male survivors but I was molested at the age of 13 by a 26 year old man who groped me a few times.

          I punched him. He never did it again. It’s mostly a non-event for me.

          • @typhonblue

            I want to ask you an important question. I’m not judging you, or chastizing you in any way, please believe me when I say that because my question could be easily misconstrued:

            Why do you feel that you want to bring that up here?

            I’m not accusing you of anything – in fact, I suspect that you might find feminist spaces unaccomodating for women who have been molested/raped/groped but don’t feel particcularly traumatized by it. But I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

          • typhonblue says:

            >Why do you feel that you want to bring that up here?

            Mostly due to Ramesses saying what happened to him didn’t bother him. I don’t know if what happened to me was similar, but it didn’t bother me, also.

            Not like having been sexually abused by a woman did. That gave me PTSD, suicidal depression, intense feelings of self loathing. (I think it might have been that the guy who did it seemed immediately and intensely remorseful, more like he had a ‘wtf did I just do’ moment rather then it being planned with a whole string of ‘I’m the real victim’ rationalizations.)

            So I was sort of a ‘me too’ thing.

          • typhonblue says:

            I guess what I can get out of it is that sometimes sexual abuse can be horrific and sometimes it can be just one of those things.

          • Ramesses says:

            My would-be rapist intended to rape me. If he felt remorse, it didn’t show. I kept my wits about me and managed to escape, sexually assaulted but also a little bit proud of myself that I had managed to escape. Thinking about it now, it never occurred to me to call the police.
            The second time I was sexually assaulted that year it was by a friend my age. I used less wit and more violence to get away from him. He never did it again. It’s mostly a non-event for me (except it’s a story I enjoy recounting to friends, and there are details I’m omitting that make it quite comical indeed).

  3. Eagle32 says:

    I already told my story in another thread. What happened may not have been sexually motivated but it still hurts sometimes. I try not to think about it or else the weight of the world will crush me to dust.

    I’m just wondering if it’s okay to be a survivor of bullying and abuse by girls and women here even if it wasn’t sexual. Hopefully that’s okay with the moderators.

    • I read your post and I would like to say how much I feel for you. No kind of bullying or abuse is okay, and it is not somehow “less” because the person being bullied is male or the bully is female. A lot of my male friends were bullied by men and women, and that is seriously not okay.

      I’d also like to point out the sexist nature of “faggot” and “pussy.” That’s one of the reasons I support the eradication of gender roles– so that failure to adhere to them will no longer be punished with abuse.

      • Eagle32 says:

        The “Faggot” and “Pussy” thing I’m already over. In fact, you might say I’ve gotten over what the boys and men did to me.

        All that’s left to heal is what the girls and women did. I’m on the right track though it doesn’t help one bit to learn there are hardly any resources available on girls and women who hurt boys and men. Not to mention people would rather look the other way than talk about girls bullying boys. I guess it’s all up to me to do the talking since everyone else prefers to stay silent on the issue.

  4. I don’t know that it’s my place to share the stories of the (sadly, many) men I know who have honored me by taking me into their confidence. But I did want to say “thank you” to everyone sharing their stories. I’m so sorry for what was done to you.

  5. Just started following this blog a week or two ago. I’ve been thinking about writing down my story (today in fact) and I saw this thread and couldn’t ignore the coincidence and irony. Even though I have shared some of these experiences with a few friends, I’ve never really been able to tell anyone everything. This is my first time doing this, so I apologize for it being long-winded; I’m just taking the opportunity to pour it all out. Also, at times I think my cynicism and dry humor shows through in my writing of the story. It doesn’t mean my experience was funny, laughable or not traumatic; being cynical about what happened seems to be a coping mechanism that I keep falling back on.

