I was sexually assaulted too. Unfortunately the majority of my female friends have confided in me their stories of relentless harassment and abuse as well as many of my male friends. The rampant sexual abuse and misuse of power in our society is epitomized by the rapist running our country.
I’m writing this because I felt the need to share solidarity with the brave people of many genders who have been opening up about the horrors that have been done to them. My experience is different as is everyone else’s but I think that it’s important that we share our stories and thereby invite as many people as possible to bring to light the horrors done to us that thrive in darkness. In silence.
I was sexually assaulted when I was about 4 years old. My entire adult life has been spent recovering from this. What’s unnerving about abuse that happens at an early age is that it has to be teased out over time. When we don’t have our complete language faculties, we cannot construct narratives; we cannot create stories that make sense of what has happened and what to do with it.
I believe that all survivors experience at times, the horrible memories that get stored in their bodies. They bring us into the past through flashbacks and they unconsciously control our present. One person exerting power over us can create a lifetime of suffering. That is only part of why assault is so insidious.
After more than a decade I realized that something had happened to me as a child. I went to a white, male psychologist and told him my story. He dismissed it and said that it was something I made up. I believed him and lived with this horror for years, silenced by a stranger whom I trusted.
The silencing we encounter is a systemic denial that rape exists. It’s a silencing that is violent and dangerous. Worst of all, it is a silencing that plays on the shame, denial and fear that fights our powerful desire to be heard, and the immense bravery that it takes to acknowledge the horrible things that have been done to us.
I eventually recovered from sexual abuse. After about a dozen therapists, I found a woman who could actually see me for who I was. Being seen and being heard led to trust. And trust lead to healing.
Healing is different for us all and it can be a long process. We have to regain self esteem. We have to make sense of a world in which terrible, often unspoken or unspeakable crimes have been committed against us.
Sometimes the very people from whom we seek help are not healthy, are not allies. I’ve had therapists silence me, shame me, dismiss me, and more in my search for help. I’m a black straight cis man, and I don’t fit what many people expect a typical survivor to look like, (if they’re naive enough to think that there are typical survivors of sexual assault.)
I am however very hopeful and proud that we’re speaking up. I’m particularly excited to my trans allies speaking up too. What I haven’t seen are any male survivors talking about the horrors of sexual aggression and gross misuses of power. I was hesitant to write this because I am not trying to distract from the importance of women speaking up against sexual aggression. I just wanted to say in complete solidarity “Me Too”