male survivor

A Male Marine and Nearly Two Decades of Shame and Silence

Adapted from “I’ve Got the T-Shirt and the Trauma Response to Go With It”

As a vocal male survivor, when I’m not talking about sexual violence in writing or before audiences, I’m reading about it in many contexts and sources. A great deal of what I read on a daily basis is written with the implication that military men don’t experience sexual violence or have no experiences that parallel those of female survivors.

Those making such arguments are often NOT sexual violence survivors themselves. Encountering such memes can be quite painful when you are a rape survivor yourself. The problem is not that female survivors receive the majority of the attention when sexual violence is discussed. The problem is that when sexual violence is discussed with regard to male survivors, there is often resistance, condescension, and outright mockery by people who quite often have not experienced such violence themselves. For those who have lived through abuse at the hands of women, that can be doubly wounding.

I’ve lived through sexual violence. I have my own story and my own experiences. I have my own triggers and my own issues.  This is my story.

Background

Approximately twenty years ago I met a friend at a club in Jacksonville, North Carolina. He came with a female friend. During the night, he disappeared leaving his friend by herself and without a ride. As she was pregnant and without a ride, I agreed to take her home when I left. She had not been out in a while and wanted to stay until the club closed that night. While she was not drinking, she bought me a few thank you drinks for agreeing to drive her home.

After a few drinks, I became very tired and disoriented. I never drank until I got drunk, especially when driving and off base. I didn’t like the feeling and it wasn’t secure off base. I just figured I was tired and had too much without realizing it. There was a motel next to the club. She suggested we get a room and sleep it off, then I could drive her home in the morning. I agreed as I was rapidly losing the ability to think or see straight.  She got us a room with double beds and we split the cost.

I vaguely remember laying down with my clothes still on. I probably took off my shirt per the norm, but I left my pants on. I did not feel comfortable taking my pants off around this strange woman. She warned me that she did not want to have sex and I remember saying that I was seeing someone and was not at all interested in that either. I laid down on my side of the room and was out almost immediately.

At some point in the night, I awoke to find her on top of me. I said something I cannot remember and she coaxed me back to sleep. I doubt very much that she could even understand what I was saying, given how disoriented I felt at that time.

The next morning, after the sun had risen, I woke again feeling confused and unsure of where I was or what had transpired since getting off work on Friday afternoon. My pants were nowhere to be seen, my underwear also missing and my penis was erect. I realized that she was on top of me, grinding and moaning. I didn’t know what to think. I wasn’t fucking her. I didn’t want to fuck her. Who was she again? I moved as my legs were stiff and sore from being in the same position for hours with her on top of me.

She darted her eyes at me and told me not to move. I was ordered “don’t be forceful.” She then implied that I was trying to rape her when I could not remain perfectly still and again told me not to move. In addition, I was told that I could hurt the baby if I tried to stop it. After she finally finished, I was still expected to drive her home and was not dismissed until late that evening, after sunset.

In short, I was drugged, raped, threatened and had a baby used against me as a human shield. To say that experience left me messed up would be an understatement.

Put yourself in my shoes for a minute. I was under 21, drinking illegally in a club, while on active duty with a local, pregnant civilian. Why didn’t I report it? Read this paragraph again and think about it harder if it eludes your grasp.

The Reaction

How did I react? I buried it deep and pretended it didn’t happen, which is a common reaction for male survivors. That did not mean that it had no effect on me. I simply pretended it didn’t happen.  I called it a bad night and said she was a little twisted.  I tried my best not to ever think about it.

As one therapist would later tell me, denial of trauma does not mean it isn’t affecting you. I believe she said that if unacknowledged, the effects would “come out sideways” and in a manner that may not be easily identifiable.  For me, that was a sudden and ridiculous promiscuity that did not exist before the rape. I began to act out sexually by sleeping with any woman who offered. I turned down no one, to include several much older, married women. I did not seek out sex, I simply said yes every time.

To say that I was reckless then would be accurate. I was risking exposure to disease and potential violence from angry husbands and boyfriends. I did this for about three years before getting married and stuffing the memories down deep. Further, I lost nearly all trust in women – especially aggressive and loud women.

Nearly twenty years later, I decided to confront it. The time had come to do something about it. I sought out assistance and began to see a therapist. I spent a lot of time on me, thinking, analyzing and progressing. It was painful, but necessary work. I’m not done with it. I don’t know that I’ll ever be truly done.

While in therapy, it was as if the bandage had been ripped off suddenly and the wounds were newly raw. I had panic attacks, crying fits, sudden anger and loss of time. I felt exposed all the time, everywhere.

I had trouble being alone with a woman in a confined space like an office or elevator. Some days, I didn’t even want to stand next to a woman in line for a cup of coffee.  I felt guilty all the time. I still feel guilty quite often. I feel guilty because I don’t trust women I don’t know. I feel guilty because I sometimes view women, particularly loud and aggressive white women, as potential threats to my well-being and mental health. I feel guilty because for a long time, I couldn’t look at a pregnant woman without seeing that sick woman from so many years ago.  I still notice when a pregnant woman is near me, but that doesn’t always result in a panic attack.  Yeah, I know, it sounds ridiculous.  Since when did PTSD, rape or emotions ever make sense?

I still struggle with some of these issues today, but not as often and not always in such intensity as before.  Presently, I have returned to my prior human resources career. This field is dominated by women and has proved a big test for me.

The biggest test is sometimes just getting through the day without losing it. Some days pass without issue, while on other days I just have to give myself a hall pass so I can get on with my life.