    I was sexually assaulted and raped twice in the same week by two different individuals. I still feel like I’m lying or exaggerating whenever I say that, because it just sounds fantastical for many reasons. But it is my reality. Both experiences happened during a spring break trip. Some friends and I went to a major city. Unfortunately, my boyfriend of two years was not able to make the trip with us. Since we were introducing non-monogamy into our relationship (at that point we had experimented with it for a few months) we negotiated boundaries for the trip, the main one being no anal sex with other guys. Needless to say, it was a stressful semester and I was excited to relax and unwind (translation: drink too much and have some fun hook-ups). It was also my first time being in a city that was large enough to have a ‘gay district’.

    The first rape occurred in the middle of the week. My friends and I were out at a gay college-age dance club. Within a few minutes of being there, I met cute a cute young guy from Brazil (in my head I call him Brazilian Guy, because I do not remember his name). His accent really won me over, and it was not long before we decided to head back to the hotel I was staying at. At that point, we were both very intoxicated, but somehow managed to walk all the way back to my hotel safely. When we got to hotel room, we started fooling around. At first, he asked to fuck me, and when I said no, he asked if I would fuck him, and I said no again. We continued to fool around, and he started to play around with my hole and putting his dick up against it. I had to again tell him no, and that I didn’t want to have anal sex. By this time, we had been going at it for a while, neither of use were close (we were still both really drunk), and his insistence on anal sex had now effectively turned me off. In addition, my friend who was sharing the hotel room with me had come back and was waiting for us to finish. So we decided to stop. He asked if he could sleep in the hotel room, and even though I really didn’t want him to, he was very drunk and I was worried he wouldn’t make it home safely. I left him in the room to pass out and went to go hang out with my friends in the lobby and drunk dial my boyfriend. I returned to the bedroom later with my friend. My friend wanted the bed, so we woke the guy up so he could sleep on the floor with me. I passed out. I woke up about an hour or two later to the pain of the guy penetrating my ass. I immediately jumped up off the floor and went into the bathroom. I was in a very strange state of shock, I just sat there on the toilet. The pain wasn’t too bad, and I was only bleeding a little bit, it was clear that I woke up just as he was starting. I remember just feeling, shocked, just shocked. I wasn’t scared, the guy was half my size, but I didn’t really know what to do. I don’t really know how long I sat there on the toilet (it certainly felt like half an hour), but I heard shuffling around in the room and I was afraid Brazilian guy had moved to the bed and was going to attempt to have sex with my friend. When I walked out of the bathroom, the guy was gathering up his things and looking for his clothes. I turned on the light and sat down on the bed and just stared at the wall. I didn’t say anything, I was still feeling shocked, and even if I could speak, I’m not sure what I would have said. He didn’t speak to me either, and we didn’t even look at each other. After he found his things he left, and I locked the door behind him. I laid awake for a while, but between the alcohol and my sheer exhaustion I fell asleep. The next morning, I remember going down to meet my friends for breakfast, and we exchanged stories about the previous night. I remember offhandedly talking about the guy from last night and even joked a little about how he tried to have sex with me while I was asleep. At the time, I really didn’t think much of what had happened, just one of those regrettable drunken sexual experiences that everyone had, and thats all I really though of it as. I decided not to tell my boyfriend, I just didn’t want him to worry.

