Sorry, Will, but this question is specifically for RJ. I just wanted to know how you got over or came to terms with the event that happened to you when you were a younger. When I was younger, I was also sexually assaulted and I recently was barely able to tell my closest friend and had to fight numerous tears. I know I still have a long way until I am fully at terms with this so hopefully you have time to answer my question because i know you guys are really busy.
Best wishes =D
-Christian from Southern Caifornia
Hi, Christian. Let me first say that I am so sorry that this happened to you. I contend that sexual assault is something that no one should ever have to deal with in their lifetime—not through their experience or that of anyone close to them. Unfortunately, the reality is that it happens to people every day. It actually happens to a frightening amount of people. When I finally mustered up the courage to start admitting my assault to people, I was absolutely shocked and almost appalled at how many people would counter back with an experience of their own. Even worse, many times, it was the first time that person had ever admitted to their own personal incident out loud.
This is exactly why instances of sexual assault are so common—no one ever talks about it. It is a tragically under-reported crime, especially among male victims. People have a hard enough time bringing up the subject in the first place. Your average American is barely comfortable enough to talk about normal sex, so sex crimes are an especially unpleasant subject. This is one reason why victims stay silent. The other is mostly about fear: fear of being stigmatized, fear of not being believed, fear of retaliation, fear of being blamed, fear of rejection… just a host of reasons that an irrational mind uses to justify staying silent.
It was thanks to those reasons and more that I stayed silent, for about 12 or so years. I didn’t tell anyone: not a friend, not a counselor, not a family member… no one. While it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, believe me when I say that I paid for my mistake. An incident such as juvenile sexual assault has a way of screwing up a lot of your development, both mentally and emotionally. It creates issues that, if left untouched, have the potential to completely destroy your ability to maintain normal relationships and your ability to be a sexually functioning adult. Throughout my adolescence I had to grapple with a lot of trust issues, not to mention bouts with depression and suicidal tendencies. Once more, had I tried to continue my silence on into the present, I would still be grappling with said issues, and they would no doubt be much worse. Make no mistake, if you try to keep your incident a secret, there’s no doubt it will eventually find a way to destroy you.
This is why, whenever I do address this subject, I stress the importance of talking about it. Dealing with something like this is impossible enough. Don’t try to deal with it on your own. For starters, admitting to it out loud helps you acknowledge that the event was real, which is a fact that you’re going to have to accept. What was done to you and done to me was heinous, monstrous, even evil—but that does not mean that it didn’t happen. Perhaps more importantly, though, admitting to your assault will help open you up to the wealth of resources to help you in your healing process. First off, you’ll start meeting people who had to endure similar incidents, which will help alleviate that incredible sense of loneliness that finds every assault victim. Not to mention that, the more you force yourself to talk about it, the easier it will become. You’ll also start finding resources to seek professional help, which you will definitely need. I know that there can be a stigma associated with being the patient of a therapist or shrink. I know that you yourself may have personal objections to seeing a professional. However, in reality, a professional is the only person who has the tools you need to truly understand what kind of damage has taken place and how to get past it. Understand, too, that a psychiatrist or psychologist is not a doctor. It’s not like they diagnose a problem and then give you a prescription and you get better. Instead, they help you in your healing process. Also, just because you don’t like one therapist doesn’t mean you won’t like another. Each one has a unique personality and a unique approach.
You should also know that this incident is never really going to go away. No matter how much time passes, no matter how much you may finally heal, nothing is going to change the fact that this happened to you. It’s not going to be something that you will ever be able to forget. It’s the same as when you experience the death of a family member or close friend; nothing is ever going to be able to bring that person back. Instead, you have to allow yourself to accept the situation and grieve, and then finally find a way to heal and move on. This is almost exactly what is going to happen with you. You’re going to hurt. You’re going to cry (bullshit, you’re going to bawl your eyes out). You’re going to be angry. You’re going to want to scream and shout and break everything you can get your hands on. You’re going to want to blame yourself. You’re going to feel like you’re unclean, that you’re dirty and tainted both inside and out. Unfortunately, there’s no escaping this. It’s going to happen whether you try to fight it or not, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.
Here’s the good news, though: things can and will get better. Sure, this black mark in your past will never disappear, but you’ll learn to deal with it. You’ll first learn to cope, and then you’ll learn to leave it behind. You’ll realize that this doesn’t have to define you for the rest of your life. You’ll find that it is possible to live a happy, fulfilling, and relatively normal life after this is all over with (because, let’s face it, who actually has a truly “normal life”?). Once you begin your healing process, you’ll be on your way to a future where this cloud doesn’t have to constantly be above your head. Here’s the best part: the hardest part is over. You’ve told your first person. The cat is already out of the bag. So open up. Go find a counselor at your school or your university. Talk about it. You don’t have to live with this secret anymore. You don’t have to be a victim anymore. All you have to do is take control of your own healing process.
All the best to you, Christian. I hope that this at least points you in the right direction of where to go next. Please be sure to let us know how you’re doing as things progress.