March 21, 2011

Four and a half years ago I was sexually assaulted.

Near the end of my senior year in high school, I was sitting in a car with my then girlfriend. We were discussing bacterial genetic modification. In the middle of the conversation, she randomly, suddenly, and quickly reached over and slammed her hand down my pants, and began handling my penis. I immediately felt terrified, trapped, and absolutely powerless. The very memory of that mixture of feelings haunts me to this day. I raged and flailed about in my mind, desperate to escape, but was physically frozen from surprise, fear, powerlessness, and the compromising physical position. The only thing I could do was to ask her to stop. She refused, and asked why. I asked her again to stop. She refused again, and asked, didn’t I enjoy this? Finally, desperate, I asked her once again, and she finally removed her hand. I can’t remember what happened afterwards, until hours later, that evening. I was hanging out with some friends, when they started asking about people’s sexual experiences. I brought up what had happened to me that day, but passed it off as something I had enjoyed, that I had wanted. Even then I knew that was a lie, but it was a lie that I would live for more than a year.

It took me two years to put a name to what happened. From that point, I slowly began to deal with what had happened, fluctuating between denial and anger, pain and fear. Slowly I have begun to work through the self-blame and fear that this has caused. I’ve started to realize that many of the strange behaviors I’ve picked up— jumping and starting at motions and movements people make, or feeling very afraid or anxious in certain positions or situations, for example—come from this experience. I’ve realized that it is the cause of the intense anger and tremendous hurt that I feel; for weeks at a time this causes me emotional and psychological pain nearly every night. I absolutely hate the fact that it has affected me.

Sexual assault of males happens. It happened to me. It could have happened to your friend, to that person you passed on the street. It could happen to anyone. So, think. When someone makes a joke about rape or sexual assault, it’s like a stab to the heart. Just being reminded of it is painful enough. And, regardless of whom you’re asking, ask first!