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"Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, with cannot practice any other virtue consistently"

- Maya Angelou

Fitness Guide


There’s no better time to further address the taboo conversation surrounding sexual assault survivors of all backgrounds and identities. Reclaiming your well being and overall soundness of the world is up to you. We are all able to Talk, Heal, Thrive, and Survive. 

Compartmentalizing healing and regrouping purpose on this Earth can be tough. From mental and sexual health to educating yourself as well as others, you are already equipped with every tool to come out of this stronger than ever before. THTS is here as a platform to assist, share, build community, and guide you to prevail.

Contrary to popular belief, survivors of sexual assault are not limited to cisgender women. Survivors can look like everyone. 

You Are Not Alone.

Victory is already yours.

High Five after Workout


Both mental and physical health are massive components to consider after experiencing sexual assault.

One of the best things I have done for myself was acknowledge that I was not ok. To this day, I still have moments where I feel myself slipping and I take a mental health day to relax and rejuvenate my mind. Mental health should be treated just as physical health. I’ve also picked up meditating on top of my transparent conversations with God.

It took months for me to actually verbalize that I was raped, and from there I sought professional help in therapy. Although my therapist and I were not a match, simply taking active steps to better myself made a world of difference. I’m still looking for the right therapist today.

Because of my fragile mind, fear of society’s judgment, and a tight grasp on to my manhood, I did not see a medical doctor immediately after my attack. I should have. Even with my vast knowledge surrounding sexual health, stigma and denial of what happened to me stopped me from making a completely rational decision.  PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) should have been an instant go-to since I was potentially exposed to HIV. PEP is taking antiretroviral medicine (ART) after being potentially exposed to HIV to prevent contracting the virus. PEP must be started within 72 hours after a recent possible exposure to HIV. Every hour counts. This may be politically incorrect but think of PEP as the “Plan B Pill for HIV”.

Today, I’m on PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis), a daily pill I take as a preventative that substantially lowers my risk of contracting HIV. While on PrEP it is mandatory to see my doctor every three months for a full HIV STD/ STI screening. Whether on PrEP or not, getting a physical and full screening is imperative. It’s recommended to go regularly twice a year.

Being sexually assaulted was a huge turning point in my life. I realized I really need to exercise both physical and mental self-care. As I continue to go through this journey, I’m no longer afraid to find the answers, do the research, and ask the uncomfortable questions.

Here are a few questions I got some great answers to…

As someone who works in the medical field, you’ve seen different cases of people who come in from experiencing sexual assault trauma. How important is it to see a doctor post-rape? Why?

HL: The most important reason to see a Doctor post-rape is safety. I’ve seen cases where the person who was raped also contracted an STD that had been untreated for a substantial amount of time. Going to the Doctor as soon as it happens and then coming back for check-ups to confirm your status will only help with the healing process. The follow up to that is so you have physical evidence of the rape that occurred so that it could be used to help press charges against the rapist.

What are some of the laws in the medical field that protect rape victims? Compliance? Reporting? Confidentiality?

HL: I was a Charge Nurse in both Adult and Child Psych Clinic and one thing we would do is have very small tear off’s with rape hotline and abuse hotline numbers in the bathroom. That way a person needing help could discreetly take one (Since sometimes the victim’s rapist was maybe a family member that was accompanying them) and make a call. It was also mandatory to report rape if the patient told us about it and was a minor. We would do this anonymously and chart what was said and forward it to the patient’s Physician. We would strongly encourage an adult victim to report the rape, but because HIPAA we can’t report it ourselves. The particular place where I worked, this was put into a “sensitive charting” area in the Electronic Medical Record and unless you were authorized personnel would be able to view that specific chart. Anyone looking into it will be terminated.

Have you ever had to treat a man who identified as straight who verbally said he was raped (by man or woman)? How did that make you feel? As a professional what was said to comfort him? 

