Posts Tagged ‘male survivors of sexual assault’

closure

April 14, 2009

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All the time you the remark of closure having something to do with putting an end to a matter of tragic circumstances. I am not sure I can agree that it works. I will go through the motions-but with knowing my baby brother and our sister are buried in a grave in Pennsylvania,him 6 and her 11,just says to me they are dead and aren’t ever coming back.  I still see her in her coffin-I still remember the funeral attendant bringing a step stool so I could see my dead sister laying there I was still so little. I still can see my brother tumbling underneath the car that ran over him-I still see his teeth baring as he was dying in our fathers arms. I remember all the funeral-even the red jacket he wore in his casket.

They are buried-and they are gone. Yet they still live in my head-one memory of Carl is vivid when we were once playing around on the living room floor. Funny how that is.

I do not really know what the terms of getting closure are.

A little later this day I am packing a suit case and embarking on a journey. I’m going to Pearl Harbor. My son is stationed there-the plan is for me to visit the submarine he is serving on…the hope is that I might be treated to a possible short trip on the ship-but those things are yet to be determined.

The true desire I have is to visit the hero’s of the USS Arizona. I want to stand there and see the hulk of the ship and to sense what it all was. I know this experience will be moving-I am moved just by the thought of it.

I ordered the shirt and cap you see in the photo to wear in honor of those men and also stand proudly on my sons ship-as I did serve,although my duty time was cut short.

Closure? It wants to be-but most likely my gesture will be something just for me because all of my Navy time was meant to be mine alone.

My nerves are way wound up and the stress of the travel is making me jittery and ill. I understand one of the flights is over night. The sounds of a mass of people snoring and sleep noises will most definitely trigger that sound that I waited for back in barracks D that first night-waiting for everyonene to go to sleep so I could go pee. I had to pee so bad-it was painful bad. I had not been given that chance all day,and now I was afraid because of this barracks. It was when I finally felt safe-thinking all were asleep-I crept into the head and just began to pee when I was greeted “hello mister” and knocked down with a punch to the head. Those sleeping sounds will have bothered me ever since I learned the flight was overnight.

I’ve been drinking-I guess people call it a binge,but…I call it knocking my ass out so I can sleep (if sleep is what it is called…the drunk in me doesn’t allow the body to rest). My stress is so bad I requested-and got Xanax to keep me calm during the flight.

Yesterday my binge needs called for me to stop at the bar. Our town only has one-everyone one knows everyone,we’ve known each other for years long enough to love each other and hate each other and forget and return to love again. I can’t tell you all of the range of topics that have crossed the counter of the bar over all these years. Yesterdays was one that I wish could have not have been.

One of the guys is a former sailor. He heard I was going to Hawaii and commented (like the guy a few weeks ago at the laundry) that I must have been there when I did my tour in Viet Nam. It is the second time I’ve told this man I never made it to Viet Nam. Then he asked me if I ever crossed the Equater. I told him no and that I’d only been to Cuba. Then he told of the ritual sailors go through when they cross the Equater for the first time. He even said there was a name for the sailors that never have…kind of a derogatory term-and those that have get a title that gives them a rise above the newby’s.

I tried to push it out of my head. I drank my beer and left the place and as I drove home I started to cry. The memory that I do not have is the memory this man has.

The morning I was raped the officer that heard of it said to “get used to it”…over years some have said “get over it”…and then there is the word “closure”.  Listening to that man telling of his hazing as his battleship crossed the Equater made me wish I could be telling the story-the grin on his face as he spoke of the memory,I knew he was happy and that he had loved every moment of it. And I felt that always present sense of guilt that I did not serve the way this man served.It hurt so bad that I go back and wonder…how can I ever get used to it? How can I get over it?

I do know this-I cannot keep writing about this forever. My life-my parts that describe the personal hurt and all that I could say to show how rape is a crime of huge damages to ones soul.. So I have to bring this to closure and start anew with the work that is at hand for other MST survivors. I’ve told my story here-this now being perhaps the last page.

I need to move on and work seriously to advocate for change for the countless many other survivors of Military Sexual Trauma (MST). If you are reading this for the first time-all of these pages are the account of a male survivor. I’ve written about all the challenges that I lived through-I hope you can  find some relationship to what I am saying and hope you too can a voice and way to try to heal…I’m not sure truthfully if we will ever heal. But-I believe we can gain strength.

I will start a new blog when I return from Hawaii.

This new blog will be about all survivors and will be dedicated to fighting for changes in how the Veterans Adinistration handles the claims process for MST survivors. I will try to channel as much info to help any survivor prove their case and recieve help from the VA. I want to see changes in whom MST survivors are required to report to to file any claims. I want to help educate-as I learn,and help you find help and a voice.

I know the experience of standing at the USS Arizona Memorial will be one of the greatest highlights of my life. As a little boy those men were my hero’s and I find it a Great God that can provide me with such a journey to such a place just to teach me my life….and thier lives…and that I must learn to be content.

