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Weʼre raising £25,000 to fund the continuation of support for male victims of abuse in Oxfordshire. campaign for more support for male victims

Oxford, UK

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Story

Male abuse is incredibly common but often goes undetected. In general men do not seek help. This is for many reasons but one central issue is the perceived stigma attached of being a victim. The idea that “men don’t cry” or that getting help is a sign of weakness is very prevalent.

The consequences of not seeking help are varied but usually lead to inappropriate coping mechanisms being adopted, such as alcohol and drug abuse. These inappropriate coping strategies tend to destroy their lives and their family members’ lives; harm relationships of people close to them and has a negative effect on the wider society.

We aim to start addressing two main areas:

• Continuing one to one support for males who have been victims of abuse either in childhood or as adults

• To provide a programme through schools and colleges for Young males aged 11-21 to encourage them to talk about their problems and remove the stigma and shame in males accessing support.

ISSUES ARISING FROM THE ABUSE AND NEGLECT OF MALE VICTIMS OF ABUSE

In 2013, after the Jimmy Saville scandal had broken, we began to receive phone calls and e-mails from male victims of abuse asking for help. We took the decision as a charity to change our name and our charitable objectives to incorporate a male service. In the first three years of this service running we have seen over 100 male clients ranging from 15 – 72 years of age and of all ethnicities and backgrounds. Although most of these clients were talking about historic sexual abuse some were still being abused. Over the years we have identified a pattern of unhealthy coping mechanisms being used to cover up the mental and emotional effects of abuse. We found our experience of these clients was very similar to the to the picture seen nationally. Below is a summary of some of the horrifying statistics we as a society need to face up to.

• Suicide is the most common cause of death in MALES under 35

• 65% of Alcohol related deaths are MALES

• 79% of drug related deaths are MALES

• 99% of homelessness are MALES

• 75% of prison inmates have been abused as children/adults

• 46% of domestic abuse victims were MALE last year

• 9% of assaults resulted in the victim attempting suicide

• 61% of victims of serious sexual assault suffered mental or emotional problems

• 41% of victims reported having problems trusting people or having difficulty in their other relationships

• 45% reported suffering physical pain from the most recent serious sexual assault incident they had experienced since age 16. The physical injuries victims were most likely to suffer were minor bruising or a black eye (30%).

• 3% of victims reported contracting a disease from the incidents in 3%

• Men who abused girls had 2-3 victim’s men who abused boys had 12-15 victims.

In 2015-16 we ran a drop in service at Banbury academy. It was aimed at men aged between 15-17 years. 30 clients attended and their reasons included bullying, neglect at home, anger issues and engaging in unhealthy coping mechanisms. Many also identified themselves as potential perpetrators of abuse.

In 2016 we undertook some work at the Ley Community in Yarnton. The Ley Community is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation unit. There seemed to be a common theme that most of these men had experienced neglect or abuse as a child. None of them had ever talked about these issues until our visits and had turned to drugs and alcohol as their therapy. Unsurprisingly this path had lead many of them to spend time in prison. Interestingly, prison was identified as a safe haven, which set boundaries and gave them structure, something they had not found in the outside world.

Over the past three years we have worked with over 100 men on a one to one basis. Counselling and CBT is used to deal with the effects of historical sexual, mental and physical abuse. All the men had kept these secrets hidden, due to the stigma and shame attached to sexual abuse. The effects had been devastating, including substance abuse, gambling addictions, broken relationships and isolation. Many of the men had been in social care at the time of the abuse and struggled with wider society.

It is a known fact that men are less likely to access healthcare and support than women, this is due once again to the stigma and shame that “real men don’t cry” or that talking about your problems is a sign of weakness.

The Effects of Abuse

As well as the frightening statistics above there are many other side effects that can have life altering consequences for male victims, these are just some of them.

