male rape: Breaking the silence
Alexander Morgan chats with BOYBLUE about the stigma surrounding male rape and sexual assault. Stay Brave UK is a new charity here to help survivors. The BBC documentary 'Male Rape: Breaking the Silence', is now streaming on bbc iplayer.
What was the starting point of Stay Brave UK and how did you begin the journey of helping others that have gone through a similar traumatic situation?
Alexander: The idea of helping others came first. It had taken me years to come to terms with what happened to me and when I finally told my family, I can't imagine how hard it must have been for them, or any other parent; to hear that your child was raped.
We didn't speak about it for a long while but months later when I visited home my mum and I were in the kitchen. As I was making tea she turned and said to me "What happened to you was terrible; go out there and stop it happening to someone else".
We never spoke of it again. But I don't think she needed to - she knew me and, although it had taken her a while she knew exactly the kind of spark I needed. From that point on I tried my best to do just that.
Have you faced stigma while setting up Stay Brave UK?
A: When I gathered the courage to call a helpline I was turned away. I was told that the helpline was for females and they are the victims, I was bullied and told that they couldn't help me as I was male. I tried to explain that my perpetrator was also a male but the call was terminated.
I thought a lot about what would be different if that call was different - how much better I would have been in life if I got the help that took so much bravery to ask for. I want to make sure that everyone who gathers that bravery is never turned away. That's Stay Brave UK's mission.
Getting men to talk about what’s getting them down or opening up about a sexual assault can be challenging due to the ongoing stigma around the subject. How will Stay Brave UK reach out?
A: Getting anyone to talk about what has happened to them is difficult. But it is true, men are three times more likely not to speak out than women due to stigma. Men are conditioned to keep emotions to themselves and not show weakness - even slang such as "man up" can prevent someone asking for help. There is also a lack of services and avenues for people who define themselves as LGB and the Transgender and non-binary communities.
Stay Brave UK wishes to make that journey as easy as possible. We want to make sure that when someone who is brave enough to open up gets the help they need, regardless of gender and orientation.
The BBC documentary airs today. Is the media a way to get people talking and way to overcome the stigma?
A: Stay Brave UK wants to encourage those who feel they're voiceless to share their stories. Each time someone shares their story it encourages more to come forward. When you see that someone else has been through what you have it gives you some hope that you yourself will be okay. We're hoping that with sharing my story through the documentary it'll help those survivors see that they are not alone, that they are believed and we're here to listen.
How can people get involved?
A: We encourage everyone to watch and share the documentary. But Stay Brave UK also needs help - we're a small charity with a big mission and we're not shy about saying we can't do it alone.
Walking Brave, is our annual ten-mile walk across London that symbolises the difficult journey survivors can take when asking for help. We also want to have people organise their own walks so survivors can see that there are people out there that they are not alone.
You can make a difference by taking part in our campaigns, challenges like Walking Brave and events by taking a look at our website.
If someone reading this needs help but is afraid to speak out, what do you have to say to them?
A: I would like them to know that I have been where they are and there is a future for them. I encourage them to let someone know what happened, whether that be a friend, family member or talk to one of the services that can help. Know that you'll be believed and we can help.
If you feel like you want to talk to someone, there are details available on Stay Brave UK's website: Stay Brave UK
Find out more and follow Stay Brave UK on Twitter - @StayBraveUK