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 firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to remain anonymous, you can submit by signing into a second email account: email@example.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