UK offers 'vital' new support to male rape victims
- Published on Thursday, 13 February 2014 09:28
- Written by Govtoday staff
Male victims of rape and sexual violence will receive unprecedented access to vital help and support thanks to the first dedicated fund designed specifically to meet their needs, victims' minister Damian Green has announced.
The government has committed £500,000 over the next financial year to provide services, like advice and counselling, to help male victims who previously have not been able to receive such support and encourage them to come forward after experiencing such a crime.
Damian Green said: "We must help all victims to cope, and as far as possible recover, from the impacts of crime – especially when it is as serious as rape or sexual abuse.
"We believe around 12 per cent of rapes are against men. Yet many choose not to come forward, either to report the crime or seek the support they need. I am determined to help break the silence on a subject still seen as taboo.
"Average sentences for male rape have increased but there is more to do. That is why we are toughening up sentencing and have introduced a mandatory life sentence for anyone convicted of a second very serious sexual or violent crime."
Latest figures show there were 2,164 rape and sexual assaults against males aged 13 or over recorded by the police in the year ending September 2013. The fund announced today will also support historic victims who were under 13 at the time of the attack.
The fund will be open to bids from all charities and support organisations who feel they can offer help specifically for male victims. This will build on the services already available for rape or sexual abuse victims and ensure victims of most serious crimes received the highest level of support.
One organisation which currently helps male sexual violence victims is Survivors Manchester, whose founder Duncan Craig has welcomed the new funding. Craig said: "In the past there has not been enough support in the UK for male victims of sexual violence, such as myself.
"But in the future I would like to see both the government and society begin talking more openly about boys and men as victims and see us trying to make a positive change to pulling down those barriers that stop boys and men speaking up. This funding will help to raise awareness of the issue and ensure that male victims are no longer ignored.
"I'd like to tell all boys and men that are sitting in silence I have been there. I have been silent and it's not a nice place to be. Yes it's difficult, embarrassing and painful to speak out but once you start healing, you will be able to break free from the legacy. Get support lads, don't suffer. You deserve to be able to heal."
Actor James Sutton plays rape victim John Paul McQueen in Hollyoaks. He worked with Survivors Manchester on the soap's current storyline and is supporting the Ministry of Justice to raise awareness of the issue of male rape and sexual violence.
Sutton said: "The reason it was so important for Hollyoaks to feature a male rape storyline is because it is so rarely talked about. The over-riding message from survivors I met while researching the role was that victims of male sexual violence do not know where to go for help and support.
"Having worked to raise awareness of this important issue it is heartening to see funding allocated specifically for male victims that will help to set up more counselling and advice centres and show people that they do not need to deal with it alone – they can get help and justice."
Victims commissioner Baroness Newlove, who worked with the Ministry of Justice to highlight the issue of funding for male victims of sexual violence, said: "We must never underestimate the pain that victims go through as a result of such disturbing crimes. Victims of male rape have told me that they need more support – I'm glad the government has listened.
"I hope that this will encourage more victims of male rape to come forward and receive the support that they deserve. But work should not stop there – I will continue to highlight the needs of male rape victims and ensure their voices are heard."
Source: Ministry of Justice