VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: DJ Zeke Thomas Discusses Sexual Assault Against Men, Need For Victims To Come Forward
DJ Zeke Thomas sat down with uInterview exclusively to discuss his decision to go public with his story of sexual assault back in 2017. The 29-year-old DJ, who is the son of NBA legend Isiah Thomas, revealed he had been drugged and raped after a second date in an essay in website The Cut, and has since become a public advocate for survivors of sexual assault.
Thomas was sexually assaulted twice in his life, the first time at only 12 years old by a number of teammates on his basketball team, and the second when he was 27 by a man he met on a dating app. As a gay black man, Thomas has spoken out about feeling discounted and unheard, and has openly encouraged men to be more open about their experiences with sexual assault.
When he sat down with uInterview, Thomas discussed the reasons he chose to go public with his story, and how the media attention has affected him and his family. “The reason I decided to come forward was more really about me telling my truth,” he said. “But I’ve definitely stepped into this advocacy role.” As for how he and his family is dealing with everything, he admits that having to “re-live my rape every day” has been difficult, but thanks his parents for their “immediate” and “lasting support” throughout his healing process.
See the full transcript of the interview below:
Q: Why did you go public with your sexual assault story?
A: I have been talking about sexual assault and trying to bring awareness to the problem that we’ve been facing really as a world. And the reason I decided to come forward was more really about me telling my truth, but I’ve definitely stepped into this advocacy role, more so just because of the response that I’ve gotten from so many people around the world and in different walks of life, sharing their stories with me, and me sharing my story with them. It’s kind of been co-healing, and I think that we can all do that. As human beings, we all experience similar things in our lives – different, but similar – and trauma is definitely one thing that is consistent with every human, whether it’s the loss of a loved one or in my case, sexual assault.
Q: What happened to you?
A: So when I was 12 years old, unfortunately I was sexually assaulted by members of my basketball team. And then when I was 27 years old, I was unfortunately raped after a second date with a guy in Chicago. My reaction to both of those experiences is first when I was 12, I didn’t really process fully what had happened to me, versus when I was 27 I fully knew what had happened to me, and there was a lot of anger and a lot of shame and a lot of also ‘I don’t understand why this happened to me.’ And processing those emotions along with other emotions, it was more so me having to realize ‘okay, these things happened, and a lot of other things have happened, but we still have so much more in a life that I have to live.’ It’s a phrase that I’ve been saying a lot recently and kind of is now holding so true. The popular phrase is YOLO, you only live once, but that’s really wrong because you really only die once, you get to live every single day. And whether that’s a good day or a shit day, you’re still alive.
The incident that happened more recently unfortunately, I was not able to find my rapist. He pretty much vanished. Unfortunately, criminals are very smart, and people who rape generally do rape again. Hopefully he was caught eventually.
Q: What’s your advice to other victims?
A: My advice to other abuse sufferers is that you really have to do your best every single day to know that you are strong enough to get through this. It’s hard, it’s very hard work, therapy, it’s very hard work to heal. But it will generally make you better. There’s no reason why your life can’t improve.
Q: What was it like to tell your family?
A: Telling my family was definitely quite difficult, and I am sure it was difficult for them to hear. And even me now going public and speaking about this all the time, it seems that that’s also hard, because they now have to re-live my rape every day, whether that’s by the media or just by me telling them ‘hey, I spoke to uInterview today and this is what happened.’ That I think is the hardest thing I didn’t realize coming forward would do, but telling them initially, their support was there, it was immediate, it was ‘okay, let’s figure out what we can do, get you in therapy.’ But it was more so I had to do the work. It really is at the end of the day you can’t have somebody hold your hand. And if you’re depending on somebody to hold your hand, then again, you’re not truly healing, you’re trying to co-heal and it’s hard work.
Q: Why is it difficult for men to talk about assault?
A: You know, the statistics are very similar in terms of male assault and women assault. The numbers are very similar, extremely similar. However, I think that it’s harder for men because we have been raised and bred for centuries pretty much to be the alphas, to be the leaders, to be the hunters, to be the providers, to always be strong, be strong, be strong. And emotions have been made weak and feelings have been made weak and that’s not true. You know every day you feel happy, you feel sad, you feel angry about various things, and it’s alright to express those things. It’s healthy in fact to express those things. Now don’t go into violence or anything like that, but it’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to be frustrated. And as men generally we like to bottle these things up, and then eventually we do explode. Anybody explodes. But I am encouraging more men and women to continue to just speak and be active and express themselves.