Trigger warning: This article mentions sexual assault. Reader’s discretion is advised.
“He left the room while I was still crying out in agony. I pulled up my pants and went back to my room where I couldn’t sleep. The next day I realized, my pants and bedsheet had blood stains on them.”
There’s definitely still a big stigma in sexual assault among male survivors causing victims to be afraid to come out with their stories. The culture of toxic masculinity has propagated the perception that men are supposed to be “tough” and as a result, many male victims of sexual assault have their stories go untold.
Daniel Haqeem is a sexual assault survivor who took to Twitter to share a horrifying experience that happened to him when he was 15. He recounted how his rapist was a bully and that he was too afraid to fight back.
“I screamed out in pain. I even cried as I couldn’t take the pain any longer but he ignored all my cries.”
After the traumatic experience, Daniel shared that he never told the incident to anyone. In fact, after the holidays, his rapist beat him up as sort of a “warning” to not expose his doings. Speaking to WORLD OF BUZZ, Daniel said he thought of sharing his experience on Twitter when he was scrolling through his Facebook timeline and his rapist’s name popped up on his “Suggested Friends” tab.
“All of a sudden, memories started flashing all at once. The last time I thought about him was when I was admitted to Hospital Bahagia Tanjung Rambutan for depression, back in 2016.
It was also here that I came to find out, that what happened that night, was the root of what led me to be in the psychiatrist room that day.”
Daniel realized that the anxiety which always comes whenever he thinks about that night, is now gone and for once, he felt at ease. He always felt that Twitter was his safe space due to the fact that he doesn’t really know anyone on the platform, which made him more comfortable to open up.
“I became hateful towards myself. It became really bad to the point that I became anxious if I knew someone was mad at me, even though I was not in the wrong. I despised that feeling.”
Daniel’s Twitter thread went viral garnering almost 9,000 retweets and likes. We asked him if the experience left him with any long-term repercussions. He said that he had always been a shy, reserved kid especially back in school and this became worse as he got older.
His mental health hit a new low when he was admitted to Hospital Bahagia for depression. Daniel had always thought that he was the problem but it was in the hospital that he came to realise the root of his problems actually started on the night of the assault.
However, on a more positive note, Daniel told us that he is so much better now and as he turns 30 this October, he’s really starting to enjoy life.
“I’m so proud of myself. And I can’t wait to start a whole new chapter of my life in my new home. I truly am happy right now.”
Why is there a stigma for male sexual assault victims to come out with their experiences?
Daniel said this stigma rose due to thoughts of how a man should be; tough, strong, masculine both mentally and physically. This mindset has been engraved in our society especially among Asians whereby being a ‘real man’ is very important. Thus, men are afraid to come out with their sexual assault experiences.
From a personal point of view, Daniel recalled how scared he was, especially being the eldest son in his family. He felt that he was going to disappoint his loved ones, especially his father.
“When I was 11, my father told me, I had to be, no, I MUST be a great example to my siblings because I’m the “abang.”. I have to excel academically and be a good person, so my siblings can have someone they can look up to. In short, to never do wrong.”
Daniel added that from his father’s perspective, he understands why his father said what he said but, in the end, he was just an 11-year-old who simply wanted to be a kid. He clarified that this doesn’t mean he hates his father, in fact, they share a very close relationship.
“It’s not like there’s literally a ‘manual’ on how to be a father. But I won’t deny that it has somehow affected me more negatively than positively.”
Support from the online community
He also talked about the online reception he received after sharing his story and netizens have been nothing short of supportive. The ratio for negative responses as compared to positive responses are 1:1000. Daniel chose to ignore all the negative comments but decided to reply to one person who asked him why didn’t he fight that night.”The commenter said that he’s skinny and sort of ‘weak’ but he feels that if a man would assault him, he would still be able to fight back,” Daniel said.
“What he didn’t take into consideration was that I wasn’t only tormented by him that night. I was bullied and assaulted by him since I was 13 years old. I was scared and mentally weak due to this.
After all those years of torment, it made me very weak to fight him that night.”
If you have been sexually assaulted, make sure to reach out to someone to get the help you need. Please remember that your gender, sexuality, race or religion does not diminish your experience in any way.
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