I was violently gang raped 29 years ago while on active duty.
During the 70's and 80's South Africa had compulsory military training (conscription) for all white males, if you refused you would go to jail for between 10 and 15 years. At the age of 18yrs I was sent to the Air Force for two years and was trained as a radar operator, as I was based close to home and was doing work as an assistant air traffic controller, it was tolerable. I know you should not talk poltics on this forum, but in this case I need to explain the situation in our country. Everybody knew I belonged to a very small liberal polical party, most white South Africans supported the government with their policy of apartheid. I got used to been ridiculed, on a number of occasions the officers would call everybody for a talk and they would say " watch out, anybody could be a spy... even ......then they would mention me by my rank and name".
It was in my nature to take up leadership roles (now I know why, for my safety I had to have control). I became the spokesman for the conscripts, I discovered fraud taking place on our base, the head of the kitchen was selling our rations, when this was pointed out he was transferred from the base and that week I was "selected " to go on active duty on to the South West Africa/ ( the name of the country when our government occupied it. - now called Nambia) / Angola border, everybody thought we were fighting the communist onslaught, I knew better they were trying to keep the status quo - apartheid.
Active duty was stressful anybody in the military will know, people get killed while on active duty. South Africa was at war, as conscripts we were in forced into this war, if we believed in it or not. The stresses got to me one night and I got drunk in the bar, I stumbled back to my quarters on the other side of the runway, as I passed the mess (canteen) I was grabbed by some guys (not from the airforce, the base also housed the special forces, army and medics) pulled into a room and was violently raped by three males, I was drunk and they were bigger and stronger than me, I tried to fight then off but I was overpowered. It was violent, today I can still remember the smell of their sweat, I was too drunk to remember their faces.
That was the last time I have been drunk. I was abused at the age of 13 when I got drunk on a sports tour and was groomed by another teacher, then abused at 17. My trust for males disappeared, so did my tolerance for people who were tipsy or drunk. I felt uncomfortable in an all male environment.
When it was over I was in shock and dumped like a dead animal. I got back to my quarters and showered for hours, the bleeding finally stopped. I felt as if I was no longer a man, I was damaged goods. I was in pain for weeks. The next day I pretended nothing had happened.
I was raised in a very sexist household, men are tough, cowboys do not cry, feelings are for girls, etc. Looking back I was always told to respect authority, that is why I could be groomed by a teacher.
The next 6 weeks I felt so lonely, nobody to talk to. I had a loving family at home and a girlfriend, my childhood sweetheart that I was madly in love with (now my wife) waiting for my return - that is what got me thru the nightmare. Everybody knew I was against apartheid and they all thought I was a "commie ". I have always wondered was the rape random or was it because I was perceived to be so liberal. I never hid by liberal political thinking.
I needed stitches in my head, but I said it was an accident. I could not let them know my other injuries, fortunately they healed. I could not report the incident, I would have been court marshaled for trying to put the military in disrepute or sent to DB (detention barracks) as a deviant - I would not be believed - no member of the military would do such a thing (the only law was military law) remember this was still in a country where you could be detained for 6 months, if you were perceived to be a threat to the state.
I had flashbacks for years from both the rape and what I witnessed while on active duty. The flashbacks were incomplete, blurred, as I had blocked the rape out of my mind, I knew what happened but was in denial. I used to wake up paralyzed, my eyes were open and I could see everything in the room, I could not move, my wife would hear me mumble for help, she would wake me up. I still did not join the dots. I did some internet research, it could have been anything from evil spirits trying to take over my soul, to brain tumours (sometimes the net is full of bullshit).
I kept my mind busy, ensuring it was in overdrive, I lived for work, became a serial entrepreneur and workaholic, got involved in organizations, took on leadership roles, did everything to ensure my mind was active. Gave my family all the material things, but little time. I was emotionless, no highs, no lows. You can't spend your life on a roller caster, something will eventually give. I never drank or did drugs I had to be in control to protect myself. Only if people knew I was a time bomb waiting to explode.
At 39 everything came to ahead, I spent 18 months in therapy, was fortunate I could afford one and hit the luck the first time, she was the leading expert in this field. The anti depressants worked while I started to put the puzzle together. It started like a had a 1000 piece puzzle, but did not have the picture, so I did not know the outcome, the edges were not there and pieces were missing. I thought it would be an impossible task, but finally I got a few pieces together, then it got easier as I went along. I became a survivor.
My wife stuck with me. I told my wife and later my daughters when they were 18 about being sexually abused as a child and they know I was raped. Only my therapist and now you, if you have read this far know the details (more than this I will never tell anybody).
That was 10 years ago, today I'm a thriver.
I made a mental list of all the things I had to do to get to this point and I am almost finished, I still have to tell some of those I love about the abuse and rape. This post is the 4th last thing on my list, I have openingly discussed the abuse, but the rape has been the most difficult. The next item is already happening to set up an organization to help fellow male survivors in South Africa. I plan to climb Kilimanjaro for all male survivors. The last two items will never be complete it is to love my family, ensure no harm falls apron them or my grandchildren (I don't have any yet, my daughter gets married next month) and to continue with my healing.
This post is dedicated to my wife, whom I met 35 years ago today, we have been married for 27 years. She has stuck by me and for that I will love her forever.
PS This must have been the longest thing I have ever written, as I type with one finger.UPDATE.
I have now told all my loved ones and friends about my abuse and rape.
A non profit company has been set up "South African Male Survivors Of Sexual Abuse" and a webpage has been launched. www.samsosa.org
I have climbed Kilimanjaro for male survivors and have done a blog on the analogy of conquering a mountain and a journey to recovery. www.kilimalesurvivor.wordpress.com
My wife and I are going to NYC for the Male Survivor 13th International Conference
I will complete my counselor course by the end on December 2012.