There never is an easy way to begin a blog like this. Can’t really think of any pleasantries that really work for this topic. It’s really important for me to do this piece justice, and I would be lying if I said that this was easy for me to write. In actuality, it took me two weeks. Although I have never kept the subject of this blog a secret, I have NEVER gone in depth about the events that took place on March 1, 2011 with anyone. It’s a night that still haunts me, and I doubt I will ever forget.
That Tuesday morning, I went to work just like I always did. I made a stop at a dry-cleaner/tailor close to my office to have some pants taken in, when my phone rang. It was my now ex-husband calling me from my apartment on Staten Island. He had waited till I was out of the apartment to go there and pick up the rest of his stuff. He had moved out several months before, and moved in with his then mistress, now wife, but this was officially the end.
I knew my stepdaughter was sleeping out that night, so I decided not to go straight home after work. After a few calls, a friend decided that we were going out to Therapy, a gay bar located in Hell’s Kitchen. I wasn’t a drinker, but I figured what the hell. Up until that point in my life, I never regretted any decision. But that was all about to change.
I want to apologize in advance because a lot of what happened next is still a blur. I remember leaving Therapy with my friend and walking towards the West Side Highway. I don’t remember hearing anyone behind us, but I do remember when the bat hit the back of my head. I remember being down on the floor and being kicked in the ribs and spit on. I remember voices (I can’t tell you how many), and I remember being called Fag. And I will never forget the feeling of being held down on the floor and being violated the way I was. I felt completely powerless, and the pain and shame I felt is completely indescribable. All I can tell you, was in that moment in time, I wished I were dead. I went completely cold and numb.
At the hospital, I didn’t want to talk to anyone or be touched. My friend and I were asked a lot of questions, and I went through a batch of tests. He was just hit and had minor bruising, but I ended up with fractured ribs, a small concussion and a sprained wrist. We were released the next morning, and headed back to my place on Staten Island. My friend stayed with me that day, and the following day my stepdaughter came home. The police qualified the attack and rape as a “gay bashing,” and considered it a hate crime. Unfortunately, they never caught my attacker.
Without making what happened public, I took some time off of work. At home, I kept the extent of my injuries (literally) under wraps. I didn’t want anyone to know what happened. In fact, if I remember right, I said I was gay bashed outside a club, because I couldn’t hide the brace on my wrist and bruises on my face. It wasn’t until about a month later that I told my friend Pam what happened. I remember being across from Macy’s on 34th Street, and sitting by the downtown 1 train station on the floor and talking to her. I was scurrying around the issue, and she asked me point blank if I was raped, and I started crying and told her. It wasn’t until months later that I told anyone in my family. I was so ashamed that I let that happen to me.
Over time, I healed physically, but mentally was a whole other story. I was extremely scared, and didn’t go anywhere alone. A noise would make me jump, and I didn’t let anyone hug or touch me, including my stepdaughter, for quite a while. I stopped watching cop shows like Law & Order: SVU because the material hit too close to home for me. I went to counseling, but had a very hard time opening up about that night, and feeling comfortable with myself. I felt completely damaged, and that nobody could ever love a disgusting person like me. I had gone within myself.
Things finally came to a head six months later, on my birthday. I had lost A LOT of weight, but decided I wanted to go to karaoke to celebrate. I just had one condition… one of my friends had to act as bodyguard, and not let people get too close to me, and if I was getting too uncomfortable, diffuse the situation. I was completely antsy the entire night, but I did get through it. After that night, I knew I couldn’t keep living that way, and needed to get control back, for myself and for my own sanity. It’s still a struggle from time to time, but I manage.
They say time heals all wounds. I don’t know if I agree with that. I think time makes some wounds hurt less, but I don’t think they go away completely. To this day, I will stay to myself in public situations until I get my baring of everyone and the area. I’ve been accused of being standoffish, but the people who actually know me and care enough know the truth. I always pay attention to everything going on around me, and can recall the craziest details about people if asked. I still tense up or step back when people go to hug me, unless I’m completely comfortable with them. Massages make me very uncomfortable, to the point that they hurt. I usually walk a step behind the person I’m with, so that they are ahead of me, and in my mind, “protecting” me. I have a difficult time holding hands or being affectionate in public. And it took me almost a year to sleep with my ex for the first time.
That night definitely changed something in me, and it took me a long time to make peace with what happened, and not let it define who I was. Being raped was not my fault. I never asked for it, and it doesn’t make me any less of a man. Through counseling, I was put in touch with other men, like me, that were violently attacked. Some were gay, and some were straight, so one thing I learned is rape has no rules.
Let me make very clear that I am no therapist. I don’t have all the answers, and I can only speak from my own experience. The thing I want to impart on anyone reading this, and who has been through a situation like me, is to not hide away and keep it to yourself. Seek out help, speak to your friends and family, or call a support group or hotline. You can even reach out to me if you like. Rape is not your fault and it doesn’t define who you are. You are a survivor, and you can get through it, so don’t give up. You are never alone.
For more information:
Facts about Rape: https://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims