Project Open Voices: But as a Man, I Can’t Help but Feel More Alone than Ever

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The Thrill is proud to feature personal narratives courtesy of Project Open Voices, a coalition of students providing a platform for open dialogue on campus. Today’s essay is titled “But as a Man, I Can’t Help but Feel More Alone than Ever” and was authored anonymously. POV is always accepting new submissions, so if you want to share your story, email openvoicessubmissions@gmail.com. If you would like to remain anonymous, you can submit by signing into a second email account: projectopenvoices@gmail.com (password: kenyoncollege). POV meets Saturdays at 4pm in the Bemis music room in Peirce; new faces are always welcome. 

Trigger Warning: This piece contains graphic depictions of rape.

My story isn’t one that starts at Kenyon College, although I certainly hope it ends here. When the memories come—and they always come during the week of Take Back the Night—they transport me to when I was seven. That’s when my story starts, because that was the first time I was raped.

When I was seven, I didn’t know what rape was. I didn’t know that what was happening was wrong, because all I knew is that my parents said that sometimes it hurts to grow up, and the older boy told me it was part of growing up, and I was just a little boy who wanted someone to play with me. And so he played with me. When I was seven all that I knew was that it hurt and there was blood.

When I was seven. When I was eight. All I knew was that it was normal and that there was no reason to tell anyone because it happened to everyone. It wasn’t until I was ten that I knew it wasn’t normal because it only happened to girls, not boys. It wasn’t until I was twelve that I found out everything I knew was wrong, and by then it was too late.

It happened again when I was sixteen.

It happened again today. At Kenyon College. On a weekday. In a bathroom. During Take Back the Night. Which is ironic. Except when the voice in the back of my head says it isn’t. Because TBTN focuses on sexual assault against women, even if that isn’t openly proclaimed, just presumed. And that’s okay. Anything to bring attention to the problem is good. There is no blame. I stand in solidarity with them. But as a man, I can’t help but feel more alone than ever.

The following are free, 24/7, confidential hotlines where you can find support and learn about your options:

  • National Sexual Assault Hotline – 800-656-HOPE
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline – 800-799-7233
  • Kenyon College Sexual Misconduct Hotline – 740-358-1544

8 responses

  1. Take Back the NIght ignores that a great number of men are raped by men and raped by women. For Take back the NIght to call its self feminists but have such a gender approach to sexual assault is hypocritical at best and purposeful ignorance at worst.

    • The Take Back the Night mission statement is “Our mission as a charitable 501(c)3 Foundation is to create safe communities and respectful relationships through awareness events and initiatives. We seek to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all other forms of sexual violence.” There’s nothing about gender in there. I’m sure that if anyone has suggestions on how to make TBTN at Kenyon more gender-inclusive the leaders of the event that year would be happy to hear them. As a woman who supports Take Back the Night I strongly believe that men too need to feel like the week and the support that comes with it is for them as well. If they don’t, something needs to be changed.

  2. i am a male victim of childhood sexual violence and i am ruined for it. memories of the experience infiltrate my every thought, my every interaction. i am stunted by the the ghost of my rape which haunts me inescapably. if you feel alone realize you’re only as alone as i am.

    • As a victim of childhood sexual assault myself, I too wish there was a dedicated support group. Not sure how to go about starting such a thing, but I’ll see what I can do.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story and your experience with us. This won’t fix everything, but please know that you are not completely alone here. I encourage you to make contact with one of the support services that Kenyon has in place: someone who can listen to you in confidence (for example: a Sexual Misconduct Advisor, a member of the clergy, a member of the Health and Counseling Center’s staff) and/or (especially since the most recent assault you mention took place on our campus) our Title IX coordinator, Linda Smolak.

    There are people on this campus who want to stand in solidarity with you, too. You’re in our thoughts now; thanks for coming forward.

  4. Please know that there are many people on campus ready to support you. I am Linda Smolak, the Title IX coordinator. I am glad to talk with you. Title IX applies to everyone (you can Google it). If you’d rather talk to a fellow student, there are the SMAs. If you’d like guaranteed confidentiality, see a college counselor or a member of the clergy. Security is always ready to take a report. The people in student services, especially Sam Hughes, are ready to help. We cannot change what happened to you. But we can help you as you try to cope and grow. And we can all work together to make Kenyon a safe and welcoming place for everyone. Please let us know how we can help.

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