Sexual assault is defined as, “physical contact of a sexual nature in the absence of clear, knowing and voluntary consent. In 2004-2005, there were an average annual 200,780 victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault. 2,302 of those occurred in North Carolina.” Keeping in mind statistics only reflect reported incidents, it’s safe to say sexual assault is a predominate problem. It is an epidemic that does not discriminate regardless of age, gender, creed or sexual orientation, it affects us all. As a recent victim of sexual assault, I offer my story as a testament to an ongoing war that seems to be missing a vast part of its army, male victims who report.
I encountered my assailant the day before the sexual assault occurred. I was at a nightclub, when an individual approached me and asked to take pictures. I found the request odd, but obliged after having a few close friends join me. Flash forward to the next night, I encounter the assailant again, this time he looked dramatically different in appearance, I found this aspect odd but when the individual offered to buy me two alcoholic beverages, I reluctantly accepted. After consuming the second beverage my memory becomes hazy. I only have what I describe as “flash memories” of what occurred. I was taken away from the club and the actual sexual assault occurred at a different location. The assailant then brought me back to the original location and left me in the parking lot once it was over.
Statistics say only 9% of sexual assault and rape victims are male, I find that hard to believe. I was personally scared to come forward after my assault occurred and I am sure that is a withstanding factor for most victims regardless of their gender. Immediately after my assault I felt violated, ashamed and dirty. As the days progressed I also began to feel attacked on a more personal level. Select members of society made me to feel inadequate, irresponsible and at the deepest level, inhuman. Being male did not exclude me from enduring the accusations of responsibility based on, where I was, what I was wearing and even my use of prescription Prozac was brought up in what I feel an effort to excuse the actions that took place. I also feel that crucial steps were not taken medically and judicially in my case.
When I went to the hospital to report my assault, the only attention I received was a brief interview with a forensic rape analyst and with a police officer. There was no effort to collect DNA, besides blood work, no collection of my clothing or physical evidence my assailant left with me. Hospital staff also neglected to call in a rape advocate, which would have been comforting to me, in such a horrific and confusing time. It is the job of a rape advocate to provide support and advisement in such situations and negligence to provide one caused me and I am sure other victims a tremendous disservice.
Judicially I will only speak of statistics. Every two and a half minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted and only 2% of rapists are convicted and imprisoned. There has to be a reason for such a minuscule conviction rate, and it is just another reason I call out for others to come forward so we can figure out why!
Anyone can become a victim. If it hasn’t happened to you, I assure you it has happened to someone you know. But, if it has happened to you I am making a plea…speak. Male, female, straight, gay, grandparent or child understand that no matter who you are, there is someone out there just like you who is fighting the same war. Understand, it isn’t an easy battle and you will not achieve victory overnight. In addition to an apathetic society, I personally have fought extreme emotions ranging from suicidal to rage. Sadly, I know that I will never find justice in my case, legally but, I will find it in another way. The key to my success will be by turning my negative incident into a positive, no matter how hard that might be. I am beating my assailant by telling my story and I will conquer him by helping even one individual who might hear it. You can also do this for yourself by lifting your head and raising your voice to report your sexual assault. You too can conquer whoever it is that violated or continues to violate your mind, body and soul. The strength inside you might seem unimaginable right now, but trust me, a 24 year old male living in the south reporting a same-sex assault, it is there.
Do not feel discouraged if you are not ready to report, but you owe it to yourself to at least seek the advisement of a rape counselor , someone who is trained to listen and help you, specifically. You can be as anonymous and discrete as you like but, by telling your story you remove a protective band-aid and allow your wounds to heal. In the war on sexual assault the weapon is simple, you already have it. It’s your voice. For me, for you and all of us…speak.
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I am willing and eager to participate in any interviews/events/situations in which I might lend my voice to this cause that needs more attention.