October 6, 2018

I Was Sexually Assaulted

#MeToo
By Wolfmann [CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons
I found myself thinking about the allegations of sexual assault made against soon-to-be-Justice Brett Kavanaugh and wondering about those who were interviewed in the recently completed FBI background check. How accurate could their memories be after all these years? This led me to think back to my time in high school. Initially, I found myself thinking that I could not recall any of the boys I knew being accused of sexual assault. I quickly realized that this was not at all true if one used contemporary definitions of sexual assault. Statutory rape, unwanted sexual groping, and taking advantage of intoxicated girls were not uncommon. I can remember all of them happening and involving many different people.

It was in this context of sorting through various memories that one unwanted memory suddenly came out of nowhere and caught me by surprise. I hadn't thought about it for at least 5 years. I'm not sure I want to write about it, but I'm going to push myself to do so anyway. The pervasive myth that boys (or men) cannot be sexually assaulted by girls (or women) has done enough damage and needs to end. Maybe me sharing my story will lead someone else to feel a bit less alone. I am not sure I have gotten over it completely, but I think I have gotten over it for the most part. I will not define myself as a "victim" or a "survivor," but I will acknowledge that I was sexually assaulted by a girl when I was in high school.

My family was out of town, and so it was time for a drunken party at my house. Enough damage had been done at the last one that I decided I'd keep this one much smaller. I drank way too much but stayed this side of blacking out. I remember telling my friends that I was not feeling good and that I was going to lay down for a while. Things were low-key enough by this point that I was not worried about the house being destroyed. I asked them to make sure they woke me up in an hour. I remember climbing into bed and feeling mildly nauseous.

When I woke up, the room was spinning. I was on my back, and there was an odd sensation of weight pressing down on my lower abdomen. The room was dark, but there was someone on top of me. I tried to push them off but could not manage to do so. Why did I feel so weak? I realized my pants were down, I was partially erect, and that the girl on top of me was trying her best to have sex with me. I was inside her, but the partial erection was fading fast and things were starting to hurt down there. I threw up, and that was enough to stop her. As she got up, I was finally able to see who she was. She was a relative of one of my close friends whose family was in town visiting his family, and I had only met her for the first time that night. She was gone by the time I rejoined the party.

After I came to my senses, I told my friends what had happened. Some thought it was funny. "Well, at least you got laid." A few were appalled because there was nothing remotely attractive about this girl. I guess they thought it would have been okay for her to do what she did if she had been attractive. My friend who had brought her did not seem terribly surprised. I'd later learn that this was not the first time she had done something like this and receive the advice nobody ever wants to hear, "You should probably get yourself checked out." Most of my friends decided that I should be made fun of for "letting it happen." They didn't seem to appreciate that I was unconscious when it happened. Needless to say, these reactions convinced me to keep it to myself.

A few years later, when I finally got up the nerve to tell some college friends about it, I ran into the "women can't sexually assault men" thing. This, combined with the conviction that it was not physically possible for a man to be as drunk as I was while maintaining a mild and fleeting erection, led them to dismiss my story. They did not accuse me of lying but seemed convinced that I must be mistaken. A few noted that it was no big deal because unwanted sex was still sex and better than nothing. I never could wrap my head around that reaction.

I don't think it is common for girls or women to sexually assault boys or men like this. It is far more common for the roles to be reversed so that it is the boys or men doing the assaulting. I am not trying to equate what happened to me with that far more common scenario. I suspect that there are many important differences that make the more common version far worse than what I went through.

I am pointing out it is possible for a girl (or a woman) to sexually assault a boy (or a man). Being rare does not mean that it never happens. It happened to me, and I did not enjoy it. The experience itself was unpleasant. The subsequent visit to the doctor was worse. And realizing that I couldn't talk about it without being mocked was probably the worst part. I know I shouldn't feel ashamed or weak because it happened, and I know I shouldn't blame myself. I've spent far too much time doing just that because of how others have responded.