I will write once again soon to notify how to find the new blog.

today,and a year ago tomorrow and in between

November 6, 2008

sunrise
Originally uploaded by jayfherron
 

 

I wish that I could write today about hope. I wish even more that I could write about the changes that are going to come. The only thing I can say is-patience.

I received a call last Friday from the Secretary of Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite. I know the call was sincere-she called from an airport…I could hear the noise in the back ground.

My meeting with Brown-Waite was postponed. I was even curious myself about the original date…today! After all, it is two days from the national elections. It was explained to me to be scheduling conflicts. Well, I suppose running for re-election is a scheduling conflict, and one I accept, especially since she was re-elected.

I was asked by the Secretary if I had contacted any other Congresspersons from our area. I told her I’ve been contacting representatives from Congress and the Department of Defense and who ever else would hear me for the last three years…and the Congresswoman is the only response that has come with an invitation. That invitation was to arrange a meeting-and we are going to meet.

Patience. Patience is hard to endure sometimes.

I would like to have written by now that there is hope in promises that people might hear your story and realize you have been wronged-and deserve validation. I wanted to share this hope with others-specifically other military veterans who may also be survivors and sufferers in silence. The hope would have been that there is a line of justice out there-you can be heard and responded to. That has not happened yet-I cannot write about it and  change the direction of what I write about in the future. Tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of my hearing with a Veterans Administration judge. I would to like have written more about that, but there is nothing to write-unless you want to know that nothing has happened. No one has contacted me and said yes or no. It bothers me-because it is something I never had for all of these years. It bothers me because for 37 years it was kept within and regarded with nothing,no attention at all-in my silence. There was nothing to wait for…what it is was already there, and now it is topped with the need for patience.

I’m not even sure why this is. I do not know why it happened. I know how it happened. I just don’t know why it happened to me. It seems like much of my life has been a car wreck, but the experience I had in barrack D has lasted like a permanent injury.

I don’t know how to explain any of it. I was asked once what the difference was for me being a male rape survivor from a females experience. I don’t even know how to explain that-I only know my experience and have not not been able to understand others any more than I do my own. I do know-it has never left me.

I had hoped that tomorrow I would be writing something else. I could have told you that my visit with the Congresswoman was a positive meeting. I wanted to say she heard us…the silent wounded-and that we can see some hope in the way we are treated as veterans. I wanted to write that we will see a change in who hears our story and how they respond. I wanted to explain how our civil rights are being violated-and so because we have been violated. But,I must be patient.

I do believe the Congresswoman’s Secretary will contact me again. I do believe there will be a meeting. I believe what I am have been talking about in these pages is being heard-not only from me, but also by facts that can’t go away. The knowledge that MST (military sexual trauma) survivors are in numbers up in the thousands cannot go away-it can only get larger, and stronger if we continue to come forward and demand that they deal with it.

Little did I know as a teenager at 18 what life was going to dole out next. I stood in a great crowd of men at Fort Hollibird in Baltimore Maryland and took my oath to do my duty to serve my country. The Viet Nam war was in its peak at that time-at least in the knowledge of it and how it reached our youth. Many rebelled and many transferred their citizenship to Canada to flee the war. I stood in a great crowd of men that were all standing up for their country and were heading all branches of military service. The way I was raised and the era that I grew up in-we were taught to honor flag and country. That’s what I was doing. I have to be one of the few guys in life that actually enjoyed ‘boot camp’. I had tried to join the Marines. After boot camp I returned to the Marine recruiter and thanked him for his advice….”you’re too skinny to be a Marine”….”go try the Navy”!! I did not know that one day I’d be writing this.

My career in the Navy was less than a year long. My memory has been all that I ever know. Every day I wake up and what happened is still there. I can’t ever seem to remember a day that began with out my remembering. The details are so so vivid even yet.

I lived all the years since with a guilt and shame that was miserable. I battled self destruction-and ‘damage control’…where I would go out and seek the harmful contact of others. I drank and still skirt alcoholism. I abused drugs of all description. I abused myself. I felt that I failed and lived like I had. The list gets longer from here.

In all the times I battled drugs-I confessed to the Veterans Hospital that I was depressed. The answer they had was in the form of a pill…it was like a drug-it made me feel high. It really troubled me-my fighting to keep from being a drunk and illicit drugs was not easy, and the answer to a question that identified the need for help was given in drugs. I became angry about that and instead of keeping quiet I spoke out. Many times I wish I kept it to myself.

As you can tell by my writing that this is not something easily explained. It is so complicated because of how I know it and it has affected my adult life. It is complex in how detailed it is in m mind. Because…it is my life.

What I couldn’t explain about the difference between being a male rape survivor is that what the entire scope of things did in my life-how it has lived itself a lie in parts of my family, how it restricted my everyday existence because of fear and anxiety. I couldn’t explain why I couldn’t hold a job. For all the years that no one was interested-that no one knew, I couldn’t explain. I cannot explain why it hurt and deepened an old wound by hearing comments that assume I might be homosexual because men raped me-and the hurt worsened when jokes were made of the color of pen I was using to mark pages of a statement I wrote. The jokes alluded to my assumed homosexuality and they came from a man who is supposed to be my advocate towards final justice in that I was a rape victim.

