Rape survivor bravely shares his story to empower more men to speak up

rape survivor bravely shares his story to empower more men to speak up - Rape survivor bravely shares his story to empower more men to speak up

A rape survivor has courageously spoken out to stop male sex abuse victims from suffering in silence.

The Bristol man, who is now in his 20s, was raped as a teenager by a man he thought he trusted.

He attempted suicide after the burden of his memories became too much, but says he now feels like a “weight has lifted” after seeking support from friends, family and counsellors.

The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said: “I was only young – I wasn’t aware of the trauma it might cause me as I grew up.

“I have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), I was feeling suicidal, I didn’t really care about myself and I had no self-worth.

“I started drinking lots, gambling, and trying to do anything to take my mind off it. I’ve tried to kill myself, over the years.

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“But I feel I’m still here for a reason, and maybe this [raising awareness] is it.”

He got in touch with Bristol Live to share his story, in hope that it will empower other men to get help if they are struggling.

‘There’s a stigma’

He said: “There is still a male stigma about it. People think a man can take it, that it’s not as traumatic as when [the victim] is a woman, but it’s the same.

“I know everyone’s different and some people might not want to talk about it, but you can reach out to people you trust, or speak to the Samaritans.

“I’m hoping I’ve gone through the traumatic times and now even talking about it feels like a weight has lifted off your mind.”

He recalled how it was a “bright and sunny day” when he was raped in the Bristol area, by an older man who he described as an “acquaintance.”

He said: “He kind of grabbed me by the neck and started holding me really really tightly.

“I couldn’t move. I’ve been getting counselling and they say your body goes into fight or flight mode, and sometimes can freeze.

“I was yelling but no one could hear me. I tried to brush him off, I even tried to punch him. I thought I trusted this person.”

The case went to trial and he remembered giving evidence via video link, but said he has been unable to find a record of the sentencing.

He tried to get on with his life but says it was on his mind constantly, seriously affecting his mental health and resulting in relationships breaking down.

It was not until the #MeToo movement started in 2017 that he decided to confide in a colleague about what happened, and sought counselling.

He said the Kinergy counselling service in Kingswood, which offers specialist support for survivors of sexual abuse, had been instrumental in his progress.

Having previously confided in the wrong people, the man said he had been subjected to taunting about his sexuality due to the rape being same-sex.

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He said: “Someone uses that as a weapon towards you, saying ‘clearly you must have enjoyed it.’

“Some people do see it as a joke – but the majority of people just want to throw their arms around you.”

He explained how his faith and his creativity has helped him to channel his emotions into something positive, adding: “I try to find a creative outlet for it.

“I really love music and try to free my stress in music, or go for a drive or write poetry.”

Asked what piece of advice he would offer to other men who had experienced sexual abuse, he simply said: “Don’t feel ashamed.”

Support for survivors

There are several organisations and charities offering support specifically for men and boys who have been sexually abused, including:

Samaritans also offers a free 24/7 helpline on 116 123, for anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts or who just needs someone to talk to.

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