Earlier this week I was asked to write an article on rape and my experience as a male who has been a victim of rape in my adult life. I thought that I would have been able to jot down a few paragraphs and be done by the deadline, but here I am writing this article with only two hours left before the article is scrapped and my chances of writing for this highly esteemed LGBT magazine ever again are over and done. I thought that I would have been able to chronicle my experiences without having a total breakdown but here I am, fingers paralyzed, mind frozen in time.
So instead, I decided to write this note to my Facebook followers because for some reason when I am speaking to you all I feel free. So here goes nothing for the next couple of paragraphs I will be sharing my experience as a male rape victim.
On December 24, 2012, I was beaten and sexually assaulted by someone who I thought was a friend. On December 24, 2012, I WAS RAPED and while my assailant walks free as if he has done nothing wrong, I sit in silence and suffer from endless nights of terror, panic attacks and insomnia that trails endless days of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.
When you become a victim of rape you lose yourself. You lose your sense of security, self-worth, pride, and power. You become lost in a world of darkness, unable and incapable of showing love and affection to anyone, not even yourself. You look in the mirror and you become disgusted and slowly you don’t even recognize yourself. You don’t see a person, but an empty shell. You think about the incident every day trying to figure out if it had really happened and why did it happen to you. Why; the one question that never gets answered, WHY?
Every day is like waking up to an empty existence. It is strange when you walk through the world and you don’t feel a thing, other than a constant fear, as if someone is always watching you and waiting for the perfect moment when they too can attack you. You constantly look over your shoulder, requiring people to either walk in front or on the side of you, thinking that it would be better if you didn’t have to engage with society at all.
This has been my life for the last five years. For 1,825 days I have lived in total fear of society because I no longer trust anyone, not even those closest to me.
To make matters even worse, I was hit with a double whammy: not only was I raped but I was infected with HIV as well. And while my assailant walks free as if he has done nothing wrong, I sit in silence and suffer from not only the effects of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and PTSD but also the effect of HIV ravaging its way throughout my immune system. Luckily for me, there is a pill for everything, but unfortunately for me, my pills are only a reminder of how he beat me, tied me to a park bench, sodomized me, and infected with this deadly virus/disease.
"Rape is even more common within in the LGBT community with 63% of gay/bisexual men have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner."
Being a male rape victim isn’t uncommon and according to the statistics men are raped just as often as women are; the only difference is that men feel so embarrassed and so ashamed to say, “I have been raped” that the sexual assault goes unreported and their attackers walk free.
About 3% of American men or 1 in 33 have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime, 1 out of every 10 rape victims are male, and as of 1998, 2.78 million men in the U.S. had been victims of attempted or completed rapes.
Rape is even more common within in the LGBT community with 63% of gay/bisexual men have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner. The fear of being made fun of when reporting these incidents is the reason these rapes go unreported. I personally remember having two officers laugh in my face as I attempted to report my rape. One of the officers joked with his partner and brushed my rape off as some domestic dispute, laughing at me as I trembled, scared and confused. I was left no choice but to let the incident go unreported.
So what is my experience of being a male rape victim? I get to live a life of silence and fear because according to society men cannot be raped. According to society, there is no such thing as being gay and getting raped unless you are incarcerated. I am met with opposition and I am questioned as if I am a liar and not a victim. I am forced to be ashamed and embarrassed to even think that I was raped. I am forced to not report it or even speak of it. Five years of torture is my experience. Five years of disorders i.e. Bipolar II disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, sleep disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Five years of different medications given to me to cope with something that society wants us to believe does not happen to people like me, by which I mean men.
I take these medications with only one goal in mind: TO BE NUMB.
I may never get over the trauma that I have endured, but I have grown to accept it. And even though I may never feel the satisfaction of knowing that my assailant has been punished for his crime, I have been liberated because unlike so many men who have been victims of rape, I have shared my story.
I told the world that men too can be victims. I am okay. HIV does not define me and neither does being raped. It's how I handle it that defines me.
Isaac D. Joseph is an HIV/AIDS activist, advocate, and author. A native of Houston, TX he is committed to spreading awareness on the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS and people living with HIV/AIDS through his #FacebookLive and Youtube series #SpillingtheTaboutHIV and releasing publications such as The Epidemic: Living with HIV in the 21st Century (Available on Amazon) and many more to come.
This article previously appeared at Isaac's Facebook page, here.