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Sexual assault: support for male survivors

TW: This article mentions rape and sexual assault against men.

With the recent situation concerning the sexual assault of a teenage boy it brings up some questions and highlights the harsh reality that men do in fact experience this situation too.

The man who committed the crime Imran Ahmad Khan, has now been detained for 18 months after the assault happened in 2008 when he inappropriately groped a 15-year-old boy.

The man who assaulted the boy has now got his comeuppance but it causes us to think how has that young boy (who is now a grown man) dealt with his feelings in this situation.

All those feelings from seeing this man, who had done such a thing to a minor, be elected into a position of power.

Awareness around sexual assault against women has been raised for quite some time with movements like #MeToo but where is the awareness for the safety of the men among us?

Tanaka Mhishi a trustee of Survivors UK says there is a lack of resources for UK male survivors.

“Almost all of our services are oversubscribed, which means that there is still a real shortfall in the resources needed to support male survivors in the UK. “

He also mentioned how BAME male survivors are less likely to come forward and seek support for a number of reasons

  • cultural shame

  • language barriers

  • concerns over immigration status.

According to Survivors UK, most sexual violence happens between people of the same ethnic background, and some BAME survivors will hesitate to speak out to charities and institutions because they are afraid of bringing negative attention to their communities, when racism is already an issue they face.

There are misconceptions that men do not require support; they can deal with traumas on their own and they are supposed to be strong no matter what, in every aspect of their lives but it really is time to correct that perception.

They are entitled to feel every emotion and they deserve as much support and consideration as women do.

Tanaka relayed that these misconceptions have caused a neglect amongst the men we are surrounded by hence the lack of resources for male survivors of sexual assault and rape.

“We still have some very strong stereotypes about what a victim of sexual violence looks like in our society that makes it difficult for people to remember that there are millions of male survivors out there. “

“Even though statistically almost all of us know a male survivor or two - 1 in 6 men are sexually assaulted, which means that most people have survivors as fathers, husbands, brothers or male friends - we still struggle with that reality.”

Survivors UK are striving to help men who have been through sexual assault or rape to overcome their experiences. Tanaka shared how the resource came to be, the organisations aspirations and what inspired this particular line of work.

“Our goals are to make sure that male and non-binary survivors of sexual violence have specialist support which takes into account their unique challenges.

Survivors UK aims to:

  • provide wrap around care

  • support clients through the criminal justice system

  • help navigate other areas which can be tricky in the wake of sexual trauma such as parenting, sex, relationships and friendships

  • help clients live full, joyful lives despite the trauma they've experienced.

Founded in 1986 by Martin Dockrell and the late Richie McMullen, as a helpline for male survivors of rape and sexual assault. Both men were working closely with gay men and male sex workers and recognised a lack of services.

So, naturally they created one.

“Since then, they have expanded their scope, “officially welcoming trans and non-binary clients, and offering support for survivors navigating the criminal justice system and people who are experiencing homelessness.”

Their services such as individual counselling and ISVA (Independent Sexual Violence Advisers) are “limited to those currently residing in any London borough”

If you are seeking their ISVA service, it is open to you if the abuse was committed in any London Borough, even if you do not currently reside in London. However, the Groupwork service provided and national online helpline is available to anyone anywhere in the UK.

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