Male-rape support group launches campaign for funds

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The Independent Online
AN ADVERTISING campaign to raise money for counselling male rape victims was launched yesterday. Survivors, the only support group specifically for male victims of serious sexual assault, needs funds to cope with an increasing number of calls.

Male rape is probably the most under-reported crime in Britain. It does not even exist as an offence. In law it is either non-consensual buggery or serious sexual assault. Home Office figures do not record it.

Most victims are too ashamed to go to the police. But the number who reported attacks to the police doubled last year in London. Metropolitan Police statistics show an increase to 50 reported cases in 1993 compared with 27 for the previous year. Police and victim support groups agree that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Many people still believe it is a homosexual crime and take the view that victims must have brought it on themselves. In fact, fewer than half of the victims are homosexual and the majority of their attackers are heterosexual.

John, (not his real name) from south-west London, told no one when he was attacked by a work colleague 15 years ago while other workmates looked on. 'For the next 10 years I couldn't tell anyone. I tried to kill myself with medicine but I just ended up getting high. That helped me forget so I kept getting high. I dropped out of school. I ended up a heroin addict, in and out of prison,' he said.

He blocked out the ordeal until an advertisement about sex abuse jolted him into recollection. Two years ago, he met someone who understood what had happened. 'When I was attacked there was no Survivors, no Childline, nothing like that. I had to carry on working there with these men. It made me appreciate the difference between sex and power: It's about bullies and control.'

Because of common misconceptions about male rape, many people are reluctant to donate money for work to help victims. While Survivors has been given a small government grant - enough to pay half the full-time worker's salary - raising funds from other sources is difficult and time-consuming.

Initially, Survivors plans to place the advertisements - which feature victims either under threat, being attacked, or suffering the after-effects - in newspapers, with the hope of attracting donations. But it needs to raise pounds 5,000 to pay for the first round of adverts.

Survivors' helpline is 071 833 3737. The number for donations is 0789 200 324.

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