No Means No

by Anonymous

about the author:

The following is from an interview with an adult with Duchenne who has experienced sexual abuse at the hands of two different caregivers.

I am an adult with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. I have been sexually abused by not one, but two different caregivers on two different occasions.

It’s hard to talk about since it’s such a private issue, and lots of people scoff at the idea of a man being sexually abused. But it happened to me, and it happens more in our disabled community than we want to talk about.

I don’t know whether to share all the details, or just the fallouts. Maybe a little bit of both are important.

No Means No

For those of you who don’t know, there are times when the male anatomy does its own thing without any regard for who is around. Mornings, a certain song, a smell, even a platonic touch from someone you are not even remotely romantically in can all prompt surprise reactions.

So let me be absolutely clear here: an erection does not automatically mean that a man wants to have an sexual encounter with you. Whoever you are. Period.

Unfortunately, two of my caregivers did not get this memo.

I think you’re getting the picture here and I don’t need to cover too many more details. I do want to add one very important part, however.

You know how they talk about consent and “no mean no” when a woman says it? Well, that applies to guys, too.

I clearly and definitively told these two different caregivers that I didn’t want them to do what they were doing. Yes, my body was physically responding, but it wasn’t something that I personally wanted. I guess that can be confusing to some people, but it’s just like a man assuming a woman is sexually interested by her body language and her voicing the opposite.

No means no. For any gender. For any age. For any race. Whether you’re disabled or not. Period.

Confusion, Fear, Anxiety, Blackmail

From psychological harm, to concerns for physical safety, the fallouts are many, and varied.

First there’s the confusion in the moment itself.  Yes, there was physical pleasure for me, but it wasn’t welcomed pleasure. Men aren’t total slaves to their physical urges, and being an adult with Duchenne, there wasn’t much I could do to stop it. All I had were my words and those were blatantly ignored.

Next, came the fear and anxiety about my physical safety. Again, I am an adult with Duchenne. I cannot move myself or protect myself. If these caregivers crossed lines of sexual conduct, what else could they be capable of?

Turns out…blackmail. 

Shame, Trust, Safety

Once I ensured my physical safety, I faced multiple roadblocks to getting psychological help.

As with many things related to sexual activities, I felt a lot of shame, even though I wasn’t at fault. And it’s really hard to be a male in this situation. It seems like I was rarely believed, that it was my burden to prove that it wasn’t consensual, and that it wasn’t “all that bad” since some physical pleasure was involved.

There’s the broken trust that persists to other relationships, the second guessing, the constant questions.

Even if it doesn’t bleed over to personal relationships, the need for trust with your caregivers – when you depend on them for absolutely everything – is mandatory… and there just aren’t a lot of caregivers available.

Sexual Self-determination

I’m a bit old fashioned. I want to get married. I want to have kids. And personally, for me, I want to save intimate connections and moments for when I am one day married.

Yeah, this act of abuse didn’t affect just me. It will also affect my future partner.  Which, honestly, I feel pretty angry about.

A Voice

Not quite sure what else to say. Just wanted to give a voice for others with Duchenne who have endured sexual abuse.

I didn’t want it, I said no, and I wasn’t listened to. Powerless with Duchenne, there was nothing I could do but endure it and the fallouts.

I wish sexual abuse upon no one.