Rape or sexual assault: information for men

Being a victim of any kind of crime can be frightening and upsetting. But rape and sexual assault are particularly distressing crimes for the victim and the effects can last for a long time. And men can find this kind of attack difficult to deal with because this is widely, but wrongly, thought of as a crime that only affects women. 

Many men feel ashamed or embarrassed because of this, but it is estimated that around 1 in 20 men have been sexually assaulted at least once in their lifetime. 

As everybody is different, it is not easy to know exactly how you will feel. But it’s very likely that you are going though some very intense emotions. People who’ve been through this describe feeling frightened, guilty, powerless, angry, ashamed and depressed, and have difficulty eating, sleeping or concentrating. Many victims feel that they have lost control over their lives and lose their self-esteem. Some find it very difficult to deal with the intimate aspects of the crime, especially when they have to talk to other people about what has happened.

If you’ve been assaulted by a partner or someone else you know, the effects may be even greater. As well as the experience itself you’ve had your trust abused and this can affect your relationship with other people, both now and in the future. You might also be worried about how friends and family are going to react. But never forget that whoever the attacker was, it is not your fault.

A few facts about rape and male victims

Men can be victims of sexual attack regardless of their sexual orientation.

While the attacker is more often male, men can be and are sexually assaulted by women. 

Rape and other forms of sexual assault are violent crimes that involve sexual acts and while the sexuality of those involved can sometimes be a factor, it is frequently not. 

For many attackers, the most significant thing is that they are taking control of the victim, expressing anger or seeking to hurt someone – albeit through a forced sexual act. 

If you have been a victim of this kind of crime you may naturally start to think about issues of sexuality. You may wonder if the attacker was gay, straight or bisexual. You may also worry about whether or not it has implications for your own sexuality. Some men are particularly upset because they may have become physically aroused during the attack and worry about what this could mean. But if this has happened to you, you should remember that this is likely to have been a purely physical reaction, like a reflex, over which you may have no control. 

These are issues that concern many victims of sexual assault and it can be helpful to talk to someone, like one of our volunteers, about this and other fears or worries you may have.

Help is available

Specialist support and counselling for survivors of rape or sexual assault is available from JAAR (Jersey Action Against Rape), helpline 01534 482800,  www.jaar.je

Victim Support can also offer emotional support and practical help to anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted, either now or in the past. Our services are free and confidential. Some people can take years to build up the courage to report it – this is not unusual. If it is affecting your life you need to talk about it. We can help, regardless of whether you have told the police or anyone else about the 

Our volunteers can meet with you either at our office in the Magistrate’s Court, where we have quiet, private rooms, or somewhere else if you would feel more comfortable. If you don’t want to see anyone face-to-face, you can also talk to us on the phone.

If you choose to report the attack, we can go to the police station with you. If you give evidence in court, our Witness Service can help you to cope with the experience. We can also give you information about compensation.

Health issues

You may be worried about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) after a rape or sexual attack. If you are over 16, hospitals and doctors must see you in complete confidence, and will not tell the police unless you ask them to. Even if you are under 16 most doctors will try to keep what has happened as confidential as possible. If you prefer not to use your own GP you can go to the GUM clinic at the General Hospital, which offers free and confidential testing and advice. It operates a walk-in service and is open Tuesday 5pm (men) Wednesday 5pm (women) and Thursday 5pm (men and women). For more information see http://www.gov.je/Health/HealthyLiving/SexualHealth/Pages/GUMClinic.aspx

If you are under 21 years or under you can also get help and advice from Brook – see their website for more information http://www.brook.org.uk/find-a-service/regions/jersey

If you may have been exposed to HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), you should seek medical advice quickly as there is medication which can prevent HIV from taking hold in some people – but only if it is taken quickly after infection. This treatment, called post exposure prophylaxis (PEP), is available from the General Hospital. You can find out more about PEP on the Terrence Higgins Trust website.  You can choose to have an HIV test separately. This will usually happen at the GUM clinic and you will normally be offered counselling before the test. Your GP can arrange the test for you, but if you are worried about confidentiality you can go direct to the GUM clinic.

For confidential advice about HIV, call the UK based THT Direct helpline on 0845 12 21 200 (10am – 10pm Monday to Friday, 12pm – 6pm Saturday and Sunday), or the UK 24-hour Sexual Healthline on 0800 567 123.

Informing the police

Only you can decide whether or not to report the assault to the police. We will support you whatever you decide. 

If you report an attack soon after it has happened, however, it may give the police an opportunity to get forensic evidence against your attacker that might not be there if you report the crime later. A police officer will take basic details from you. If the assault happened recently, the police will arrange an examination by medical staff to collect evidence. We know that an intimate examination might be the last thing you want after an experience like this, but it’s important to remember that it may give the police evidence to help convict your attacker. 

If you’re unsure about what to do, we can talk through your options with you and help you make a choice you feel comfortable with.

The police will take further details from you only when you feel ready. The statement you make will be used as the main evidence if your attacker is caught and there is a court case. The police should arrange an interpreter for people who have difficulties with English.

You will be told the name of the officer dealing with your case. The police will let you know if someone is caught and charged and whether or not they are released on bail. You should tell the police if you are worried that the attacker will harass or intimidate you. If the police charge someone with rape or indecent assault, they pass the evidence on to lawyers who prepare the case for court.

If you want, we can help you in your contact with the police.

The court process

You may have to wait a few months for the case to go to court if someone is charged with raping or assaulting you. 

If the person pleads ‘guilty’, you will not have to give evidence but you can still choose to go to court if you want to. The police should tell you what sentence has been given. If the person pleads ‘not guilty’ you may be asked to go to give evidence. If this happens, remember that you can take a friend for support, or we can arrange for one of our volunteers to go with you.

Going to court

If you have to go to court in connection with the attack, we have information on what to expect and how we can support you. Talk to one of our staff or volunteers and ask about the range of measures to help protect you and your privacy through the court process – we can give you details.

Other legal action

If you are worried about your safety you should tell the police and you may be able to obtain an injunction to help make sure that your attacker stays away from you. 

Compensation 

As a victim of sexual violence, you may be able to get Criminal Injuries Compensation. The crime must have been reported to the police for you to qualify, but we can give you more information about this.

How to contact us

Most people are referred to us by the police when a crime is reported, but anyone can contact us directly. Just ring the office on 440496 – if it is out of hours please leave a message with your name and phone number and someone will call you back. You can also email us at victimsupport@gov.je 

We hope that you will get in touch with us, but if you decide not to now, you can call us at any point in the future.

Useful links:

Jersey Action Against Rape www.jaar.je  01534 482800

Citizens Advice Bureau http://www.cab.org.je/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=59&Itemid=56

Brook Jersey http://www.brook.org.uk/find-a-service/regions/jersey

States of Jersey GUM clinic details http://www.gov.je/Health/HealthyLiving/SexualHealth/Pages/GUMClinic.aspx