Columbus, Ohio is like most college towns in that there is a high population density near the campus area.
Lots of rental property, and lots of businesses to cater to the students. Restaurants, bars, clothing stores, video game and music stores. Things like that. Everything is jammed together so closely that it is possible to walk everywhere you need to be.
Dan worked as a waiter in on of those restaurants. After the eatery closed its doors, he liked to stop in for a few hours at a bar along the way home. He made good tips, but spent whatever was in his pocket every night.
One evening he downed a few too many. Four guys offered to walk him home in order to make sure he “… got there safe.” He thought nothing of it because he had been drinking with the same fellows off and on for the past few weeks, and he knew all of their first names if not their last. The erosion of sound judgement that comes from too much strong drink was on full display.
When the group arrived at Dan’s rented duplex, the four almost-strangers forced him inside and beat him up enough to ensure passivity. They ransacked the place, but became enraged when they found that there weren’t piles of cash lying about for them to steal. Burglary and simple assault turned into rape.
Yes, men do get raped. My experiences have convinced me that it is a far more common crime than anyone realizes, just as I am convinced that it is extremely difficult for male victims of the crime to report their experience to the police. All of the support for rape victims, either cultural of institutional, is designed to help female victims. Males often feel stigmatized and alone.
To his great good credit, Dan went to the police. All of his attackers were arrested, and they were sentenced to lengthy jail terms.
A happy ending? Well, not exactly.
Most of my students are only interested in basic training with a handgun, but Dan said he wanted to learn how to use a shotgun as well.
I measured out the inside of his house, and took him to a place I know in the woods. I strung tape to mimic the dimensions of his home, and placed targets at various points inside the “rooms”. By alternating between a handgun and shotgun, the student gains a very real appreciation of how the shotgun is vastly more effective than a handgun.
While I was setting up, my student wanted to share another sad story.
His mother had passed some years before, and he had grown close to his father. After the assault, Dan went to his only remaining parent for comfort and emotional support. Unfortunately, the old man had a completely inappropriate reaction to the news. He couldn’t come to terms with his son being raped, and somehow blamed Dan for the attack. It got so bad that he would get drunk at family get-togethers, and loudly proclaim “Here comes my son, the faggot!”
After awhile, Dan just stopped showing up.
I felt bad for him, but I am not a therapist of any description. My role is to help the victim prepare to deal with another violent criminal attack in the future, not to help them deal with those that occurred in the past. I put Dan through the course, signed off on his paperwork when he was ready, and turned my attention to the next person who needed my help.
Five years passed.
I received a phone call from Dan, but it was difficult to understand why he had contacted me because he was sobbing uncontrollably. Eventually he managed to make some sense.
Half a decade after his life-changing experience, and his life had not changed a whole lot. He was still working at the same restaurant, still living in the same rented house where the violence had occurred, and he was still frequenting the same tavern where he had first met the criminals. What upset him so was that he had stopped at the bar for a few drinks, as was his habit, when he spotted one of his attackers in the crowd.
He had avoided any contact with the man, which was good, and scurried on out of there, which was even better. He had hurried home, where he had thought to call me. Unfortunately for his peace of mind, I gave him a piece of mine.
“You are still living in the same house? You are still going to the same bar? Are you crazy???”
Dan had the impression that the criminals would be put away forever, never to see the light of day for the rest of their days, but people do get out of jail eventually for the vast majority of offenses. This link leads to the Bureau of Justice Statistics page where the data concerning time served can be found. It seems that the median prison stay for rape is 75 months, while the time behind bars for sexual assault is 38 months. Five years was a bit soon for one of his attackers to be walking around, and he was almost certainly on parole. But it was hardly unheard of for someone convicted of the crime of rape to get out into the world after such a short period of time, and the rest of the gang would soon follow.
So why did Dan stick his head in the sand, and refuse to change his habits?
He gave me some song-and-dance about how he didn’t want to give his attackers the victory of upending his life. He made it out to seem as if he was doing something noble, becoming a white knight by standing up to sinister forces by refusing to find another place to live or choose a different bar to frequent.
I’m not sure what was going on in his head, but it doesn’t seem to me to be anything based on nobility or strength.
I told Dan that the other three guys would be out and about, if not now then in a few years at most. We both agreed that the best thing for him to do was to seek out a change in scene. Why not move to another city? People eat in restaurants in places other than Columbus, and those restaurants need wait staff. Might as well try and put this whole thing behind him.
So how did it all turn out? Have no idea. The only thing I can say for certain is that Dan never called me back.