Surviving Sexual Assault

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Araceli De La Torre Marin, OwlFeed News Managing Editor

Author’s Note: I would like to thank all the victims and survivors who came forward to share their experiences of sexual assault and the impacts this has had upon their lives. The following stories may be triggering for some readers. If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, reach out for help here.

Sexual assault happens more often than most may realize. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), 95-98% of perpetrators are males. About 2-5% of perpetrators are females who assault adults, and 1% of female perpetrators assault children.

One in nine girls and one in 53 boys experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult before the age of 18. Eighty-two percent of all victims under 18 are female. 

Minorities, people with disabilities, and transgender people are more likely to get assaulted in their lifetime.

Photo Credit: Eisenberg, Rothweiler,Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck

Sexual assault never has a good reason to happen, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen often. Sexual assault can happen anytime, anywhere. There are times where sexual assault has more than one perpetrator and the assailant can be anyone.

Sexual assault causes a lot of harm to the survivor: fear, guilt, shame, self-blame, anger, isolation, anxiety, shaking, nightmares, PTSD, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, etc.

Some survivors were willing to share their story, and how they continue to deal with it, but they wanted to be kept anonymous. 

John would have bad days, where he would not leave his room, would feel out of place, would have an anxiety attack, cry, and commit self-harm.

John, who is transgender, was sexually assaulted when he was in the hospital by another patient who was also transgender. John knew his attacker, he actually believed he was in love with the attacker. He was only 13 years old when the assault happened and the attacker “made sure to not leave any marks because we were in a mental health hospital at the time,” John said. “It only has happened once before but I was still being touched inappropriately during the time there by the same person.”

After the assault happened he left the attacker’s room and walked around the place pretending nothing happened while being in pain. When he was discharged, he reported it to the hospital staff. He said they didn’t do anything but say, “It happens.” 

Photo Credit: Yana Mazurkevich Photography

He fears the thought of being touched again but he tries to push that fear away. He hugs people a lot. He feels like it’s too late to report it again since it’s been two years and he knows nothing of his attacker now, but he feels like he deserves to be heard as he knows that he is not the only victim of rape and sexual assault. 

The next survivor that was brave enough to share their story is someone I will call Joe. He was sexually assaulted twice. The first time Joe was assaulted, he was 6 or 7 years old, by a man who is dead now, who was his friend’s father. The second time he was assaulted, he was 8, and this time it was by a woman who he has not seen since the assault happened. She hurt him physically in another way as well. 

He bled for days after the assaults. The people that he had told either laughed at him and didn’t believe him. He was even told that a woman can’t rape a man and that the man should just enjoy it.

Both John and Joe reacted differently after the assaults happened. Joe stopped going to school at one point, isolated himself, and doesn’t allow himself to trust people anymore. As he grew up he started to work out and get stronger so he would never be in a vulnerable situation where he can’t defend himself. 

John asked for help. He goes to therapy and group sessions.

They both still go through tough times, if not by thinking of what had happened, then of something completely different that is going on in their life.  

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, please call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) so they can help you.