Friday, February 20, 2015

People - Broken Man - I Was Raped, Does Anyone Care?

People - Broken man - I Was Raped, Does Anyone Care?

What follows is a lengthy, difficult, unreferenced autobiographical writing from an otherwise anonymous poster on reddit.  He uses a throw-away alias, that would be difficult, if not largely impossible to track down.  He even opens with an admission that he doesn't know what he aims to accomplish by posting this story.  I don't know what I intend to accomplish by reposting it.

Only that it is a troubling piece of writing.  It's a human piece of writing.  It delves into a societal darkness that is problematic for us to analyze too closely.  But we need to do a number of things, at least in my reckoning.  First, this man needs to know that we do care.  That the world is changing, and that we listen, and have empathy as individuals, as a culture, as a society for him.  That his story, were it to prove credible is worth listening to.  Second, that our world is changing that twenty years ago, ten years would never have even imagined that this was a problem.  He delves a little bit into this in his piece of writing.

We don't live in that world anymore.  We're in the midst of transitioning through it, but the world is a-changing through it.  We have a lot of hard questions to ask, and a lot of harder answers to find.  But we'd never know until stories like this, human stories begin coming to light.

So I share it with you, in the darkness of the internet.  In some strange corner of nowhere.  Hopefully it moves you to ask questions too.  Obviously...trigger warnings galore.

Edit: I added this message when I shared it to Facebook...I feel like it might, but maybe doesn't, explain why I put it into a public blog to share. 

This is a piece of writing I read tonight.  Once I finished reading it, I had to go for a walk and think about it.  When I got back, I transcribed it over the course of half an hour, loaded it into one of my private blogs and left it. I keep repositories of writing for myself everywhere, dark writing, tragic writing.  Human writing.

Then I came back five minutes later.  I hadn't shared it. Maybe it was because I was ashamed I had read it? Maybe because I was ashamed for the guy, his story that I had read. It was on my mind. It was on my mind because I didn't know how to explain it. I still don't. I don't know why it is important, only that it is. And in an era where we share images of kittens, and what people wear, or what GoT character best represents us...why would I hesitate to share something important?

Truthfully I'm still not sure. But I'd like to talk about it.

I Was Raped, Does Anyone Care?
I am not sure what I am hoping to accomplish by writing this post. Normally, I just don't think about what happened, I gave up trying to explain it to people I actually know years ago. And even here on Reddit, there's no place that is actually right for this post, where-ever I put it I am either going to be dismissed as a troll, held up as some kind of symbol, or...I don't know.

Maybe just typing it will be enough. I don't have to actually hit 'post'.

I've tried to talk to people about this, but it has gotten me nowhere. The only place I got any acceptance and support at all was a support group for victims of male on male rape, and even there, most of them laughed and/or told me to quit whining. I tried telling my ex-wife, once, shortly after we were married.... It didn't go well, I wound up telling her it was a joke, I made it up, boy I sure had her going....

She didn't think it was funny. It's not.

I keep dancing around it, even anonymously I don't want to say it outright. I'm a man, and about 25 years ago, I was raped by a woman. Before that, when I was a young child I was the victim of physical child abuse with a sexual component. I don't think it could strictly be termed rape, she was spanking me with a hairbrush and decided that since I wouldn't cry and scream from that anymore, she was going to sodomize me with it.

I don't even know which one is actually bothering me right now, they're all kind of mixed up together, you know?

I don't think the bit with the hairbrush is really my problem, though. It was horrible, and I still have some medical problems from it, but I think it's easier for me to process. There's no ambiguity, no sense that somehow what happened to me wasn't really a bad thing, or that it was somehow my fault, or that I'm just not understanding it.... I understand it; She was a horrible person, she hated my father at that moment, and since she couldn't get at him she took it out on me. Maybe somebody did something like it to her when she was a child, that whole 'cycle of abuse' thing. Anyway, it's a bucket of suck, but it doesn't really gnaw at me.

The other is harder. I was an adult. Not just an adult man, a pretty big and strong one. I was in probably the best shape of my life, actively training in martial arts, I could crush a beer can in my hands, without opening it first (great party trick, when you're in your 20's and somewhere you don't mind spraying beer all over the place). You could break a two by four over nearly any part of my body at that point, and I'd have shrugged it off.

I was in the military, and like a lot of young guys in the military I did a lot of drinking. If I wasn't on duty for a Friday or Saturday night, I was going to be somewhere getting at least slightly sloshed, if not totally loaded. Things weren't as freewheeling back then as I guess they are these days, but there was still plenty of one night stands and I probably had more than my share. It was pretty much the height of the AIDS panic, the sexual revolution came to a crashing halt just before I got to join the fun. But I was decent looking, and even in an environment that was about 90% male, I managed to get 'action'. And then I got engaged, and although I kept partying, I quit hitting on girls and I probably didn't drink as much or as often.

