A year has passed since I went public about my rape. I was interviewed on Good Morning America by Robin Roberts and told my candid story to New York Magazine's The Cut. The world has changed, but most importantly and to my own relief, so have I.
When I first began to publicly speak about my rape, I didn't think I would become an activist - but here I am. I have traveled around America speaking at universities and connecting with other survivors. I promised all the survivors I have encountered along the way that I would make it my mission to keep this conversation going beyond the American media hot-topic shelf life. Throughout my journey I simultaneously executive produced a documentary to give black men like me that have similar stories to mine, a platform to share their stories. The documentary, UNTOLD will be screening in London on June 11th.
At my speaking engagements and conferences, I was regularly asked what I would do if I came face-to-face with my rapist. For some time, I openly stated that I would punch him in the face. I was angry. I wasn't just angry at the rape. The trauma turned my entire life upside down and I felt as though no one cared or attempted to understand exactly what that meant for me. There was no visible scar or cast to see, there was no ailment or disease to diagnosis and for those reasons, many people didn't realize how deep it was.
There was drug abuse and self-seclusion causing me to not see or speak to anyone for days at a time. I have lost friends, a job I loved, and struggled with my family relationships. The passion I had for my music career was absent during that time. I had to get help. I went through intensive therapy to deal with all the layers. Creating romantic and physical relationships became nearly impossible. The fear of being mocked for being a male victim was a painful and visceral feeling that never seemed to subside. I was literally surrounded by this trauma, still living in the apartment I was raped in and then packing up the apartment alone amidst the scene of the crime. I was searching for compassion and realizing I would have to fight this battle alone for only I had the power to see all the layers. All of this happened because of my rape and that was why I was so angry.
My GMA interview was nominated for a GLADD Media Award. Leading up to the awards, I was a wreck. I was nervous, I couldn't sleep worrying about how everything had to be right. That night was very special to me, but there was something more to it. I was reliving everything that happened to me, everything that brought me to that night at the GLAAD awards in New York. This was a victory for me and a true tangible point where I knew - I actually survived. Even though I had lost days to the past, I felt lighter knowing that my journey might have helped someone else.
In the moments leading up to my red carpet appearance, I realized something has changed. I was no longer angry. I have found closure. And with this closure, I now can tell other survivors, that you to will find it as well. The road was hard. To the handful of people who have held me up, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
This trauma will remain with me forever. I have forgotten my rapist, and moved on.
I was affected by a horrific event but I survived. This is my life. I love me. I am now ready to fight for others, and help them overcome.
Photographer: Sam McNight, Stylists: Krysti K + D'Shaunte