DM: Yes, -as a friend- I have sat and spoken with heterosexual men who are victims of sexual assault (rape) where the culprit was male. In those conversations one thing was recurrent. The man felt the need to continually say he was not gay. The possibility of being viewed as gay seemed to be more of an issue than the actual assault. To me, it spoke volumes and shed light on the power of homophobia. Society has placed such a negative stigma on being gay (especially within the Black community) that the men would rather deal with the trauma via their own efforts than risk potential exposure and ridicule by seeking professional help. I have noticed that heterosexual men were more unwilling to share/report their experience than their homosexual counterparts; which is quite damaging. The unresolved trauma plays a role in how these men navigate through relationships and some even become more promiscuous with women to prove their masculinity.

As an openly gay Black man hearing the reason why they would not report the incident made me question how they viewed me as a friend. Was I the ‘token gay’ that they felt comfortable around; yet, ensuring to distance themselves from others in the LGBT community? I heard their story, understood their dilemma, yet grew frustrated with the reason for not doing their part to get the culprit off the streets and behind bars. I honestly resolved within myself that one of the reasons that male-on-male sexual assault continues is because most male culprits act with the understanding that their violation will never be reported due to the stigmas surrounding the crime. For all intents and purposes, it is safe to say that the perpetrators of these acts are able to continue because society has not made it safe for the victims to report without their sexuality being speculated.

HL: Yes, I’ve spoken to a few straight men who were raped. I’ve also talked to gay men who were raped. In my experience, I’ve talked to more men raped by other men than men raped by women.

It makes me feel helpless. Personally, I’ve never been sexually assaulted so I can’t say I know how a person feels. By just speaking with them I find that the victim’s emotions and thoughts about what happened to them vary.  Some straight men have more of an issue being secure in their sexual orientation, meaning some want to prove to everyone they are straight because of the rape. I’ve spoken to gay men that felt they may have been straight had they not been sexually assaulted. I’ve seen men also who weren’t interested in sex at all whether it was with a man or woman because the experience was so traumatic.

To comfort them, I try to be honest. No, I can’t say I know how you feel, but know that this was not your fault in any way. No matter what the situation was, don’t go to a place where you are accepting any of the blame. The person who raped you was greedy, selfish, and evil. That is not at all a reflection you and this doesn’t at all define you as a person.

As a Black people, we both understand Black family respectability. How do we fix that narrative for the sake of ourselves, mental health, and our children?

DM: The Black man is in peril. There are so many factors at play that hinder our individual growth and until we find a healthy way to create community and navigate around those barriers we will remain on the ever-rotating hamster wheel. I believe that change is in the dialogues we have yet to have as a village. Each generation had their set of challenges, unfortunately, it oftentimes feels as though many of them were left unresolved and passed down. It is time to collect ourselves and strategically sort through what was left to finish and begin the work of completion. Our bags are filled to the brim with ‘stuff’ and, as a result, our mental, physical and emotional health is suffering. This suffering plays a huge part in how we interact with our families. Leading from a broken place is a disservice to those trusting us to pave a way out.

I believe that Black men need to come to the table and iron through our differences. Regardless of age, sexual orientation, financial status, or education level, we should all be allowed to contribute to the change. We each have different influences and because of this, we are able to empower every facet of the Black community. Working together instead of against is the only way we will see a change erupt. If we do not finish the work from the past and give new directives for the future the only thing that will change are the faces of those on the losing end. Our children deserve a fresh start and it begins with us.

HL: I feel this has to be said… STOP PROTECTING SEXUAL PREDATORS!

I’ve seen where there is a family member who is known for sexually assaulting another family member and they are still able to be among the family and interact with family and everything is swept under the rug. “What happens in this house, stays in this house.” As a black woman, I’ve noticed that it’s the black women protecting the damn predator! It’s sickening! Not to mention how traumatic it is for the victim to know that they are not protected or valued because of the lack of protection and support in the matter. You can’t say you love me but when I tell you that an aunt/uncle/close family friend, etc raped/sexually assaulted me you keep that person around. Or better yet, accuse me of lying. It starts with adults being damn adults and not being so selfish because of the “shame” of having your child or relative being the predator. Encourage the victim to report them and get him/her the needed help so that they can begin to heal.