But one night there was sort of a spontaneous party in my dorm, there were girls there from the military, girls and women from the married housing, and some civilians too. Just one of those things that happen when the random shuffle of "I heard there's a party over there" brings a lot of people to the same place. So I open my door and invite people to raid my stash of booze (always amazed me that the military would talk about what a terrible alcohol abuse problem they had, then sell us booze for less than half what it cost off-base. We couldn't afford to drink at a bar more than once a week, but we could get hammered every night out of loose change, on the good imported stuff that cost a fortune in civilian markets).

People shuffle in, people shuffle out, the booze on hand starts to run out and groups start saying "I heard they're doing something near the west gate" or whatever, and heading out (nobody had cell phones back then, this kind of whispers game was how it worked). I'm mildly sloshed and not wanting to drive, and not really wanting to be depending on getting a ride back from where-ever, so I just let them go off and head for bed (it's like 11pm or midnight, and I was on duty the next day, which didn't always stop me but I was trying to be more responsible).

I wake up to my penis being stroked. My fiance had a key to my room (we weren't supposed to make copies, but a lot of us did and we had made them for each other) and sometimes liked to surprise me. I'm still mostly asleep and I just sort of go with it.

But at some point, it dawns on me. The hands I'm feeling are feminine, but they don't move like my fiance's. Her hair's wrong, straight instead of curly. She doesn't smell right. What the hell, my fiance is on temporary assignment on the other side of the country and not going to be back for weeks.

I freak the hell out and scramble out of bed (I wouldn't notice until later, but she grabbed onto me and left fingernail scratches on my penis and upper thigh, it actually bled quite a bit and I noticed the blood before I felt them). I turn on the lights, and some woman I vaguely recognize from earlier (she was checking me out and maybe flirting a bit) is sitting on my bed. Mid-30's, blond, pretty decent looking, what they call a 'MILF' now. And she's really not understanding that I'm not interested in cheating on my fiance.

I don't remember the exact words of the conversation, but it was generally her saying "come on, let's fuck" and me saying "no, get out of my room". Finally, I've had enough, I grab her by a forearm, pull her off the bed, and push her out the door. She spends a couple of minutes pounding on my door and yelling things like "Who the fuck do you think you are, you can't do this to me!", then she leaves.

I'm done sleeping for the night, I wind up getting dressed and going to work so I can use the computers at the office (my job was essentially just to be there if someone actually needed something, and back then PC's were really expensive and not something I could afford). To be honest, I was playing Minesweeper and Solitaire. I would have been in trouble if I got caught (and it wouldn't have been the first time) but it had been months since the commander had come in on a weekend, and I was the person who would be calling him, nobody else was going to be in there unless things went sideways in a way they thought needed to be reported up the chain right away (and they'd drop it in my lap, so I could decide if it was worth calling in the commander). Working the weekend earned me brownie points, and I kind of needed them (I mentioned I was trying to be more responsible, well that was because I hadn't always been).

I'm stalling. I don't want to write this next part.

I don't really see anybody all day, nobody comes into the office, couple of phone calls telling me to log that they are reporting that they have filled out their logs and will be sending them in to be filed, typical military Mickey Mouse pencil-whipping crap. I go off-base to grab some fast food, then head back to my room. I'm hoping my fiance will call, she generally did at least once every weekend (again, this is back in the days of by-the-minute long distance charges, and using the government phones for personal calls was Not Authorized, so we couldn't spend much time actually talking). Shit, I'm still stalling, trying to fill this space with minutiae so I don't have to get to the point.

She shows up knocking at my door. She tells me that if I don't let her in, she's going to have the SP's come and drag me out. I open the door, ask her "for what?"

She's going to report me for trying to rape her. She's told one of her friends that I had tried to keep her in my room so I could, and she's got little baggies with my skin from under her nails to prove it, and she can tell them I'm not circumcised, and that I have scratches on my groin from when she fought me off, and big finger-shaped bruises on her arm from where I restrained her. She's got physical evidence, she's got a believable story, and I have not always been the best example of military discipline and it won't be hard for her to convince her best friend's husband, the head of base security, that I need to get the full-on Leavenworth and Dishonorable Discharge treatment. Oh, and just to make it perfectly clear how screwed I am, her husband works for the JAG office, the office that would both prosecute and defend me in a court-martial.