    The second rape experience happened two days later on the night before we left to go home. This time, a friend and I were leaving a bar after a long night of drinking, and he was interested in going to a bathhouse. I had been to the bathhouse earlier in the week and wasn’t really interested in going back, but my friend did not want to go alone. So we went. I am sure that there are a variety of preconceived notions about what bathhouses are and how they operate, and I don’t have the energy right now to defend bathhouses or this one in particular. But basically, the one we were going to was a ‘good’ one, a well run facility with safety rules in place, and I had a good (not ‘satisfying’) experience there earlier in the week. I liked their huge hot tub. This time was different though. It was way more crowded with patrons than when I have visited it previously, and on top of that I was a lot drunker than when I have visited it easily. My friend and I split up after as soon as we got there, because obviously its awkward to solicit sex while hanging around your friend. Almost immediately after, a cute guy approached me and asked if he could suck on my dick. I agreed, and we went into the corner of a room and he started giving me head. I was facing the corner, and men passing by would comment, make noises or touch me. I was not interested in anyone ‘joining in’ and in my drunken haze I was still able to reject advances as they came, mostly in the form of shoving away guys hands as they touched me. We were being bothered so much that the guy decided to move, and the guy led me out of the room and into a hallway and returned to giving me head. Everything that happened next really happened so quickly and simultaneously that its really hard for me to remember everything, let alone a chronological order. Basically the guy I was with and I were swarmed. Surrounded by a crowd, I was no longer able to affectively reject the ‘advances'; I had multiple hands and faces on my dick, multiple people touching me, and multiple people touching my ass and my asshole. A random hand with a tear drop bottle (which I later learned was more than likely ‘poppers’ or alkyl nitrites) attempted to spray the it into my nose. I moved out of its way, but still ended up inhaling a squirt of the spray or whatever it was both orally and nasally. It smelled like formaldehyde and tasted even worse. I immediately got a head rush and a headache, and instantly nauseous. By this time I was panicking and pretty scared. Between the alcohol and that spray bottle of crap I got really hazy. Panicking, I started to fight my way out of the crowd and as I did someone grabbed me by the wrist and started to pull me somewhere. He said something like “I don’t usually do this, but that was hot” and pulled me around the corner into a small bathroom-stall like thing in an extremely dark room. He pulled me into the stall, locked the door behind him, and pushed my back up against the wall and he whispered ”just fuck me” into my ear while he was stroking me. I was terrified and couldn’t see anything. He proceeded to insert my dick into his ass and started to hump me. He said things like “harder” and asked me twice to cum inside him. I remember being mortified at the time that there wasn’t a condom, and I remember just wanting it to be over. I remember ejaculating, I honestly can’t remember if orgasmed or not (not that it matters). After I was done, he left. I never once said a single word to him. I went and showered off. I remember still feeling nauseous and dizzy and actually sitting down in the shower. My sense of time was so distorted cause I felt like everything that happened was like an hour but it all occurred in probably less than 15 minutes. After that I dried off and almost immediately on cue, ran into my friend. He wanted to leave, and I was more than happy to leave as well. I didn’t say anything to him about what had happened, and I was pretty much silent most of the walk back to the hotel.

    During the 14 hour bus ride home the next day I had way too much time to think about what happened both nights. I spent most of the trip crying and by the time I got home what had happened really seemed to have sunk in. I had a really bad panic attack and I could not stop crying or get my breathing under control. I was a wreck. I decided to drive myself to the hospital with the intention of inquiring about HIV prophylaxis at about 2AM. I told the check-in nurse that I thought I had been exposed to HIV and wanted to get the prophylaxis. After I checked in, I sat around in the waiting room for about an hour, and was on and off crying, which was pretty embarrassing in front of all the people there. When I went back to the nurse’s station, they inquired about a rash at the entry point of contact, and I was really confused and just said no. When I got back to a room and the doctor came in he asked me about what happened. I was kind of nervous talking to a guy about this but I started to give him a brief synopsis of the unprotected sex the night before. He interrupted me half way through and asked if there was any IV drug use while I was at the bathhouse. When I said no, he looked confused and told me to wait one second. It was then that I realized that the nurses had assumed when I checked in I was seeking the HIV prophylaxis because of exposure via a shared needle, (I mean, I was a hysterical, sobbing mess, so I guess I must have looked like a drug user or something). The doctor returned with a second male doctor. I had to repeat what had happened, and they again asked me about IV drug use. During my story, I remember using terms like ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ and ‘rimming’, and the doctor would interrupted me and say in an annoyed tone, “You’re going to have to explain that, I don’t know what that means”. We talked about risk of exposure based off of ‘topping’ as well risk of exposure that I might have received from the little penetration two nights earlier. By the end of the discussion, I was assured that the HIV prophylaxis was only really for people who knew for a fact that they had shared a needle with someone who was HIV+, but if I really wanted it, I could get it. Since the treatment required 6 months of intense medication, and since I pretty much felt stupid by that point for even going to the ER to ask for it, I opted out of it and left the hospital and promptly had another breakdown in the parking lot.

