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Guest Blog: Andy on World Aids Day 2016

01.12.16 | Blog

andywad2016 For World Aids Day 2016, we have handed over our blog to Andy from Manchester. This is his personal and powerful journey.

My Journey – From Victim to Survivor

Hi, I’m Andy. In 1998 I was raped, in Manchester. It’s my personal choice to speak out, this is my personal journey told with complete honesty and I’ve asked to do this because I hope it speaks out to other men. I feel that if my sharing helps 1 more man, then I will be so proud. If it helps even more men to find their confidence/strength to be open, then that’s even better.
My plea to you is don’t be silent any longer. Let me tell you, you are worthy of love, and loving yourself, truly, you are valued. You owe it to yourself.
But all journey’s start off somewhere and often slow, so whilst I want you to know you can speak out, do it only when your ready.
My journey starts with when I spoke out about being raped. I reported it first of all in 2006, 8 years after it happened. In that time, I have been ridiculed by him and his associates, felt powerless, blamed myself, even hated myself. I have felt ashamed and disgusted, undervalued, silenced and discriminated against. He continuously tried to assert his power over me. For example, I could be out socialising and he would stand right beside me laughing with his friends, laughing at me. I think I had become some sort of personal achievement for him, someone he could stand on or walk all over.
The night that it happened…
first of all I need to tell you that this bit of what i’m writing might be triggering for some people so let this be a trigger warning (i’ll put a trigger warning end so you can jump to that if you want)
…I had got back to his place and I felt at ease. Condom packets had clearly been strategically placed around. I realise now a scene had been set by him, unbeknown to me, I had been well and truly had. I woke up dazed, I was being raped. I couldn’t believe I could be asleep and not of woken up sooner. I had been so intoxicated, but he medicated me even more so. I trusted him and felt safe.
“Are you wearing a condom?” I asked, and then repeated, in case he’d not heard me the first time. The silence was deadly, my heart was smashed into a thousand, million pieces. His silence was an answer itself. I’d been woken up from a dream into a living nightmare from that moment on-wards. ‘My world would never be the same, ever again!’
(ok, trigger warning end)
I went to Hospital for a HIV test and said that I’d been raped, but nothing more was done. I returned to the hospital when the results came back and well, if I’m honest I already knew the results the moment I had been woken up, lying in his bed. I suppose it was more confirmation of the fact.
I felt like I had been murdered but was still alive. I’d look out of my window at a beautiful world I’d long to be a part of but felt so far away. I wasn’t here anymore. No-one listened, no-one was hearing me. I felt invisible, deleted, erased.
I received a letter from the hospital after my positive diagnosis stating that I was ‘newly infected’ going off the blood counts. At the bottom of this very short letter from the hospital it read “he required no further treatment”.
I had been a victim of a premeditated calculated sexual assault, in which not only did he intend to rape me, but he infected me purposeful with his disease. I was now ‘HIV+’, had part of him not only in my head but now in my body forever. How did all that mean I “required no further treatment“?
I felt I wasn’t good enough for anyone, even for myself. I wanted to die. Through this event, my feelings and emotions where hard to shy away from. I became angry and upset at the ones that were closest to me, the ones I loved. I became a problem nobody wanted for my friends and boyfriends whom I dearly loved. My pain got in the way, it was all to much for everyone to deal with, including me.
I was silenced in pain.
I felt so alone, unworthy, dirty, hurt and humiliated. I had nowhere to go but live with my destructive thoughts, it was the worst possible thing imaginable. I don’t know exactly how I have gotten where I am today, it’s been excruciating.
Other HIV+ people and organisations have welcomed me to their ‘club’ and at times I’ve been told that I have to take/accept responsibility. “We can talk about HIV but not rape. We don’t want to criminalize people”- I was silenced, again.
That was until I found Survivors Manchester, which opened its doors 11 years after my rape. God I wish it was around when it happened.
I’ve accessed therapeutic and emotional support, along with the practical advice and support from the ISVA (that’s the Independent Sexual Violence Advisor, someone who is there to help you report to the police and support you right through to the court bit). Survivors Manchester has never made me feel scared to hide my HIV status.
The hardest thing for me is not being HIV+, but the disease ‘within’ the disease that lives in our communities. People’s discrimination and attitude towards HIV, the hurtful experiences I’ve endured as a result of my status has been the most challenging for me. Friendships I’ve had resulting in having their backs turned on me because of my status. Judged and discarded all over again, just like he did.
God will be my judge, him and him alone. So I say, look in the mirror at yourself before you judge others. I am still alive, I can still hear, I can still feel. Even though my heart was crushed – I still trusted and even loved.
My journey has been a long one, a road of apologising for myself. Apologising for living, even apologising for surviving, for being me.
I know I don’t have to do that anymore, Survivors Manchester has helped me realise that.
So reach out, get the support. Its the best thing I did!
If you would like to talk to someone, call us on 0161 236 2182 or the National Male Survivor Helpline on 0808 800 5005
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