Sexual assault happens to men, too. But there’s a difference between how it’s received if you’re a woman. I know.
I, too, am the victim of sexual assault.
I have shared this privately with very few people, but never publicly.
Because of shame. And in many ways, shame is the follow-up assault. It’s the lifelong coup-de-grace that re-assaults you over and over again at the start of each new day.
It happened to me when I was a little boy. I only knew him as “Uncle Tim,” a friend of the family.
I vividly remember the minute details, where I was, the fact that it was cold, what he did, what he said… but I couldn’t tell you the year or “Tim’s” last name. My best guess is that it had to be in the very early 70’s because that was the time period I lived in that house. That’s the only way I know.
So I completely understand when someone can remember some details but not others after the passage of time. It is not a mystery.
My guess is, “Tim” victimized other children, some in the house with me at the time.
It’s not a “recovered memory.” I never forgot about it and then suddenly remembered it later. I didn’t invent it or make it up. I’m not confused about who did it. I haven’t conflated him with someone else.
I did tell my mother a few years after it happened, and she wept that she had put me in such a position as to allow such a person into the home, but it wasn’t her fault, just like it wasn’t my fault. She wasn’t in a good place, either, and I learned many years later there was abuse she had endured that I never knew about.
Over the years the people I confided in never upbraided me for it, never accused me of “asking for it,” or said it was my fault because I was wearing something inappropriate.
But if I were a woman that’s the reaction I’d probably get. I’m sure my mom got that reaction. I bet she got that reaction from people who were supposed to love her.
What a horrorshow this planet can sometimes be.
I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to have the anger and doubt thrown at you on top of all the shame, the questioning that you didn’t fight hard enough, that maybe, deep down inside, it was your fault.
But it’s not. If it happened to you, it’s not your fault. No matter how many years it takes you to find the strength to tell someone about it.