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John Hughes

John is rebuilding his life in the wake of a sexual assault by a woman, and the betrayals by
individuals and institutions that have followed that trauma.

Stigma and stereotypes are part of the landscape that all male survivors of sexual violence must confront. And the most pernicious of those stigmas and stereotypes are reserved for the adult male survivor of sexual assault by a female. John could write a dissertation on the subject.

Which would be appropriate: at the time of the assault that devastated his life, John was a tenure-track assistant professor of biostatistics, teaching and supervising research at a major American university. Now, almost five years later, he is rebuilding his life.

Like so many sexual assaults, the assault that upended John’s life occurred in the context of a relationship, a relationship that John believed was rapidly becoming serious. He was ready to plan their future together, and so John was stunned when the woman rebuffed him, harshly and heartlessly.

Quickly, that heartlessness became the norm. She verbally abused him, withheld affection, and blamed him for their relationship problems. Although he had begun to have reservations about their relationship, he was still emotionally tied to her, and so her attacks plunged him into a combination of confusion and profound emotional pain.

John was experiencing the classic dynamics of a domestic violence relationship. Within such relationships, where one partner exerts emotional control and the other reels from the attacks, sexual assault is common. One day John woke up to the feeling of her body climbing on top of him. Stunned, John lay there helplessly as she manipulated him and sexually assaulted him. He was plunged into a miasma of shame, fear, and desperate confusion, and it has taken years for him to begin to pull himself out of it.

And like so many sexual assault survivors, John has been continually re-traumatized by the responses of others; by individuals, and by institutions. It has been a lonely and painful struggle, but through it, he has found the courage to speak publicly about his experience. His hope is that other men who have suffered similar assaults will discover that they are not alone.