At some point in this I've gone sort of numb and dizzy, sat down, and she's walked in and closed the door.This was right after the military first started taking sexual assault seriously, they'd set up a special office on nearly every base to investigate and pursue it, and they were collecting scalps all over the place to show they were serious. Hadn't been any on ours yet, but we'd heard rumors and read news stories, guys were getting rushed into and through a General court martial within days of being reported (normally they took weeks just to convene). I was practically a perfect one, I looked kind of big and scary, I was an extremely junior officer with no political connections and a spotty record (not bad enough to screw my career prospects completely, but enough that nobody would consider me worth trying to save even if they believed me).

Her husband was connected, several grades up from me and considered a good prospect for promotion, and she was wired into the informal shadow hierarchy officer's wives have, everybody who mattered on that base was married to one of her friends, she had other friends married into higher commands, the Pentagon. I was so completely at her mercy, I would be asking permission to speak within days at most (military prisoners have to ask permission to speak, to change their clothes, pretty much every damned thing probably including asking to be permitted to wipe after using the toilet) if she did what she was threatening. A few years of that hell in Leavenworth, then a Dishonorable Discharge and a lifetime of being even lower than the typical ex-convict (just for the Dishonorable, they didn't really have Sex Offender registries back then, I think).

You can probably guess what came next, and I don't really want to talk about the details. She used me for her personal sex-toy for the rest of the time I was in the military. She'd get bored of me, or her husband would be paying attention, or I'd be on temporary duty elsewhere (and I volunteered for every one of them I could get), and I'd get a few weeks respite. But she'd get drunk and strike out at the clubs, or her husband would piss her off, or she'd just randomly feel like it, and I'd have to do what she wanted. After a while, it wasn't even the fear of a rape charge, I just couldn't imagine trying to explain myself.

My fiance broke up with me, she thought I was having an affair and I couldn't bring myself to explain what was actually going on. It was almost a relief, at least I didn't have to lie to her anymore, didn't have to fear what she would think of me if she knew.

I guess I'm lucky that she wasn't very imaginative, and that really hardcore 'femdom' porn was rare and hard to find back then. She thought tying me up or working me over with a riding crop was her power fantasy. And I was really lucky that this was the period of the "Peace Dividend", the military was paring down by hundreds of thousands, and a junior officer that didn't want any part of a military career anymore could get released early and still get an Honorable. I managed to keep her from knowing it was coming until after I was on 'terminal leave', or she probably would have tried to block it.

I probably would have been transferred soon anyway, or her husband would have, but I just couldn't take it anymore. I'd gotten lazy and sloppy (I was probably depressed, but officers weren't allowed to get mental illness or ask for counseling, and what the hell would I have said, anyway), pulled a bunch more minor writeups in my file, I would have had a hard time making Captain and no chance at all of getting higher, anyway. There was no real attraction to a military life for me.

I got out. I moved on. I tried counseling, I tried support groups (god, what a joke, I got called a liar and nearly thrown out of the first one I tried, only one that would even hear me out was the man-on-man victims, and half of those were gay and tried to hit on me). I tried to drink it away, I tried to fuck it away, I got married, I got divorced. I considered turning gay (turns out it's not a choice, guys don't get me to stand at attention). I considered suicide.

No matter who I talked to, I get the same reactions. They don't believe me, or they can't understand how it's even possible for a man to be raped by a woman (news flash, in your 20's a breeze blowing across it can get you hard, even (or especially) if it's the last thing you want). They ask if I had orgasms, they hint or outright say that I must have liked it. Counselors want to talk about my self-emasculating masochistic sexual impulses, probably a result of my childhood abuse, a really high-brow way of saying I must have liked it and I'm lying to myself because I don't want to admit it.

I didn't like it. I didn't want it. I'm not able to let myself be actually vulnerable with any woman, which destroyed my marriage and more relationships than I care to count. No matter how hard I try, I never can really trust them with my secrets, and the few times I've tried have made it really clear that is not an irrational fear. Exactly one woman sat through the whole story, then she never spoke to me again. Through mutual friends I found out that she 'just couldn't respect him', she wouldn't tell them why.

I put on 50 pounds and quit working out even before I got out of the service, and even though I know why I am self-sabotaging that way, when I diet and start exercising, all it takes is seeing some blond MILF checking me out while pretending not to and I'm in a panic to get to Burger King and binge-eat Double Whoppers and milkshakes, back to safety.

I'm a male victim of a female rapist. And that is the most pathetic, least respectable, completely unworthy thing to be. And the only advice I have ever gotten about it is boils down to either 'shaking it off', or admitting to myself that I must really like being used and abused, or I wouldn't have 'let it happen'.