• PTSD

• Guilt and shame

• Anger

• Fear

• Anxiety

• Self-loathing

• Self-harm

• Alcoholism and drug bbuse

• Confusion around sexuality

• Appeasing [Needing to Be Loved]

• Flashbacks

• Intrusive Thoughts

• Rigid Boundaries or Lack of Boundaries

• Viewing Sex as An Obligation

• Seeing Sex as a means to Exert Power

• Confusing Sex and Love

• Difficulty Forming Close Relationships

• Trust Issues/Intimacy Issues

• Sexual Relationship Dysfunctions

• Difficulty with Authority Figures

• Vague or No Recollection of Early Years or Periods

• Psychosomatic Symptoms Including Long Term Ailments

In recent month’s we have also been working with perpetrators of domestic abuse, from within the Thames Valley due to lack of services available. This has been emotionally difficult as the majority of our work deals with the effects of domestic abuse on women. There has been a great deal of new evidence that indicates that it is only by working with the perpetrators that we can reduce the incidents of domestic abuse. What we discovered was enlightening

• Many of the male perpetrators had been victims of abuse themselves.

• Many had witnessed domestic abuse as children

• Many didn’t recognise their behaviour as abusive

• None had recognised the effect on their children of their abusive behaviour

These problems now have to be addressed not only for the individuals involved but also for the wider society as a whole.

Case studies

Male Client A was abused at the age of 11 whilst in a residential children’s home. Although he reported the abuse at the time the police and social workers threatened him and pressurised him to withdraw the claim. They said his story wouldn’t be believed because he was a troublemaker. He went on to fail at school and left with no qualifications. He moved away when he was 16 to escape the unbearable memories. He began to use alcohol and drugs to cover the feelings of guilt and shame. He had difficulty maintaining relationships and trusting authority. He has suffered from depression and anxiety most of his life. Although he now has his own business and a small circle of trusted friends his ability to cope with the memories and effects of the abuse still haunt him at the age of 52. After the Jimmy Saville scandal broke he became very depressed as this brought the sordid memories of the past back in to focus. He reported it to the police and an investigation was undertaken. The perpetrator has now been charged with multiple offences spanning decades. He has been under our service for 2 years and we will continue to support him up to and after the trial. He searched for months to try and get some support. He felt let down by services that were meant to protect him and a specific lack of support due to him being a male victim.

Male B was abused at the age of 11 whilst attending scouts. The abuse continued for a year and only stopped when he left the scouts. At the time, he had just lost his father who was a policeman and his mother was not coping. He became very withdrawn and isolated from everything. At the age of 18 he started drinking to cover up the feelings. In 2014, He accessed our services. It was the first time he had disclosed the abuse. Some of the effects that he had suffered over the years had been unbearable. He attended rehab in 2015 and appeared to be doing well. He started volunteering for our charity. In 2016, he felt able to discuss the abuse with his Mum. Unfortunately, she rejected him and said he was making up lies to excuse the alcoholism. That night he booked in to a hotel and drunk himself to death. He was 46. He left behind a wife and two young daughters. His wife said he just wanted people to understand the long-lasting effects that abuse has.

Male C is a 48-year-old man who was sexually and physically abused by his father. At the age of 12 he started taking drugs and getting involved in gangs. At 16 he was sent to prison and spent the next 30 years of his life in and out of prison for drug offences where he continued to suffer abuse. We supported him whilst he was in rehab and he is now drug free. He has never known a normal life. He has never been to the cinema, learnt to drive, been on holiday, been to a library or a football match. He felt that he had missed out on a whole life. He is now trying to build a new life but he has struggled to maintain friendships and learn to live on the outside.

Male D is a 23-year-old man who was sexually abused by a female friend of his mother’s at the age of 13. He got in to drugs and alcohol and left the family home at 16. He has never been able to tell anyone about the abuse. He has had problems with previous girlfriends where he has been jealous or overbearing. He was homeless for a year and sleeping rough for some of the time. The shame that he feels and the stigma attached has lead to several attempts at suicide.

Male E Is a 16-year-old boy who has witnessed domestic violence at home between his mother and step father. He has severe anger issues and finds it hard to control unbearable rages. He feels guilty at not protecting his mother and siblings. At the age of 15 he tried to take his own life.

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    Page last updated on: 6/21/2018 11:44 AM

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      Angela Hall

      Angela Hall

      Oxford, UK

      Clean Slate has been supporting male victims since 2013 and has seen in excess of 150 males in this time. The come from all walks of life and cultures and are of all ages. The abuse has not only affected their own lives but that of their families.

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