Thursday, September 27, 2018

Delayed Devastation & The Abandonment Of #MeToo.

21 years ago, when I was a junior RN at the beginning of my career, I was sexually assaulted by in my workplace. 

The assault involved two individuals, who were senior to me. They herded me into a confined space, and proceeded to taunt me, touch me inappropriately, I was penetrated  digitally. I did not invite their advances, nor did I give permission. I was manipulated, forced into enduring their attack. 

The incident occured out of hours. There were no witnesses to the incident other than myself and the two individuals involved. I was given no ability to escape the the situation. I was shocked and devastated. 

When I attempted to report the incident, I could not have anticipated the reaction I received. A meeting was arranged with with senior people. I was given no opportunity to arrange a support person to attend with me. Once in the room, I detailed the incident. 

I was told that these were very serious allegations. I was asked if I recalled the incident accurately (the meeting occured within a few days of it having occurred.) I was informed that my abusers denied any involvement in what had occurred. Further, I was advised there were very serious consequences of making allegations of this gravity. 

I was then told that the incident never happened and that if I pursued my claims that I would not work as a Nurse anywhere in the future. I was then put on a "probation period" in which my performance would be observed at monitored.

How does a 23 year old, junior male nurse, deal with this? 

In the aftermath, I was devastated. I felt isolated, marginalised and I suffered under the weight of intense scrutiny for which I had no support, no counselling and no recourse.

I suffered bouts of depression, anxiety, guilt and shame that was so intense, I was pushed to the edge.

Yes, I was suicidal and yes, there were three occasions where I attempted to take my own life.  

I know what happened was real. I was, essentially, raped in my workplace. 

Seeing that I had no power to do anything about the experience, I closed down and compartmentalized the experience and the ordeal, burying them so deep in my psyche so that I could (somehow) function. I developed a way of coping - but I never dealt with the damage wraught on me.

With the emergence of the #metoo movement last year, my exposure to the countless stories of abuse and survival being shared, I unlocked the chest that held my own experience of abuse and I  looked at it anew for the first time in 20 years.

Revisiting the experience, my reaction to it and the subsequent emotional devastation I experienced as a result of being ignored and threatened, I was confronted by 20 long years of unresolved emotional baggage that had affected me. 

It took me a long time to acknowledge the reality of what had occurred. Seeing similar experiences being shared, I was encouraged by what I thought was a positive movement that would treat my ordeal with empathy and compassion. 

I shared my experience. 

The reaction? 

The reaction was a swift and as devastating as the intial reaction I received to my account of sexual abuse.

Suspicion. Disbelief. Minimisation - all coming from within this movement that was supposed to empower voices and embrace survivors. I felt as though I had been raped all over again. 

See - I don't fit the narrative. I fall outside of the accepted identity of a sexual abuse survivor. 

I was a male victim of sexual violence, perpetrated by women. Like the administrators who interrogated me in the aftermath of my abuse, many within the #metoo movement doubted that such violence could happen to a male by a female. I'd remembered it wrong. My recollections must be doubtful. This couldn't have happened to you - a man. It was made clear to me that, at this time, this fight is not about you. You can't be a part of our narrative because - as one particularly militant tweeter articulated it - "You have a dick."

In the course of the fight, there will be victims. Males are collateral damage in this - Male victims and Male accused (whether they are innocent or guilty). 

I'm considering all this, at a time when there is incredible scrutiny being brought to bear on the nominee for the Supreme Court in the United States, Brett Cavanaugh.

You might be surprised, given all I have detailed here, that I have questions about the claims and counter claims swirling around Christine Blasey-Ford and Kavanaugh. In no way do these questions  discount the possibility that Blasey-Ford is telling the truth. It is simply a dispassionate observation that Blasey-Ford has not presented compelling evidence that establishes fact. Like me, she may never be able to.

At this time, Brett Kavanaugh is an *alleged* perpetrator or sexual assault - *alleged*. A formal FBI investigation would, in my view, be the most appropriate way of establishing fact. That should happen and, until such time as that investigation is completed, Kavanaugh's nomination should be withdrawn.

