male rape survivorMale rape happens more than you might think

In recent days, news has come out that Zeke Thomas, son of famous ex-NBA basketball player Isaiah Thomas, was raped by another man.

In an interview with New York Magazine, Thomas goes public with his personal story of being sexually violated by someone he met on a dating app – in his own home.

“No one ever talks about this,” he said. “Especially men — gay men. It’s like, is it real, did it happen, is it believable?” He takes a deep breath.”

In his public disclosure, Zeke shares specifics about the events that unfolded.

“All I remember is … getting in the cab. I know that I got drugged. I knew probably the moment that it happened because something didn’t taste right. But I didn’t think about it. I just didn’t think about it.”

The next morning, he awoke in severe pain.

“I’m bleeding,” Zeke recalls. “And I’m just like — terrified. I can’t move. I didn’t move from my apartment for two days. I didn’t move. I didn’t talk to anybody. I froze.”

When tried to find his attacker on the dating app, but the man could not be found.

“Being gay, being African-American, it’s definitely something that I never imagined would happen to me,” he said about being a male rape victim.

“At first I didn’t realize what had happened, what had transpired. I knew that it was wrong, I knew that I did not want it. I did not seek it out. I hadn’t let my family know until much later that this had happened.”

More: Male sexual assault

Zeke has gone public with his story as an ambassador for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). He hopes to shine a light on an issue that is not often discussed and widely misunderstood: Male rape.

“I want to give the voiceless a voice,” Thomas told Robin Roberts in a GMA interview. “The healing really begins with the voice. The healing begins with, ‘This happened to me. I can get through it.”

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), women experience the highest degree of sexual violence. But 3% of people (1 in 33 according to the website) are men.

There’s some research to suggest that 1 in 6 men have experienced male sexual assault before the age of 18. The current thinking is that number may be low because culturally, men don’t talk about such issues.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Below is a PSA that Zeke put together.

Male Rape Survivors

As a counselor, I’ve worked with many rape survivors (female and male) who have shared in confidence with me the emotional and psychological aftermath of their ordeals.

Often what I hear are extreme feelings of disbelief, coupled with deep worries about how others might respond: “Will I be believed?” one client recently said to me.

Some rape survivors sink into a deep depression. Others experience the difficulties of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

And still others, tragically, contemplate suicide.

In the case of male sexual assault, there is a harmful narrative in our culture, heavily stepped in hyper-masculinity, that “men don’t get raped.”

The reality is, they do – as seen in the case of Zeke Thomas.

And to be clear, male sexual assault occurs, regardless of sexual orientation. It’s an equal opportunity destroyer.

As more and more men go public with their stories, including brutal cases of prison rape, it’s important that we listen to their stories and offer support.

If you are a survivor of sexual assault (regardless of gender) be sure to visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center online at NSVRC.org

Psychcentral also has a resources page for survivors of abuse and trauma.

Zeke Thomas should be commended for his courage in stepping forward with his story, as should all who experience sexual violence.