This article by Dave G is from FS Magazine, a publication of the UK’s GMFA, here.
For this issue of FS we asked 1,200 gay men about their drinking habits. One reader got in touch and asked if he could share his story about drinking his way into becoming HIV-positive after he was raped by his boyfriend. This is Dave’s story...
I was diagnosed HIV-positive on 29 July 2015. I admitted I was an alcoholic on 30 July 2015. Both are interlinked.
It all started when I was 18-years-old. I was raped by my much older boyfriend. I wasn’t out and had nobody to talk to. We had been secretly seeing each other for about six months when the relationship started to change. He was 15 years older than me and a lot more sexually advanced. I had never really been with a guy and my only experiences with sex involved going into toilet cubicles and having a fumble under the stalls (I grew up in the middle of nowhere – not everywhere has a gay bar).
One of these fumbles turned into a conversation with a polite, very good looking man who charmed me into meeting him for a drink. I plucked up the courage and met him in a small, quiet bar. He invited me back to his house and we spent the night together. He was so much more sexually aware than I was. I fell for him over the coming weeks and would do what he said. He used his age and wisdom against me and had me wrapped around his finger.
A couple of months into our relationship he asked me to do anal. We had never done it before and I was a bottom virgin.
Of course I said we could try. It didn’t work out. I found it too painful and he was not being gentle. We talked about doing it again but it never happened.
One night, after we were out for a few drinks, we got back to his flat and he said he was horny. I told him I was too drunk to do anything and began to take my clothes off. I got into the bed beside him and he made an advance on me. I was passing out and thought he would stop. He then moved his hand down to my arse and inserted his finger.
This was really painful and woke me up. I told him to stop, and this was painful. He got angry with me and started to get a bit forceful. His exact words were: “I’m going to fuck you, let me fuck you. I will fuck you really good.” I told him no. At this point he grabbed my hands and tied me down. After a struggle he turned me around and raped me. I was screaming for him to stop and he wouldn’t. He kept on telling me it was OK and to relax.
It lasted for about five minutes. After he was done I just lay there beside him. He rolled over and fell asleep. The next morning he got up and acted like nothing had happened.
I got changed and left. His last words to me were: “See you later, yeah?” That was the last time I saw him.
When I got home I jumped in the shower and sat on the floor for hours. I felt so dirty, ashamed and didn’t know what to do.
I pretty much spent the next several days in bed. He was texting me, calling me but I ignored everything.
At this stage I was drinking heavily every night. I was drinking to forget the pain, forget him and I just wanted to escape. I hit the bottle hard and just didn’t stop.
"I was drinking and fucking my pain away. I didn’t care. I was doing one nighters, threesomes, sex parties, saunas, darkrooms, some with condoms, some without."
Over the next few months I decided I needed to get away from our small town and needed a new start. I moved to Manchester and got a nice little job but it didn’t help.
Not dealing with my feelings just made me a complete mess. I was drinking five-to-six times a week, waking up with a massive hangover and then doing it all again. While this was going on I was also having lots of random hook ups. Being new to Manchester it was like being a kid in a candy store. I was drinking and fucking my pain away. I didn’t care. I was doing one nighters, threesomes, sex parties, saunas, darkrooms, some with condoms, some without.
After about a year of living in Manchester my boss took me into the office. She was a really nice woman. She told me that she was concerned for me. That a few of the people I worked with complained about the smell of drink from me. That’s when I told her that I thought I had a problem with alcohol. I didn’t tell her the reason why but she said they had a support network I could use. I told her I will think about it.
Leaving that meeting I felt it was time to get my life together. That bastard had taken enough from me and I was letting him win. I decided to join a gym and cut back on my drinking.
I booked an appointment with the GUM clinic. I didn’t have any symptoms or anything, but I thought I should get checked out.
On the 29 July 2015 I was diagnosed with HIV and chlamydia. Now, not expecting anything you’d think being diagnosed would have crushed me. But it didn’t. I nodded my head and said: “That sounds about right.” I was entered into a support system and booked for a counseling session the next day.
At that session I met with a counselor. I broke down in tears. The shock of everything finally caught up with me. I told him everything that happened to me. It was at that point I admitted I was an alcoholic and had a problem with drinking.
Through lots of counseling, support and a solid network of friends I have got my life back. It’s been eight months since my last drink. I’m on medication and am HIV-undetectable. I feel like I’m becoming me again.
I wanted to share my story for one simple reason. To help others like me. I’m sure I’m not the first or last person who will be raped by their partner. If I had sought support rather than abusing alcohol maybe my path would have been different. However, my pain has brought me happiness. I turned a negative into a positive. I’m a happy recovering alcoholic who is HIV-undetectable. If you can relate to my story please don’t let what has happened to you destroy you. Move forward, deal with it and your life will get better. I promise.