Further, this whole spectacle should be completely removed from the public gaze - for the sake of Christine Blasey-Ford as much as anyone.

There is a further concern I have, which relates to the conduct of the various actors behind both Blasey-Ford and Kavanaugh. I believe there are competing agendas at play that have less to do with the truth of Blasey-Ford's ordeal or the guilt or innocence of Kavanaugh or the truth of the claims against him. Part of this is being driven by nefarious elements within the #metoo movement and its blind ambition to bring down an entire gender, regardless of the truth. They will chew up Christine Blasey-Ford and spit her out as much as they will Kavanaugh. 

Can the truth ever be established now? 

I have come to accept that I will never gain absolution for my own ordeal. I can only recount my experience, to the best of my recollection (and my recollection is acute) and move forward...if one can ever hope to move forward from something like this.

Truth is a victim. 

In the case of Christine Blasey-Ford and Brett Kavanagh, there are her allegations - grave and serious and warranting forensic investigation, his defense, which - in our system of justice - he is entitled to, and the Truth that lies somewhere in between. The way these hearings are being concucted are troubling, because none of this matters to those driving Christine Blasey-Ford into the pressure cooker of the public gaze. Nor does it matter to those who seek to secure Kavanaugh's appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Both agendas will divide and conquer in the pursuit of something other than the truth - and they will leave victims in their wake - both accused and accusers.

If you don't fit the proscribed narrative of either, the accepted identity, you are problematic, expendable.

And that is the truth.



  1. Hey Dean thank you for sharing. I can't imagine the guts it must have taken to speak out. I'm so sorry your story has been rejected. I don't understand. Maybe all we can hope for from this movement is that people stop and really think about the way they treat their fellow citizens. We all have the right to feel valued and respected. It's awful to hear how diminished you were by those who had a duty of care.

    1. Thank you Kirsty for your kind comment.

      Yes, I agree. We all have a duty to pursue the truth through due process and a dispassionate appraisal of the facts.

      As I said, I have come to accept I will likely never get absolution from my own experience but I hope that the parties in this situation get theirs.

      Right now, all I can see are people being utterly destroyed.

  2. Dean,

    I was raped in high school almost 37 years. It was 1982. I thought I was kind of straight. But I was also attracted to guys. I had never heard of the word "bisexual". I just knew I liked girls and guys. And things were going great. For a month. And then in the school bathroom he did something to me I told him I didn't want to try. But he was bigger than me and he took what he wanted, hurting me in so many ways possible. So this is what I did: I didn't go to a doctor. I didn't tell my parents or grandmother - this was 1982 and AIDS was what, a year old? I knew they wouldn't love me any more and maybe throw me out of the house.

    This is what I did do - I shut the hell down. I essentially killed half the bisexuality from my personality. I did have sex again - 20 years later with my wife, the first person I ever told and she was gentle to me. Eventually I did tell my parents about 6 years ago. They were shocked and couldn't understand why I never said a thing, but I couldn't explain.

    And I have crippling depression to this day. I tried killing myself at least a dozen times by the time I was 28. I cut. I burned with cigarettes. Then I covered all my scars with tattoos. When Christine Blaise-Ford came out with her story, it just got to me in a way nothing has in a dozen years. I just went wild with the cigarettes. Then my brother-in-law died and I had to be the strong one again.

    There is a huge problem with #MeToo, even with all the good it's done: it's flipped our justice system 180 degrees. You are now presumed guilty until proven innocent. I've signed off on a lot of my posts with the hashtag - see, with all me problems I'm still free and I'll tell anyone who wants to listen. But I don't hang out with the #MeToo people for the reason I mentioned. Dean, trust me, I know what you feel like, just that I was the one who silenced himself. What matters is that you've survived and you've thrived (I haven't written any books to speak of). See if you can find a support group or a therapist that specializes in sexual assault. You didn't ask for it and neither did I.

    1. Scott - Your point on the #MeToo movement is salient indeed. I don't like the direction it is heading in - despite the fact that it has done some good. A oft-mentioned comment to me from within the movement is that, "We don't care. We are going to tear them all down." That is dangerous and alarming.

      I really appreciate you sharing your experience here Scott. I salute you.