[Brief preface, inspired to write this after hearing Terry Crews’ story, and seeing other brave friends coming forward and discussing what happened to them]
So 2016 didn’t start off too well.
On January 1st, after a really good New Year’s party, I headed home with a friend who was going to sleep on my sofa. So far, so pretty. She was drunk, I was drunk, as per New Year’s celebrations.
This is where it began to go South. On the walk home she hit me, called me names. She was clearly drunker than I was, but she was my friend, and I chalked it down to her mixing drinks, and, by sheer force of will, got her home, and I went to bed, by this point, very drunk. She then came upstairs, held me down and forced me to have sex with her, despite loudly protesting several times. But I was too drunk to do much about it.
In the morning, I rolled over and she was still there, next to me, snoring.
Shaking with anger as I remembered what had happened, I shook her awake, and asked her if she remembered anything from last night. She couldn’t. I then told her the story. She apologised, profusely, tried to hug me. I gave her ten minutes to get out of my bed, and my house. I haven’t talked to her since.
The next few weeks were a bit of a blur to me. I stayed in bed a lot, I didn’t want to leave the house particularly. I didn’t trust anyone any more, my female housemate – my friend – touched my leg as she was getting up from the sofa and I panicked and quickly left the room. I struggled to interact, I struggled to eat and sleep. I didn’t attend lectures, I emailed my lecturers and expressed that something serious had occurred, and that I wouldn’t be able to complete the three essays I had to complete. Fortunately, they understood, and didn’t press anything.
After telling one or two select members of my family, I plucked up courage to tell a few male friends, and tell the police.
Never have I been more let down.
One male friend, one, expressed sympathy. The rest trotted out the “at least you had sex” line, and laughed.
Even more heart-breaking was the police. They came to my house and wanted me to run them through, three weeks after the attack, the actions of the night. I had to move about the bed, I had to struggle, I had to show positions and answer personal questions. The police officer couldn’t understand why I, a guy, couldn’t have pushed her off, or stopped the assault. The ordeal with the police lasted about half an hour. I am ashamed to this day to say that the sheets were the same sheets I had been assaulted on, I had no energy to strip and change my sheets. I said this, they didn’t offer to help.
They told me, heartbreakingly, that it wasn’t rape that I had been subject to, it was only sexual assault.
Only sexual assault.
I was not penetrated, so by the definition of the crime, I was not raped.
They then wondered why I, utterly humiliated by the affair, didn’t press charges.
That night I fell asleep, I had recently split up with my girlfriend, my friends were miles away. I felt like the loneliest person in the World.
And so here I am today, with the support of a few very good friends and family, able to hug a woman again without feeling claustrophobic, eating better and looking after myself again, able to have sex again.
But it was no thanks to the police.
It was no thanks to the people whose job it is to provide support for victims of crime.
The support they offered was miniscule, and trite. The lady from victim support talked down to me, and patronised me all the way through the ‘support’.
I often wonder if I should press charges again, for the many other voiceless men I am sure who are out there, who have been, not sexually assaulted, but raped. The letter of the law shouldn’t define the atrocity of the crime. The Ministry of Justice have reported that only 2.9% of men have been sexually assaulted in England and Wales, and I believe this figure would be much higher if there were not so much stigma around reporting sexual assault as a male, and if the police were at all helpful in reporting it.
But my life is back on track. I’m doing things with myself again. Do I really want to subject myself to the disbelieving faces and the trauma of that night? I don’t think I do. I do think, however, that the police failed me. And it was only thanks to my amazing support networks that I am here, now, today.
Many of the voiceless men won’t tell their friends, they won’t tell their family. They will be voiceless and silenced and silent. But when the climate is so disbelieving and harsh, why would they?