I am writing this with only two intentions: one is to reveal that men also experience sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape by other men, and two; that anyone else male or female who has experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault or rape may also find some solace or some sense of peace knowing that you’re not alone, you’re not the only one, and it was not your fault in any way that it occurred.
As a human behavior expert who has worked with many clients to help them through childhood abuse, childhood molestation, sexual harassment or adult rape, one of the most important steps in the healing process is to help the victim to understand at a subconscious level, not a logical level but rather an emotional level, that it was not your fault.
Here is one of my stories, one of many stories that I could share regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault.
The one I’m sharing today, for the first time, involves assault and attempted rape.
The cliché is “I don’t know where to begin”, and now in this moment, I finally understand what that actually means: that when it comes time to reveal, explain, articulate or elaborate a trauma, it’s simply overwhelming and so therefore one struggles to find that beginning point.
So I will begin by saying it was a Sunday night, and I had just finished training – doing a shift, at 3SA Radio School in St Kilda, Melbourne.
The shift ended at midnight and I had my driving license suspended, probably for speeding. Anyway, I missed the last tram home and I do recall it was after midnight. I began to walk and realized it would take me a long time to walk home six miles. I decided to hitchhike. It was on a main road and I thought it should be easy to get a ride home.
I was 18 years of age, still in my rebellious, individualistic phase where I would wear wild, colorful, sexy, rock star clothes. I was naïve, innocent and still a virgin. I grew up in a very strict Christian religion. I believed everyone was innately good and deserved saving.
I continued walking with my thumb stretched out looking for a ride home.
A car pulled up, and I told the man inside where I was going, and he said it was out of his way but he would give me a ride.
I remember he was much older but I didn’t know how old. When you’re a teenager, you just see older people as either old or really old. He may have been in his forties, and I clearly recall he had a wedding ring on his finger.
Why was this important?
I had already experienced a lot of sexual harassment from the gay men that were working in the radio industry and the men associated with the radio school. The older adult men would sexually harass the students – most of whom were under 25 (only one student was female), and many of those students would sexually harass the other students. Accordingly, I believed that I would be safe getting in the car with a man who is married and is wearing a wedding ring.
I don’t recall how soon it was into the trip but he began by making comments about how fit or well-toned I was, and specifically he made remarks about my legs. I was wearing tight jeans. And he kept saying how toned and muscular my legs were and said how much he wanted to feel them. He said it over and over again.
I truly did not know how to respond and I sincerely don’t recall what I even said other than saying that I run a lot and work out.
I was already starting to feel nervous inside and I recall he put his hand on my leg and squeezed my leg. I was already thinking ‘do I punch him?’
And I thought if I do punch him, will we have an accident or will he pull out a knife.
He kept squeezing my leg and as he continued, his hand moved from my leg to my crotch.
I didn’t know what to do or how to stop it. ‘Do I punch him? Do I scream?’
My fastest thought was to blurt out, “I’m here. I’m here. I just live around the corner here. Stop here. Let me out here. Right here. Yes, right here. I live here.”
So he did pull over, and as I got out of the car, he was saying ‘I think one of my lights is not working. I have to check it.’ As I got out of the car, he came round and he jumped me.
The little that I recall is I either punched him or pushed him away, and then I ran as fast as I could. I ran home and went to straight to bed.
I never thought about its direct impact, thinking to myself, ‘I’ve already been sexually harassed by all these other people; I think I’m okay.’
Of course, I never planned to tell anyone, and particularly not my parents who would most likely want to stop me from going to radio school or who might criticize me for hitchhiking home.
I had never thought of going to the police because I didn’t have a clear description of the car because I didn’t take much notice of the car, and I never took down the tag of the car and to be completely open it never crossed my mind to try and punish this man for what he did. All I thought of was, ‘I’m happy that’s over.’ Further, it seemed to me that sexual harassment was an accepted part of Australian culture at the time. In fact, I never even labeled it; I had never even heard of the term sexual harassment or groping or assault.
The next day I went to work. I was working part time at a jewelry store.
I remember quite clearly standing behind the jewelry counter and there was one or two ladies next to me who were working with me, and I don’t know what triggered it but suddenly I burst out crying.
The manager immediately came over to me and called me upstairs.
I remember him so well and so clearly for many reasons:
He was a prim, proper, articulate, classy, stylish, impeccably well-dressed man and perfectionist. He was highly intelligent, well-educated, and well-traveled.
I couldn’t stop crying.
I found it extraordinarily uncomfortable and surreal as he was asking me what was wrong because I was straight and I knew he was gay.
And here I was being faced with the challenge of telling a man whom I did truly respect and admire but whom I also knew to be gay, the fact that I had almost been raped by another man.
And yet there was something about him – his demeanor, his aura, his energy and my intuition that told me I could trust him. And perhaps I just needed to trust someone, and so I told him the story.
I don’t recall all of his words other than thinking now that he was truly sincere, empathetic and compassionate.
I do, though, recall one thing very clearly that he said to me:
It doesn’t matter what your gender or sexuality are, male or female, straight or gay, no one should be attacked or raped.
I found extreme comfort in that, and he related to me stories of his travels in the Middle East of men being gang raped by other men.
I truly remain grateful for his consolation and his wisdom.
I decided to not think too much about this story and incident, and I don’t believe I’ve ever told anyone else this story.
What amazes me is probably my own self-denial of this incident. Given that I work so often with and have helped endless clients who have experienced similar or even worse situations than mine and working with them I realized how they were negatively and deeply impacted and affected by these incidents.
People who have been attacked, assaulted or raped lose trust, they shut down, they become closed up, they refuse to be vulnerable, they lose their voice, some have recurring nightmares, most feel dirty and tainted, and the list goes on.
On thinking back now, I guess there was a subconscious part of me that felt that it was my fault because I was hitchhiking after midnight (‘it’s never safe to hitchhike’) and that I was wearing these crazy clothes – tight white jeans, and a fur coat. So in my mind, I was also thinking this is my expression, yet people see this as a sexual invitation. I was just a teenager who was still searching for his own identity, his own form, and his own form of expression.
I cannot fully reveal the pain because I don’t believe I’m fully connected to it. And I wonder now how many people who have experienced sexual harassment, assault or rape are also completely disconnected from it.
As a man, you are taught to be strong, and move forward, and I did. I never, ever thought of myself as a victim. I never asked the question like every other victim of sexual assault or rape does, “Why me?”
However, there is a lot of guilt, and shame, and a sense of dirtiness that come with these experiences. There’s an extraordinary sense of confusion, of cognitive dissonance: how can people be like this? How can anyone do this? How can a married man be driving after midnight looking for a man or teenage boy to attack, assault or rape?
I am the eternal optimist, and I always look for the good in people and perhaps for that reason too I don’t think too much of that incident when I think of the many other sexual harassment incidents or the abuse that I experienced as a child. I never even labeled my experiences in childhood as ‘abuse’ until decades later; I simply believed my dad was ‘strict’, even though, sometimes I couldn’t sit for days from the beatings.
I do, however, realize in this moment the way this incident as well as the other sexual harassment and groping incidents also shaped me to have such deep empathy, understanding and compassion for women who have either had these experiences or are subjected to men who view them as and believe them to be inanimate, lifeless, meaningless objects only designed for their pleasure.
I sincerely hope that by reading my story, one of many, that you might realize there is nothing wrong with you, it was never your fault and you deserve to love and be loved.
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.