Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Trauma I Don't Talk About.

A few days ago I had the rather odd experience of going through a screening for a study for a medication for PTSD patients to help them get to sleep. During the process I had to list the types of traumas I had experienced. The ones you might think we're there of course. Natural disasters, death, dismemberment and the like. For the first time I checked the box "unwanted sexuality advances" and "unwanted sexuality experience."

It was the first time I ever have admitted about an experience that happened while I was in the WTB  that I have tried very hard to forget. You see, I was raped.

Even now it's hard to write these words. Am I lesser of a man? Am I throwing gas on to a needless fire? Do you really need to know about this misadventure? I can almost hear people that would line up to provide me with sympathy or conversely tell me I'm full of shit and taking attention away from real rape victims. At some point I need to stop trying to anticipate what everyone else will say, and just say what happened.

So what happened?

I had a friend that was in Rear D with me (after I had been CASEVAC'd for Pancreatitis) that wanted me to come with him to hang out with a friend he'd met. He wanted to get with this girl so I was an unofficial wingman. I was all for it because it got me out of the barracks, and if I'm being honest I was starting to feel some of the negative effects of the anti-depressants and anti-psychotics that the mental health department at Irwin Army Hospital had put me on. One of those effects was a grey dull sense. Like I was living in a fog. Part of me was starting to rebel against that fog, and I was at the beginning of a self destructive spiral that damn near killed me.

It should be stated that there were very clear warnings about drinking while on the medications I was on. You really should not drink at all when you're on drugs like that. I, rather foolishly drank. I thought at the time "it's beer. it can't be that bad." Unfortunately for me, the combination of having been in a dry country for almost a year, and the medications I was on had an unusual effect. I couldn't feel my face after three beers.

My friend was annoyed with me because this girl who he was trying to impress had eyes only for me. I had no clue of this. I was about as observant as a blind man waiting for a street crossing light. As the night wound down it was clear that all three of the men were too drunk to drive back. Somehow sleeping arrangements were figured out. I was about to pass out on the couch when the woman brought me into her room.

I can't honestly tell you what was going through my mind. I was trying to be a wing man, but a part of me thought there was another bed or something. I'm not sure why I followed her. I wasn't thinking at all to tell you the truth.

Then we were on her bed. Then we were naked. Then she was on top of me. I know we had sex, and I also know that she wanted to go again but in my state I was unable to get an erection. I can't honestly tell you at any point I agreed to have sex with her, and really didn't want to have sex that night, I was trying to be a good battle buddy for my friend.

The next day still in a daze I woke up, and vaguely remembered that I'd had sex. I was still not clear in the head. She wanted to confront her ex who she told me was violent. I agreed, and sat there as she had an argument with a man I didn't know, then pointed to me and said "This is my new boyfriend."

Uh. . . what? I had my buddy take me right back to the barracks as soon as he could, and began to have a slight freak out.

What followed was her trying to get in touch with me and me trying desperately to hide from her. It's not that I wanted to hurt her feelings. Far from it, but I had not intended to sleep with her, or get drawn into her life like that. She wanted a hero with dog-tags. I was not that man and never was. More than that I had had no control that night. That scared me more than anything else. Her constant calling and attempts to get in touch with me only made the situation worse.

Eventually I had my buddy tell her I'd gotten committed to a mental institution because I was suicidal (the lie was sadly not too far from the truth). That had the desired effect and eventually she stopped calling. Almost a year later I ran into her again as I was about to get out of the Army. She had unfortunately contracted HPV, and suggested I get myself checked. I'm almost certain that night had not included condoms. Thankfully I came back clean, but that was just another reminder of what COULD have happened. A very scary reminder.

I'd like to say I dealt with this incident in a healthy way, but in truth. . . I didn't even remotely deal with it. It, eventually, became one of the many reasons I swore never to take any such medication again, however in a lot of ways the damage has been done.

I am sure my view on this incident won't be typical. I don't want this woman hurt, and I'd never tell her how I saw that night. I wouldn't want her to be charged with a felony for something that was my mistake. As traumatic as that loss of control was, as terrifying as suddenly being someone's "boyfriend" and not having a clue how it happened, I genuinely do not want this woman hurt. She's had enough hurt in her life, and I am sorry I added to it.

There is also the small mater of proving that I was completely incapable on consenting, and moreover the stereotype that guys always say yes to sex. How could I have gone to my command and said "I drank while on medications that say not to drink, and a woman raped me." I can almost guarantee that if I'd pressed charges there would have been an Article 15 waiting for me. There is no such thing as a rape kit for men (at least not for vaginal sex).

I know that my experience and the way I view it is not nearly the same as most female rape victims, or males that were anally/orally raped. I know that in some ways the fog the medications had me on kept this event from being more traumatic, despite the fact that they were the cause of the situation in the first place. Most of the time I don't even think about what happened, and have generally speaking moved on.

Still, the trauma is there, and for the first time in my life, I'm admitting to it. That counts for something.

1 comment:

Ben King said...

Hey Brother, Great job telling your story. I bet that was a tough one to put out there. I'm rooting for you. Good Luck!