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Rape support group 'ignoring male victims'

Increase in number of men reporting attacks By John Bynorth, Home Affairs Editor

HE was 25 years old when he left his home in Dumfries and moved in with relatives in Derby in England. There, he was subjected to a brutal and sustained rape at the hands of his own uncle and his uncle's son, his cousin.

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Alan X, who has asked not to be named, is just one of many campaigners and victims who are demanding that Rape Crisis, the national organisation which helps and protects vulnerable survivors of sexual assault, start to recognise that men can be victims of rape too.

Alan X left his home when his parents shunned him for being gay. "The attack was on the Saturday after I moved in and there was no communication while it happened," he said. "I was trapped and waited until I could get out of the house.

"I left all my belongings and was re-housed by a Christian charity. I couldn't tell my parents because they had pushed me out for being gay. I was on diazepam and couldn't go out or work because the attack constantly preyed on my mind.

"I attended the Crichton Hospital in Dumfries, which offers help for people with psychological problems, but I took an overdose. They didn't know how to deal with me."

He was put in touch with the South West Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre in Dumfries - which is not part of the national Rape Crisis network. It is one of the few organisations to really help male rape victims. Alan says he "would never have approached them myself because I thought it was for women. What I like about coming here is all the staff are female. I don't trust men and wouldn't contact a local gay organisation for help."

He said Rape Crisis discriminated against men, and that he would be dead without the Dumfries group's support.

More and more men are now starting to come forward to report being the victim of a sex crime. The rise in the numbers of men seeking counselling for attacks accounts for almost 5% of all referrals to the South West Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre.

Director Iraina McGroarty said the centre has not been a member of the national Rape Crisis network since it was asked to leave several years ago, following a dispute about its decision to offer support to men. None of its current female users has objected to men using their Dumfries counselling suites.

"The Rape Crisis network does not currently support men and we are not their partners," says McGroarty. "The service for men across Scotland is patchy. We can't apply for full membership because we support men." She says she wants full membership as that could lead to "better and more secure funding. People are aware that rape and sexual violence isn't just a women's issue."

McGroarty claimed many male rapes take place among those involved in criminal activity. Recently, it was claimed a drug dealer was raping young men in the Stranraer area. In another area, an oil rig worker reported that he had been raped by two colleagues. Nobody was prosecuted in either case.

Anne Macdonald, who set up Fife Rape and Sexual Assault Centre after identifying the need to help male victims, added: "Women are not the only victims and there is a lot of under-reporting with males who have been raped. Men must not feel ashamed or that they could have stopped it."

Sandy Brindley, Rape Crisis Scotland's national co-ordinator, said: "Rape Crisis Scotland operates a membership structure, and currently our full membership is open only to local rape crisis centres working with women. But we are in the process of exploring associate membership to enable centres which aren't full members to be part of our organisation.

"We fully support the valuable work carried out by centres such as South West Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre."

The Rape Crisis national helpline number is 08088 010302.

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