Author: Sam Thompson (as told to Cara McGoogan)
Posted on: The Telegraph | November 22nd,2017
Sexual assault has never had so much attention. But, as more survivors come forward, there is still a pervasive fear that they won’t believed or the perpetrators will avoid justice.
For male survivors, the problem is compounded by expectations of masculinity – an issue explored in Raped: My Story, a Channel 5 documentary airing tonight. Sam Thompson is one of 10 survivors who share their experiences in the programme…
When I went home after a night out with a group of guys I had met in a bar last year, the thought that I could be in danger never crossed my mind. I was a 22-year-old straight man and had recently moved to Manchester to work as a DJ. A friend had come to visit and we went to a local club to celebrate.
Over the course of the evening, I lost my phone and my friend. Unfazed, I got chatting to a group of people who invited me to go back with them for another drink. I didn’t have much choice, given the phone situation, so accepted the invite.
Their «place» turned out to be a hotel room – but that didn’t worry me. A group of us went back, had a drink and a joke. Then, without me noticing, the crowd had whittled down to just me and two guys. As a man, it still wasn’t on my radar that something bad could happen. There were no alarm bells.
I don’t have a clear memory of how it started, but, for the next couple of hours, the two men took it in turns to rape me. I felt like a rag doll they were using for their pleasure. Fear, anger and sadness paralysed me: I couldn’t fight or run.
After I finally managed to get away, I staggered home. Unable to comprehend that I had been raped, I considered throwing myself off a bridge on my way back. I didn’t do it – but the next day I regretted the decision.
Keeping quiet wasn’t an option for me. My friend and girlfriend were waiting for me when I got home and I felt on the spot: I had to tell them. Although it wasn’t easy, sharing the burden with people who trusted me helped in the long term.
In the year after I was raped, I felt suicidal, dirty and ashamed. I couldn’t be alone in a room, go outside on my own, or drink with my friends without feeling terrified. My masculinity was left in tatters and my relationship with my girlfriend broke down. There were times when I questioned my sexuality and if I was less of a man because of how much I was crying and sharing my feelings.
A lot of those feelings came from failings in our society. We’re only really taught about women being raped. This not only put me in danger in the first place, but also meant, in the first few months, that I had to relate my feelings to how women feel. I now know around 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales per year. And less than 0.1 per cent of those report the incident to the police.
Unlike many rape survivors, I did go to the police. But, a month after I reported the rape, in October 2016 the police told me they were not taking any further action. It was hard to feel like a liar and criminal myself, even though I knew I wasn’t. It was my word against the rapists’ – and it wasn’t enough.
It’s horrible knowing they’re still out there and that nothing will change unless more evidence comes to light. The police told me they don’t live in Manchester, where I work, or Nottingham, where I live, but I’m still scared I might bump into them again.
I’m 95 per cent the person I was before, and I don’t think I’ll ever get that 5 per cent back. But, in a roundabout way, I think the ordeal has helped shape me into a better person. I am now an ambassador for Survivors Manchester and want to use my experience to spread the word that men, too, are raped, and that survivors shouldn’t feel ashamed.
At 23, I never thought I would be living with my parents again, but it turned out that was the only way I could feel safe. My life is starting to feel more normal again now, just over a year later. I have been on a few dates and am able to go drinking with my friends; although I always stay in control. I am still DJ’ing professionally and have started studying my A-levels. One day, I hope I can study Law at University. That would be one good thing to have come from being raped.
Read at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/straight-man-raped-destroyed-masculinity/