Victims of sexual assault have a hard time coming forward, whether they are male, female or non-binary. The reason for their silence will invariably differ from one another’s due to their different lived experiences, but there is always the overarching link of shame underlying these differences.
This is especially pronounced in male victims of sexual assault, who because they are raised and socialised to see sex as something they dominate women and do to them, struggle on many fronts to come to terms with their traumatic experience for what it is.
Three male survivors share their experience first with assault, then the struggle of trying to process what even happened before coming face to face with the trauma that comes after.
I hate to say it, but I’m one of the statistics – my first sexual encounter was a case of rape. For the longest time – say 5 years later, I didn’t even know this nor realize that I was messed up by it. Here is why.
I was raped at 16 in my first year of University by a 14-year-old. No, you sef look at me, I was just 5 inches shorter than my current 6’7 height at the time and a correct Warri boy. Who was going to believe me if I told them this 5 foot tall child I was tutoring to make ends meet in Uni forced me to have sex with her? That’s one.
My guys and I at the time were obsessively talking about all our conquests, and I had been lying at the time about having slept with this girl. Ruth, was from Senior Secondary School and every guy wanted to sleep with her but she was my best friend. They all believed we were fucking and I didn’t disabuse them of the falsity. I ran with it. After the encounter, my mind just filed it under my conquests to brag about.
When I realized at 21 that I couldn’t be alone in a room with a woman without breaking out in sweat, I sat down to think about why this is. I liked women, I still do; even though I sleep with men more than I do with women nowadays.
To be clear, that encounter wasn’t why I sleep with men more than women. I’ve always been bisexual, but it sure was why for a while I was anxious when I was alone with women.
I have not been to go for therapy or anything but I am able to identify the triggers and navigate the feeling. You are the second person I am sharing this with, by the way. The first was my 1st and longest male lover who died 6 years ago.
It was Twitter feminists who gave me the language and emotional permission to speak of my experience. Until last year during the peak of what I like to call the ‘Movement to shame your abuser’ on Twitter, I didn’t even believe I could as a man be sexually assaulted.
We had a saying in my circle of friends, “If you nut you got nothing to complain about.” I nutted good, so I believed for years that it was just a weird sexual encounter. This was 4 years ago and the girl that molested me still runs in the same circle I’m in, so there was trust. We shared our weed and drinks and talked freely about our sex lives. I remember her saying, “but you are single,” when I objected weakly to having sex.
My entire body was abuzz from drinking, and I was horny, but I wanted to just go home and masturbate. I later found out she slipped molly into my drink to get me horny. Her friends were aware, which made things trickier had I come forward. I was ashamed, but I was also afraid she could turn that story around and isn’t that the most believable story? A guy who slipped a drug in a girl’s drink to rape her? I would have believed it too had it not happened to me. I chose silence.
Since then I don’t share drinks or weed with anyone, and I don’t leave my drink unattended wherever I am.
I see her every so often and I get this blinding rage when she approaches and exchanges pleasantries cool as anything, as if nothing ever happened. That rage scares me.
I have been raped 2 times since my first rape at 11, and each time by someone I deeply trusted. My first encounter being raped was with my Mom’s biological sister. I remember this because it happened on the night of my 11th birthday. My Aunt was 25 at the time. I have mulled over it in the 13 years since it happened trying to understand what the appeal could have been for her, I keep coming up empty-handed and it breaks me every time. I think that is why I couldn’t look at old photos from that time for a while because every time I see one I feel freshly violated. The idea being that if I stayed away from old pictures I can pretend that child was never me.
Then an uncle touched me till I ejaculated 3 years later. It was my first ejaculation, and he told me he did it to help ease me into adulthood. I am still struggling to see ejaculation as anything but dirty – which was how I felt after he was done.
Two years later, and I had latched on to my Islamic school teacher because I was desperate for a relationship with a father figure that doesn’t end in abuse – my Dad died on my 2nd birthday so I never really knew him. I opened up to my teacher about my abuse and how I felt Allah (SWT) will never forgive me for the sin of ‘having sex’ even though I didn’t have a choice. He reassured me that Allah is all-forgiving and merciful. I was crying like a baby, we were in his room, he pulled me close and I continued crying on his shoulder. One thing led to another and an hour later we had had ‘sex.’ I was 16, he was in his late 30s.
It is the guilt of sinning against Allah, for no fault of mine. The helplessness of feeling violated but being afraid to speak up because you live in a society that has a conservative relationship with sex and the very adults molesting you are highly placed in society for their piety. Who would have believed me? No, actually the question I kept asking myself after the last encounter was, who will protect me from the certain ruin that would have befallen me had I come forward?
I could see the question, “Are you a magnet for rape that all these people were raping you?” and the accusation, “you are of the devil, going about seducing older people!”
I still have nightmares sometimes and rarely touch myself. As for healthy romantic relationships? I have never had one, and if you ask me what my sexuality is my answer will be, “I don’t know.”