Regardless of gender, we are all susceptible to this issue
Guilt, exploitation and shame fill my mind as I try to recollect the troublesome event at my favourite haunt in the Old Port. I sip on my Americano at a vigorous rate as the memories begin to surge.
“It’s just sex, don’t be so uptight,” I tell myself. “But sex is not supposed to be like that, though,” says another inner voice, as the caffeine high finally kicks in and the hypothetical pendulum begins to swing.
I start to write this article, feeling a melancholic mix of liberation and anguish. For tackling the subject of sexual assault is both exhaustive and difficult, to say the least.
As an openly gay and single male living in Montreal, I’ve enjoyed the dating scene here in our beautiful city. Meeting and engaging with people from all walks of life has always been a passion of mine.
Things all changed one-year ago, when I decided to stop by the house of a guy I was dating at the time. We had only been seeing each other for few weeks, but I enjoyed his company and thought he was rather interesting.
Thinking we’d just talk and have a glass of wine, I was looking forward to a quiet evening filled with intellectual debates and relaxation. But to my surprise, I soon discovered the true nature of his intentions.
He kept making sexual advances, which left me caught off-guard and slightly uncomfortable. His constant persistence eventually ate away at my protective barriers and I was soon unclothed.
Although I initially consented to having sex, a furious debate raged in my mind on how to escape. The thoughts persisted for quite some time until I could no longer hold them back.
I told the individual to stop immediately. He didn’t.
I told him I wanted to leave. He physically prevented this and told me I had to stay all night.
I managed to leave sometime later, feeling defiled and vulnerable. I blocked his number as soon as I got in my car and knew I’d never see him again.
According to the Concordia’s Sexual Assault Resource Centre, “a consenting partner is one who enthusiastically agrees to be there and involved, who is able to give permission freely and without fear, pressure, force or intimidation.”
In the following days I went about my life normally, and coined the evening as a ‘bad date’ to my closest confidants. It wasn’t until a few days later that I realized the true severity of the situation.
I was recounting the story to a dear friend of mine over a cup of tea sometime later, when she suddenly burst into tears over the details. Her emotion alarmed me, and I was confused as to why she was so upset. She then informed me that I was sexual assaulted.
It hit me like a ton of bricks: my consent had been violated and I was harmed by someone I apparently trusted. Suddenly my reality felt like it was shifting and I saw everything through the grey prism of the assault. I blamed myself harshly for being so naive and began to hate myself for allowing this to happen.
Roughly one in six men will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. Regardless of gender, almost 80 per cent of will know who their perpetrator is, according to the Sexual Assault Resource Centre.
A report released by the Department of Justice Canada in 2013 showed most survivors of sexual assault are female, with the majority of incidents going unreported to police.
“Police-reported data for 2010 show that males accounted for 12 per cent of sexual assault victims,” outlines the report. The literature acknowledges this is a small percentage, but mentions that it’s difficult to get men to come forward and talk about the issue.
There has been a renewed emphasis placed on sexual violence in general, especially with the trials of Jian Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby, along with the Kesha court case dominating headlines.
Last week, Lady Gaga performed her powerful song “Til It Happens To You” at the Academy Awards in front of a global audience of more than 65 million viewers, according to Nielsen. The Oscar-nominated song was written by Diane Warren and Gaga, who both revealed they are survivors of sexual assault in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times.
The ballad was written for the documentary The Hunting Ground, a powerful film that addresses the issue of campus rape across the United States. During Lady Gaga’s set, she brought onstage with her a courageous group of young adults, who bore the words ‘survivor’ inked on their forearms.
Sexual violence is being brought to the forefront of our consciousness, and important conversations are being spurred as a result from this exposure.
The importance here is that the issue of sexual violence is being brought to the forefront. Society is being exposed to the conversation.
I consider myself lucky, mainly because immediately after the incident, I took advantage of our university’s amazing resources. As awkward and painful it was to walk to the Sexual Assault Resource Centre in the dimly lit GM building, I knew talking about it would prove to be cathartic—especially with a professional.
It’s been almost one year since the assault and I remain defiant. The incident may have affected me in many ways, but it has not changed the fabric of my being. I’m still dating, socializing and studying like any normal adult in their early 20s.
Some days can be rather challenging, mainly because the memories sometimes come flowing back, especially when I have a drink. Intimacy has also proven to be quite difficult, because it’s hard to lower my guard.
I take solace in knowing that I’m not alone fighting this battle. By shining a beacon of light on this dark subject, it is my hope that it may encourage those suffering alone in the shadows to come forward and seek the proper help. It is time that as a society, we begin to discuss sexual violence more openly. We must continue to work towards a collective agreement that moves to prevent future cases from occurring—regardless of gender, sexual orientation or race.
Sexual assault is any unwanted, non-consensual, sexual contact. There are a range of behaviors and actions that fall under the definition of sexual assault. Sexual assault is not only unwanted penetration (rape), it is also any unwanted touching, kissing, grabbing etc. For the purpose of this article, the terms sexual assault and sexual violence will be used interchangeably throughout.
- If you are in immediate danger on campus, call (514) 848-3717—option one, or call 911.
- Sexual Assault Resource Centre (GM-300.27). Monday–Thursday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can reach them at (514) 848-2424 ext. 3461 or ext. 3353.
- Visit the Centre for Gender Advocacy at the SGW campus for support at 2110 Mackay St. between Monday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or at (514) 848-2424 ext. 7431. For peer support call (514) 848-2424 ext. 7880.
- For 24 hour support, call 1 (888) 933-9007.