Rape on Eighth


Today a new patient I’ll call Jim, described an event that occurred Saturday night. He was leaving a bar and headed up Eighth Avenue when a hispanic male strolled up alongside him to strike up a conversation. “He started asking me about drugs and if I wanted any,” said Jim. “I ignored him but he kept following me.” Foolishly, Jim veered off the avenue and down a side street where things took a turn for the worse. “He said he had a gun and pushed it in my side. Then he lured me down a dark stairwell of a brownstone.”

There the man forced Jim into performing oral sex.

Afterward he took Jim’ s wallet and fled on his bicycle.

Jim took the train back home to Long Island. The next day he went to the doctor who diagnosed him with HIV. This diagnosing was completely unrelated to the event from the night before but traumatic nonetheless. Honestly, this has to be, hands down, the worst one two punch in recorded history.

Jim was referred to me by a colleague. In my office, I listened to him as he recounted this story. I was concerned that Jim was still in shock, and I urged him to go to the police but he refused. Then I called a therapist and together we spoke, and Jim agreed to meet with him later this afternoon.

Jim is 37 and very sincere. As he told me this story, I immediately thought that I would have never walked down a dark alley with a strange man at 2am on a Saturday.  But then again, who knows how I might have reacted in that situation.

Unexpected encounters that occur when ones inhibitions are down can result in actions that are atypical  to our normal selves. Often times it is difficult, particularly for gay men to deal with sexual assault. Issues associated with internalized homophobia are exacerbated by aggressive male statements or actions. Some gay men might shy away form joining a conversation that is stimulated by robust talk over a football game to avoid feeling like a sissy. Likewise, a male suffering from internalized homophobia might relinquish control when confronted by a dominant male on a dark street, especially if he had too much to drink earlier.

It is important for us to be aware of these triggers so that we can recognize them when confronted. I hope Jim reports this incident to the police. He has nothing to be ashamed of.


One Comment

  1. Steve M of NYC
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    I had a similar situation happen to me not too long ago.

    As aggressive as the guy became, I knew he wouldn’t walk into a bar behind me, which was what I ended up doing.

    Sometimes, you just can’t take a chance. These guys will target a gay man the moment they smell some alcohol in your breath, and they think you are defenseless.

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