Part of me acknowledges that — perhaps — I’m the last person who has any right to write about the topic of being sexually violated. Part of me feels so guilty about what I did in 2010 that I feel like I somehow defacto-deserved what happened to me in 1998 (regardless of the timeline discrepancy).
In several of my nonfiction books, I’ve made mention of the fact that — in the summer of 1998 when I was 18-years-old — I was the victim of a sexual assault while I was inebriated beyond the point of consent (or cognizance). And it wasn’t until I was sitting in prison with a therapist (16 years later) that I was able to say for the first time audibly, “I was raped.” Being a male rape victim (especially at the hands of another guy) is humiliating and emasculating. And I’ve never really been able to fully express the depression, humiliation, and rage I’ve been harboring about being raped (except for when I’ve spoken about it to my therapist, and later to my wife).
My dad once asked me about it. He’d read my book and seen my blog and knew it happened, but he and I never broached the topic. But one day while we were playing golf, he brought it up while we were talking about one of my books.
“We’ve never talked about your rape,” he said bluntly.
I had no idea how to respond. I told him who it was (which made him only the third person to know the true identity of my rapist), but beyond that, I didn’t want to talk about it, even though he asked because I know he cared and wanted to be there for me.
I wish I’d talked to him about it.
He died a few months later.
My new book — the book which will hopefully be released soon — is called Fatal Paramore. It deals directly with this issue (although indirectly, and you won’t know it until the end). It is my first mystery novel and it just might be the best thing I’ve ever written.
In prison, my therapist said my out-of-control sexual behavior during college and early adulthood — promiscuity, infidelity, etc. — resulted from my primal (and emotional) need to subconsciously prove to myself that I wasn’t gay. The summer before leaving for college, I was raped by a guy; I spent the next decade (and beyond) finding as many women to have sex with as I could because (in my own traumatized subconscious rationalization) this would somehow prove my own masculinity to myself.
Being raped is not a one-night ordeal a person tries to simply “get over” or “move beyond.” It is an entire life-changing (or life-destroying) experience. And, in all honesty, I know the relationship I had with my former student was not forcible or violent, but on a subconscious level, it likely seemed that way to her. I understand that. And it is absolutely agonizing to me (constantly) that I may have caused the same pain in someone else that the guy in 1998 caused me.
I genuinely hope she has been able to grow beyond what happened in 2010. However, having been through a similar ordeal in my youth, I know it is not likely. The pain will continue in the back of our minds, brought forward by seemingly-innocuous things. And yet, I take comfort in this: Knowing someone crossed the line with me, then I subsequently crossed the line with someone else, displays the textbook example of “The Cycle of Abuse;” but I also know that she is (in spite of the past) not the type of person who will perpetuate the cycle. She is strong enough to leave the past behind and move forward. In many ways, she is one of the strongest people I’ve ever known.
As for me, I still haven’t gotten over being raped. Perhaps I never will. Perhaps the paramount manner in which I face the issue is to fictionalize it into a murder mystery. Perhaps, as a writer, if one of my fictional characters faces the same issue, I can — by-proxy — find a way to deal with it myself.
I’m a writer; everything is fiction while everything is real. There is a transparent wall between the real world in which I live and the fictional worlds I create. Sometimes, I wonder which world makes more sense.
But I know one thing for sure: Between the real world and the fictional world — in one of those worlds, I was never raped.