When Sue Mountstephens recently confirmed that funding for support of male rape victims would be protected she highlighted a much forgotten and largely hidden crime. Male victims of rape and sexual assault suffer all the same terror, indignity and sheer horror as women, and they likewise suffer all the same stereotypes and prejudices as women. Did they ask for it by behaving provocatively? It was their fault they were drunk or using drugs, wasn’t it, that was their choice, right? Maybe they ‘consented’ to be being raped, or are making it up because they are ashamed of their infidelity.
Male victims are perhaps even further behind, as support services are less well entrenched and societal attitudes shy away from confronting male rape and sexual assault. Say it out loud. Anal rape. Victims often fear judgement.
The criminal justice system should only provide a part of the solution. Too often, our community turns to the police and the courts to solve the crime, to solve the problem. In truth, such crimes are hard to investigate and hard to prosecute. Using the criminal justice system will fail most victims and will often prove a miserable and underwhelming experience. Male rape prosecutions remain rare, and whatever the rights and wrongs of our system, right now, victims seeking solace in the police and courts will often be disappointed. Put simply, the small number of cases in which there is enough evidence to prosecute will rightly be prioritised, and the police and CPS are set up accordingly. Increasingly, the authorities will prosecute even where there is in truth little hope of conviction, a political solution that fails victims miserably.
Other support services deserve better funding and higher profile. If as much resource were given to victims even when a court case couldn’t be made, or where the victim didn’t want one, the prospects of surviving would be plain better. The authorities are willing to spend tens of thousands on a tenuous prosection, and in a world of finite budgets places like http://www.turntothebridge.org who are trying to give equal profile to male victims must battle for every penny of funding.
They deserve applause and support for the work they do with all victims, with gender rightly being irrelevant when discussing victim, offender or survivor.