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As difficult as this is to read, it was even more difficult to write. However, with the help of SurvivorsUK I am pleased to say that I have regained ownership of my destiny and more importantly, my LIFE!

It’s over 20 years ago that I found myself in a situation that was about to turn my world upside down. Never in a million years did I ever think that I was going to be the victim of a very brutal gang rape. 

At 22 years of age on a Caribbean Island where sun shines and smiles are plenty darkness was about to set in.

While I was swimming in the hotel pool at lunchtime I was being watched and subsequently picked for 4 men’s next attack. Not only would they use my body for their power hungry gratification but they also tried to take my soul by attempting to squeeze out my last breath. 

As you can imagine this left me with lots of unanswered questions, low self-esteem, a very low sense of worth, shattered confidence, scars and both physical and mental injuries.

I kept my 5 hour ordeal a silent story and what I call my “dirty” secret remained exactly that! Not a single sole was to be told, not a single word was to be spoke and not a single thought was to be given. I was going to forget this had ever happened and whilst nobody knew of this crime, I could live in a trouble free world ignoring that I was the victim of such a heinous act. 

After all, who had heard of male rape? Things like that don’t happen…I didn’t have the option of being able to say I was drunk, drugged, wearing a short skirt, flirting or sporting a low cut top! These are some of the most ridiculous examples of the pathetic excuses some people project when speaking to a rape victim. 

As a man I am supposed to be strong, independent, powerful, masculine and a fighter. These were all the hurdles that I was now facing. How could words become my “enemy” and cause such traumatic battles to commence?

I buried my head for over 20 years and refused to accept and even admit that this needed to be exposed. I couldn’t see that I was plummeting at a rate of knots in only one direction. I refused to let my body rest as the flashbacks started. Triggering my hidden memories and turning them into a real life situation where I could smell, taste, hear, feel and see my attackers. 

Night after night I battled to stay awake and fight off my abusers. This was my way of showing strength, power and fight. I wasn’t prepared to allow these men to rape me week after week whilst I was at home and in my bed. That is supposed to be my safe place. 

I was on the path of self-destruction and one of desperation. As a result, I found myself single, alone, vulnerable and totally broken. I couldn’t ask for help as that would mean exposing my most inner weakness. I could no longer function and carry out my day to day routines such as work, gym, eat and sleep. I was losing weight, incredibly weak and enduring severe bouts of PTSD. I had no option but to tell a couple of friends who were trusted with the bare minimum detail in order for me to simply survive. 

Facing your demons head on is tough and the thought of doing such a thing turned my stomach. However, little did I know that I was about to embark on another life changing route and this time it was all for ME and it was POSITIVE…

You too can stop surviving_blog picI sat staring at the SurvivorsUK web page for 2 hours. I cried and cried and cried. I read every detail…not a single word was missed in the letters and stories that other men had written. I was no longer alone or what I called myself…a “freak”. 
At the same time as being completely overwhelmed, relieved and grateful that I was directed to SurvivorsUK, I also couldn’t help feel resentful that this is what I needed to do. Nobody in any lifetime should need the help of such an organisation because in my world nobody should ever suffer in the hands of any attacker. 

Thankfully I plucked up the courage to enquire about groupwork and also commence a web chat session. This was all done anonymously. Compromise in my eyes was very important, because whilst I was beginning to speak, I was also still hidden and in control of who and what I tell. For the first time in my life I allowed words to leave my lips and be heard by others.

Before I knew it I was stood outside of a tube station in Shadwell waiting to meet Katherine who is a group therapist for SurvivorsUK. Fear, dread and sweat was all pouring from inside. My heart was racing and I felt I was about to throw myself into a pack of lions. Pandora’s box was about to be opened. But instead Katherine told me that I had found my new safe place and that with support from family, friends and SurvivorsUK we would all work together to grab back my life, stop surviving and start living! 

I began my journey of intensive group therapy which had a duration of 12 weeks. Every Saturday I met my fellow survivors where we shared our stories and worked through many topics that were important for our progress. Simply being in a room with others who completely understand my anxieties, feelings and emotional turmoil was the greatest form of therapy in itself. Each week we helped each other heal, understand and gain strength through our journey whilst feeling safe, unjudged, trusted and genuinely cared for. 

SurvivorsUK have helped me turn my life around and quite simply there are no words I could ever say that could fully describe my gratitude. I was believed, heard, seen and helped. 

Even though my relationship with the organisation began in 2017, still to this day I am in contact with Katherine and I have the option of attending regular monthly sessions with other survivors. You’re not forgotten, nor are you unheard. To know that there is an organisation out there who are willing to help, can help and do help is vital for any man to regain control of his own life after suffering from rape or sexual abuse. 

I will end my story the way it began…as hard as this is for you to read, it is difficult for me to write. However, I now have the strength to hold my head up high, be proud and pat myself on the back because I can now tell my story without hanging my head in shame. If I can encourage anyone reading this now to find the strength to contact SurvivorsUK through text, phone, WhatsApp, email or web chat then please, please do it.  

Thank you for reading my story and like me, you too can stop surviving and start thriving.

Chris

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