 

James Landrith is a healing rape survivor, public speaker, internationally syndicated blogger, civil liberties activist and the notorious editor and publisher of The Multiracial Activist (ISSN: 1552-3446) and The Abolitionist Examiner (ISSN: 1552-2881). Landrith can be reached by email at:  james@jameslandrith.com or at his personal website/blog.

Men are survivors too. Male soldier writes about surviving female-on-male rape.

Richard, United States Army

When you think of a Predator or Military Sexual Trauma (MST) you think women being raped by men. When you think of Male who has Military Sexual Trauma you think male on male rape. I am a Survivor I have Military Sexual Trauma (MST) PTST & no male has ever touched me.

I was an Active Duty Liaison during this time period. It was my supervisor who was a female “Civilian Employee” during the week and during the weekends she was the First Sergeant. She was in a position as a civilian that she used her higher rank & position to get what she wanted. Then the threats came in… but I had to report it after it took the best of me. Once I reported it to the military they didn’t remove her or change her position. If the role was reversed I as a male would have been moved that day no questions asked. But she got to stay while they investigated it.

I still remember it like it was yesterday, step by step. I want to stop thinking and dreaming about it but it is hard when the person who violated you works at the Dallas VA Hospital where I go for medical care and have been since 2007. I had her as a supervisor for another year and thoughts of suicide was in my head every time I came to work. She would harass and embarrassed me in from of my peers. My doctor put me on 2mg bars of Xanax, 280 pills a month. Then I became an addicted to them. Today I still have to take something for my anxiety; because I see her every time I go to the Dallas VA Hospital for medical appointments.

When I came off active duty I didn’t leave my house for over two years which means no medication for my injuries and Military Sexual Trauma or my Combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was too scared to go to the Dallas VA to get treatment because I found out that she worked there. Yes, it has been over ten years and it still has a big impact on my life today. I was a broken down soldier and didn’t know what I was going to do or why I was still living. Today I still cannot sleep, have anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks, and broken relationship with my fiancée who I had dated over five years. I became a work alcoholic and buried myself in my work. I felt ashamed like I did something wrong.

When I reported it not more than five minutes I received a phone call from both of our supervisor who started screaming at me as loud as she could over the phone. She kept telling me I was a lair and why would I do this to her. This went on for over 30 minutes I broken down over the phone & told her that I was telling the truth but she didn’t believe me. Once I got off the phone I went and told the head person in charge of the hold battalion during the week days. She was also my First Sergeant on the weekends which means she was using her military rank as in uniform during the weekends and during the week days she was in civilian position. She was what they called dual status reservist and civilian personnel and she was a predator. I had never in my life taken pills.

I was the Division Master Fitness Trainer. I was in excellent shape before I was transferred to this new unit because our other unit was deactivated. She was on me my first day there and I told her I was not interested. I kept my personal life away from my professional life separate. She would not take no for an answer and I didn’t know anyone in this unit or who I could trust or who would believe me. I mean come on a woman wants a man…most men would had jumped on it. That is what all the men kept telling me.

I had a perfect career and was on fast track up to this point. I was an E5 with 4 MSMs awards which this is unheard of in the military. When you hear of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) PTSD remember it’s not only females, or male on male rape. Women are part of this mess too and they will use their rank and position to get what they want. I will never forget the words she used after she was finished; I always get what I want. Of course, the much more important question here isn’t medical; it’s criminal. Can a woman rape a man? Yes. If someone does not agree to have sex with another and a sexual act is forced upon them, which is called rape. According to other statistics, at least 27 percent of men serving in the military are estimated to have suffered what psychologists call “military sexual trauma” which is either sexual assault, or repeated harassment and threatened assault.

I have been asking for Military Sexual Trauma MST treatment for male soldiers but they keep telling me I don’t qualified because mine was a female, not a male on male rape. There are only six programs in the USA for men who have been raped, SIX!!! I do not believe I would get any support for several years from the Dallas VA Hospital but they keep telling me do this first or take these pills. I have been given so many pills to take that I almost killed myself several times. This letter is in no disrespect to my fellow sister-in-arms back then and today, but I felt that my story needed to be told because I know it is still going on today and there are still women predators out there.

Finally, the act of persecuting the victim is dishonorable, and morally repugnant. This didn’t happen to me but I was threatened with it by her. It is true that the United States demands much of its service personnel. While military service is both an honor and a duty, and carries with it substantial risk to life and limb, the risk of sexual assault and abuse is one risk that no service member should fear. But with a third of all women and possibly a quarter of the men experiencing some type of sexual abuse, or trauma, it is clear that changes have to be made.

Richard and my Service Dog Military Millie

Male sailor went AWOL to avoid being repeatedly gang raped

Heath Phillips, United States Navy

I joined the Navy at 17 yrs old. 5 days after my 17th birthday I was in boot camp. I went aboard the USS Butte AE27. Within the first weekend I was sexually attacked by a group of 6 men. I reported it to my command to be told I was a liar, and was homesick. The attacks became worse and my complaints were not helping. I decided to commit suicide and failed. My parent urged me to leave and come home. While home I had a Congressional Investigation done. Behold I didnt lie! 2 where caught and 1 was shipped away and 3 remained. Upon my return the sexual attacks became worse and like before fell on deaf ears. I kept going AWOL to avoid attacks and threats of death by being tossed off the fantail. I then was given the asked to chose between a Other than Honorable discharge or 6 months confinement to the ship. I got out! Now because I went AWOL I have been denied everything in the VA. They dont deny the attacks but justify the denial because I went AWOL to avoid being repeatedly gang raped.