When I was 14 years old, I went on a class trip to Disney World where my three best friends proceeded to sexually assault me.
When you’re young, things don’t always make sense, and years later, it’s still hard for me to process the logic behind it.
Regardless, the issue began with my roommates holding me down and “teabagging” me in my sleep. While most people view this as innocent or comic enough, waking up to this is an extremely uncomfortable feeling.
When my best friend since first grade removed his shorts while the other ones held me down, the incident became something far different. To avoid running the risk of being gratuitous, I can only imply what happened next.
Thankfully, I was soon able to shake them off of me and tried to make a beeline out of the hotel room, but they caught up to me. They beat and kicked me in a corner of the room and hit me with anything they could find lying around the room. I had a bruise in the shape of a footprint on my right forearm for three months.
When something like that happens to you, it’s more shock than it is sadness or powerlessness at first, at least until you get a chance to process it.
These guys had been my best friends since I was 6 years old. It’s unimaginable they’d do something to hurt me like that, and I was too young to know how to respond. I never wanted anyone to find out in a million years, but we were in high school and words spread fast.
Two days after we returned from the trip (and on my main attacker’s birthday, of all days), I was in the principal’s office giving her my story in response to an anonymous tip.
A few years later, another boy told me he was the one that came forward. He was in the hotel room next door and heard the altercation and felt compelled to do something. Everything happens for a reason and surely he was trying to do the right thing, but not a day goes by where I wish he never did it.
While my situation was personally harrowing, the actual assault aspects never became as grisly as other horror stories I’ve heard. In fact, I firmly believe that in my case, the fallout from the assault was way more traumatic than the actual incident itself.
As soon as I stepped out of the principal’s office, it was like waking up on Mars.
Students told me I was a homosexual (news to me) who wanted it to happen to me. I heard teachers in the hallway saying I made it up for attention. Girls wouldn’t be caught dead talking to someone like me. I went about 18 months without my classmates talking to me in public. I lost every single friend I had because it was inconvenient to be around an outcast like me.
Even my mother was disappointed in me.
After my visit to the principal’s office, I came home in tears. The bus ride home had been particularly brutal, and I was unaware that this was about to become the new status quo. I was looking for some relief from my mom, but all she could say was, “Maybe if you were tougher, this wouldn’t have happened to you.”
No, maybe if I was asleep this wouldn’t have happened to me. Maybe if I didn’t go on the trip, this wouldn’t have happened to me. Maybe if I was more judicious in picking out my friends, this wouldn’t have happened to me.
Or maybe — just maybe — if they had more self-control and respect for me, this wouldn’t have happened.
Life goes on. It took a number of years for me to get to where I’m at today, but I’ve finally beaten this thing.
Not a day goes by where I’m not reminded of it in some way, but only rarely does it bother me anymore. Time heals all wounds and things do get better, but I had no idea how much time it would take.
I had an unfortunate post-traumatic stress disorder incident the first time I attempted to be intimate with a female, and I ruined what would’ve been my first taste of young love. I was scared to escalate with girls I was attracted to because I would hate to be with the girl of my dreams and embarrass myself in a similar fashion.
I felt like if I couldn’t even control the gender of the people that have sexual relations with me, I couldn’t control any aspects of my own life. I can’t even begin to imagine what women go through when they are attacked by men.
We must do better as a culture. We can’t continue to blame victims for the perverted actions of their attackers.
We can’t continue to make excuses for rapists and violators, and we can’t reinforce a rape culture that says this kind of behavior is acceptable.
Unfortunately, my story is nowhere near as rare as I once believed it was. My heart breaks for all the other victims out there, and I stand in solidarity with you.