So, there's my story. I'll admit right now I fudged some of the details to make it nearly impossible to identify me, even if my ex-wife or someone else I've told parts of it to happens to see this, they won't be sure. I'm using proxies and a throw-away account, and various other measures that should keep it from being traced. And if "she" sees it...screw her, she's not going to control me with fear anymore, maybe she'll even feel shame. I actually do feel better for putting it out there. And I'm going to go ahead and post it, even if it gets deleted right away, that will be closure of a sort. I'll know once and for all, there really isn't anyone, anywhere, that wants to hear it.

edit; I want to thank the people who have said encouraging things. I don't want to get into responding to each one of you individually, not because you don't deserve it but because I don't want to make dozens of posts saying the same thing, like I'm desperate for validation. I just want you to know that I'm reading them, and they helped.

I might have been too harsh on my counselors, if I look at it intellectually I know they were trying to help. I just wasn't in an intellectual place when I was writing that. And I was definitely too harsh on that support group of male victims, they were the only support I got when I needed it most, and the gay couple that seemed like they tried to hit on me probably thought they were just trying to offer empathy and acceptance. Some of them were pretty callous, but the others shushed them and I shouldn't have made it seem otherwise.
The support group I went to first was for victims of child sexual abuse, and it was really just one woman (unfortunately the facilitator or whatever they call it) that got actively hostile when I started talking about what happened later, the rest just kind of shut down and stared while she ripped into me (maybe a couple joined the chorus towards the end, after I was angry and yelling back). But I was in a really vulnerable place at the time, and it really hurt a lot that I was rejected and accused like that. Then she started screaming she was going to call the police, and I just kind of freaked and ran out of there.

I guess what I hate about this is that it all makes me feel so helpless, and I'm amplifying any disbelief and contempt I get from others because of my own feelings about it. It was that Cracked article that brought it out for me, I felt like I needed to just put it out there, finally say it where nobody could interrupt me, where I couldn't see the looks on their faces before I even got finished.

Anyway, thanks.

edit 2; I think some of you don't get what it's like to be in the military. There's not a lot of room in the military for anything that doesn't fall into predictable patterns, the uniform is more than just a set of clothes. It's a mindset, you are a cog in the machine, nothing about you is supposed to stop them from plucking you out of one part of the machine and putting you into another. The rules structure you're in is total and complete, even the ways you can rebel against it have to fit into the right patterns, or you're more trouble than you're worth.
That I partied too much and sometimes came to work with no sleep afterwards was against the rules, but in a predictable way, a normal way. They had a method for guiding young officers from thinking of themselves as special snowflakes who didn't have to follow the rules into proper gentlemen, cogs in the machine. And it was working on me, I was straightening up and showing my commitment to the military lifestyle and mindset, getting married, all the things you were supposed to do. I already stood out for reasons I can't explain without giving clues to my identity, there's absolutely no way that I could have salvaged my career and my reputation from something like this.

Could I have recorded her in a way to show that I hadn't tried to rape her? Maybe, but remember, this was a long time ago. Camcorders were big, bulky and expensive, even decent tape recorders were neither particularly small nor cheap. And she was married to a lawyer, she knew what she couldn't say out loud, after that first time she never made a direct threat. At best, I would be proving I didn't rape her, I 'just' had an affair with a superior officer's wife (adultery, a UCMJ violation and a court-martial offense in itself). And we'd all just had to go through mandatory sexual harassment training, they'd beat it into us that consensual sex before or after is not proof that rape didn't happen, it still would have been my word against hers, and she'd laid the groundwork to at least make sure that her husband and her friends (again, wives of important officers) would believe her. At best a Special court martial and Other Than Honorable rather than prison and Dishonorable. Still a lifetime of checking "Yes" on "Have you been convicted of a felony" questions for jobs.
And frankly, I just didn't think of it at the time. I tried not to think about it at all, I spent so much time and effort pretending it wasn't happening, or that it was just some kind of casual fuck-buddies thing, that it wasn't happening because she liked having all that power over someone. When I heard about that the early out program had been extended to junior officers, I nearly started to cry. From relief that there might be a way to escape without ruining my life, from fear that it might not work.

This was 25 years ago, and in the military, which is always 10-20 years behind the rest of the country. They got dragged kicking and screaming into DADT (which at the time was considered a gay rights victory, gays could finally serve as long as they didn't talk about it), they got dragged into admitting rape and sexual harassment was even something that happened inside the ranks (before that, it was just Fraternization, and both parties were treated as equally guilty).

