February 1 – 8 is the sexual abuse and sexual violence awareness week. To mark the week, we will post a series of blogs exploring what it means to be a survivor when you’re a man, and how we can all work to better support survivors.
In this blog, we hear from a man who was raped as an adult. Please note that this story may be upsetting to read and includes descriptions of difficult mental health struggles.
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It’s funny how you can remember things that happened years and months ago but if you ask me what I did yesterday, I’d likely struggle.
I just wish I could forget what happened to me 14 years ago this year. I’d imagine that’s the case for anyone who has ever suffered sexual, physical, or mental abuse.
I was introduced to my attacker via a work colleague and after a turbulent few teenage years, I guess I was looking for some kind of stability-instead he turned my life upside down in ways I could never imagine.
I can remember the dark green paint in his dining room… I can remember it being around 9.30pm at night and my work colleague leaving me and my attacker alone… I can remember feeling like it lasted a life-time even though it was probably over in minutes.
I can’t remember how I felt after it’d happened-I probably thought it was normal or in some way that I was young, naive, and probably deserved it for being problematic for my Mum whilst she struggled with the break down of her 20 plus year marriage.
For years afterwards I’d be in and out of relationships; I’d meet people in vain hope that what had happened would fade into the background and I’d be able to bury my thoughts and feelings and remember the happier times in my life before I was raped.
But I’d be frightened they’d betray my trust… and that by hurting them they’d somehow feel the hurt I’d been through and that, on hindsight, they’d have a lucky escape away from dirty, damaged goods.
Everyone’s experiences are different and people cope in different ways. I used to eat extensively and as I gained weight I’d hope I’d become unattractive to people because why on Earth would someone want to spend their life and time with damaged goods?
I try to be the life and the soul of the party and give people the impression I’m a thirty-plus man who likes to have a good time… but it’s all an act-even now I could sit in a hot bath, scrub myself clean, and I’d still feel dirty.
I hate being around crowds of people; if somewhere is incredibly busy I rush around in a hurry to get away from ‘danger’. I was working for a supermarket at the time and in the past, I’ve had to walk out in fear of smashing the shop I’m in up before collapsing into a heap on the floor.
People not listening to me is another thing I struggle with-people I’ve never confided in because I can’t trust them not to react negatively or somehow look at me like I’m weak; because that’s what my rapist has done to me-he’s made me weak and inferior.
When I have confided in some people their reaction is to ‘man up’ and ‘get over it’ because it happened such a long time ago; I hope they never personally experience it because it’s not something you can ‘get over’ irrespective of the time that’s passed.
I’d love to be able to say that there is a light at the end of the tunnel…. that people won’t be judgemental and it’ll fade into the background and you’ll go on to have a loving, stable relationship.
Right now, I don’t feel that way. But I’d like to think I’d live to see old-age.