We have to be better about protecting our own and there is strength in numbers. No one who has gone through something as traumatic as rape/sexual assault should feel like they are all along in dealing with that. Be an advocate and show that person that there are still good people in the world.

*Thank you Donta Morrison and Hershe Lewis for your amazing insight!

Motivational Lecture


My sex life has definitely changed since I was assaulted. Surprisingly, the majority of the tension has come from my sexual partners knowing that I am a survivor. I knew being so public with my story had the potential to take the Va Va Voom out of an intimate situation. I’m extremely open to having a conversation and answer any questions. Today, I'm in a happy and healthy monogamous relationship and still feel it's best to be open and honest.

Not everyone is in the same boat as me. Some people have particular triggers when it comes to certain actions in the bedroom. Some people have a more difficult time than others when it comes to getting back into the swing of things.

I wanted some professional advice about some specific questions, so I asked. Here is what I got.

When reality hit me that I had been raped, all of a sudden I didn’t want to be touched. It freaked me out for a solid hour. Can you tell me from a professional standpoint what was going on in my mind?

JE: Sounds like you were in a state of survival. Trauma is and can be extremely intense and everyone responds to it differently. Often, people assume that you are instantly broken and a pile of a lost soul in a corner. Sometimes, of course, people are. And other times you continue pushing on continuing as nothing has happened. It’s almost as if your life has been given a giant adrenaline shot. As humans, there are things we suppress, and sometimes they eventually reappear. There is no specific time frame and how it will appear within a survivor. You were just going through your own healing and process.

Are there any specific exercises for people who have dealt with sexual assault to get their mojo back?

AL: Therapy is highly advised for those who have dealt with sexual assault. The work I do with survivors serves to re-harmonize parts of the self that have been fragmented by trauma. People who pride themselves on being confident and perhaps someone you don’t mess with, are often struck with confusion, disoriented by the realization of being a victim. I encourage my clients to connect with their bodies physically, so as to avoid drifting in an unsafe headspace. Mindfulness, meditation, and exercises that utilize sensate focus can help with emotion regulation, and body awareness. Meaningless sex, I caution, can sometimes serve to further dissociate from the need to connect with others and one’s body. Familiar, safe casual sex with sexually satisfying partners might help; I do not encourage people whose sexual and erotic identity is important, to cease to be (a slightly more careful version of) themselves. Focusing on doing things you enjoy, eating food you like, and maybe masturbating to what turns you on when ready, is important.

I’ve dealt with partners after the world finding out I was raped who expressed to be they’re shyer in the bed because they don’t want to trigger me. On the other hand, I’m fine! How do I have that conversation and how to I reaffirm they can truly be themselves?

AL: Survivors of sexual assault often deal with being treated as though they are fragile because someone hurt them. Yet, these folks are often amongst the most resilient people out there. When faced with a partner not wanting to hurt you, remember that this is about their fear of hurting you and not about you being fragile. Remind them to check in with you during sexual play, as any good lover would. It’s best to validate and empathize with them feeling shy and aware of not wanting to trigger you, and let them know it is likely you’ll become more comfortable together, as all sexual partners do. Should you choose to disclose any past trauma to a partner, I do suggest stating your need for them to hold space for the content and feelings in your story, and to thank you for giving them the privilege of your disclosure. From there, you each need only be your fabulous, mindfully-attuned sexy selves.

I once slept with a partner who I knew had been sexually assaulted. They wanted me to recreate the experience of their rape for them. Personally, I can separate role-play from what is actually happening. I understand consent and have that talk prior.

What is there to say about people who want to relive their trauma?

