by Dish Staff
Another reader adds his story to the powerful thread:
I want to offer a male perspective from someone who has been through something similar, in order to say it’s not just women who have these reactions. As a young teenager I was sexually abused by a teacher/coach, someone who had become like a father-figure to me (I’ve never met my real father, who left before I was born). It happened a few times, but I was eventually able to avoid him when the teacher transferred to another school.
I never told anyone until I was 19 or so, when I just couldn’t deal with my depression on my own and finally told certain friends and family. My mom reported it to the original school and contacted the police. They were sympathetic but didn’t do anything to follow up or take away his position. Mine was the only reported case. I did write a letter for the police and have it filed as a report, but I never followed up. I spoke briefly with a police investigator on the phone who was pretty clear that since it was several years prior, and my word against his, that it would be a tough case to push forward. I told myself that if other reports came up then I would testify or participate in whatever investigation was necessary, but didn’t want to go any further if it was just me, and ultimately didn’t ever follow up on it.
Later in my early-20s I did get counseling for my depression. The counselor wanted to pursue the police case again, since the individual was still a teacher in the school system.
I was doing better psychologically and she felt obligated to by law, as well as her personal desire to see the man behind bars. With my permission, she contacted a police investigator again. I spoke with him initially on the phone, but ultimately I still couldn’t handle it. I stopped seeing the counselor and did not follow up any more with the police. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision. It was like everything would shut down. I became so anxious that I went numb and just couldn’t face it. When pushed, I would answer questions and was open about it. But my subconscious reaction was to avoid the situation as much as possible.
I am not a weak man or someone afraid of confrontation. I served in the military, including a tour in Iraq. I have seen and faced some tough situations, but I never suffered the fear and anxiety that I faced when trying to report what happened to me or the idea of confronting my abuser. For the most part I do not suffer from PTSD related to my Iraq experiences. But I do, even still, suffer from PTSD related to my sexual abuse and find it difficult to have long-term, intimate relationships. I am in a far-better place then I was, but it is still there.
I know that if other reports came up that my abuser had done similar things to someone else, then I would gladly testify and confront him, do whatever I could do put that person behind bars. I’m not sure I could do that for myself though, and would still find it very hard to face him. I still feel guilty that I didn’t do more to report and push the case, as your other reader stated, and pray that no one else was ever abused because I didn’t have the courage or ability to follow through. I can understand completely why a woman wouldn’t want to report her rape, or might only report it to the school, but not push for a criminal case. That seems to be the natural reaction.
I agree with you completely that there has to be some defense process for the accused, even at the school level, but at the same time many schools and police need to be more assertive in pushing for investigations and going to the next step. Many victims just won’t be able to be their own advocates.