With three in 20 men reported to be victims of sexual assault at the hands of a woman, The River explores the other side of rape.
Finding yourself in bed with a girl who is totally up for it seems like the dream situation for a guy, but for one Kingston student, it turned into an embarrassing and traumatic experience.
“This is not enjoyable, this is not sex”
The 21-year-old second year male student fell victim to a sexual assault after going out and drinking. At the end of the evening he went back to a friend’s house, but with little sleeping space he had to share a bed with a woman he didn’t know very well.
He said: “She turned around and started kissing me, which was fine, but she was quite keen. Then she literally mounted me and put me inside her without any regard. It was traumatising. I was thinking, this is not enjoyable, this is not sex, this is not fun. I was just like ‘please, I want this to end’.
“One way or another it stopped… But she wanted to keep going. I didn’t want to make a scene or wake anyone up, but she bit me. It was so uncomfortable in the morning. We woke up and she was laughing about it and I was just in a state of shock.
“It was a very weird situation, it just made me feel so wrong. I never thought that could actually happen to a man, but it definitely can. You can definitely feel violated.”
Three in 20 men affected
Usually in cases of sexual violence, the victim is a woman and the perpetrator is a man. This typical situation is reflected in the facts and figures, but people seem to forget that this is not always the case. The UK charity, Mankind, suggest that three in 20 men will be affected by sexual violence at some point in their lives.
Government figures in January revealed that there are 473,000 adult victims of sex crimes every year (from indecent exposure to rape) of whom 72,000 are men.
This societal view of men being “manly” and “always up for it” is possibly the reason why many men feel they can’t open up as victims of sexual abuse.
Stereotype of being a man
Jo Wood, a trustee at Rape Crisis UK, said: “Any person who gets any form of sexual assault blames themselves, feels guilty and doesn’t know what to say. The stereotype of being a man does make a difference in the minds of men because that’s what society tells them. The most common reaction is ‘no one will ever believe me if I tell them this has happened’.”
The student felt he couldn’t go to the police because he is male and men can’t experience sexual assault. However, after some thought he realised the full scale of what had happened to him, but decided he felt too embarrassed to approach the relevant authorities.
“I felt going to the police would be way too sticky a situation to deal with. There are people who say ‘oh, a man got raped! No you didn’t’. I was just at the point of shame where I thought put it behind me and move on. I’m just trying to forget about it.”
There are a number of reasons why men feel this way after such a serious sex crime has taken place. Although rape and sexual abuse are both clearly defined in law, they are difficult to prove in a court.
Victims are also left embarrassed and ashamed of events, which is potentially why 90 per cent of sexual abuse crimes – men and women – are unreported.
Ms Wood thinks that perhaps it is time that society started changing its victim-blaming and closed-up view on rape and sexual assault.
She says: “I think society is actually turning a corner now and thinking harder about it. They spend a lot of time in schools teaching you about how not to get pregnant, but they don’t teach you how to not have sex and how to say I don’t want it. There’s a long way to go in education.