Abuse is alienating. Survivors of sexual trauma often tend to hide their scars and suffer in silence because of the shame and guilt that usually surrounds the topic. And, if the #Metoo movement has taught us anything, it is that even when victims of sexual assault trauma do summon up the courage to tell the world their story, they are judged and questioned by society while the perpetrator goes scot-free.
But, while social media movements and stricter laws are trying to make it safer for women to speak up, the fact that a lot of the sexual trauma victims are male is something that is often conveniently ignored by society. When a woman assaults a man, even his friends would usually react by congratulating him and talk about how he should have enjoyed it.
If males assault males, the victim is often way too ashamed and mentally wounded to speak out and begin the process of healing sexual trauma. If they do speak out, their masculinity comes into question and society can often make them feel like the butt of every joke. This is pretty much what happened to Binod (name changed) and why he couldn’t even begin to think of sharing his story and start the long and tedious process of healing sexual trauma.
Healing From Sexual Trauma
We got married six years ago, but I haven’t slept with her ever. I hail from an orthodox family where marrying at the right time is important, even if it is an arranged marriage. So, under immense family pressure, I married Riya. She wanted me and I wanted her too. But, every time I went near her, flashbacks left me mentally tortured. I’d be filled with guilt.
Riya hesitated at first, but, as time passed and I still resisted, she started asking questions I couldn’t answer. “Did you marry me under family pressure? Are you impotent or gay?”, she asked me one day. I couldn’t answer her. In fact, racked with guilt and shame as I was, I couldn’t even look at her, let alone have hope for overcoming sexual trauma so we could truly begin enjoying marital bliss.
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So, every time, I gave her the silent treatment and walked away, leaving her dismayed, confused and emotionally torn up. There was just too much distance between us because I had repressed too much hurt within and I had no idea how to heal from sexual abuse enough to enjoy touching her, or anyone for that matter.
Two years into our relationship, her patience ended. She stood in front of me with betrayal in her eyes. I had just returned from summing up the day’s business and was tired but she stood still in front of me, blocking my way. Finally, she grasped my hands and squeezed. I tugged but she didn’t let go.
Riya took my hands and placed them on her hips. I shivered and pushed her away, “Have you gone out of your mind?” But she was done. She refused to back down this time. She seemed determined to bring down whatever walls I had built. Little did she know what I was keeping from her was deep, dark sexual trauma.
A friend in need
“Yes, I’ve gone out of my mind. Do I have a choice? Our marriage isn’t loveless yet there remains so much distance between us. We’ve been married for two years and now our families have started asking questions about when we are planning to have children,” she was screaming into my face at this point. I flinched but could not look away.
Gentle as she is, she quickly realized that I needed help. So, she took a deep breath and continued, “I don’t have the answers, do you?” I couldn’t meet her eyes, they were filled with questions. Then, slowly, I spoke up. “I know I’m being unjust and if you want you can leave me, just file for divorce. Put all the blame on me. I promise I will not contest it. Don’t destroy your life for me.”
“No, I am not going to leave you. I want to know you. Can we start getting to know each other? Can we become friends, please, and try to save this relationship? Because I won’t give up without trying.” Ten years after the tragic incident, her words broke the shell I’d built around me and I finally summoned the courage to speak about my sexual trauma. And, thus, began my journey of healing from sexual abuse.
Related Reading: I’m stuck in a sexless marriage for the sake of society.
Overcoming Sexual Trauma With Sexual Healing Therapy
Ten years ago, at 10:00 p.m. on my first day of training as an engineer in a metro city, I rushed to the house I was renting with four other guys. That day, I saw them for the very first time. They warmly welcomed me and offered me drinks. Something, however, seemed very creepy about their over-friendly nature. One of them slowly bolted the door.
They began to get cozy with me and, after a few drinks, they began bullying me. They forcibly took out my wallet, but unfortunately, there were only a few rupees in it.
“Sorry, today was the first day of training and I don’t have more cash with me,” I explained, trying to appease them. This made them angry. One said, “He doesn’t have anything to give us but we have much to take from him.”
They started hitting me. I tried to save myself but then I gave up. It was then I realized what they wanted to do next. They started sexually assaulting me. No one came to help me. I tried to shout but one of them had forcefully inserted my own shirt into my mouth and was holding a knife near my neck.
They left me helpless on my bed where I lay till dawn. At the break of dawn, I somehow gathered myself and went to the bathroom, stood under the shower, and started crying, too afraid to shout. I was afraid and ashamed.
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I stayed in my room, restless and in pain. The guys came back and threatened me, assaulted me again. I wanted to go to the police but thought of my family’s reputation. So, I decided to flee and buried this secret deep within my heart. The unseen scars of that sexual trauma slowly festered inside me.
Hope and healing
As I finished my story, I felt my knees tremble. I was about to fall when Riya helped me to sit down. I cried while she hugged me tightly. But, somewhere in my heart, I felt light, as if a huge burden had been lifted from my soul.
Within a few days, I was able to share everything with her: my fears, my cause of distress, my reason for running from sex. She was the one who saw my tears and decided to help me through sexual healing therapy. She stayed with me throughout. She took me to the sexual trauma therapy professional and helped me fight my fears.
Never once did she push me to do something I wasn’t ready to do. She was just happy that I had begun healing. The process of healing from sexual abuse took four long, painful years. And tonight my new life begins.
(As told to Joyeeta Talukdar)