#MeToo has proven to be a triumph for so many, demonstrating the scale of assault, harassment and abuse, and allowing survivors to stand in solidarity with one another. We’ve seen how individual experiences have amalgamated to create something so much bigger than the sum of its parts. Yet, despite all its successes, the movement has been dominated by female voices, leaving many male survivors feeling isolated from the movement, like their experiences do not play a part in the campaign to end sexual violence.
We know only too well the stigmas facing certain survivors due to their own gender, or the gender of their abuser. There are an estimated 631,000 male survivors living in England and Wales alone who have experienced sexual assault since the age of 18; and a further 567,000 males who experienced childhood sexual abuse – shockingly totaling a figure more or less en par with the entire population of Birmingham.
Whilst sharing their story and seeking support is often an act of bravery for any survivor, we know only too well the barriers that male survivors face in disclosing their experiences: In the last ten years, reporting of sexual assaults against males rose from 1,132 to 4,520 (+299%) in the last ten years, yet a survey in 2015 estimated that around 96% of sexual offences against males goes unreported.
The reality is that there is no one type of sexual violence and abuse victim; it can happen to anyone, at any point in their lives, regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity or any other characteristic.
It’s only by listening to the stories of others, can we ensure that all survivors feel able and empowered to seek support to overcome the often devastating impacts of sexual violence.
All this is why we’re proud to support #ThisManToo, a campaign launched to amplify the voices that may have felt left behind by #metoo, and led by Stay Brave’s very own Media Champion, Finlay McFarlane. The movement aims to raising awareness of male survivors, and tackling the stigma faced by so many when it comes to speaking out about their experiences.
Stay Brave’s Chief Executive, Alexander Morgan, has said this about Finaly's Story:
"We've always been in awe of how passionate Finlay is about helping others. Survivors we've spoken to tell us that hearing about others stories helps them come to terms with what happened; Finlay's bravery will have an immense and lasting impact on those who might feel isolated and alone."
We’re pleased to see that the campaign is already making waves: Finlay has been invited onto BBC Scotland’s The Nine, as well as had his efforts commended by multiple MPs in both Scottish Parliament and the House of Common.
Barriers to sharing experiences are barriers to seeking much needed support, to reporting, to justice, and –ultimately – to recovery. Let’s bring those barriers down.
Join the conversation today on Twitter and Facebook with #ThisManToo and watch BBC Scotland The Nine's full video here.
This blog was written by Rachel Turpin who is our Policy & Campaigns Manager here at Stay Brave. You can find out about how to be more involved with the work we do you can check out our What You Can Do page.
*All images used are credited to the BBC.