Classic trauma psychology: approach and retreat, approach and retreat. And hurting other people in the process. While MeToo has prompted many women to share their own experiences with sexual abuse and assault, the stories of male survivors have often been elided, in part because of cultural stigmas that prevent men from men speaking out. The Cut spoke to nine men who have experienced sexual abuse about how the experience affected their ability to form and maintain romantic relationships. Some names have been changed. Interviews have been edited and condensed. When I was either 11 or 12 years old, I was sexually molested by my fifth-grade music teacher. I had some anger issues in my teenage years that carried on through my adult life, and I had substance-abuse problems. For me, I always felt different than other people.
Strategies That Helped Me Build a Healthy Relationship After Sexual Assault
Of course, there’s a lot more work to be done. But more and more people are feeling comfortable sharing their stories, and that’s a step in the right direction. One person who was inspired to share his story was the man behind the Twitter account, AngryBlkMan. He shed light upon a dimension of rape that still goes largely unspoken: What sort of effect does rape have on a romantic relationship?
Despite past consensual sexual relations, a person can be convicted of rape for a particular incident. When physical evidence is scarce, the evidence comes.
If you had asked me a few years ago if I thought I could ever be in a healthy relationship, I would have politely said no and then excused myself from the conversation to go cry in the bathroom. But today, six years after escaping an abusive relationship in which I was repeatedly raped, I am now married to an amazing man and have a healthy, wonderful marriage.
A few years ago, when I attempted to start dating again, I told my Dad that I was facing a lot of difficulties because of what had happened to me. Sure, concerns about physical intimacy were part of what I was dealing with, but the knot of trauma I was trying to untie was so much more complicated than he—and many people in my life—imagined. After my abuse, even a small, affectionate touch, like a hug, could bring back memories of violence. And given the mental manipulation I had experienced, even simple, normal requests felt like calculating control.
I lived in a state of constantly heightened vigilance, which made gentle, rational arguments feel like they approximated abuse. One of my best friends was sexually abused when she was a child, and she would tell me when we were growing up how she believed no one would ever really love her because of it. This never made a grain of sense to me until I experienced sexual abuse as well. It can mess with every part of your life.
9 Men on Dating After Being Sexually Abused
Warning: This piece includes description of sexual assault, which may be triggering for some readers. I offered to pay for them myself but he refused and suggested I go to his house instead. When we arrived at his house and walked into his room, he immediately started tugging at my clothes. On my way home that evening, I convinced myself what happened was my own fault. In February , I googled his name out of curiosity. His name and face were right there on the front page of Google and I quickly discovered he was in prison for sexually exploiting an underage girl when he was years-old.
Lola Méndez talks about the reality of being a sexual assault survivor and how to disclose this sensitive information to new partners.
The details hardly matter, but in outline her story is numbingly familiar. After a movie she returned with her date to his car, which had been left in an isolated parking lot. She was expecting him to drive her home. Instead, the man locked the car doors and physically forced her to have sex with him. She had trouble sleeping, eating and concentrating on her work. Indeed, like some war veterans, rape victims often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, in which symptoms such as anxiety, memory loss, obsessive thoughts and emotional numbness linger after a deeply disturbing experience.
Yet gruesome ordeals like that of our friend are all too common: in a survey of American women aged eighteen and older, 13 percent of the respondents reported having been the victim of at least one rape, where rape was defined as unwelcome oral, anal or vaginal penetration achieved through the use or threat of force. Surely, eradicating sexual violence is an issue that modern society should make a top priority.
But first a perplexing question must be confronted and answered: Why do men rape? As a purely scientific puzzle, the problem is hard enough. But it is further roiled by strong ideological currents. Many social theorists view rape not only as an ugly crime but as a symptom of an unhealthy society, in which men fear and disrespect women. In the feminist writer Susan Brownmiller asserted that rape is motivated not by lust but by the urge to control and dominate.
In the twenty-five years since, Brownmiller’s view has become mainstream.
Dating Abuse Statistics
Need help? Call HOPE to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. When you call Telephone Hotline Terms of Service. Calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline gives you access to a range of free services including:.
So many of us berate ourselves over the question “Why did I not have the right response?”.
It can be incredibly difficult to have a healthy relationship and sex life after sexual assault : Years and years can pass before you feel connected enough to your body to even think about getting intimate with someone. Jane is making progress, in her own way. Below, Gilbert and other therapists share the general advice they give sexual assault survivors who are starting to date again. To counter that feeling and regain some control of the situation, take the lead and plan the date to a T, Resnick said.
Meet in a public place where you feel totally comfortable, drive your own car or take an Uber there, set a predetermined end time and have an excuse ready to go. There are myriad things you can talk about on your date.
Skills for Youth
We’ve all got baggage. Adding an extra layer to the muddled waters of dating is the highly common and formidable post traumatic stress disorder that can arise from a sexual assault. For me, help came through medical cannabis and a partner down to go down on me while I watch Planet Earth and sip valerian root tea while listening to the calming voice of David Attenborough.
RAINN estimates an average of , Americans age 12 or older are victims of sexual violence each year, so it could happen to you or your partner as well. Barbara Greenberg.
When you call HOPE (), you’ll to be routed to a local sexual assault service provider in your area. Trained staff can provide confidential support.
Millions of readers rely on HelpGuide for free, evidence-based resources to understand and navigate mental health challenges. Please donate today to help us protect, support, and save lives. Sexual violence is shockingly common in our society. In some Asian, African, and Middle Eastern countries, that figure is even higher. Regardless of age or gender, the impact of sexual violence goes far beyond any physical injuries. The trauma of being raped or sexually assaulted can be shattering, leaving you feeling scared, ashamed, and alone or plagued by nightmares, flashbacks, and other unpleasant memories.
You no longer trust others. You may question your judgment, your self-worth, and even your sanity. And on top of that, like many rape survivors, you may struggle with PTSD , anxiety , and depression.
Recovering from Rape and Sexual Trauma
The University has a adopted an interim policy that addresses sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. Reality : Men are sexually assaulted. Any man can be sexually assaulted regardless of size, strength, appearance or sexual orientation. Reality : Heterosexual, gay and bisexual men are equally likely to be sexually assaulted.
Nearly 1 in 5 women have experienced completed or attempted rape during her lifetime. 1 in 3 female rape victims experienced it for the first time between .
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we’ll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer – no Kindle device required. To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number. Robin Warshaw writes on social issues, medicine and health. In writing I Never Called It Rape , she used pseudonyms for the many women who shared their stories but wrote openly about her own acquaintance rape for the first time.
She has never regretted that decision and is grateful to the women and some men who have reached out over the years to tell her how the book helped them. Warshaw is a contributing writer for Living Beyond Breast Cancer and writes for other nonprofits and publications. Her work has received several national awards. Salamishah Tillet is a rape survivor, activist, and feminist writer.
She is the cofounder of A Long Walk Home, a nonprofit that uses art to empower young people to end violence against girls and women, and the writer of the award-winning Story of a Rape Survivor , a performance that chronicles her pathway to healing after being sexually assaulted in college. Women raped by men they know–acquaintance rape–is not an aberrant quirk of male-female relations.