SURVIVORSUK welcomes the publication today of the GLA report “Silent Suffering – Supporting The Male Survivors of Sexual Assault” which estimates that between 2010 – 2014 there were 679,051 sexual assaults and rapes of males in England and Wales, 96,103 in London alone – http://glaconservatives.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Silent-Suffering.pdf
This first of its kind report, specifically examining the prevalence of sexual assaults affecting males in London and some of the barriers that stop them from reporting and/or seeking support to manage the effects of their experiences, clearly points to shortcomings in existing provision that work against the benefit of male survivors of these assaults.
We endorse the recommendations contained in this report and hope that they will be acted on quickly to ensure more robust support for male survivors. We object, however, to assertion made in the report that the onus lies on voluntary organisations to manage to do more with less in a climate of uncertain funding.
Michael May of SurvivorsUK says – “This welcome report highlights some of the issues affecting male survivors of rape and childhood sexual abuse that we have been pointing out to MOPAC for some years now.
In 2008, Mayor Boris Johnson said in his manifesto that “…There is also no doubt that victims of rape feel ignored, and they need long-term help and support to re-build their lives.” He then went on to outline how he would raise the funds necessary to launch 3 additional female only rape crisis centres in London, to increase the support provided through the existing centre and to sustainably fund the provision of support through these centres on an on-going basis. He stressed that long term, sustainable funding for these centres was important to allow for the uninterrupted provision of support and to allow these centres to plan and implement services. He said – “It is in sharp contrast to the present situation in which funding decisions are often made midway through the financial year – meaning that Rape Crisis Centres are forced to survive hand-to-mouth and often face the threat of imminent closure.”
Since then the Mayor has spent more than £5m ensuring that these services continue to provide invaluable support to female-only victims of rape and sexual abuse and continues to provide more than £1.25m per annum to fund them. These services are in addition to those separately funded through the London Haven’s which MOPAC notes “… provide crucial medical care and support to victims of rape and serious sexual assault and … are complementary to those of the Rape Crisis Centres.” Clearly Havens are not seen as a replacement for the specialist counselling offered to female victims through Rape Crisis Centres. The same does not seem to be the case where the victim is male. MOPAC’s Natasha Plummer wrote to SurvivorsUK recently and noted that MOPAC funded specialist services were in fact available to men and boys – through the Havens.
The current lack of specific funding for counselling support for male victims of rape and sexual abuse begs the question whether the Mayor no longer believes that “… victims of rape … need long-term help and support to re-build their lives”. 8 years ago he said “It is nothing short of a disgrace that the government has cut the funding for Rape Crisis Centres in London”. I now believe it is a disgrace that this administration has provided only £32,000 to support male victims through the provision of specialist counselling in 8 years and is currently providing nothing more.”
The “Mayoral Strategy on Violence Against Women and Girls 2013-17” notes that, in addition to the services provided through Havens, “Further plans for supporting male victims of sexual violence in London will be developed over the next year following the completion of the review into victims’ services currently being led by Baroness Newlove.” That report, published in July 2014, notes as its first recommendation that “Commissioning should address key gaps in provision, including support for: young victims; victims of hate crime (and particularly victims with disabilities); repeat victims; victims of trafficking and exploitation; and male victims of abuse.” In the full text of the report, on-going mention is made of the needs of male victims of sexual violence and the current lack of funded provision.
The Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy noted above states – “the Mayor also recognises that men and boys may also be victims of sexual violence and should be offered appropriate support. The London Havens offer a service to all victims of rape and serious sexual assault including men and boys.” “Appropriate support” for men and boys appear not to include long term specialist counselling which is at the centre of MOPAC’s support for female victims of the same crimes.
In recent correspondence, Ms. Plummer notes that in addition to the Havens provision, Respect have been funded to develop service standards for organisations working with male victims of domestic violence and male victims could access the services of Victim Support. We would point out that Respect has to date developed guidance for domestic violence only and that Victim Support is clear that they do NOT provide counselling. Ms Plummer also notes that “…it is not possible to ascertain how much of the £4.1 million currently being invested in specialist services for all victims of domestic and sexual violence will be used to support male victims.”
We call on MOPAC as a priority to make funds available to provide long term, specialist support to male victims of rape and sexual abuse.
For further information, please contact Michael May at [email protected] or on 020 3598 3898 or 07986 614 093.
CASE STUDY ACCOUNT OF AN UNSUCCESSFUL REPORT TO POLICE OF A RAPE
B is a 26 year old, white, gay man who was seen for 2 years of 1-1 counselling at Survivors UK.
B was referred to Survivors UK after he had been referred to The Havens for counselling, after 3 cancellations without being seen at The Havens.
B had been raped about 6 weeks before his first session at Survivors UK. He had been in a gay bar in central London and suddenly felt completely incapacitated in an odd way. He later concluded the drink he had been bought by an older man had been spiked with a drug such as rohipnol. He vaguely remebers being taken to a taxi by this man, and them being in the taxi together. He then remembers being in a strange flat, lying face down on a bed while “someone shagged me from behind really hard without a condom.” He thinks he passed out from the pain and fear. In the morning the man who had raped him made them breakfast and behaved as if their sex had been consensual and enjoyable for them both. B was very frightened of this man, and played along as it it had been a one night stand so that he could get away as quickly as possible.
When he left the block of flats where the man lived, B was in a part of London he did not know at all, and simply got on the first bus at a stop by the flats, and took a number of bus routes until he came to more central parts and worked out how to get home. About 24 hours later he reported the rape to the police. In counselling sessions B spoke about his strong impression that the police who had dealt with him were unsympathetic towards him and seemed sceptical that it had been rape, rather than “a date that I’d changed my mind about.”
B was in a great deal of pain with damage to his anus and back passage after the rape. He was treated in hospital for the tissue damage, and later developed severe haemerrhoids as a result of the rape, for which he needed ongoing treatment and care. He felt a lot of embarrassment about this; it also meant that he felt he could not have anal intercourse ever again, which was sexually frustrating and inhibiting for him.
B said that after reporting the rape to the police he heard nothing back from them for weeks until he eventualy called to ask what was happening. He was told that because there were no leads the enquiry could go no further. B felt hurt,angry and let down that no one had contacted him to let him know that this had been the decision. He was sure that the fact he had used his Oyster card to get a bus from right outside the flats where the man had taken him could guide police to possible addresses to investigate; also that there would have been cctv footage of the man and him outside the club, or getting the taxi, and he felt that the police did not seem to have the will to pursue these avenues.
In sessions he often returned to the rather dismissive and uncaring way he felt he had been dealt with, and also spoke with a hurt resignation about the fact that because he had been a young gay man out drinking in a bar that was notorious for picking up people to have sex with, there was limited sympathy for him having been sexually assaulted.
There were already issues of B’s distrust of authroity figures and a lack of personal power and self esteem in his background and family history. However, his experience of reporting the rape left him with a renewed sense that authorities can’t be trusted and that it is inevitable to be let down and seen as “less than” if you are a young gay man.
He would not countenance any idea of further contact with the police. I offered to give him the contact details for the LGBT sexual assault police office that Survivors UK has links with, to see if the case might be revisited or if he could offer some support, but B rejected the offer. Later during his counselling B also refused to consider reporting a partner who assaulted him during a row and broke several bones in B’s hand. The little trust he had had in the police had been eroded too far to believe there was any use in doing so.
Sarah Van Gogh