OutUK's Adrian Gillan continues his two part report on surviving male rape with the story of Andy.

A year or two ago Andy called the Survivors Helpline.

Andy was a 36 year old, white, single male. He was living alone in rented accommodation in London. He had been unemployed for 3 years and his last job was in local government. He was seeing a psychiatrist for depression and for possible ME. He had a history of alcohol abuse from adolescence until he was 31 but had not drunk since then.

He wanted to find out if he could attend a support group. His name and number were passed on to the group facilitator and he was contacted and an assessment arranged for a week or so later.

Three years earlier Andy had been returning late from the cinema after an evening of socialising with friends. Close to his home 2 men pulled him into an alleyway.

He was beaten to the ground and lost consciousness. His harrowing experience was unfortunately only just starting to unfold. Over the next 15-20 minutes both men raped him. He remembered coming round on three occasions during this horrendous time.

He was eventually found by a local resident who helped him to get up. Andy then walked the short way home. When he got home he felt angry and ashamed that he was unable to fight these men off. He was in a lot of pain but felt that he could not seek medical attention or contact the police due to the fear of what they might think of him.

Andy tried to forget about what had happened and did not speak to anyone about the attack. His work started to suffer and eventually he decided to leave as he could not face going to work anymore. After about a year he decided to speak to his GP about his depression and lack of energy and the GP referred him for a psychiatric assessment. After another year he eventually spoke to his psychiatrist who then referred him to Survivors UK.

Andy was found suitable for Survivors UK's therapeutic group and started a month later. Over the course of the meetings issues discussed included isolation, forgiveness and coping with anger. The first group concentrated on participants' fears and expectations. Time was also spent looking at how members might stop themselves getting what they needed out of the process, or how they might hold themselves back.

At first Andy was very quiet and the others in the group talked very openly about their abuse from the beginning. At the fourth meeting Andy started to talk about the rape and was upset and angry. He was supported by the other members of the group and was able to focus on the pain he was experiencing. her members' processes.

By the end of each group session Andy described feeling more alive and more in touch with his feelings. He commented on how he saw his depression as being strongly linked to the rape. Andy stated: "Meeting others who had been through similar experiences let me move on."

"It can be harder for a straight man to talk about abuse than for a gay man," suggests Adam. "For men especially, who you are and what happens to you can at least appear to be closely linked. So, if another man has 'sex' with you - no matter what consent was involved - you might start to question in your own mind whether you are straight: 'Why was I chosen for the attack? Why did he think I was gay? Am I secretly gay?' This is compounded by a general tendency of the victim to blame themselves in some way or another."

"Survivors UK services are for all men: gay, straight or bisexual," he says. "All men are welcome. Rape is not, essentially, a sexual act but rather an act of power and domination. So even if those involved would in fact consider themselves gay, that is why we call it 'male rape' not 'gay rape'."

He continues: "We listen, talk, help explore and express feelings, look at consequences and enable change. Counselling provides the safe space to do these things. And group work is a great antidote to isolation: meeting other male survivors means you cannot be the only one."

So should survivors prosecute their abusers, often their own family or acquaintances?

"In the short term," says Adam, "taking positive action about an experience that has made you feel powerless can by very healing. But the difficulties of the judicial process make it impossible for us to recommend this. How can we expect the man to relive the experience, be put on trial himself and deal with the disappointment if the perpetrator is not convicted."

If you need support following male rape or abuse, visit SurvivorsUK's website www.survivorsuk.org or email them in confidence info@survivors.org or call office number for more information on 020 3598 3898.

Surviving Male Rape Part 1 - Feature on Survivor's UK


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