    I could talk for another few thousand words about the next few months of my life, but I’ll try and keep it short. I didn’t call either night rape for a while. I thought it was just drunken regrettable sex. I told my boyfriend the next day but I simply told him that I had cheated on him and had had anal sex, I didn’t even tell him about the night where I woke up to being penetrated, because I wanted him to be mad at me for what happened. I didn’t want to sound like I was trying to make excuses. He forgave me, but told me he did not want to have sex with me for a while, and even though it hurt to hear that, I knew that I did not want to have sex either. Over the next few weeks, I suffered from insomnia, and I was extremely anxious about being intimate with my boyfriend, especially spooning, but I passed it off as just guilt for cheating. But then I started having nightmares, and worse, night terrors. I would wake up in the middle of the night and I would briefly hallucinate and think I was waking up to being penetrated again, and it was accompanied by such an intense dread that I had trouble going back to sleep. After a week of night terrors, I realized that this was more than just feeling guilty, and that I needed help. I went to our campus’ women’s center, cause I knew they had resources for sexual assault. A counselor at the center listened to me and then tried to help me get in contact with a therapist. It took several weeks to find an appropriate therapist for male victims of same-sex sexual assault and rape. In the mean time though, my PTSD symptoms got worse. The flashbacks happened consistently throughout the day, and more and more triggers seemed to pop up. During that semester, I was taking a course on Domestic and Sexual Violence, and I was no longer able to attend the class. I would spend the time mostly crying around my apartment, and I would very often miss alot of my other classes on that same day. Other little things seemed to trigger intense flashbacks; people touching my back side, hearing Portuguese accents, bathroom stalls, and almost anything relating to sex, especially any talk about unprotected sex and HIV. I couldn’t even masturbate without having flashbacks accompanied by serious sexual dysfunction. The worst trigger though was the few times I would see the face of one of my perpetrators in a random person walking down the street, and it would trigger such a visceral response that honestly felt like a punch in the stomach. But, I’m extremely good at hiding my pain from people, even my boyfriend, and I kept everything to myself.

    I didn’t think it could really get worse, but the ‘secondary wounding’ that occurred at the hands of some of the people I trusted most really took its toll. After finally being able to meet with a therapist, the main thing he urged me to do was talk to people about what had happened, friends and family. I came clean to my boyfriend about what happened both nights. At first he was ‘supportive’, he expressed interest in killing the guys who had done this. But he also wanted to know everything, he asked me about details, about what exactly I said and when, what I was wearing, but also why, ‘why did you drink that much’ and ‘why did you go to the bathhouse’. Eventually, after a week or two, the gravity of it all proved to be too stressful for our relationship. We were having some problems before spring break, thing were growing stale, (he said he was becoming apathetic to being with me), so I am not saying that the rapes were responsible for our breakup, it just certainly didn’t help. At first, he called for a ‘break’, and in the mean time started talking to another guy. After a week, we decided to work on things and get back together. My focus shifted immediately from healing and therapy to trying to salvage and save our relationship. This included shouldering all the blame for what was wrong, blaming myself completely for the stress he was experiencing, spending all my energy trying to compete with another guy and prove my love and worth, but mostly, it meant forcing myself to have sex with my boyfriend in order to save our sex life. We only had sex a few times, but each time was just terrible beyond words (well for me at least). I rarely was able to get off, I was very much letting him use me. Throughout all of this though, he refused to give me head (I mean I never really asked). Every time we had sex, I just felt like a dirty, diseased piece of trash and a whore. Our relationship continued on this way for a few more weeks, I was too afraid to try and talk to him more about what I was going through because I didn’t want to stress him out. But at some point, I realized that I was spending the vast majority of my time hurting, and that it was hurting way more than it should to be with someone I loved.

