I didn’t want to write this

Photo is public domain

Photo is public domain

Chimes allows students to write anonymously on exceptional occasions. In this case, while the author had no qualms having his own name tied to his experience, he did not want readers to speculate on the identity of his attacker. We agreed that such speculation could distract from the real message of his story, but we encourage readers to remember that this is a true account written by one of their peers.

I didn’t want to write this.

My freshman year, someone living on my floor came into my room when I was alone. He sat down on my lap. He tried to kiss me. He groped me. At first I tried to push him away, but he kept on. I threw him off me. Holding him against the wall, my fist raised, I whispered as I shook, “Never touch me again, never come in this room again.” He was on dorm leadership. He was my friend.

After he left, I locked the door and frantically tried to think of ways to explain what happened if he told anyone anything. I was terrified he would tell someone. I felt so embarrassed. I was comfortable in my sexuality and comfortable with who I was as a person, so I dealt with the situation by doing everything I could to maintain normalcy. I had good friends, I was in a good mental state and I managed to move on from the situation without thinking of it much. I spent a lot less time on the floor, but I was busy with classwork, so it made sense. I never reported it because I wanted to pretend it never happened. I didn’t want the investigation and I thought nobody would believe me. It was as though admitting it would make me less masculine, less secure. I did not want to talk about it, I wanted to forget it. I still want to forget it.

As time passed, I tried not to think about what had happened. It worked pretty well. But a year ago, when taking a survey about sexual assault on campus, I remembered what had happened. When I went to answer a question about whether I had ever been assaulted, I almost typed “no.” I had hidden that moment so deeply within myself, cloaked in shame and discomfort, that it didn’t even come to mind. But it happened.

As far as stories of sexual assault go, mine is really quite tame. I recovered from the situation quickly and felt as though I was still okay, still “me,” as months passed. But not everyone is so lucky. Many victims, like me, never report it. Many victims still deal with this pain, years later. Many victims will never be the same.

Recent editorials have spoken eloquently and in greater depth on this topic, but I’m writing this for a specific reason: I am a man and I was sexually assaulted. You need to know this happens to people of all genders and orientations, and it happens here, at Calvin, in dorm rooms. If you want to be part of this community, you owe it to victims to hear their stories.

If you are a victim, I want you to know that you can come forward and not be any less yourself. The decision to process what happened is not an abdication or tarnishing of your identity, it is a reclaiming of it. I didn’t want to write this, but you need to know you’re not alone.