This whole article is probably going to come under the category of ‘Too Much Information’, but on CNNTalk today I revealed that I was once the victim of a sexual assault, which could have turned into something far worse. It’s not something I have spoken about in public before, but perhaps I should have done. I thought about doing it when the David Platt (pic in headline) male rape story dominated Coronation Street for several weeks. But I didn’t.
I had another opportunity back in 2012 when I did a phone-in on male rape. To be honest I wondered if anyone would phone in. But they did. In large numbers. I should have used that opportunity to relate my own experience but I didn’t. It wasn’t that I was ashamed of what had happened, I suppose I just wimped out.
Today on CNNTalk we were discussing the sexual assault allegations made against Brett Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford. My fellow panelist, Bonnie Greer, had written about a date rape she suffered 40 years ago in this week’s New European newspaper. She was asked about her experience by the programme’s host, Max Foster, and said that it should be remembered that sexual assault also happens to men too and it was important men talked about it. So I did.
In the video below, Bonnie relates her experience occurs from timecode 10.10 and I talk about what happened to me from timecode 13:40.
I think it is often very difficult for victims of sexual crimes to come forward be they at the less serious end of the scale, or the other end. This is especially true when people think that there is no prospect of a conviction. They also blame themselves. There’s a feeling of shame involved. Embarrassment. ‘What will people think?’
Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s I lived in Walthamstow. One night I met a guy and went back to his flat. His room was disgusting. Clothes all over the place and a mattress on the floor. Still, I wasn’t there to live in judgment at his tidiness habits.
It soon became evident to me that he was blind drunk. Almost paralytic. I rapidly decided I wanted out of there, but couldn’t work out how I could escape without it all being a bit embarrassing. He kept trying to kiss me. I kept pulling away. He made clear he intended to fuck me and wasn’t going to take no for an answer. I made very clear to it that it wasn’t going to happen. Repeatedly.
He’d stop trying for a few minutes and would then start again. Luckily I was just as strong as him and could fend him off. Someone else might not have been able to do so.
And then he leaned over the side of the mattress and was sick. Over my car keys.
My only hope was that the drink would kick in even further and he would go to sleep. And that’s what eventually happened. While he was on top of me.
I left it for about 20 minutes and then carefully manoeuvred myself away from him. I rapidly got dressed, cleaned the sick off my car keys and went to the door. Problem. The door was locked and I couldn’t see a key. Eventually I found it and ran out of the building as fast as I could and made a ‘Starsky and Hutch’ getaway in my car. Five minutes later I was back in my own flat. I immediately threw up.
Reflecting on this nearly thirty years on I question how could I have been so stupid as to put myself in that situation. Why didn’t I realise how drunk he was? But isn’t that akin to saying that a woman wearing in a short skirt was asking for it? Or that the man could be excused because he was drunk.
This is where we come back to the situation Brett Kavanaugh finds himself in. A glittering legal career threatened by an incident when he was 17 when he allegedly forced himself onto Christina Blasey Ford. I suspect he was so drunk he has no memory of the incident.
Some will say that nothing that serious happened, he didn’t rape her or seriously assault her, so it should just be put down to youthful exuberance. But what message does that send out, if that’s what we all accept? What it should do is make America question the whole fraternity system in their universities which almost tacitly encourages the view that ‘boys will be boys’.
Alcohol is no excuse for behaviour which is threatening or violently sexual. It wasn’t an excuse in 1984 and it isn’t now.
It’s not something I think about very often and it only came back to me today because of what Bonnie Greer said. But I suspect I am very much the exception and that most men would feel somehow emasculated by going through something like that.
I just kicked myself for putting myself in that situation. But in reality, it was the other guy who I should be blaming, not myself. I doubt whether he even remembers it.