    In addition to my boyfriend, the few other people I confided (on different levels) in unintentionally hurt me through some of their words.
    “Wow, that actually sounds kind of hot”
    “Why didn’t you call the police then/Why don’t you call the police now”
    “Wait, you’re having sex outside your relationship? Explain non-monogamy to me and your relationships’ boundaries”
    “I think that in order to get over this you really just need to admit to yourself that on some level you wanted it”
    “How were you able to keep an erection and get off?”
    “I think you’re over exaggerating.”
    “Even though that sucks, I think you made some really bad choices”
    Then there were the people who had no idea of what I was going through and thought that my depression was based off of my break-up, or that I was just lazy and skipping classes for shits and giggles. It was so hard to talk about it to anyone. I felt like I was being judged, judged for my choices, for my drinking, for my sexual behavior, for my non-monogamous relationship, for being queer. I felt like I was giving a bad name for gays, non-monogamy, South American men and bathhouses by telling my story. I was told that I should reach out to other survivors, but all the survivors I know are women, and I feel like a fraud. I know women who had been forcibly gang raped, women who have been beaten. I felt silly and dumb, because both men were smaller then me, because I was not violently beaten or held at gun point. Those are ‘real’ rapes. I felt so embarrassed for having these feelings, for the insomnia, the night terrors, for the PTSD. Its not like I fought in a war or I saw people killed. Why was I reacting this way? Why was this so fucking traumatic?

    I didn’t start calling what happened to me rape until after the semester was over and after some therapy. For a very long time I ping ponged back and forth between blaming myself and blaming my perpetrators. Even after the flashbacks and some of the triggers began to fade, I would continue to play jury in my head, think through everything that happened, and try and figure out the blame. I looked at all the decisions I made. What if… I didn’t drink that much, what if I didn’t go to the bathhouse, what if I never went on that trip, what if I wasn’t in a non-monogamous relationship, what if I was stronger, braver, smarter, etc. What if I had just stayed in bed that day? What if I just stay in bed everyday? But the reality is that no matter what choices I made, I never wanted or deserved what happened to me. The only two people to blame, is the guy who thought it was ok to have sex with someone who was sleeping, and the guy who thought it was ok to have sex with someone who was incapacitated by fear and drugs to the point that they could not talk. Those choices were the bad choices, the wrong choices.

    The recovery has been…going. The PTSD has gotten much better. The night terrors and the nightmares are fewer and farther between. Flashbacks that trigger tears happen less and less. Insomnia is still a problem, but I’ve found a lot of techniques to help. But I can tell that I’m a lot different. I am so afraid of getting too drunk that whenever I do go out, I obsess about counting my drinks in my head, yet I consistently feel the urge to drink to cope. I use to love going out and meeting new people, but even now I’m anxious to go anywhere and always skeptical of strangers, yet I keep behaving in spontaneous ways. I feel like the biggest racist being uncomfortable around men with Spanish or Portuguese accents. It took a while to be able to have sex again, and after crossing that hurdle, seeking out sexual encounters has become an obsession. So I’m at this weird crossroads where I want nothing more than controlled comfortable sex, but too scared to put myself in those situations most of the time.
    Even though I now identify as a rape survivor, I still have issues talking with people about what happened. Like when I say “I’ve been raped” I feel like I’m lying, cause I know they’re picturing in their head some violent forceful rape of me being penetrated, so I feel like I need to clarify and justify. I hope one day that I stop feeling the need to justify what happened, and I hope by using this space to clarify has helped me do that. It’s been 5 months, one more month and hopefully I can get tested again for HIV and breathe a sigh of relief. I’ve overcome the denial, the depression has become manageable, I’m working through the shame and the guilt, but now I find myself more and more just angry. Just… angry.

