Monday, June 11, 2012

Chewed Up and Spit Out


Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse, Assault, and Rape


Last week I mentioned that Pride was both wonderful and horrible at the same time.  It was wonderful because I was able to see a world of diversity that I hadn’t seen before.  It was beautiful because I saw a spectrum of color and variety that I hadn’t allowed myself to acknowledge.  And, finally, it was a chance to validate myself and find more courage to become my own authentic person.

It was horrible, however, because I was raped by someone who I thought was one of my best friends and his boy friend.

Friday night, before the festival opened, I was invited to go clubbing with a friend from college and his partner.  I was excited to experience Pride weekend and what better way to do it than by hitting up a gay bar with a group of gay friends.

It’s important to know that these people weren’t strangers. I had known my friend for more than five years and I also knew his boy friend (they’ve been dating for about six months). 
 
They still live in Utah County so they decided to rent a hotel room in Salt Lake City. They invited me to their room to start drinking before we made it to the club.  Drinking in bars is so expensive so why not save as much as you can by “pre-gaming” before you get there, right?

Well, I like to drink and I know it takes A LOT for me to feel anything so I helped myself to a couple of mixed drinks at the hotel as well as an 8-10 oz. Dixie-cup shot of pure pineapple vodka (no ice, just straight liquor).  I hadn’t been drunk in close to two years and I really wanted to let my hair down.

Well, we quickly made it to the bar and continued drinking. At least six bar drinks later, I was three-sheets to the wind and the club was closing.   

We took a cab to Denny’s and after we ordered, it became even more evident that the alcohol was taking its toll on me.  I couldn’t sit up in the booth and I definitely couldn’t eat or walk, and I could barely even talk.

Almost immediately after receiving our food, the three of us left the restaurant and walked across the street to the hotel.  While on our way back, I distinctly remember saying that I didn’t care what they did in their bed, as long as it stayed in their bed and they left me alone.

When we got to the hotel room, I immediately got into bed and, just before passing out, one of the guys gave me a glass of water and some ibuprofen. “You need to take this, it will help with your hangover tomorrow morning,” he said.

I felt safe. 

I passed out.

I don’t know how much time elapsed and, I’ll be honest, my next memories are all very broken and disjointed.

I am not going to go into detail but I was sexually assaulted in every way a man can be assaulted by another man.  Every time I said “no” and garnered enough strength to push off or pull away, they found another part of me to violate. 

These two men had been asking me to make an ‘MJ sandwich’ since December and I have been telling them “no” since then. 

Likewise, I told them “no” when we were all sober when the night began.

I told them “no” at the bar.

I told them “no” at Denny’s. 
 
I told them “no” on the walk back to the hotel.

And, in my drunken, passed-out state during the exchange, I remember saying “no, I’m not ready.”

I remember many things about that night; most of which I wish I did not.  Even when everything was happening, in between blacking out and then being forcibly brought back to consciousness, I remember thinking, “this is my fault,” and “why am I so stupid, how did I let this happen?” And then I would try and force myself to black out again – and I would.

I felt so guilty and dirty and responsible for letting myself get that drunk that I told myself that I deserved what was happening and that maybe if I just let them, they’d finish faster and it would all be over.

In that moment, I had convinced myself I deserved to be raped while the other guy took pictures. I deserved to have both of them violate me without any form of protection and, in that vein of thought, I believed that losing my virginity in such vile, disgusting way was my just reward.

Why? 

Because I am gay.

In the last conversation I had with my mother she told me, “if you decide to live the gay lifestyle, it will chew you up and spit you out.”

And, in that moment, I believed her.

Four or five hours later I came to, alone in the bed and half naked.  I put the rest of my clothes on that had been pulled off me and left the hotel room.

For the next two hours I walked downtown Salt Lake City in an effort to burn off the rest of the alcohol in my system before I took a taxi back to my car and I drove home.

Over the next few days I battled myself and my emotions.  I tried to justify their behavior. Similarly I continued to blame myself. 

Eventually, however, I sought out  friends who truly love me and support me and they referred me to several invaluable resources.

As I’ve reached out to support groups and hotlines and medical professionals, I have come to understand that this wasn’t my fault.  I wasn’t raped because I was drunk or because I'm gay, I was raped because my supposed friends are rapists.

No means no.

While speaking with the Utah Pride Hotline, I was told that this happens a lot.  That predators feed off of newly “out” members of the LGBTQ community because they are easy targets.  Similarly, while on the phone with the Rape Recovery Hotline, I was told that one in six men is a survivor of sexual assault and rape.

I am horrified that this happened to me.  I never thought it would, I never thought it could – I am enormous and I played sports. I didn’t think anyone would even consider doing something to someone as large as me.  I never thought it was even a possibility.  But, beyond my own pain, I am even more disgusted by how frequently this happens and by how many boys and young men are affected. 
 
It makes me sick(er).

So, if you are a survivor or you know someone who has been assaulted, please know that you are not alone.  Please use the resources that are available to you and, most importantly, know that you are not alone, that you are loved and that this wasn’t your fault.

