Men As Rape Victims
Men get raped too
I was in love with Robin Jarvis. When I met him, I knew he was different. He seemed confident, sure of himself in an offhand and casual way. I was to learn otherwise, but by then my life would have been changed forever.
The first time I heard him speak he was talking about Britain. He painted pictures with words, his tone rising and falling. He was easy to love. He loved people.
He showed that after he stopped speaking. He found me and talked to me in a way nobody had ever talked to me before. Almost as if we were equal, although I knew we weren't. He was confident, I felt lost. He was handsome, I felt ugly. He talked so openly and confidently, I was shy.
He invited me to his room. It was a small room overlooking the swimming pool. Looking out of his window you could see people splashing in the water. It was June and the pool wasn't heated, and by this time of year in Sussex, England the water had reached a bracing 68 degrees. We talked some more. He was fascinating. He told me I should call him Robin.
The second time he invited me to his room we talked endlessly about everything. It was almost as if he was reaching inside me, feeling my emptiness and my sorrow. He reached around inside me testing my opinions before ever giving me his. Nobody had ever valued my opinions like this before. He sipped on a glass of whisky (my father drank whisky every evening; he had for as long as I could remember. Home from work and then two whiskies before my mother served dinner). Little did I know how much that conversation would haunt me for the rest of my life.
After a week of hardly seeing Robin except when he was surrounded by his many fans, I missed our conversations. I would walk the longer route, past the miniature Matterhorn that had been built for us to practice climbing. It was by the swimming pool. I'd walk that way in the hope of catching him on his own. I never did. It didn't seem like he was avoiding me, rather he always seemed to be at the centre of a vibrant group who were smiling and laughing with him. I wondered if he really liked me or if he just pitied me. I realised that his fleeting friendship could charge me up for a few days. I hoped we could talk again soon, talk in his room again. That was where we could both relax. I wanted nothing more.
The third time I went to his room he seemed distracted, busy, distant, as if he wasn't completely there. He was abrupt, I wanted to cry. This was our special time. This was my special time. He had allowed me to speak my mind, encouraged me to, demanded it. He had challenged me but in a way that made me more sure of myself, but not now. He interrupted whatever he was writing to explain how busy he was and that this evening he needed to work.
Sensing my disappointment he offered to come and find me later after he'd finished writing.
The rest of the evening dragged by. I couldn't focus on anything. I waited. Dinner was served and still no sign of him. I walked around avoiding people after dinner and then lay down on my bed. I waited and waited.
A hand shook my shoulder. I smelt that smoky whisky smell, I opened my eyes and there he was. He walked out of my room beckoning me to follow. I jumped up and followed him into the corridor. Nobody was there. I was suddenly nervous. It was a big building and normally filled with hundreds of voices but by 11.30pm it was silent.
Silence filled the corridor more than 300 voices ever could.
It was almost as if I'd dreamed his presence, but his cologne mixed with the smell of whisky hung in the air.
Nervously I wandered towards his room. It was late, the house was silent, everybody asleep. How stupid would I look if it was all just a dream?
I listened outside his door. Nothing. My breath was shallow and fast. I was excited. I knocked, well rather I tried to knock without making a noise. Nothing. Had he heard me?
I started to turn, to walk away, when I heard him say, "Come In". I froze, then I slowly turned the door handle and stepped inside. He wasn't at his desk. He was lying in bed and explained he had given me up for lost. He patted the bed beside him and I sat down.
His was a single bed. As far as I knew, every bed in the house was. I asked if he had other friends like me. Apparently not. I relaxed and we talked for hours. I lay down beside him and we talked till I fell asleep. When he woke me a little later, I was still on his bed with his strong arms curled around me, holding me. It felt so good, so right. He was protecting me from my world.
He got out of bed. He was wearing old-fashioned pajamas in a blue and white stripe. He walked to the chair by his desk and picked up his dressing gown. He whirled round laughing and swinging his gown over his shoulders, he was talking, but I wasn't listening. I'd noticed his pubic hair peeking through the fly of his pyjamas. I'm sure he knew. He tied his gown around his waist curtaining off any more glances from me and then called me to the window.
It was a tradition in the summer for people to take 'Morning Plunge'. There was already a line of naked bodies lined up by the pool. Picking a lane each, four lanes at a time, they'd dive in, no swimming just a dive. They held their breath; the challenge was to see who could get the furthest without breathing.
Robin laughed and pointed out a large penis hanging over the water. Walking behind me, putting his arms around me, he held me and told me to watch. The penis dived in, no kicking just holding his breath. After what seemed like five minutes when all we could see were his muscular shoulders, his long back, pert cheeks and graceful legs, the penis raised his head. "Just wait," said Robin massaging my shoulders. It felt so good. I was tired but elated.
The penis kicked twice and reached the edge of the pool. With a flick of his feet he jumped out of the water, drops of water splashing off him and twinkling as the morning sun caught them and held them before allowing them to fall. Something had changed. The penis was a lot smaller, no longer hanging proudly it now looked as though it had been washed in water that was too hot! It was shrunk and shriveled, it had retreated into its bed of damp curls.
The penis had shrunk but I could feel something else pressing into my back. Robin spun me round, undid my dressing gown, pulled it tight round me, tied it up and pushed me towards the door. "You'd better go and get ready for breakfast."
I walked back to my room wondering who else he had relationships with. I felt jealous. I wondered if he'd noticed my own obvious excitement when he tied my gown.
