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A powerful performance explores why men don't come forward after they've been raped.

Talking about being a rape survivor can be rough. Being a guy has a different set of challenges.

Kevin Kantor was 20 years old when he was raped by an acquaintance. He was 22 when he saw the guy again, who was recommended as "people you may know" by the Facebook algorithm. He saw that three friends were friends with the guy too. He saw the normal life things his rapist was doing.

He decided to share his story so more men can come out and not be ashamed of surviving, in a poem called "People You May Know."


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I spoke with Kevin over chat about why he wrote this piece. He wanted to get some more nuanced things off his chest about the culture we currently live in.

Adam: What were you trying to say with this poem?

Kevin: It may not be explicitly apparent in the poem: The dominant culture that works to shame and silence male victims of sexual violence is the same pervasive rape culture that invalidates all survivors.

"The dominant culture that works to shame and silence male victims of sexual violence is the same pervasive rape culture that invalidates all survivors."

Adam: Did you ever attempt to get justice?

Kevin: I didn't. I never even planned to the hospital, but I called a friend, and he drove me there despite my not wanting to. Which I'm now truly thankful for. They did an exam — I can't remember if they were really testing for anything — I never heard anything back about it.

Adam: You never heard back? Did they offer any counseling or trauma support?

Kevin: A lot of pamphlets.

Adam: Was any of it geared toward guys?

Kevin: I'd say half counseling stuff and half "if you catch something/get pregnant."

Adam: What were the major factors that made you choose not to report it?

Kevin: The real thing that deterred me from reporting was my interaction with the police.

Adam: What happened with the police?

Kevin: It's 3 a.m.-4 a.m.Two male officers — in the room with me in just my hospital gown alone — was how it started. I remember being asked if I was attacked, assaulted, or raped. And I had no idea how to answer that. When I said I didn't know, I very distinctly remember being said to, "If you don't help us we can't help you."

And I don't think I ever spoke again, or if I did, it was saying, "I don't know" or "please leave."

Adam: Had you had any training about rape counseling or prevention at that point in your life?

Kevin: When I was 19, I had undergone crisis training — I worked as a diversity mentor for my college's residence hall. That October, I had emceed our school's Take Back the Night event. It made it all the more surreal.

Adam: I presume most of those campaigns don't have a lot of support material for guys?

Kevin: No. I was scared to say the word rape. I felt like it didn't belong to me. And the part of me that has been trained in social justice knew how ridiculous that was — but I still couldn't cope with it.

Adam: And now?

Kevin: Now I know it's real for me and too many other people to not take ownership of it. Not of victimhood, but survivorship.

Adam: What's the best advice you have for people who are confronted by others who say men can't be raped or don't think it's as serious as it is?

Kevin: Part of me, perhaps a selfish part, wants people to know that my brother, Adam, is probably the biggest inspiration in my life. He has absolutely always been there when I needed him. He raised me.

When he asked me why I didn't fight back, he had no idea what saying that meant. That man loves me beyond measure. I had to realize that sometimes even the people that love you most don't know how to protect you from or deal with the aftermath of trauma, but it doesn't mean they don't love you.

Don't let other people deny the reality of your experiences and the strength you have for surviving them. And it hearkens back to my previous thought: The culture that says men can't be raped is the same one saying other survivors were asking for it.

If you or a loved one have survived a sexual assault, you can learn the facts and get support at RAINN.

If you'd like to see more of Kevin's work, you can Like him on Facebook.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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