Survivors, the UK’s first support service for male victims of rape and sexual abuse

The Gazette, 20th November 1987

Gazette201187Community Care, June 1989

CCJune1989The Independent, 9th September 1989

Independent090989City Limits, 14th September 1989

CityLimits140989The Effect of Male Rape/Abuse (A Personal Viewpoint)

by Nigel O’Mara

theaffectofmalerape1 theaffectofmalerape2

Survivors UK is still going despite the funding issues that were highlighted in 1989, although it hasn’t expanded and the helpline is only open a few days a week. Anyone wanting to volunteer or make a donation should go to the Survivors UK website.

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6 comments
  1. david harries said:

    Brilliant cause its tough for a man to step forward and admit he as been raped/abused as its down to a pride issue but more and more are stepping forward and its starting to become easier to talk about it and cope with

  2. Kate MacDonald said:

    Transcript:
    FORMER RENT BOY CALLS FOR CHILD HELP (The Gazette, 20th November 1987)

    Nigel O’Mara was a prostitute at the age of 12.
    By the time he was 15 he was appearing in porn magazines and trading sex in European cities.
    Now Nigel, 23, who quitted ‘the game’ two years ago, has embarked on a campaign to help young prostitutes.
    The former worker at the Acorn Centre, Acton, helped Ealing Council write a report on prostitution which called for safe houses in the borough where young prostitutes could seek support.
    He works with groups offering young prostitutes help, and also offers a counselling service.
    Nigel’s tale is a harrowing one of abuse and neglect from childhood. But out of this has sprung a desire to help other young people still caught in the twilight world of prostitution.
    He said: “I was the victim of a family friend who raped me when I was 12 and gave me money afterwards. He made me see my life as worthless and introduced me to child prostitution.
    “Within months I was making money as a prostitute in men’s toilets in a quiet Surrey town.”
    By the age of 15, he was touring European cities touting for business.
    He said: “I performed in porn videos made in Amsterdam when I was 15 and posed for magazines.”
    Nigel, who was a voluntary worker at Acorn youth centre until earlier this year, believes most boys who get into prostitution have been sexually abused.
    He said: “The abuse leaves a child with a low self-image and they think their lives are not worth anything”.
    The rising numbers of AIDS sufferers make him even more determined to help young prostitutes.

  3. Kate MacDonald said:

    Transcript:
    SEX ABUSERS OF BOYS TREATED ‘TOO LENIENTLY’ (Community Care, June 1989)

    A legal loophole allows abusers who sexually victimise boys to be treated far more leniently than those who victimise girls, according to Survivors’ spokesman Nigel O’Mara.
    O’Mara, a former rent boy who helped run a workshop for Enfield social workers earlier this year, claims the recent sentences handed out to a group of men who abused and killed 14-year-old Jason Swift highlight the need for an overhaul of the law.
    “I knew Jason around the time he disappeared and died, and worked with the police on the case,” O’Mara said.
    “What really angers me is that had he been a girl, the men who sadistically raped him would have got life sentences.”
    “The law does not allow a life sentence to be imposed for any sexual assault on a male unless murder can be proved. Whereas, with a girl, rape is life-imprisonable.”
    O’Mara said his experience of counselling hundreds of male rape victims through the Survivors helpline convinced him of the need for urgent changes.
    He was currently dealing with a seven-year-old boy who was raped at the age of five. His abuser received a suspended sentence.
    “If he had been a girl the abuser would have gone to prison – there is no way the public would have allowed the judge to do otherwise.”

  4. Kate MacDonald said:

    Transcript:
    BREAKING THE SILENCE (City Limits, 14th September 1989)