It was two long weeks before I saw him again. I hated him for it. It was as if he was avoiding me. Always with somebody else. Always busy. Always laughing. Always happy. And always that curious sandalwood smell of his cologne that never quite masked the smell of whisky. They mingled together and seemed to hang around him. I could tell if he had been in a room. I'd smell him and then all I could think about was him.
Through my sleep, I felt the warmth and comfort of a hand making circles on my back. It was comforting. My father always did the same. Slow circles that felt like love till they stopped. They did and I looked up to see the shaft of light from the door narrow and go out. I could smell him, it had been him. I was almost sure.
I slipped out of bed, pulled on my dressing gown and slippers, and tiptoed down the long institutional corridor with it's grey and white walls, down the back stairs and along the narrow short corridor to his room. The door was open an inch and a small amount of light shone out.
I wondered if he was there. I peeked through the crack in the door and saw two glasses of whisky sitting on his desk. I hoped one was for me and that he wasn't expecting anyone else. I was about to knock when he said my name. "Andrew".
I shivered as if a goose had walked over my grave. I pushed the door and stepped inside. I knew enough to know I shouldn't be there. I didn't yet know why. Answering that question would take me another 30 years. I didn't know how the answer would steal my life, but if I had known, if at that moment I had known, I don't know if I could have stopped what then happened. I don't know if I could have contained my excitement. I don't know if I could have walked away. I know I needed to feel his love.
I loved him and he loved me, too.
I pushed open the door, stepped quickly inside and silently closed the door behind me. He patted the bed for me to sit down. I sat. Memorised by him, as he held me in his eyes.
His eyes met mine and he looked inside me while I held my breath. There was something different; he wasn't wearing his pyjama jacket.
He said he was tired and couldn't talk for long, it was already almost midnight. Pulling back the corner of the sheets he made room for me in his bed. We lay together, I could feel the heat from his body, it was comforting. It was late, I slipped down and lay beside him. He on his side facing me, me on my back. I felt sleepy and he suggested we sleep till it was time to watch the morning plunge.
I closed my eyes, he pulled me to him. We were separated by my pyjamas. I fell asleep. When I woke up my pyjamas were folded neatly on the bedside table, the glasses had gone and so had Robin. Jumping out of bed I walked to the window and looked out at morning plunge. There was Robin already fully dressed standing beside the pool. The penis walked up to the lane closest to him, three others filling the lanes beside him, but none of them filled the lanes like the penis. I could see Robin looking at him, he smiled, raised his hand and then dropped it, they all dived in, moving quickly with the momentum of their dive, their lithe bodies making four lines in the pool. They slowed down, running out of momentum, hardly moving, still holding their breath hoping for another couple of inches down the pool before lifting their heads and drawing breath.
I could feel my own penis swell. I pulled on my pyjamas and my dressing gown and hurried back to my room.
Robin was my first love. I was nine years old and he was my teacher at St. Peter's Boarding School in Seaford, Sussex.
He was my first love but not my first sex. That had happened some months earlier. I had woken up to a 12-year-old boy, a boy responsible for our small four-person dormitory, curled round my back holding me. He whispered his love in my ears as he untied my pyjama trousers and then the pain, the incredible pain of him forcing his way into me.
A pain that still lives with me today. A pain I'll never forget. All to his heavy breathing and his whispered commands to lie still and prove I was a man. I tried, I tried so hard. I bit the pillow so I wouldn't cry out, but that didn't stop my tears.
They would continue.
They still do.
I had a beer with Robin Jarvis at a pub opposite St. Peter's School when I was in my late teens. I was hoping that he would explain what had happened.
He never mentioned it.
Nor did I.
His was a memory locked away in the back of my mind for many years. After a period of drugs and an attempt at suicide I tried to find Robin Jarvis again. He sent back a message that he did not want to speak to me.
Some months later another St Peter's Old Boy called me. He too had been abused by Robin Jarvis. He knew many others who had too.
With fear and trepidation in my heart I called the British Police.
Robin was sentenced to over 80 years in prison. Because of consecutive sentencing he will serve 8 years. 10 brave old boys came forward. We know of many, many more who felt that they could not. Robin Jarvis was not the only abuser. The headmaster of the school was recently listed on the UK's Sex Offender register too.
In New York and many other states Robin Jarvis would have been protected by laws called statutes of limitations. After a child victim reaches a certain age they time out from justice. The police are unable to help. When this happens most survivors turn to civil courts. Suing your rapist is a good way of identifying them because otherwise they go unreported and continue to rape other children.
Almost a quarter of children are sexually abused before they are 18 years old and sex offender registers only show the sex offenders that have been identified. As only 3 in every 100 rapists ever goes to jail you can be sure that there are still plenty of rapists on our streets who have not been reported.
In New York State you have to bring a case against your abuser within 5 years of your 18th birthday, in other words by the time you are 23. This despite all the science showing that most children, like me, take over 20 years to be able to report their abuse.
Here's the point, Robin Jarvis was still teaching children when he was arrested. I'm sure you would not have wanted him teaching your child. In New York, and many other states, you won't know, because the laws prevent child victims reporting their abusers.
If you are wondering why this is you'll need to wait for my post next week.
Andrew is a founding partner of the Stop Abuse Campaign. A survivor of childhood sexual abuse, intimate partner violence and suicide.
Formerly a Madman of Madison Avenue Andrew has two sons and lives in Harlem, New York.
He’s a frequent speaker at conferences and blogs for the Stop Abuse Campaign.
“I’m a Believer because I spent most of my life holding a secret.”
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