the difference

2094617971_ee8d3c3aa0.jpgThe portrait you are looking at is titled ‘The Black Hand’. It is more than a portrait-it is a visual diary of a boys life until he reaches age eighteen. Unfortunately-the final section of the portrait is not visible-my camera just wouldn’t seem to comprehend I needed all of the painting in my view. There is enough to get the ‘picture’.

I was interviewed yesterday by the student newspaper at the University of Florida-the conversation was regarding a ‘male support group’ that specifically concentrates on males who are survivors of sexual assault. I had a part in the decision that recognized the need ,thus the interview.

The question came up as to why focus on just men-why not have a group for male and female survivors together,which I’m sure does happen-but in the case where a male has been sexually assaulted (lets just include rape in this) I explained that I did not feel socially we have come to terms with realizing that men have been victims too. The example is the community in which this group is going to form -a university city with one of the leading health care facilities in the country…it is 2008, and it is only now something to support male survivors is beginning.

The complexity of this is the difference in times. I was asked if I was offered counseling when I was raped?  No…I was laughed at with no sympathy at all-it was expressed that I ‘get used to it’-I cannot describe what or how my thoughts were doing trying to adjust to that response. There was no counseling-nor medical treatment for the bruises on my face and to clean the blood out of my nose. That only happened when a gentle inmate in this barracks guarded the shower so I could wash the stink of urine from my body and blood from my nose. I have to explain that I do not know what the differences would be had I received counseling then…I was told by authority to get used to it-that’s what I had to do! I believe things could have been a lot different had I gotten help. Instead I did what I could to get used to it-and to survive.

Sexual assault is the most wrongly defined crime. The sexual reference is out of place-there is nothing sexual ( if sex is supposed to be thought of as something comfortable and pleasurable) about a person taking another person by force or unwillingness to be a part of the others idea-they might call it ‘play’….but it is not what we might be thinking. There is nothing playful about being forced-by being punched and arms twisted in pain to satisfy the frenzy of some one else having power over your body.

This crime does not always happen by physical force alone. There is a mental avenue in it too-innocence being seduced by a clever adult with the vulnerable as a victim. But all of it happens to carry the same result. An assault. The vulnerable can be of any age-and any gender.

Every survivor has a different story to tell. Some that were assaulted did not survive to tell their story-in Florida a young girl was stolen from her room in the middle of the night,murdered after her assaults took place. A child under an assault where sexual thought could not even skim the outskirts of the fears that had to rampage through her mind-the final things that happened in her life before it was abruptly taken. Sexual thoughts? Play? No.

Living as a survivor is more different than one might think. Again-the word sexual combined with assault somehow softens the blow and gives it a less tragic appeal…one can conclude “it was only sex” but be thoroughly ignorant to the reality that it was not.

 In society we have been tradition tought to think this way-even yesterday February 14…the comments of sexual suggestion in the purchase of gifts for ones lover might make my point-how a gift from Frederics of Hollywood can open the doors for a sexy evening with your lover,more so than a box of heart shape candy….all of the ‘morning hosts’ on the radio shows laud these kind of things for laughs. And imply the female body is for sex…and there for the male as ‘eye candy’…as woman were repeatedly referred to.

So the sense of it is-the guffaws of radio hosts and humorous quips about sex, jokes about a place named after the breast size of woman’s ‘hooters’-all of these things to entice the funny nature of sexuality….and yet,are actually disturbing to those who have survived attack. For survivors those kind of humours are void to us-instead they assault our mind and memory and thoughts.

I could not answer questions like-is it different being a male survivor?

Each one of us have gone through our individual experience’s and our own lives-each has had different outcome-and income ,and abilities to heal….and to to come out it all upright and at the same time others are broken and the ability to heal has not yet been figured out and getting back up seems nearly impossible-if ever possible. How can I explain what it is like to be you?…or tell you how it was to be me?

I certainly can’t answer what it would be like to be a female survivor-except that it cannot be any less horrendous than what it has done to me….but yet it has been harder because the male victim has not been fully recognized and helped as such….and we walk with it in silence-kept inside.

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