Before we get into this post, I want to make a disclaimer.
This is not a political post and JCP Eats is not a politicized space.
TW: Sexual Assault
Though most of you know this, my name is JC Phelps.
What you probably do not know is that I am a victim of sexual assault.
That is something that I rarely admit to myself, it’s something that I rarely admit to those that are closest to me, it’s something that I have hid in the darkest, deepest, most private nook and cranny of my being.
I am a survivor and this is my story.
I was a freshman in college — eighteen years old, to be exact.
I thought I knew everything there was to know; I was, however, merely a child.
It was the weekend. I left my small liberal arts college to attend a party at a large state school with friends that were enrolled there. At the time, it was a harmless decision. Most college students go to parties, right? I did at my campus, what would make this party different than all of the others?
Oh, how wrong I was.
At this point of my life, I was nearing the end of my severe eating disorder. I was newly out of the closet. I had so much weight on my shoulders — I’m not sure how I stood.
New to both the gay world and to the slim world, I was truly a deer in headlights. For the first time in my life, I was receiving attention for something other than my brains.
People were interested in me! They found me attractive! Boys, even! I just couldn’t believe it. I was wanted?
I found myself at the party, separated from my friend.
I was being noticed by some boys.
I wasn’t sure if it was because I was new to campus at that state school, if it was because I wasn’t a member of that fraternity, or because they were interested in me. At the time, I didn’t really care.
I was soon approached by what appeared to be a nice, normal fraternity man.
We struck a casual conversation, though he quickly got aggressive.
I fought back — successfully.
Two others soon joined him. While I am strong, I am no match when it is 3 vs. 1.
I was beaten.
I was sexually assaulted.
I was raped.
A word that I couldn’t even stand to say for years.
I was stripped of things that are due to each and every person: humanity, security, respect.
I was violated in a way that no individual – woman, man, gender non-conforming – should endure.
I was not given the option to consent. When it was made clear that I would not, I was beaten.
I was given a burden – one that I certainly would not wish on my worst enemy – without any thought given to how it would affect me or my future self.
I blamed myself for years. It was because of something that I did, right? Maybe I gave the impression that I was asking for it? Maybe I gave the impression that I would be okay with it? Maybe it was the way I was dressed? Maybe it was the way that I talked? Maybe it was the way that I looked? Maybe it was because of me?
It took a lot of time and reflection to realize that it wasn’t me. It is never the fault of the victim. It is the fault of the assaulter. It is the fault of the animal.
It was their fault, not mine.
Why am I going public with this?
In light of all of the media and press surrounding sexual assault cases, I was inspired by the strong women that have spoken their truths, along with the #MeToo movement.
It is important to speak out. It is important to know that you are not alone. It is important to know that you are not an anomaly. It is important to know that there are others in your corner, others that understand your struggle, other that will uplift you, others that will fight alongside you.
Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for hearing my story. It is one that has plagued me since the day it happened. It has shaped so much in my life. It has defined the man that I am today.
Listen to victims.
And, when appropriate and if consented to by the individual, keep having the difficult conversations. In private and public. I very much believe that society changes via induced stimuli.
Be the change.
If you need to speak with the National Sexual Assault Hotline, they are available 24 hrs/day at 1-800-656-4673.
If you want to reach out to me, do know that your privacy and confidentiality is of utmost importance to me. I can always be reached via DM or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will always have an ear for y’all. That is my promise to you.