    That’s the best I’ve got right now. I’ve been typing all night and I know there’s a lot of holes in there but I’m exhausted. But I feel better. Thanks for creating this space to share. I really appreciate it.

    • Thank you for sharing your story with us.

      You were raped, and it was not your fault. Not because you’re gay, or you were drinking, or had opened your relationship, or went on vacation, or went to a bathhouse. You did not deserve it.

      Five months is forever — and nothing at all. I’m proud of you for what you’ve done to recover! You’ve worked very hard. The road forward may continue to be difficult for you, or it may become easier. But every day, all you can do is the best you can do.

      Your suffering is real. We hear you.

    • (hugs)

      Thank you so much for having the strength to share your story. Your pain is real and I wish you the best of luck in striving to overcome it. Whether you were raped is not your fault; it is the fault of the rapist.

      And I have to say that your confidantes are obnoxious. “You wanted it on some level?” No one ever wants to be raped. That’s kind of the general idea.

    • doctormindbeam says:

      I’m so sorry for your experience. Thank you for trusting us with it.

    • Thanks for sharing that story, as awful as it was.

      The first time I went to a bath house it weas with a friend who gave me a couple of warnings that really sank in. You didn’t have the benefit of that, and it might – might – have helped. But even then there comes a point where a truly determined asshole will get past all your care and precautions – that is not your failure; you did your best. So I hope you don’t still have yourself on any kind of hook over anything like that. (It’s really natural to look for someone ot blame, and the safest target is usually ourselves.)

      This caught my eye:
      “I felt so embarrassed for having these feelings, for the insomnia, the night terrors, for the PTSD. Its not like I fought in a war or I saw people killed. Why was I reacting this way? Why was this so fucking traumatic?”

      Story for you. I was in the National Guard for a long time. After the first deployment to Iraq, guys were coming back with PTSD and geting medical boarded for it. A friend of mine, a Sergeant Major (= very senior, tough as nails) sat on a lot of those boards, and even asked to. Why? Because she had her own experience of PTSD, and it was from some really severe domestic violence from a real sociopath. My point is that even in the military, or maybe especially there because they have the most conscious experience, people don’t make bogus distinctions between causes of PTSD. It’s a wound, it takes years to heal, and you owe no one an explanation.

  6. machina says:

    I don’t actually have any experience with being sexually abused but my friend and her siblings were, including her brother, by her father. She said later that she remembered him also abusing me. However we were all fairly young so I’m not sure it’s that reliable. It puts a new spin on Schrödinger’s rapist.

  7. Most of this comment is from a series of comments I made to a post called “Can Women Rape Men? (RP)” over at FeministCritics back in 2009:

    My experience falls well outside the extreme range although it now falls under the legal definition of rape where I live. I was a young student at the time, still a virgin and I was visiting a friend out of town. We were at a party and I strangely enough (I thought at the time) hit it off with one of the girls there. After much drinking, slow-dancing and making up we ended up at her place. At the moment I probably would have had sex with her, but she seemed hesitant and we agreed not to have sex. As it was late at night and it was a long way to walk to my friend’s place I asked if I could sleep over and I could.

    Later I woke up with her on top of me with me inside her.

    Had it happened now I would’ve stopped her, but then, although it didn’t feel quite right and wasn’t enjoyable, I let her fuck me and I even participated (thrustwise) for a while until I faked an orgasm which was the quickest and easiest way to stop it I could think of. I felt I should feel lucky for finally loosing my virginity. Though over time my resentment and anger about this episode has increased. I’ve only told this story semi-anonymously on the net.

    Many would argue that my experience is an outlier. I’m not so sure. Most of my male friends have similar stories to tell, but they tend to be told as a brag story (she couldn’t resist them) or as a story on how lucky they were. I can’t help but wonder how many of them secretly harbour the same resentment I feel.

