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What follows is my own story. I include it to heighten awareness of what often goes unsaid and unspoken. The problem is as old as the human race itself, but like war, it continues. Everyone with an opinion must write with an audience in mind, and must form one's arguments accordingly. Every story like the one to follow takes the same relative trajectory, yet is unique and different.

The twin problems of rape culture and sexual assault may seem minimal, but with time I've realized how truly prevalent they are in our society. Forgive my boldness. This a harsh topic for many who do not daily confront it, but I bring it up one more time to serve my cause. Since many rapes and sexual assaults go unreported due to shame and intimidation, it's impossible to have definitive numerical understanding at our fingertips. But even if we had that hard data, would numbers and statistics alone serve anyone's greater purpose?

I've never shared this account before now. Until a particularly instructive therapy session in the recent past, I never knew it for what it was. As it commonplace with survivors, I had rationalized away what this act really was, minimizing and blunting its impact. It's a very common coping mechanism. Now I must keep myself focused on reality and linear time, which is to say that my brain lies to me, daily and constantly. It transforms what really happened to something less painful, softer, and maddeningly evasive.

I was a impressionable sophomore in college, newly out, and nowhere near full acceptance. Queer students had few resources at my college, with the exception of Gay/Straight Student Alliance. An LGBT center was being planned for construction, but was completed after I graduated and I could not benefit from it. I took the options available to me. The group was more social than instructional, a fundamental lacking that always bothered me. It could have been much more, but it often became a hook up point for gay men, another issue that stuck in my craw.

Now I know him for what he was. He was an opportunist, having heard about our group somehow, intending to benefit from his presence there. The organizers and sponsors had been too nice to turn him away, as he was not a student and had no reason to be there. He sat right next to me, stealthily but obviously to whomever might be watching closely. His legs touched mine frequently, deliberately. That was my first sign as to what he was up to, but I ignored it. Maybe he'd get the hint that I wasn't interested and leave me alone.

I remember his face well. He had a lazy eye and wore a baseball cap. That baseball cap would rather dramatically be burned two days later, as he had left it in the backseat of my car. The collective attitude of both of my parents was not sympathetic. To them, what I had done had served me right. So when I set the hat afire with lighter fluid in the driveway, my father asked me why I'd done such a stupid thing. I told him precisely why and he backed off, uncomfortable, and never raised the subject again.

The man in question broached my boundaries a little at a time. His hands moved further and further down my back, eventually moving other places. He built upon his gains, keeping the ultimate destination in mind at all times. The whole time he was chatting me up and feeling me up as we sat alongside a park. At his request, he suggested we move a couple blocks away, so that what we were doing was less conspicuous. I cranked the car and we pulled onto the curb of a remote stretch of roadway at the top of a mountain.

I did not want to do this. The thrill of doing something this risky and dangerous was perversely appealing, on one hand, but this was not what I wanted. Had sex been removed entirely from the equation, I would have been pleased, but this sequence of events was all about sex. This was not just about having a conversation. To this day, I do not know exactly why I didn't resist. I do not understand why feeling terrified was such a sexual high but just as repelling. I may never.

I saw him later at next year's Pride parade. He even bothered to introduce himself to me. Shocked that he would even dare contact me again, I nervously uttered a few incomprehensible words and then got as far away from him as possible. Male rape survivors are treated differently. Women are thought to have inferior physical strength to their male attackers and unable to prevent sexual assault. When I shared what had happened to me with male friends, they felt that I should have physically overpowered him. Few were understanding.

Over the years, I've learned that stories like my own are not uncommon. Because I am a man, I have a different set of variables at play than would be the case for a woman. Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse tend to respond to their sexuality in one of two ways. The first way is to be afraid of sex. The second, which is my own, is to become promiscuous and hyper-sexual. I recognize promiscuous is a loaded term, one used to blame and guilt, but in this context, I think the word choice is apt.

To see this as a moral failing on everyone's part doesn't ring true. That is not enough. We must develop true community and a communal spirit. We cannot criticize injustice when we do not know our neighbors and do not take an active part in their lives. This is a problem as ancient as Moses' who came down from the Mount with his Ten Commandments in hand. In the meantime, I see another generation's bumper crop of prophets descending from the bluffs, coming directly behind my own.

Originally posted to cabaretic on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 06:17 AM PDT.

Also republished by Sex, Body, and Gender, Rape and Domestic Violence, Remembering LGBT History, and House of LIGHTS.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I lead you in, some one else would lead you out. - Eugene Debs.

    by cabaretic on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 06:17:06 AM PDT

  •  Your experience is unfortunately not unusual. I (4+ / 0-)

    can recall 5 or 6 occasions of sexual assault by men, only 1 by a woman, plus 2 occasions of assault and battery (by the same man - fool I was to not end the relationship the first time).  2 of the sexual assaults were within a relationship.
    The woman apologized.  None of the men did.

    Lost Tom. Lost Charlie. Can't read (Paul Newman, 'The Left Handed Gun')

    by richardvjohnson on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 06:47:49 AM PDT

  •  Bisexual male here. That dude and his actions s... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JoanMar

    Bisexual male here.

    That dude and his actions sounded really rapey. I was firmly convinced this would not be a story with a happy ending, from the way it was starting.

    Attribute it to my dual nature if you will, but I usually don't put my hands all over a guy like that from the get go.

    You have to touch me first. Also, I don't really go for the cutesy, "Oops! My thigh accidentally touched yours!" play.

    It's a damn shame he put you through that. Sorry to hear about how that awful rapey predator encountered you. He's probably used to doing things like that, too.

    •  Truthfully... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meili, JoanMar

      I try not to think about him. Thank you for proving that men are bisexual, too. I appreciate it.

      I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I lead you in, some one else would lead you out. - Eugene Debs.

      by cabaretic on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 07:42:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A long-running joke I've heard: Q: How do you k... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JoanMar

        A long-running joke I've heard:

        Q: How do you know someone is bisexual?

        A: Don't worry, they'll tell you.

        I plead my case as thus: we're trying to get laid by as many members of both sexes as possible, so we gotta self-advertise. :P

        •  Heh (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Meili, JoanMar

          For me it usually depended on the person, honestly. There were times in my life that I was exploring part of my sexuality and focused more on men or more on women. But if I see someone attractive on the street, male or female, my head turns all the same.

          I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I lead you in, some one else would lead you out. - Eugene Debs.

          by cabaretic on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:26:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Probably, but I try not to think about him as m... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JoanMar

    Probably, but I try not to think about him as much as I can.

  •  It's entirely up to my mood at the time. I stop... (0+ / 0-)

    It's entirely up to my mood at the time.

    I stopped trying to figure it out or "explain it". Sometimes I want cake, other times I want pie. It's no fault of my own.

    Also, I like feminine guys and masculine women. That's not to say I am not attracted to conventionally gendered people, but I don't run and hide from women with muscular bodies and short-cropped hair; nor am I terrified by men with pouty lips, plump thighs, and wide hips.

    I apologize if we're sliding into the too-much-information zone.

    •  This shouldn't be here-I was replying to the up... (0+ / 0-)

      This shouldn't be here-I was replying to the upper comment. Stupid phone! Makin' me look silly.

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