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the quiet type

you are all heroes
-from “big boys don’t cry”

the occurence of male sexual violation is a subject uncomfortably ignored in our society, in this society that believes that men cannot be men unless they can protect and defend themselves at all times, in this society that believes that nothing should affect a “true man.”

some of my very close male friends have been sexually violated, by both men and women, in both childhood and adulthood, and i refuse to believe that i am the only one who hears these words and looks into these eyes, the only one who sees these men who have been hurt and silenced and, very frequently, denied their rightful place in the healing circles many survivors have come to cherish.

i in no way wish to undermine the trauma of female sexual violation, nor the importance of creating safe space for women, but i do believe that it is of utmost importance that we as a society expand our healing circles to encompass those men who have also been abused.

in some ways i know that i can never understand many of the difficult bridges male survivors have to cross before they are able to emerge. in some ways i know that i may not be able to ever fully comprehend the horrible pain and confusion male survivors feel. but i do know that i want to reach out, as much as i can. i am striving to create a branch of emergence that will support male survivors of rape, incest and abuse. i have enlisted the help of my wonderful friend steve (though our communication is sometimes sporatic, i still feel so much for you), who has written the story you will find below, and who has also helped me to collect my links and to lighten my heart. may our healing circle always grow.

Most people don't think that men can suffer from sexual violence. They don't realize that one in six boys is sexually abused before age 18. Women do experience considerably more sexual violence than men, and I have no intention of comparing this here. I merely would like to explain what it is like to be a male survivor of sexual violence.

I have several different situations, instead of one continuous one. My earliest sexual experience was a man in a public restroom trying to get me to touch his genitalia when I was about 7. At about 11, I was on a Navy base with the Navy's Sea Cadet Corps, and a guy held me down and tried to make me give oral sex to another guy while a third guy photographed. At 13, I was on a Navy ship with the Sea Cadets and a sailor tried to get me to jerk him off. When I refused (everyday for my two weeks on the ship) he threatened to find me when I was alone. (And they said that was just a stereotype about sailors...)

Last fall I was raped by a female friend of mine. We had been friends for two or three years, and he was jealous that I had a girlfriend. She drove five hundred miles to my college to visit, and when I told her that I would find a place for her to stay, she asked if she could stay in my dorm. I told her that it wasn't a good idea, but that maybe one of the girls on my floor would let her stay there. She asked what was wrong with my room, and I told her that she could sleep in my bed and I'd take the floor. That night, she told me that she'd rather if we just shared the bed, and I reminded her that I had a girlfriend, and that if I shared the bed nothing could happen. Around midnight or so, she rolled over on top of me and asked if my girlfriend had ever given me a blowjob. I asked why it mattered, and she told me that she could show me things that "that little girl" couldn't. I told her no thanks, but she started anyway. I told her to stop and she shook her head "no". I zoned out - in other words, my body was numb and my mind was far, far away while other things were happening. I was brought back to my body by a painful scraping feeling of her teeth, and then I more forcefully told her to stop because it hurt. She said she couldn't open her mouth any wider, and I lapsed back out into the trance again, for the rest of the night. At some point after she was done, I remember her telling me that what I felt for her was true love, and what I felt for my girlfriend was just infatuation. It took me almost two months to realize that that was rape. I was active in the anti-rape movement on my campus, and it was at a men stopping rape meeting that I realized that I did say no to that sexual contact yet it happened anyway.

I haven't told too many people about this. I told some friends, and they congratulated me on getting a free blow job. One friend compared it to the time he got his penis caught in his zipper. The only person who has really understood me is my girlfriend Christine, who has been with me for over a year and half now. At first even she blamed me, but she realized later that I couldn't do much otherwise in that situation. Oddly, at the exact moment I was being assaulted, Christine was 500 miles away, hanging out with some of our friends (if you're confused, I went to school away from home, and I knew Christine and my attacker from home). She suddenly started crying for no reason at all, and our friends thought she was nuts. She knew what was happening.

I have since recovered from this, and even got past the zoning out problem. I had a really good therapist at school, and Christine and I went through the "Courage to Heal" book. She has a story much worse than mine, and maybe she'll put hers up here too. She helped me through everything, and beyond. I owe her my life for that. My attacker called me this summer to ask why I had been ignoring her for almost a year, and I finally told her my feelings on it. At first she told me how she was trying to use oral sex to break an evil spell that had been cast upon me, but I told her to cut the crap. She then told me how she thought that I was unhappy with Christine, so she was trying to show me what I deserved, or something like that. I reminded her that I said no, and meant it - and then she cried. She agreed to stay out of my life, and has since then. From time to time, I flashback when I'm with Christine, but she understands and is gentle with me.

So, I hope that this has given you some insight on male sexual violence. Again, I don't mean to downplay the violence that women suffer in any way. I was lucky - no one put a gun to my head, and my life wasn't in danger. Some men are raped by men, and I can only imagine the pain that they must feel. Sexual violence has to stop - it is increasing so rapidly that almost every woman will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime now.

Thank you for reading.

Please feel free to e-mail me with your questions, comments, or concerns.

statistics about male sexual violation

1 in 5 victims of sexual assault is male

most male rape victims are heterosexual

most perpetrators of male rape are heterosexual

2 out of 5 victims of childhood sexual abuse are male

links to webpages about male sexual violation

the official adira hall information page - steve’s homepage
contains information about the folk duet adira (christine) and anyd (steve), a page dedicated to tori amos for her inspiration in their music and their lives, and also a lot of information about sexual violation in our society.

national organization on male sexual victimization (n.o.m.s.v.)
contains fantastic resources for male survivors; myths, a wide selection of links, information for both adults and adolescent survivors. a very established page.

rape of males - an article by stephen donaldson
an in-depth article including history, public attitudes, bibliography, and more.

sexual abuse of males
psychologist jim hopper’s page about male sexual violation includes research, recommended reading, a special section on female perpetrators, and other very helpful resources.

male abuse survivors support forum
a beautiful, well-organized page containing survivor stories, a forum, a chatroom, information, links, etc.

male childhood sex abuse survivors
contains lots of links and articles about male survivors and their experiences.

warriors of the heart
a deeply personal page containing poetry, prose, and experiences of male survivors. a very special safe place for men who have suffered sexual violations to feel welcome.

out of the abyss
this beautiful page contains the words of an incredibly strong man who has been kind enough to reach out through his words and gestures to help himself and others on the road to recovery.

tony’s personal insight into sexual abuse
contains personal story, opinions, poetry, and so forth. a very complete, moving personal page.

a message in a bottle
one of the most beautiful and emotional pages i have seen, this page was created by a young male survivor. contains personal accounts of childhood sexual abuse. an important contribution to the quest for healing.

may your healing journey be safe and swift. if you know of any other male survivor sites that would be helpful, or you have something you would like to say, please email either steve or i!