    Even though I resent the woman in my story I don’t believe she was/is evil in any way – just thoughtless and ignorant. Extremely many women thinks that men always wants sex (with the only possibly exception being if the woman is ugly – and even then many think he wants sex anyway if only none of his mates would know about it). And from this come my scepticism to people who are too eager to quote Kimmel’s on homosociality as that in some ways can bolster this idea that men only care about what their friends thinks and have no internal mind or morality of their own.

    It really isn’t a long stretch of imagination to see that this belief increases the risk of what happened to me. This as well as studies and anecdotal evidence leads me to believe that my experience is not uncommon at all. Although it’s probably not as common as with the genders reversed I certainly think it’s not a negligible rate which don’t need to be addressed. And it will increase as women more and more exercise their right to be sexually assertive. Sadly there is still no campaiging to make women more aware of this – the fact that they too are Schrødinger’s rapists to borrow a much discussed term.

    Feminists and women seems to all too often interpret my discussions of this as an attempt to trivialize their experience when it’s in fact their trivialization and anomalisation and sometimes flat out denial of my type of experience I try to point out. If I say the general “men can be raped too” I’m a derailer (in my eyes I try to be an expander) and if I tell my story I’m an outlier. Quite recently on a discussion about rape on Hugo Schwyzer’s blog some feminist commenter tried to shut me up by asking me wether I’ve ever been raped – it was pretty clear what she expected my answer to be, presumably because men actually having been raped was not even a remotely real possibility in her mind.

    It also irks me when someone always feel the need to point out that although men can be raped it is also men who most often are the rapist. That anomalise my experience and I can’t even imagine how it must feel for a male victim of a male rapist to hear this – his experience in essence dismissed since the perpetrator was male.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience with us. That is a terrible way to lose your virginity, and I wish you the best of luck in trying to raise awareness of the existence of female rapists.

      • It’s not so much about raising awareness of the existence of female rapists as raising awareness among women that they also need to take care to not commit sexual assault, abuse and rape. In order to get that awareness one must of course first acknowledge as a real possibility (not only as a theoretical possibility on the outskirts of the realm of reality) that any individual women can do this. Women not having this awareness are at a greater risk to be a perpetrator simply because of ignorance.

        • Indeed! A lot of women simply do not understand concepts as basic as “an erection does not equal consent,” which puts more men at the risk of being raped or pressured into sex that they do not want.

          • That’s bad enough. But worse than that, a lot of women are unaware of the social pressure on men to have sex which translates into no right to refuse sex. That is arecipe for rape if a woman initiates, and really no personal fault of hers.

          • aliarasthedaydreamer says:

            I’d be interested in education about this as well as research into the women who are raping — I’m considering writing to David Lisak, whose work on male predators I quite enjoy (tl;dr Lisak — men aren’t rapists, predators are). I wonder if it’s similar on the female side — not miscommunications or misunderstandings or bad education, just being a scumbag.

          • alia,
            some people are predators. others do stupid shit (quite often while drunk) and spend the rest of their lives regretting it. I think both can apply to rapists.

      • Here’s an example of what man faces if he even wants to claim a woman raped him:
        http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/ask-dr-helen-can-a-man-be-raped-by-a-woman/
        Note how his rapist used the threat of a rape accusation. The Patriarchy and coercive power of the patriarchal state in action!

        Here’s a good post that discusses how sometimes even feminist discussions of this can imitiate right-wing macho tropes pretty closely.
        http://thesuperfluousman.blogspot.com/2010/12/take-it-like-man.html

  8. It wasn’t until I start reading feminist blogs (& whatnot) that I would’ve thought of this as in any way problematic. I’d say it was forgotten until … more or less, until I was forced to think about why I had such prominent concerns about false allegations with respect to rape cases. I know people sometimes say hearing they’re aren’t alone is helpful – I have no idea.

    I was dating this woman. We weren’t monogamous, knowledge of our relationship wasn’t public amongst our friends – I’m not sure what to say about our expectations of knowledge of each other? We’d had some level of sexual contact already (I don’t recall exactly how far things had progressed).

