This month being sexual assault awareness month, I have decided to pay more attention to sexual violence and explore its reality. Sexual violence has been a social issue since man probably had his first erection. Therefore, women have always been viewed as victims of sexual violence in our society. However, has the society ever given thought to the reality of male rape? Have you ever wondered its possibility or effects?. I made emphasis on this subject in my other post ‘MALE RAPE.’
However, unlike the usual story of sexual violence against women, I share a story about Dennis O’Brien; a male rape victim who bravely shares his story of rape with the world. Dennis O’Brien a thirty four years old Jamaican man whom I came in contact with on social media shared with me his experience on male rape after viewing a number of his male rape campaign posts on instagram. What is shocking is not only about the fact that Dennis had been raped but his ability to accept it and speak about his experience especially being a black independent man with a master’s degree in Public administration and an author of two books to his name. He has worked in New York City foster care for seven years and also with emotionally disturbed children as well as the developmentally delayed.
Dennis O’Brien was born in Jamaica and lived there for twenty one years until he moved to the United States of America thirteen years ago. Although he does not live there anymore, he seems so fond of Jamaica; which is not surprising because it is the one place he could call home at the time and definitely had good memories of the place as well. However, the memories he had were not all rosy and exciting because that was where he was sexually abused at the age of five by a neighbor. His first sexual encounter was when he was forced by an older man to perform oral sex on him. “I could not make out nor understand the taste it left in my mouth until puberty”, he explains. After a while, the man took advantage of his innocence and raped him. This went on for some time, Dennis narrated.
As Dennis O’Brien grew up, the guilt and fear he had about what happened to him grew stronger. The secret he bottled up inside was a stench he wished he could uncover but he simply could not tell anyone, not even his family. Puzzled, I asked him a question,” Why, besides you were just a child and it was not your fault that an adult took advantage of you….” As I watched his status read ‘typing’ in his attempt to respond to my question, I could not help but think about how terrified he must have been with that secret choking him from within with each passing year. He finally responded, ” How young I was….the culprit…how it happened. It all did not matter where I come from. People would have only been concerned about why I ALLOWED myself go through that ACT. The shame and the probability that I could be branded as gay was my biggest fear. If that happened I would have been killed for sure”, Dennis explained.
Dennis, as he went through this at the age of five led him to alcoholism as early as the age of ten. “It was my way of running away from the anger, dilemma, fear and the disgust I felt inside”, he clarified. It was the only way he knew to escape all the turmoil he was going through. ” I always prayed to the God of my grandmother to help me but….”, Dennis seemed to have lost all hope since he was unable to talk to anybody about it. If only Dennis could have shared his problems with his grandmother who knew God at his tender age, alcoholism might not have been an option.
At the age of 21, he was drugged and raped again by a bunch of people he taught he knew. One that he says he doesn’t think he might ever be able to recover from.
One major problem with the society, especially the African society or the black community, in general, is that we are stereotypical in our thinking. We find parents shielding their girls from rapists and leaving their sons to distract them. Men are always taught to be ‘hard-core’ and not to shed a tear even if it hurts; not even when the pain is in the eye. They forget to mention that crying is actually a natural stress reliever, thus the high statistics of vast cardiovascular diseases and early death amongst men.
We grow up as Africans hearing of philosophies about whom a real man is. We are taught that a man should do ‘manly’ things like hunting, fighting and playing soccer as sport. Does it make you less than a man if you don’t want bruises on your body after a fight? Does it make you less than a man if you prefer to swim as a sport to soccer? Does it make you less than a man if you don’t like chasing after meat you can afford? Definitely not. Things happen, people are different… It should not be a problem if a man is not strong enough like the others to even go to the gym for a workout. Being a man is not about what society thinks but it is about having the courage to accept who you are. The status quo sucks sometimes but hey!….true men are those who are brave enough to challenge the status quo.
The general perception when it comes to male rape is that, “he must have allowed it” ….” he must have enjoyed it”. What people don’t know nor realize is that male rape is more about power and dominance than sexual pleasure to the offender. The fact is that male rape is more common in our society than you think. If you say,” No, it is not”, then I ask, ” Would you have allowed yourself be a statistic of male rape if you were a victim?”……. I thought so.
Your son, your brother, your friend or even YOU could be the next victim. Let’s be wise in accepting this reality and shielding those we love from falling victims. Spread the word!
Male rape, a silenced issue in our society has been given voice on ‘THE VOICE’ (let it be unsaid and we will cover it!)
To reach O’brien Dennis Foundation, visit OBRIENDENNIS.COM/CONTACT NATTY@OBRIENDENNIS.COM
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