I was sexually assaulted by my best friend
Adam (not his real name) was someone I looked up to – confident, outgoing and always in my corner.
That’s what I thought when I confided in him as I came out as bisexual in my Fresher’s Week at university in September 2016.
A year and a half of friendship later, he sexually assaulted me in a club.
He lived on the same floor as me in my halls. He was one of the first out and proud gay men I had met and we became best chums in no time at all.
After my current boyfriend and a friend from home, Adam became one of the first people I trusted to come out to. At the time he was so supportive and became a huge figure in my life.
For two years, we did all the things that best friends do at 18 years old. We drank far too much, went out clubbing and to concerts, eventually moving in together with five other friends for my second year.
On 2 April 2018, we decided to go on an impromptu night out with some of Adam’s friends. All started normally with the group meeting up for a few drinks, before hopping in a taxi to go clubbing.
At this club, party-goers clamber onto tables and swing steins to cheesy classics and this night was no exception.
But at one moment in the evening, Adam started trying to unbutton my shirt whilst dancing on the tables. I tried to laugh it off because it struck me as strange but not something to fight over – though I told him to stop.
Five minutes later he tried the move again. At that point I firmly told him to quit it. Five more minutes went by and when my back was turned he forced his hand down my trousers.
I left the club immediately feeling nothing more than pissed off. I texted my boyfriend about what had happened. This was at around 3am and he rushed out of bed, got dressed and ran into the centre of town to meet me.
It was only when I saw how concerned he was that I realised this was sexual assault. I broke down in the middle of the city, suddenly feeling violated and he walked me home.
Human Rights Campaign recently found that 47% of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence
At this point, I was still living with Adam. I knew that if you are assaulted, you should tell the police, but how could I do that to someone who had been such a good friend? I felt trapped and couldn’t face the guilt that reporting him would entail.
Instead, I messaged Adam the morning after explaining what had happened. He claimed no recollection but apologised profusely. The following days he made himself scarce in the house, scattering if I came into the room so I could ‘have the appropriate space I deserve’.
It created such an uncomfortable environment. I was living with my aggressor and every time I entered a room, I worried he would be standing there. What’s more, we had a huge group of mutual friends and we’d be expected to attend upcoming summer university events together.
I had two choices. I wanted to write him off as a friend completely, but he would still attend events alongside our friends and I’d either have to justify why I wouldn’t talk to him or look rude for no obvious reason. The second option, and the route I went down, was to pretend to his face that I’d simply moved on and we were friends again.
He leapt at this and seemingly forgot all about what he had done. At an event we went to, he even picked up an award and told the crowd it wouldn’t have been possible without a friend like me. All it did was make me feel sick.
Three months later, I moved out and was able to write him out of my life by blocking him on all social media – I presume he put two and two together as to why. We’ve never spoken since.
Dealing with what happened is an ongoing journey. Whilst the mutual friends I have told have always been supportive of me – most refused to look at him any differently, excusing his action as a misunderstanding.
It was so disheartening and I wanted to give up on the friends who did this – but why should I lose people I cared about for what he did?
I’ve spent a long time thinking about why some of my friends are still able to maintain a relationship with my aggressor but have never come to a sure conclusion. I can’t help but think it’s due to the lack of awareness of male sexual assault.
I’m far from the only one who has a story like this. Human Rights Campaign recently found that 47% of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence – that’s nearly a mind-boggling one in two.
Thinking of what I’d tell myself if I could go back in time is tough. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do anything differently. I was impossibly cornered and am proud of the strength I found to get through those months of having to live with him.
I suppose I’d simply tell any male victims of sexual assault that you aren’t alone.
Going forwards, it would be great to see more awareness campaigns, especially in LGBTQ+ venues where the rates are so high for men.
Reporting assault also needs to be normalised. Whether it’s a best friend or a stranger, it’s a heinous crime and that is that.
It’s so underreported, you’d be forgiven for thinking it never happens. But it does.
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