AL: It is not uncommon for survivors of sexual assault to empower themselves by reclaiming ownership of their sexuality on their own anticipated, controlled terms. One of my clients, having survived a horrifying stranger rape, went as far as to have sex with their partner at the location of the assault. The contrast of power between the two events was emotional and interestingly characterized by unexpected arousal. Also, anger and mindful intentionality have a way of doing good things for sexual desire. For some, not all, using trauma in consensual, well-orchestrated kink, is like the make-up sex you have with yourself. It’s like saying, “I’ve got you [self]”, and “This is for me now”. The variables of the could-be stressful situation are controlled, contained, and stoppable at any time.

Remember though that sexuality that is inspired by even the most gruesome of events, is at its core fantastic fiction because the one thing that separates harm from pleasure is consent. Even pain, humiliation, degradation, and the like are profoundly pleasurable and important amongst carefully consenting adults. I would remind anyone engaging in kink, that once the terms of a scene have been agreed upon, and once the scene has begun, no additions or changes, regardless of arousal, are permitted. Retraumatization and consent violations can occur when boundaries are negotiated once arousal has set in.

And I can’t emphasize enough the need for prioritized aftercare.

*Thank you Jimanekia Eborn and Amanda Luterman for your amazing insight!

Resources: Resources
Motivational Lecture


Was I Raped?

rape – (noun) – unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim. 

consent – (verb/ noun) – to permit, approve, or agree; comply or yield.

Personally, I add a penis to the definition of rape because it is not only subject to an orifice.  Any unwanted sexual contact is assault. If you did not give consent to a sexual encounter, you were raped.

Can a male be raped?

Yes. Rape is a horrible act that is not subject to only cisgender women. Because we’ve been socialized, accompanied by the compromise with one’s “masculinity”, males being raped is rarely talked about nor disclosed.

In 2012, the FBI legally changed the definition of rape to be gender-neutral.

Can a woman rape a man?

Yes. Just as rape survivors are able to be men, women or gender non-conforming and their attackers are able to be men, women, or non-conforming as well.

Many times men question the possibility of rape because of physical arousal (erection, boner, hard-on, woody, etc), but if you do not consent to a sexual encounter and/or held against your will, it is quite possible you were raped. Do not confuse a man’s natural physical reaction to sight and touch with a consensual sexual encounter.

Is there a difference between molestation and rape?

Scholastically, sexual abuse has several different layers and subcategories. The term molestation is typically used to define sexual advances to a minor or a child by an adult.

Personally, I believe sexual assault is sexual assault.

They told me they used a condom, and they lied and did not. Was I raped?

This act has recently been given the term stealthing. Stealthing opens the door to unwanted STI/STDs and/or pregnancy.

Again, we come down to consent. If you do not consent to have unprotected sex, it is quite possible you were raped.

Does being raped by someone of the same gender make me gay?

Absolutely not! The conversation surrounding understanding sexuality has become more and more fluent over the last couple of years. Whether you believe sexuality is a spectrum or black and white, and unwanted sexual experience does not determine your sexuality. Many have associated child molestation to the reason someone is gay or bi as an adult. Not true. Our experiences mold the way we navigate through life, but there is no correlation between rape and sexuality.

Do I need to report my rape to the police?

That is entirely up to you. Reporting and coming forward with such a traumatic assault is an extremely valiant act. There are many elements to consider. Reliving trauma, how your life will be affected by disclosing your attack, triggers, and mental health.

As a sexual assault survivor, I have not reported my attack for several reasons.

One, I’m a Black man and the judicial system has systematically been proven to not my on my side. I also identify as a queer man and have personally dealt with male police officers who brush off what I have to report because of toxic masculinity.

There are different laws in different states when it comes to the ability to press charges. Governor Jerry Brown signed SB813 in 2016 removing the statute of limitations on rape in the state of California. If I do decide to report, legally I am able to take action.

I want to note that if you make the decision not to report, it is not your responsibility nor fault for what your attacker does moving forward. Many times people who are not in the situation put pressure on survivors to come forward and help others when someones a survivor needs to focus on helping themselves first.

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It is a personal decision.

Written By: Jayce Baron

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