    Survivors, the only organisation in Britain to provide support for male victims of sexual abuse, could close shortly, due to a lack of funds.
    Survivors was formed in October ‘86, in response to a growing awareness that there were was no support service catering specifically for the needs of men and boys who have been sexually abused.
    ‘Organisations like the London Gay Switchboard, and groups that help male prostitutes, were having a large and growing number of abuse cases referred to them,’ says Survivors spokesperson, Nigel O’Mara. ‘A lot of the victims were neither gay, nor prostitutes – but there was nowhere to send them for help’.
    One of Survivors’ founders, Richie McMullen, is author of ‘Enchanted Boy’ – an autobiographical account of sexual abuse within the family – and of a forthcoming study of male rape.
    Initially the organisation operated out of a member’s kitchen, running a telephone helpline one night a week. Then, in late ‘87, London Weekend Television broadcast a programme on male rape – the first documentary of its kind.
    ‘We got over 100 calls that night, from male victims of sexual abuse in London,’ says O’Mara. Shorty after, Survivors received an anonymous donation of £5,000.
    The money enabled them to move into a small office in Mount Pleasant and gradually extend the helpline service to six nights a week. The number of calls received has increased tenfold (800 were dealt with last year). Today, Survivors’ ten volunteer workers provide both a telephone, and face-to-face counselling service for male victims of sexual abuse. Citizens Advice Bureaux, social services departments, rape crisis centres, and lesbian and gay helplines all refer cases to Survivors, which is clearly meeting a previously unacknowledged need.
    Even so, the project receives no official funding. It has had to subsist entirely on voluntary contributions, and is being forced – because of its financial crisis – to move into a smaller windowless office in the same building.
    ‘We’ve applied to the London Boroughs Grants Scheme several times for funding, but they say that, unlike female rape or “general” child abuse, our concerns don’t come within their remit,’ O’Mara says. Survivors has applied to over 500 charitable trusts for funding, but hasn’t received one penny. The basic reason, say its workers, is that the problem they deal with is not officially admitted to exist.
    The law says there is no such thing as male rape. Unless penetration of the vagina by a penis is involved, it’s not defined as rape, but sexual assault – a crime that carries a much lower maximum sentence.’ Survivors argues that forcible buggery (whether of a man or a woman), or the forced penetration of any orifice – whether by a penis or not – should be counted as rape.
    It’s a view supported by Dr Mike King, of the Institute of Psychiatry and the Royal Free Hospital. Along with his colleague Gillian Mezey, he has been conducting this country’s first empirical study of male rape. ‘Most people just don’t believe it can happen,’ he says. ‘They don’t believe a man can be forced into having anal intercourse with another man.’
    In fact, says King, male rape victims report experiences that are remarkably similar to those of women. ‘Like women, they “freeze” in response to what’s happening to them. And frequently the rapist is someone they know, often in a position of power or domination in relation to them.’
    This is most obviously the case in institutions like prisons, borstals or the armed services where, according to King, male rape is common. Survivors has attempted to respond to pleas for help from prison inmates who have been raped, or otherwise sexually abused, but says its efforts have been blocked by the Home Office.
    Sexual abuse also exists within the family and the wider community. Jason, a volunteer worker with Survivors, was abused for five years, between the age of three and eight, by an adult he trusted – his father. Eventually he rebelled by getting into petty crime, and ended up being taken into care. ‘One night I ran away from the home, and found myself wandering around Trafalgar Square late at night. A middle-aged businessman approached me, and asked, “Have you got somewhere to go?” He ended up taking me to a b&b, and raping me. I was 14 at the time.’
    Survivors says there are a lot of myths about male sexual abuse – not least, that the abusers must be gay. ‘In fact, our experience has shown that around 85 per cent of abusers are identified by their victims as being heterosexual,’ says Nigel O’Mara. ‘Admittedly, on the misleading grounds that they seem “normal” because they have girlfriends or wives.’ Over ten per cent of Survivors’ cases (whose ages range from four to 70) report having been sexually abused by a woman, frequently their mother. And according to Dr King, most gang rapes of males are carried out by straights – frequently as an extension of ‘queer-bashing’.
    ‘There are no stereotypes,’ says O’Mara, who was abused by a friend of the family when he was 12. ‘I come from a middle class family, in stockbroker-belt Egham, in Surrey. But that didn’t stop me from getting into a cycle of juvenile crime, male prostitution and drugs until I was 22 – as a result of being abused.’
    Survivors says there is a vast, undisclosed problem of male sexual abuse. But, because of official silence on the subject, statistics are hard to find. In the US, where some rape crisis centres invite men, as well as women, to contact them, one in ten victims are reported to be male. And according to Liz Rolands, of Broadcasting Support Services – which monitors the response to TV helplines – between ten and 15 per cent of callers after programmes on rape are male.
    Still, the issue of male rape remains far from uncontroversial. Some women’s organisations, and rape crisis centres, maintain that there is no such thing: that men can be sexually assaulted, but not raped – because the same legal, and power relationships do not apply equally to both sexes.
    ‘That’s a fundamentally misguided view,’ says Mike King. ‘The law says that anal rape of a woman, or being forced to take part in fellatio, isn’t rape either. Yet both are often even more horrific for the woman than forcible vaginal penetration. If you stick to the letter of the law, where do you draw the line?’

