I was sexually assaulted by a woman in 1983 while serving with the Navy in Halifax. Being a young man with some money I drank more than I should have and ended up in a house I was unfamiliar with. Someone there put me to bed, but they didn’t leave me alone.

I remember my pants being pulled down and someone was on top of me. A woman kept whispering in my ear, “It’s okay baby,” and “Go back to sleep” every time I stirred or tried to wake myself up.

Than the light came on and this I remember well. Another young woman came in the room and yelled, “What the fuck are you doing?”

“Is he even awake?”

I have no idea who she or the woman assaulting me were. The one who came in the room got me up and helped me get out of the house. I just stumbled back home and got on with my life.

Today I feel sick knowing when I thought of this afterwards I was thinking, “Cool, a woman raped me.” That’s messed up.

Beyond words messed up, but that’s the impact our culture and upbringing has on men and women when it comes to sexual abuse and violence. I wanted to write this because victim blaming has no gender.

I hadn’t thought of this for years but it came back to me after reading about the five hockey players facing sexual assault charges in Hamilton, Ontario. We all know what’s coming in that case: mountains of victim blaming and behavioural excuses, much of it will come from people with no knowledge at all of what happened or the harm they do spewing stereotypes and myths.

During a slut-walk protest in Toronto, a men’s rights activist confronted me with the statement that Canada has no rape culture and rapists go to jail here. He was lost for words when I told him mine didn’t. Men don’t expect that from other men. That’s why it’s important for us to use our voices.

There’s no excuse to be out of touch when it comes to a crime that impacts so many of us. 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime so the chances you know someone victimized is high enough that you should know what to say and what not to say.

The worst thing you can do is re-victimize someone with callous, insensitive words. If you’re ever in doubt, say nothing.

Words That Heal

  • “I’m so sorry this was done to you.”
  • “This wasn’t your fault.”
  • “What do you need the most from me right now?”
  • “Would you like me to take you to the hospital?”
  • “I’m here for you, whatever that means. You’re safe.”
  • “Do you need me to call for help?”

Words That Hurt

  • “I can’t believe John would do such a thing.”
  • “You were where? When? Why were you there?”
  • “F*ck this! I’m calling the police!” *
  • “She doesn’t look or act raped.”
  • “Well you know what happens when people start drinking.”
  • “Are you sure this isn’t about regret?”
  • “What did she think would happen?”

* Do not take control without permission. Settle down and talk first.

When You Respond

If you can think of something I missed please let me know.

Rape Myths

If you don't know what to say, say nothing!