About two years ago I was raped by another man. I'm not going to retell all the gory details. Suffice to say it was a horrible experience. It was semi-casual and I never saw the guy again, nor did I ever approach the police. At the time I was too scared about HIV and after that, well... it took a long time to figure it wasn't my fuckup.
My problem is that since then I've hardly had sex. I bottomed once and it was a bit of a disaster. He was a nice guy and very patient, but I'd u-turned from an enthusiastic bottom to someone who felt uncomfortable, anxious, decidedly non-sexy. We talked afterward and I revealed what had happened. It was the first time anyone had used the r-word about my experience—which was actually a watershed moment for me.
My only encounters since then have been oral and masturbation. I can't climax. I find it very difficult to let my guard down, and every time a top approaches I end up bailing. I start seeing red flags that don't exist and parallels to my last encounter. I want to bottom again, not just because I loved it and because it's so intimate, but because I feel something has been stolen from me and I want it back. I don't want to believe that my sexuality has been scarred forever.
Are there any resources for gay men recovering from rape? Are there any groups, any books even? I feel very lonely right now.
Homo Experiencing Lifelong Problem
First, some advice from Seattle-based counselor Rachel LordKenaga:
Rape is incredibly traumatizing so it makes sense that sex would be totally different for you now. Acknowledging and processing the rape are integral to the healing process, and for creating different sexual experiences in the future. Topping and bottoming are (optimally) about pleasurable power play. Since you have identified as a bottom, letting someone have control over you sexually—after you have been assaulted—is going to be challenging until you feel more in control of yourself and let yourself heal emotionally.
Rape is all about power, the sex is secondary. When you have been raped you have been completely ripped of any power and consent, making sex really difficult. You will probably need time. And likely you’re going to want to top from the bottom more once you become more comfortable with sex/to become more comfortable with sex. Sadly, you are not alone in this experience and it is difficult for men to process rape in our culture as they are not the “typical” victims of rape. But there are lots of resources available through Gay City, NW Network, and Seattle Counseling for Sexual Minorities.
Those resources, of course, will be helpful if you're in Seattle. If you're not, google the name of your city and resources for male victims of sexual assault or contact the nearest LGBT community center and ask for referrals.
Also: the NYC-based Anti-Violence Project assists "survivors of all forms of violence, including hate violence, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, pick-up violence, and institutional violence" in the NYC area, runs a 24-hour crisis and intervention hotline (212-714-1141) and lists additional resources on their referrals page. And RAINN, "the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization," runs a hotline that can connect you to local sexual assault survivor services in your area: 800-656-HOPE.
I think it's interesting that you say, "It was the first time anyone had used the r-word about my experience." It sounds like you told this nice guy (TNG) you attempted to bottom for what had happened to you and TNG described your experience as rape. That had to have been both re-traumatizing and affirming—by correctly naming what had happened to you, HELP, TNG made the violation feel fresh again; by correctly naming what had happened to you, HELP, TNG put you on the path to recovery. But from the moment he correctly named it—from the moment he seemingly gave you the permission you needed to see what had happened to you as rape—you found yourself on square one.
So give yourself a break, HELP. Yes, it's been two years since your rape, but it's only been since you named it as rape that you began to take your first steps toward healing.
If you want to remain sexually active as you seek out and access resources, HELP, I think taking anal off the menu for now is a good idea. Describe yourself as "not into anal" (again, for now) on apps, if you're on apps; in person, if you're into meeting guys the old fashioned way. You'll instantly weed out the guys who are only looking for anal, HELP, and you won't feel pressured to come through with the buttsex. You don't need to explain to hookups and partners why you aren't into anal—roughly a quarter of gay men aren't.
And like I told SCARED in this week's column, you might wanna hold out for guys willing to get to know you and make an emotional investment in you before getting intimate.
And I want to second what LordKenaga said: when you do start exploring anal again, definitely "top from the bottom." While the person being penetrated is usually seen as giving up control—and usually enjoys the sensation of giving up control—it is possible for the receptive partner during anal intercourse to take control and run the whole butt show.
I'm sorry you were victimized, HELP, and I hope you get the help you need and I'm confident you'll be able to take your sex life back.
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