  5. Kate MacDonald said:

    Transcipt:
    THE AFFECT OF MALE RAPE/ABUSE (A PERSONAL VIEWPOINT), BY NIGEL O’MARA

    Before I can go into the affect’s that rape/abuse has had on me I have to explain that I am not trying in any way explain what happens to people when they are raped/abused, what I am trying to do is to give a personal account on the affect rape/abuse had had on me and how it has changed my lifestyle. There is however proof that my experience is not unique and that there are many young people who are now going through this cycle of self destruction.
    I have been raped on three occasions and was abused as a child several times however to go into these in graphic detail I feel would be losing the issue. I will say though that some of the treatment I received was to say the least horrific.
    The act of rape/abuse is in itself a very painful and emotionally disturbing occurrence for the victim. To the child who has never been raped or abused before it is a total destruction of what we are brought up to believe in. Firstly it creates a negative attitude by the simple fact that we are brought up to believe that a male must be a macho stereotype which dictates that the male is the dominant figure. Boys don’t cry and men do not show their feelings and it is this strong non-emotional exterior that we as men are forced to take on that can be the most damaging of all. Having been abused/raped the victim feels that they have lost their ‘manliness’ and are therefore weak.
    On top of this the victim is very often subjected to verbal abuse which is designed by the rapist/abuser to leave the victim with an impression that they are guilty for what has happened. By doing this the rapist/abuser is safeguarding himself from subsequent arrest and prosecution. If he is successful the victim leaves the encounter feeling that they are responsible for what has happened and because of the shame that is again verbally enforced by the rapist. They feel that there is no-one who they can tell about it. If the victim is a child then the rapist/abuser normally has enough ‘power’ *1 to make the child believe that they are very bad for having made the rapist/abuser rape/abuse them. The child will believe that they are bad for doing it and therefore will not tell anyone what has happened to them. Indeed often the abuser will terrify the child by telling them that they will tell the child’s Parent/Guardian how bad they have been and that if the Parent/Guardian found out they would be very angry at the child. This leaves the child thinking: I am told that I am bad, I feel bad, and therefore I must be bad. As adult’s we seldom appreciate the ‘power’ that we have over children but the rapist/abuser know’s very well how ‘power’ he has over the child that he is raping/abusing.
    The victim is often very reluctant to tell any one about the abuse for fear of being blamed for what has happened and also fear that they will be thought of as being weak; this fear can prevent the victim from ridding themselves of the anger that is inside them and as they grow up can mean that this bottling of emotion is causing them to get depressed and making them more likely to commit petty crime and more likely to get involved in prostitution.
    When the assault has finished, one way for the rapist/abuser to assuage his own feeling’s of guilt is to pay off the child with either money or present’s; this serves only to confuse the child even more, after being told that they have been very bad they are then given present’s or money from the person that they were supposedly bad to. They then begin to believe that if they are bad in this way they will get present’s and/or money and it’s only now we can see that this is nothing more than an introduction to a life of prostitution and that the rapist/abuser is setting the child up so that they can use them for further sexual pleasure.
    The child is told during the rape/abuse that they deserve what is happening to them and that they are dirty and that this is all that they are worth. Again the child will believe what they are told by the rapist/abuser. The affect that this has on the child is that their self esteem is lowered to such a level that they no longer care what happens to them; they believe that they are only worth being used as sexual object’s by adult males. Subsequently the child is easily led by the rapist/abuser into prostitution and from there he graduates to instead of being someone who is being abused by a rapist/abuser to someone who is now going out their way to be abused. They believe that all they deserve is this abuse, and that they will never be any different and that they are destined to this abuse.
    References
    *1 The Power Game is Played, N. O’Mara 1986

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