There are many side effects associated with an experience like this.  I don’t know exactly how my personal journey will play out, or how this experience will affect me long term, but I do know that I am strong enough to weather the challenges that have already popped up and that may arise in the future.  I also know that with the right resources and support anyone else in this or a similar situation can also survive and thrive.

If you or anyone you know needs someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.  It’s tough but we can all heal together.


Resources:

Below are a few of the resources that I've found to help me through this experience.
http://www.raperecoverycenter.com/ - They have a 24-hour crisis hotline at 801-467-7273. This is a predominantly female-centric resource but they have been trained and are very generous with male (especially gay/bisexual) survivors, too.

http://www.rainn.org/get-information/types-of-sexual-assault/male-sexual-assault - There is a wealth of resources and information here too.

Me – Please reach out to me if you need any support; I will do all I can to help you.

Google – Truly, if you Google “Male Survivors of Sexual Assault” you will see a wealth of resources that can and will help you.

19 comments:

  1. I would like to make it very clear that this was not posted as a "woe is me" entry to solicit your condolences. I truly want to share my story and be a resource to others who may be struggling and need support. Thanks for reading.

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  2. Something very similar happened to me when as a teen I came out to a trustee family member, there was no alcohol involved but the principle is the same...abuse of power. It has taken a long time to process this for myself, when I discovered I was not the only one that was victimized I went to the authorities. You have probably considered doing/not doing this, but I will share with you it was cathartic, empowering, and self affirming for me to report what happened. If was a game changer for me...I still have trouble trusting gay men in general but have learned to value and trust my instincts again. For years I thought all the same things about deserving that and even when I could conceptualize and verbalize it was not my fault it took even longer to actually Feel that truth. Be kind to yourself.

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    1. Yeah, there have been different levels of catharsis throughout this process over the last couple of weeks. Thanks for sharing your story; I'm sorry to hear that this happened to you and that this awful situation happens so frequently.

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  3. Melanie - A Straight AllyJune 11, 2012 at 8:02 AM

    I'm so sorry this happened to you, MJ. Those guys deserve to be in jail. You did nothing wrong and it is not your fault. Sending you love and healing

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    1. First of all, thank you for being an ally. Second of all, thank you for being so supportive. I appreciate your kindness.

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  4. Oh MJ, I would never think you were out for a woe is me. Thank you for posting this. I know it takes courage. I hope you know that I love you and I am so sorry this happened (to you and all of us who go through this). And while I'm sad that I've seen you since this happened and didn't give you a bigger hug I think you are so strong for being able to keep going.
    Love you!

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    1. I love you too and thank you. I do always love hugs regardless of size. Thank you for sharing yours with me!

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  5. MJ, thanks for breaking the silence on this one. I can't imagine the emotions you must be feeling, but thank you for being brave. You are such a great example to all of us. And I love you. A lot.

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    1. That's what we do here, right? Slay silence! Thanks for your love and friendship, it truly means the world to me.

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  6. MJ - I think you are very VERY courageous. It took me years to talk about my own sexual assault and rape, and even now still struggle to use the words. Thank you for your willingness to share, your courage, and for being you.

    Be very kind to yourself. You didn't deserve it. It wasn't your fault. Sending love and healing and hugs (if you want them).

    <3 jen

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    1. Thanks for sharing a brief portion of your story, too. It is so horrible to hear how frequently this crap happens across all gender and sexuality borders. It just makes me sick.

      Thanks for your love and healing vibe, too.

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  7. oh. my. god. That's all I can think of to say.
    I'm so proud of you, MJ.
    It absolutely disgusts me that this happens. People like to think that boys and men are not sexually abused, raped, assaulted, but 1 out of 6 sounds about right. No one ever talks about it though.
    THANK YOU.
    My hear hurts for you right now, but I'm so glad you shared. So glad you could be so strong and so brave to share your story.
    I love you.

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    1. Thanks for providing a place to share and heal. I hope you know how much I love you too. Thanks for your support, I always appreciate it.

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  8. There's not really anything to say except that I read this and it affected me and I shared it with my friends and I think maybe it will help keep it from happening to at least a few more people, so thanks.

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    1. There really isn't too much to say but I really hope that there isn't, you know? Thanks for sharing - not for my benefit but for the potential benefit of others. Take care, friend.

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  9. Although I've never been raped, I can empathize that people take advantage of naive, newly-out, generally depressed individuals. I'm proud you'd stand up and take a stand and serve as a witness to this.

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    1. Thank you for your support and your very generous words.

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  10. I think it took tremendous courage to post this and I hope that it helps you as much as the many who read it. This should NEVER have happened. You did NOTHING wrong. I am so sorry you were betrayed by your very own friends. I have a pair of scissors and I would love to visit these "so called friends" of yours...anytime....

    I love you and you are amazing! Thanks for showing your strength here to help others. This is such an important thing to get out in the world.

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    1. Don't worry I addressed the issue. Love you, too! Thanks so much for your kind and generous friendship!

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