Author’s Note: It didn’t seem appropriate to me somehow to have photos in this post. I’m not sure why but I’m thinking it’s because of the weight of the topic. Thank you for understanding.
Trigger Warning: Discussion of sexual assault.
There are times I can’t help but notice how I seem to move on in life when others might not be able to. The truth is, I’m not the suffering kind. I don’t like to be down. I’ve got too much to do in life than to wallow in sadness. That isn’t to say other people don’t have the right to grieve over things that are devastating. I’m just trying to figure myself out and for now, that’s enough.
When I look back at what happened to me, I’m pretty sure I had the right to wallow. I just couldn’t make myself do it. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have things to work out, though. You know, I take that back. It wasn’t that I couldn’t wallow in sadness, it’s that the thought of this happening to me… I couldn’t face it, so I pushed it down. It was too raw and emotional and I couldn’t deal with it. I didn’t know how to cope.
See when Ella told me what she had done, I froze. It was as if my body had betrayed me. The thought that my body responded to her in such a way while I wasn’t consciously aware of it… it leaves a sickening feeling in my stomach.
The other thought that terrified me was I had caused this to happen. I trusted her. I shouldn’t have taken the painkillers, I should have told Ella I was fine and that she shouldn’t stay. For her to do this after I was passed out… what kind of person does that?
An evil person does that. A rapist does that. Ella raped me, yet I couldn’t stop thinking about the things I’d done wrong. I was too trusting. Physically, I felt ill. My skin crawled every time I thought about it, which was a lot. I wished I could crawl out of my skin and out of this life.
The conclusions I drew were all pointed at myself. Like, what kind of man does this happen to? Weak ones. Foolish ones. Me. I mean, how could my body have responded to her in order for her to do this? Was I unconsciously wanting this to happen? Did I tell her I wanted to have sex and I just didn’t remember?
After the shock began to wear off, I became angry. What I couldn’t figure out was if I was more angry with her or with myself. I just have to be straightforward and say it again. Ella Dean waited until I was knocked out with painkillers and then she raped me. At least that’s what she inferred. And here I am, not really knowing the truth about it, but hating us both just the same.
The turning point came when Mom visited one afternoon. She could tell something was wrong and I knew she wouldn’t let it go until I told her everything. I hesitated at first because of embarrassment. Guys aren’t “raped,” right? It feels strange to write that word down. And what if she’s playing mind games and it never happened at all?
Telling my mother was the right thing to do. I could see she was shocked but she brushed that away pretty fast in order to comfort me. I felt like a little kid as I cried on her shoulder, holding her tightly. She whispered in my ear the kind of promises mothers make to their children, grown or not. She would be there for me, we would figure this out together, and things like that.
It felt safe, being there with her. She told my father, of course, and his first reaction was to report this to the police. To be honest, I was dead set against that because… well, I was embarrassed and ashamed this happened to me. I still blamed myself. Watching my parents discuss what we should do was kind of strange and it was easy to let my mind wander away from this ghastly business.
What sent my parents through the roof was when they found out I still had to dance with Ella in the company. This was my huge shot – I had the lead – I was a professional – so I had to get through this somehow. I wanted to wretch each time I had to touch or lift her, yet I thought I could pretend she was someone else like Julie. Sometimes that worked. Sometimes it didn’t.
Myung had been watching me trying to work with Ella day in and day out. Finally, she asked me to confide in her. If she hadn’t pushed me, I don’t think I would have told her a thing. Once she was aware of it all, she told me there had been complaints before but nothing had been proven. She promised she would speak to Aiden and they would address this with as little embarrassment to me as possible.
This made me even more of a wreck. It had finally become too much for me to handle on my own. That’s when my parents stepped in again and took me to a counselor. I didn’t fight them. While I understood why it was necessary, I didn’t think I could tell my story even one more time.
Fortunately, Cason, my counselor, didn’t dive right into the details. He said he wanted to get to know me and to tell him a little bit about myself. I told him about dance and my lead in the ballet. Afterward, he asked me what my goals were as far as counseling went. All I could think of was that I didn’t want to feel like this anymore.
A few appointments later, I felt more comfortable and I told him everything. He asked me why I felt so embarrassed. I wanted to brush the question off but finally, I tried to explain to him how pathetic I was for allowing this to happen. I didn’t see how I could ever be a normal person after what she did.
Gradually, things got a little better. Ella was dismissed from the company and I was partnered with Zelda. She was carefree yet as ambitious as me so we hit it off pretty well. Dancing became my first love again – I loved to dance more than I hated Ella.
All of these people in my life… my parents, Myung, Cason, and even Zelda helped save me. If I didn’t have their support, I don’t think I’d be where I am now. So, whenever you feel down and start blaming yourself again, read this. Read it as many times as it takes.
There are some things I want to list that Cason taught me, so I won’t ever forget:
- Men can be raped.
- It’s just as devastating for a man as it is for a woman.
- It was because I’m a man that my first inkling was to minimize what happened to me.
- Even if my body reacted to the assault, it doesn’t mean I liked it or wanted it to happen.
- It wasn’t my fault, I didn’t ask for it.
- This doesn’t mean I’m not a “real man.”
- Most importantly, I am not alone, abnormal or responsible.
Through the resources made available to me, and with the support of the people listed above, I was able to begin healing.
Forgive yourself. Take care of yourself,
Author’s Note: If you or someone you know is suffering after a sexual assault, there is help. You can visit the National Sexual Assault Hotline. They are free and confidential, 24/7. You can call them: 800-656-HOPE, or you can make use of their live chat system.
This is one of the places I did some research at: Male Survivors of Sexual Assault (U of M). They have a lot of good information.
As always, thank you for reading and for your support,