That a man could be 'raped' by a woman half his size? That wasn't even a joke, it would be a big "DOES NOT COMPUTE" for the military machine. They simply wouldn't have been able to process the concept, I really couldn't at the time. It was years before I could really think about what had happened to me as 'rape'. Like a couple of the commenters have said, it was just "sex I didn't want or like", but 'rapists' were always men, weren't they? "Female rapist" was like "cinnamon cow", a combination of words that has the form of sense, but is nonsense. At best, in a perfect world where they believed me completely and her not at all, they would have classed it as sexual harassment, and not a military matter since she was not in service.

I quit trying to talk about it, or even think about it, probably 10 years ago. It made me feel so helpless and useless to bring it up, and even the people who believed me never looked at me the same way again. If nobody knew, it couldn't hurt me, right? It wasn't until I saw that Cracked article that I felt like I just had to say something.

Even so, I have a career, professional status I need to protect. Maybe we're ready to discuss male victimhood without playing it for comedy, but I don't think most people are ready to actually interact with an actual, known victim without it reducing his stature in their eyes. Certainly not most of the ones that I work with.

As for the handful that have posted nasty things, or doubted the truth of it: Fuck you. I've left stuff out, I inserted a couple of false elements to protect my identity (and maybe my ego), and at best I am an "unreliable narrator" because this is so hard for me to even think about that it causes the meaning of things, the way I see them, to take on elements of persecution that are probably as much products of my own fear as anything else. I hate looking back at that young man, seeing how hapless and pathetic he was, and having to own that he is me. But the core of it is the truth as best as I can remember it.

You can't know what I'm saying is truth. I can't prove it, I won't even put my name on it, and if you want to doubt me, go ahead. But I'm not naming her, there's no need to apply rules of evidence to this because I'm not asking you to do anything. Except maybe consider for one minute that this can actually happen. That you might know someone with a story like mine to tell, that doesn't feel they can.

And I never did figure out how she got into my room. Maybe I was drunk enough not to close it properly, maybe she had rigged it with tape or something not to latch, maybe the room next to mine wasn't locked and she came in through the shared bathroom. I never asked her, and she never said.

edit 3;
This will probably be my last edit before I vanish. I again want to thank the people offering support and encouragement, I've felt very alone with this for a long time and even if it's just words on a screen, it helps. I'm looking into some counseling options, and this time if I don't like how one is going, I'll just try again instead of letting myself get discouraged from even trying.

There's a silly but somehow emblematic argument happening in the comments about 'definitions of rape'. I realize that the legal definition of it, and the distinction between various degrees, is important and it's going to be something to work out over the long term. But I think the functional, 'for the purposes of common discussion' definition is pretty easy: If someone coerces someone else into a sexual act through force or threats or drugs, it's rape for all practical purposes. There might be some gray area about the severity of the threats or their nature (suggesting that a grave bodily injury will be inflicted is not in the same category as threatening to commit self-harm or vandalism, for example).

But if the performance of the threat will obviously have a grave and irreversible impact on the life of the person being threatened, in and of itself, then it's the same kind of coercion as physical force for any practical purpose. It doesn't matter if you're threatening to end my life, or just my life as I would recognize it. And the fact that we are having this argument just goes to the point I'm trying to reach here; If I had been a woman, facing the same exact type of coercion, I don't think we'd be arguing over it was 'really rape' in this setting. There's this assumption that men aren't victims, that are acted on and overwhelmed in the same way that women are, unless the actor is also in possession of a 'Y' chromosome.

I'm not interested in trying to make some kind of grand anti-feminist argument out of that. Nearly everyone in my life up until now, in this thread, has been completely useless in terms of helping me come to terms with this. That the apparatus of victim's assistance and the social awareness of victimization that has ignored me may or may not be dominated by Women's Studies majors really doesn't matter much. There can be degrees of rape, legal categories of rape, and an argument over what is legally 'rape' and what is 'sexual assault' or 'sexual battery'. But being forced to perform sexual acts for the gratification of another out of fear is rape. Rape is the use of power to force sexual compliance, the form of the power or the precise details of the sex doesn't matter. Trying to hedge that with statements about "systemic oppression and historical gender power imbalance" is insulting to all victims of rape, all that matters is the balance of power between the rapist and the victim. In a theoretical matriarchal society women wouldn't stop being victims of the local and immediate power advantage of a male rapist.

We've all failed, including me. I could have done more, I could at least have tried to challenge the idea that women can't commit rape, that men are only really 'victims' when the perpetrator of the sexualized assault and coercion was another man. I didn't, never really have, maybe out of fear that it would betray my secrets, maybe because I am just too steeped in the same assumptions nearly everyone has.
I'm going to try and do better, and try to get better. Thank you, everyone.