Monday, 6 September 2010

The unseen pain of the hidden victims.

I have been posting articles from some of my old blogs, here is one I found that given todays story on BBC Breakfast about the increasing number of men who are the victims of domestic abuse, seemed to merit being posted on here to be shared again. 
Some of the original readers of this assumed I had some personal experience of this, that is not the case, I merely stumbled on some forum posts from actual victims  on an completely unrelated forum and felt compelled to read more on it.

Take any week in the news, and you will come across multiple stories of women who have been the victims of rape. It is a horrid crime that destroys the victim emotionally in addition to the physical issues and not for a moment do I want to minimise he horror and magnitude of it.

There are however a class of victims who for many reasons such a social taboos, stigma, shame or a mixture of those, go not only unreported in the media, but also unreported to a large extent by the victim to the authorities. I of course mean the issue of male rape.

Official statistics from the Home Office show that 3.6% of women reported they had been raped, with 0.4% of men who reported a rape. Studies have found that men may be un-reporting rape in the vast majority of cases and the true figure of male rape may be as high as 3%.

There are still many myths surrounding the whole issue of male rape, the most predominant being that it is not possible for a man to be raped. This is of course as with all myths founded on the fiction that a man can choose not to become aroused. Sadly, it is a biological function well beyond the mental control of most men, if the nerves are stimulated, a man will become aroused.

Another favourite myth is that men are somehow physically able to be able to prevent themselves from being raped. Men and women react to danger and stress in similar situations, just as most women rape victims report that they "froze" and were unable to do anything to protect themselves, this is also the case with most male rapes. The rapist relies on this reaction in order to be able to perpetrate their crime, add this to the fact that most men will not consider themselves to be a possible attack victim, means that when this occurs, mentally they are unprepared.

It is also a fallacy to suggest that only gay men are rape victims. While there is a slight higher ratio of gay men to heterosexual men, the figures show that around 40% of male rape victims are heterosexual.

Although some 96% of all male rape perpetrators are males, it is also possible for a woman to rape a male as the statistics show. Rape need not be penetrative, although in many of the reported cases, women used sex toys such as vibrators to penetrate their victims.

Some commentators refuse to accept that male rape leaves as severe a mark on the victim as female rape victims. This is to minimise the real grief, trauma and physical injury that a male rape victim can suffer. Although there are gender specific differences, for example, a man has no fear of an unwanted pregnancy, male rape victims are on the whole subjected to greater physical violence, are more likely to be carried out by multiple assailants, and anal penetration can result in far more serious internal injuries and give a much greater risk of infection of HIV.

Many male victims feel ashamed and confused if they have become aroused during the rape, and in some cases the perpetrator will ensure the victim ejaculates. Surely, if they became aroused and they ejaculated, then they must have enjoyed it, must have been a willing accomplice in the act? Medically, it has long been known that a Rectal Exam can cause not only arousal, but pressure on the prostate can cause ejaculation, indeed, it is a medical procedure used in some cases to collect semen from men with impotence during fertility treatment. Anal penetration will cause pressure on the prostate and this may lead to the victim having an erection and may even cause ejaculation.

Sadly, this is one of those crimes that goes on all the time with little reporting occurring. Society as a whole is geared up to support women for rape, and it is right that female victims get the support they need, but it is high time that male rape was given the profile the crime deserves and that similar resources are made available to provide support and counselling for the many thousands of male rape victims. It is high time the myths were put to bed, so the many unknown and silent victims can come forward without the stigma and shame they believe they will be subject to.