By age 11, novelist Junot Diaz was struggling with depression and uncontrollable rage. At 14, he put a gun to his head.
The nights were the worst. He dreamed of horrific rapes: attacks by his siblings, his father, his teachers, his peers, complete strangers. Often, he’d wake up with blood in his mouth; he’d bitten down hard on his tongue while he slept.
In a widely shared essay published in The New Yorker on Monday, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author went public for the first time with his rape at age 8 by a trusted adult and the consequences that dogged him for decades. His account of his assault and its aftermath, including trouble with intimacy, intrusive memories and depression, echoes the stories shared in the largely female #MeToo movement, in which women have spoken openly about their pain and healing after sexual assault.
But Diaz’s account also sheds light on the particular challenges facing male sexual-assault victims, according to Meredith Alling, communications director for 1in6, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that provides services for sexually abused men.