My whole life I’ve struggled with the issue of fitting in. I’d always wanted to desperately be a part of something special that when I found my first core group of friends I thought I had made it. Oddly enough the thing that mostly brought us together was drugs, and drag, but mostly drugs. We became a family, though, and I trusted all of these people just as much or more than my own family often times. We did everything together and eventually several of them were staying with me.
One night we decided to have a get-together. It wasn’t really anything out of the ordinary as we had them pretty frequently, but I was very excited to invite this boy with whom I had a huge crush on. There was plenty of drinking, dancing, loud music and debauchery that went on until well in the morning, and I found myself pretty messed up and inviting the boy to come cuddle in my bed with me.
As the night progressed, it was pretty clear that the boy was interested in more than I was. I politely informed him that due to my inebriated state it was for the best that any and all contact be cuddling or kissing and that it remain to be that. He seemed unsatisfied with that and proceeded to force himself on me. I begged him to stop, that although I was genuinely interested in him, I wasn’t ready for this kind of encounter with him. None of those words ever got through, and with my friends sleeping in the next room I let this boy sexually assault me. I was too embarrassed to yell out or fight back after he pinned me down so I laid there with tears streaming down my face and witnessed the most horrific thing that had ever happen to me. When he finished, I excused myself to the shower, where I stayed until the water was cold and fell asleep on the bathroom floor.
In the morning he woke up, he acted like nothing had happened. Sort of like it had all been a game for him. He was proud of himself that he had conquered me. I asked him to leave as soon as he could, and he obliged, trying to hug and kiss me on the way out telling me he’d call for another date soon. I breathed a sigh of relief when he left and ran into my bedroom and cried for more than a day.
Eventually, my friends had figured out something was wrong and asked me what had happened. I told them. They all laughed at me. They said that’s what I’d wanted all along, why was I complaining, shouldn’t I be thankful that I’d found a man? I was devastated, in complete shock, and very upset. I couldn’t believe that they weren’t going to support me. They asked me over and over why I hadn’t chosen to speak up and yell during the actual event and I explained to them my embarrassment of the situation and that I was scared and didn’t react like I normally might’ve, but not a single one chose to believe me.
I felt a huge amount of shame for the next few years. I blamed myself for everything that had happened, and I developed huge trust issues with dating. I was a broken individual. I couldn’t figure out how I’d gotten myself into the situation, why I’d just chosen to give up and not fight back and I struggled with my self-image also. Thankfully the only positive in my life was the phasing out of these so called “friends” and replacing them with better influences in my life.
At some point, I learned how to forgive the person who had done this to me. I couldn’t hold that toxic energy inside myself and I had to let it go for me to be a healthier person. I learned how to trust men again because the next one that came along ended up being one of the greatest loves of my life. I’d finally found the will to not stand for any of it anymore. Not only was I willing to fight back about it, but I was also ready to support others who have suffered from it too. Sexual assault is no laughing matter, and I will always believe a person until they give me a reason not to. We owe it to people like me to give them the benefit of the doubt. One day this person could be you, I would hope that you know that when you needed someone to count on that, I’ll be that person to be there, because if no one else will believe you, I will.
I’ve learned that every case and circumstance can be different along the way, but the one thing that is always key to remember is that every person has the strength inside them to fight back. You will go through a massive gambit of emotions, but fight like hell, you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. The word no means no, you don’t have to put up with anyone telling you any different. Also, it’s very possible to rape men, both gay and straight, just the same as it is for women. When a person confides in you, please help them, they need it, you have no idea how much help you’ll be. Hopefully one day we can live in a sexual assault free world, but until then, we can do our best to prevent it and help the survivors. Nobody should go through it alone.
Anyone seeking help for Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault should go to Oregon Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence http://www.ocadsv.org/ or find Resources from the Q Center at http://www.pdxqcenter.org/resources-pdx/.