Student shares story of sexual assault

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Tim
CONTRIBUTOR
Content warning: This article contains descriptions pertaining to childhood sexual abuse and self-harm.

My name is Tim and I am student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) in the Social Work program. I am a survivor of sexual abuse and domestic violence. From as early as I can remember, my life has been shaped by the trauma that I’ve experienced.

I don’t feel comfortable talking about my first experience yet, but I will partially speak about the other two experiences that I have gone through. In middle school, I was repeatedly raped by two classmates on school property, which I was able to hide from my parents for a year, until the school I was attending came across a notebook in which I had described in detail what had happened.

I spent about six years in group art therapy with five other survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) in an advocacy center. It might have helped if my family and friends had understood trauma better. I was diagnosed with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). In therapy, I learned to use painting and writing as a coping mechanism, but it wasn’t enough. Before the age of 17, I had attempted suicide four times, became addicted to drugs and battled with self-harm, all of which would stay with me until I turned 20.

Being a male survivor of CSA, I find that my experience is marginalized because of the stigma and stereotypes associated with men that experience it. Being gay, that marginalization and stigma goes even further. There’s this idea that if you’re a male that’s been raped you weren’t strong enough to fight back, that the abuse makes you gay, and worst of all, male rape just doesn’t exist.

Fighting back or speaking up can mean death. I know it’s real because I felt the physical pain as it happened and remember the blood. The abuse didn’t make me gay–I knew I was gay way before it. I hate that my first sexual experience with a male weren’t with my consent, but through violence.

It feels like there are two closets to come out of when you’re LGBT and a CSA survivor. I typically feel like I have to choose one or the other if I do decide to be open about my experiences.

The rape that I experienced made me hyper-aware and paranoid about everything, but also the complete opposite. I put myself in dangerous situations without realizing it and dated people that abused me without noticing any of the red flags. At age 18, I fell victim to an abusive relationship in which my abuse and sexuality were used as weapons against me. I developed Stockholm’s Syndrome through it and kept coming back to him, no matter what he did.

That same year, I was raped again in a drug-induced hook-up gone wrong. I remember telling him, “I’ll give you my car, my money, anything.” I remember telling him, “Please don’t do this. I’ve already had this happen to me.” He didn’t care. In my opinion, the worst part is that I can’t remember his face, so I can’t help but always fear that he’s out there somewhere.

It’s a common occurrence for victims of sexual abuse to be re-victimized. One of my friends who’s also a survivor best explained it as if the abuse is a shark attack–once you’re bitten, the other sharks can smell your blood and swim towards you.

My parents did the best they could to support me, but I wish they were more patient and didn’t put so much blame on me. You don’t “get over” PTSD over time. PTSD isn’t a clock where the abuse vanishes after a random number of years. It’s about how much work is put into finding ways to deal with it.

Finding services that are inclusive to men and LGBT individuals who are survivors seems nearly impossible. Therapists typically just don’t know how to work with us. I just want people to know that rape isn’t limited to only men attacking women, but also men attacking men, women attacking women and women attacking men. I saw it all in my group therapy. I live to see a day where none of this occurs, but the first step is for people to become aware of it.

A list of national and community resources are provided below:

The Women’s Center of Advancement Omaha (WCA)

WCA Offers inclusive programs that work with women, men, LGBTQ and all people regardless of socioeconomic status.

24/7 hotline: (402)-345-7273; https://wcaomaha.org

1in6

The mission of 1in6 is to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences live healthier, happier lives.

24/7 online helpline: https://1in6.org/helpline/

Project Harmony

Project Harmony exists to provide effective, immediate and sensitive support to child abuse victims and their non-offending family members.

Phone: (402)-595-1326; https://www.projectharmony.com/Home

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

A national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

24/7 hotline: 1-800-273-8255; https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Title IX Reporting

A comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.

Deputy Title IX Coordinator: 402.554.2120; titleix@unomaha.edu

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