I don’t know why this is. I was sent by a trusted person to give my account about barrack D to a Veterans Affairs advocate. This man was to take my information and walk me through the process of justice. Justice now 38 years over due. It was this advocate who made me afraid because of his ignorant bigotry. It was his comments that made me want to bring as much attention to this as I possibly could. And now it is the reason why I write about it here.

I had no voice before. The only thing I knew that I could do to reach others was to set up a computer and try to reach others via this electric wonder.

We that have survived MST deserve a voice. We deserve a lot more…and through this channel I hope to raise awareness and interest and support towards change as how we are shown the path towards our justice-to get what belongs to us…help!

I wish I could say more today. I think more is coming…so we must be patient.

April-National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April 22, 2008

farm-john campbell school,brasstown NC

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

My own mental clock had almost ran through the month of April. Until yesterday I had not been paying too much attention to the calender and then realized it was almost the end of the month.

Being a survivor of rape and sexual assault is an isolated place to live.
No one but another survivor can understand the meaning of what I am saying.

As people we are all different. We have different backgrounds and up bringing and some of us come from families who are rich and others from families that struggle to live month by month. Sexual abuse has no regions nor age groups-nor does it separate from where you come from. It does not have a gender….it has to do with control. The control of someone over you.

Every one of us has an extraordinary life. There are none of us alike-we only have similar experiences,yet those vary.
I lived a life that I know has been different.

Actually-it is a bit ironic that I can’t exactly tell you what it has been like being a survivor. I never felt like a survivor.
I lived a life closeted away from what others knew. In private I carried the guilt and shame that came along with the assaults. Due to the nature what was taking place….I was a young sailor in the USN and by twists of fate I got stuck in a snow storm and became AWOL. I ended up in a detention barracks-barracks D.
The long of the story is written in all these inserts-but the long of the story is also that every day of my life I awake to the memory of what happened.
The guilt and shame are contrasted of that the rapes were not a part of what my father or mother ever knew-they only knew that I had gotten in trouble and was being kicked out of the Navy.

I kept my secret-and battled it. The damage of having to preform every day the way I was forced too back in barracks D had some kind of effect on me. After the discharge and after being free of the barracks-I found myself seeking to be treated the way I was back then. I found myself putting myself into situations that were certain to cause me harm. I called those times ‘damage control’,except-I damaged myself and had no control over it.

I was asked once about how it might be for another-how I feel and how they feel about being sexually assaulted.
I could’nt answer the question-each one of us had different experiences but for most of my life I never figured it happened to others in the way it happened to me.
I learned to understand how harmful it is no matter who-no matter what the scene was.
It is just difficult too explain-not knowing others might be having to go through the same fears I was. Fears of public places…public restrooms-or in crowds of people,such as at a game or a concert. Like standing in a room full of snakes.

I went through most of my adult life not knowing that April was an awareness month-it does cover sexual assault-and domestic abuse. It is rather odd these titles.
Yes,I guess-we have to call it something,but sexual has nothing to do with assault,being domestic has nothing to do with abuse.
The word sexual actually softens the reality….there is nothing sexual about having someone force themselves on you-as in my case,being socked in the face and laid out in a urine trough.
A very interesting thing. The physical part of it was over-but forever the mental part has distorted something inside of me.
The ‘sexual’ contact in my life since became a task-a job…like hard work. Something I had to do,I guess that is because it was something I was forced to do.
How can I explain that?

I can’t explain what it is for others. I only can imagine it must be the same thing.
Many things are disturbed inside of you when this happens.
I lost trust. I lost responsibilty. Soboriety. I could not keep a job. I became divided from my family.
I could not be close to someone.

The things I’ve been writing in this ‘Word Press’ about myself and my life are my way of bringing awareness. I don’t need a certain month to be set aside to do this….I need what seems a lifetime.
I did find things to keep me alive-to survive.
I learned to drive big trucks long distances-that to keep from having to work with others. Yet-I also learned to build high scaffolds,another place where no one is.
I raised two sons-good young men,as a single dad
Through my life things have been an evidence as to what had happened,but no one understood what it was or why I was the way I was. How do explain what through the years had become a calous on my own heart and chaos in my life….my own past to carry  alone in secret.

It was through Charlotte B.,at the VA who helped awaken a part of me and show me some things about what this was….the actions of PTSD.
Through the meetings with her I found the Survivors Art Exhibit…and that opened me up even more.
Also through the meetings with her I was forwarded to a Veterans Advocate to ‘validate’ my experience and hold the military accountable….this ‘advocate’ was so knee deep in bigotry that he re-opened the wound in a way that made me want to scream.
So-I bought this computer and began to learn how to use it and in this I found a way to speak.

My awareness message to anyone….men are victims too.
The title of ‘Sexual Assault Awareness Month’ needs to really truly tell the whole story.