    I had been out drinking (in a serious way – I think I had had between twenty and twenty five beers over the previous two hours) She dragged me to her house (I can’t recall much about how co-operative I was in this; I remember resisting her somewhat, but I can’t say much about it – I remember her being upset that I was lying in the snow) She wanted intercourse and I wanted to lie around and not throw up – I remember a bit of her keeping me awake. It was a while before I was sober enough that she could really communicate the idea to me that sex was going to happen – I was too drunk to really understand it, and too drunk to feel physical sensations; once I’d regained a bit of the former, she managed to get an erection out of me. I remember trying to talk her out of sex – I knew it’d be pretty unpleasant (I expected to throw up? or at least be extremely nauseous). It happened – I was too drunk to focus, and couldn’t feel anything, so I can’t say much. I stayed with her for some time, and our breakup was (probably?) unrelated (albeit – poor communication?)

    I dunno – I guess I have a hard time reconciling not really feeling traumatized? with the narratives that surround this sort of thing. (I think – I dunno, maybe I do feel traumatized?) Realistically, I’d say, I probably don’t have any concept of me having (sexual) autonomy in a relationship, while I do for women (probably the sex is a thing women have they can give to men mindset? Then taking it is wrong while receiving unsolicited gifts is at worst irritating? I dunno.

    I’m not sure I’m being helpful at all.

    • Well, there are all kinds of reactions to rape; some people are horrifically traumatized, other people don’t seem to suffer many negative consequences at all, and still others don’t suffer negative consequences at first them start feeling more later. and any of these reactions (along with ones I didn’t think of) is perfectly okay and completely valid. Neither of them makes the rape any less real or any less wrong.

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  9. It was early June this year. I’d gone over to a guy’s house to get drunk and watch a bad film (The Room). The friend in question was a guy who I’d cut off contact with for about a year after not being able to put up with his misogyny, and Nice Guy TM stuff, and how I could never call him on sexism without getting a massive offended lecture. Also he’d once grabbed my breast without warning me during a casual discussion of how confident I was about my body (he was checking the cup size). I stopped talking to him because, to quote myself “I am worried he is someone who could be a rapist, and while I understand that I probably do have friends or acquaintances who are capable of rape, I would feel I was enabling him). But yeah- I got back in touch with him after a miserable break up, went for drinks, he seemed to have improved.

    We’d finished watching the film, and were lying on his bed. I mentioned that if he were not in a monogamous relationship I’d be interested in sex, leaned over to hug him. He took this as a “I want to sleep with you now” type thing and started kissing me and removing my clothes. He knows I’m a trans man, but kept on focussing on my breasts and “how huge they’d got”, and wasn’t interested in the kind of sex I wanted (manual or oral). I honestly can’t remember how much coercion was involved in the intercourse happening, because it’s overshadowed by this:

    He wanted intercourse, and started trying to penetrate me. I asked him if he had condoms. He got off the bed and went to look for one, and gave the impression of having got one, resumed intercourse with me without telling me he wasn’t wearing a condom. When I discovered he wasn’t wearing one, when I’d clearly indicated I wanted him to, he reacted in a very blase fashion “oh, you’re not okay with that, fair enough” and then deflected the focus onto how guilty he was for cheating on his girlfriend.

    I am somewhat masochistic, but I have never, ever had “rape fantasies”. For the next couple of days I couldn’t get images of violent, humiliating rape out of my head, of being forced to do something I did not want to do. I didn’t register what had happened to me as anything other than “bad sex” because, well, it was me, and the guy was a jerk. It took about a month for me to realise that it was rape/sexual assault, and that I didn’t deserve it.

    • Jesus, that’s awful, Melusin. I’m so sorry that happened to you, and good for you for being able to call it what it was, and being able to share it. I don’t pretend to understand how that experience must intersect with trans issues, but I’d imagine it must be difficult.

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