Trigger Warning: Sexual violence
There is a silent and nearly invisible epidemic that is consuming lives, traumatizing bodies, and places unjust burdens on Gay Oregonians: sexual violence.
Nearly half of Gay men in Oregon have experienced sexual violence in their life, a violation that is only increasing in severity with sparse resources to address it. But this type of data is notoriously under-reported on, so, in reality, it’s much worse.
But you would never know of this issue, and not because the government doesnt care, it’s because we as Queer men are ignoring it.
We’re denying ourselves a #MeToo movement; there is no discourse on consent, or calling out abusers in our community. Instead, there is a fog that wraps us into a false sense of safety and blinds us from the reality that we have an issue with rape in our community.
While we believe, empathize, and stand by the women who are survivors of male-perpetrated sexual violence, we are denied that same humanity by our own hands.
We’re not silencing survivors, they simply just don’t exist in the Gay conscious, and we’re unable to protect one another because we’re not seeing the harm that’s done right in front of our eyes.
The vicious cycle that is sexual violence that is brutalizing us will not end until it is acknowledged.
This article is that acknowledgement — it is the wake up call, the icebreaker, and the start of a conversation long overdue.
Queer men of Oregon, we are systematically erasing surviorvs, failing our people and faciliating rampant sexual violence. So to begin that conversation, I will share my experience with sexual violence, and my place amongst the 40%.
When the idea of sexual violence comes into my thoughts, it was almost always a womans issue done by strangers. If that were to happen to me, I’d fight the dude off—I grew up in public housing, I’m no punk—and men don’t get raped, so, I don’t have to worry about it.
Unfortunately the reality I had built in my head was not the same one I lived in.
It was my freshman year of college when I met Bader—a senior at the University of Oregon—the first man I truly fell in love with. Then, one day, he decided that my body was no longer mine, but his property.
I begged, pleaded, and fought against his hands that turned into restraints, but after seeing the cruelty in his smile and determination in his eyes, I gave up.
Suddenly his lips touched mine, and he casually said “You should leave now so you don’t miss your bus.” As I sat on that bus, all I could do was blame myself, and suffer in silence — which I did for a long time.
He irreparably changed me. I am not who I was then, and I doubt I will ever be.
So, I’m not going to lie and say that I’m healed, that I’ve moved past it, or even that I don’t blame myself anymore. I still hold fragments of blame and, despite years of therapy, I fear every man I come across.
Even when I’m with my straight bros the fear of sexual assault paralyzes me at times — when I know for a fact they’d never hurt me.
For a long time I felt alone and relegated to self imposed isolation, fearful and filled with shame I remained silent, and perpetuated this cycle of violence and willful ignorance.
And I am not unique — and neither is this story. I am your friend, your husband, son, boyfriend, teacher, a member of your community that is screaming “WAKE UP!”
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