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Blackmailed into sex: how male rape is on the rise | The Sun

domestic abuseAfter Matt got horribly drunk on a night out with his girlfriend he wanted nothing more than to collapse into bed and sleep it off.

But his girlfriend had different ideas.

“She started trying to have sex with me and I told her I did not want to as I was drunk and very tired and felt sick,” he recalls.

“She didn’t take no for an answer and started hurting me, forcing herself on me, hands around my neck, telling me I would do it or she would kill me. I didn’t know how to face her the morning after. I felt shameful and violated.”

They are emotions that many female victims of a sex attack will recognise – and if Matt was a woman then no-one would be in any doubt that this was rape.

But a man being raped by a woman is something that’s not often talked about.

Forced to Penetrate = Rape

Dr Siobhan Weare
Dr Siobhan Weare decided to undertake her research because she believed there was little known about ‘forced to penetrate’ cases

Dr Siobhan Weare of Lancaster University Law School, who led the study, has shed fascinating light on these ‘forced to penetrate’ cases – so named because such cases are excluded from the legal definition of rape.

Until now, they have remained hitherto largely unexplored and ignored by society and researchers but here Sun Online tells their incredible story.

Recruited through word of mouth and social media, the study was supported by Survivors Manchester, a charity supporting males who have experienced sexual violation.

Its Chief Executive Duncan Craig knows only too well the double standards that can underpin our approach to sex crime.

“The notion of male victims and female perpetrators is one of society’s last taboos – yet in reality this has always gone on,” he says.

“When Siobhan approached me about her study I had a client who had been engaged in sexual activity by his babysitter when he was 14 and she was 30.

“It had let him with many issues about relationships but for years he hadn’t ever really seen it as abuse,” he says.

“Instead he felt like he should be thankful for what he called his ‘Mrs Robinson’ experience but when he began to talk about it he realised the power dynamic that had been at play.”

An erection doesn’t always mean you’re turned on

There’s a popular belief that if a man is aroused then he must be willing.

“Actually that’s simply not true,” says Dr Weare. “Male sexual arousal is a physiological response to stimulus – you can be aroused even if you are anxious or fearful or upset.”

Linked to this is the entrenched belief that women are somehow incapable of committing sexual violence.
“In terms of the data we know that women are disproportionately affected as victims.

“However, what isn’t discussed is that women can and do commit sexual crimes,” she says.

The 150-plus men who took part in Dr Weare’s study can testify otherwise.

Ranging in age from 18 to 70, for most the incidents had taken place when they were between the ages of 16-25, although they had happened at all ages – the earliest at two, the oldest at 61.

Blackmailed into sex

Another client of Craig’s was going through a divorce and felt obliged and manipulated into having to have some kind of sexual activity with his soon-to-be-ex wife. If he didn’t she would make it difficult for him to see his children.

“He didn’t have the money to go through the family court system so she was using the children as a form of blackmail,” says Craig.

“He didn’t want to do it and that led to feelings of shame and inadequacy, that he wasn’t a real man. But would you want to have sex with someone you no longer liked? Why are we assuming that boys should feel lucky but girls should be abused.”

Pressurised into sex on a date

forced penetrationDr Cindy Struckman-Johnson also knows only too well the cynicism that can underpin the notion of men as sex attack victims.

Three decades ago, as a fledgling psychology professor, she undertook a campus survey about date rape. Largely aimed at women, when the survey came back the results surprised her.

“While about 22 per sex of women said they had been pressurised into having sex on a date 16 per cent of men said the same thing,” she recalls.

“At the time I didn’t understand that – and that was echoed down the road when I presented my findings at a conference where the public reaction was one of disbelief.

“Playboy magazine ran a cartoon showing a woman chasing a man with a big net. It was the gist of many articles at the time – the prevailing stereotype is that any man would be perfectly thrilled to be pursued.”

Yet after undertaking several interviews with students on campus she knows this to be a dangerous myth.
“Several had been profoundly affected,” she says.

My ex broke in and demanded sex

“In one case, a student had split up with his girlfriend who couldn’t get over the break up and pursued him for sex.

“One night he was getting ready for a date and his ex broke in and was pounding on the door of his shower demanding sex. He had to wrestle her out the door. After that he suffered PTSD and didn’t want to be around women.”

She recalls another case in which a student confided how a girl he had viewed as a platonic friend had taken him out on his birthday, got him very drunk and then had sex with him.

“When he woke up she had brought him doughnuts and didn’t understand why was so upset,” Dr Struckman-Johnson says. “But as he told me he wanted his first time to be with someone of his choice. Can you imagine how people would feel if the roles were reversed?”

In fact, as Dr Weare points out, the majority of stories from male victims echo those of women.

“Most reflect what we know about sexual violence in general,” she says. “Commonly the victims were or had been in relationships with the perpetrator, or knew them.”

Some reported having been rendered incapacitated through alcohol, while a fifth said some kind of coercion was involved, including blackmail threats.

My ex-girlfriend said she’d kill herself

pressured into sexLike Steven*, a thirty-something who reported how he had been emotionally blackmailed into sex by his ex-girlfriend after he attempted to end the relationship.

“She became extremely emotional and began saying that she was going to commit suicide because she couldn’t handle it,” he told Dr Weare.

Terrified, he capitulated to sex against his will. “I couldn’t explain it but it felt as though I’d been made to have sex and been raped.

“I’ve never talked to anyone about it because they wouldn’t understand how I could have had sex against my will but it happened.”

Threatened with a machete

In a recent case in the USA, 19-year-old Samantha Mears was reported to have hid in her boyfriend’s house in Montana with a machete and forced him to have sex with her.

She was charged with aggravated burglary and assault – another reflection of the double standards around female sex crime. At present, she is unfit for trial.

In the UK, while a forced-to-penetrate case can be tried as sexual assault or ‘causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent’ they are lesser offences with different sentencing structures and parameters when compared with the offence of rape.

It’s undoubtedly one reason why only two men in Dr Weare’s study said that they had reported their experience to the police and in both instances the case did not make it to court.

“Legally they are very aware that what has happened to them isn’t rape but it feels like it is rape,” she says.

“While the majority didn’t experience physical injuries there was a great deal of emotional impact from severe anxiety and depression to suicide attempts.”

Eighty percent, meanwhile, did not disclose their experience to family or friends, suggesting that men are left feeling isolated and alone.

“A lot of men said they had found it difficult to trust women or form relationships,” she says. “Shame was a key emotion.”

Toxic stereotypes and the new #MeToo

Survivors Manchester
Duncan Craig from Survivors Manchester says that there are double standards when it comes to approaching sex crimes

Yet more recent research suggests an ever more pressing need to bring these cases into the open.

It’s one reason that Dr Struckman-Johnson believes the focus on consent which has swept college campuses needs to involve both genders.

“This issue has been so female focused that people haven’t been able to break away and broaden it,” she says. “That needs to change – and fast.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Duncan Craig. “There has been a lot of talk in recent months about toxic masculinity but I’m not sure we are talking about the right thing – I think we should be talking about toxic stereotypes which are not healthy for men or women,” he says.

With so many harrowing stories out there, perhaps this will be the next #MeToo.

*Names have been changed

For help and support, contact the #5MillionMen National Male Survivors Helpline: 0808 800 5005

Dr Siobhan Weare is continuing her research in this area. If you are a man who has been affected by the issues discussed, and are interested in sharing your story as part of her research, please visit wp.lancs.ac.uk/forced-to-penetrate-cases/

Source: Jumped by the babysitter at 14 and blackmailed into sex: how male rape at the hands of modern women is on the rise

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