On 24th March 2016, Duncan Craig, psychotherapist and founder/CEO of Survivors Manchester, came to present to CNW. Duncan is a totally engaging and energetic speaker with a real passion for his subject. He explained that he offers a ‘down to earth’ counselling approach in which he strives to find a mutual feeling language with which to engage with each client. “I am not an expert and the client has permission to disagree”.

His role, he says, is to champion male victims and offer a challenge to stereotypes.

Duncan is, himself, a survivor and told how during his initial training as a therapist, he began to uncover, raise his awareness and finally disclose the sexual abuse and rape he experienced in his childhood and teens. He told of the role counselling has played in getting him to where he is now, and also of the challenge and growth in supervision. He likens therapy to a healing train, where you can get off for a while and then get back on again. It’s a work in progress.

There are an estimated 78,000 victims of rape or attempted rape per year; 9,000 are male – more than one in ten. Figures suggest that few victims report to the police. Just 1,550 incidents of male rape were reported to the police in 2012/2013. Males share a difficulty and an inability to speak out. 72,000 men are victims of sexual offences each year and this does not include boys under 16. Statistics indicate that one in six UK males will have experienced some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18.

Duncan acknowledges that the campaigning of women’s groups has raised awareness of the domestic and sexual abuse of women over the past decades, and how these groups have fought for recognition and resources. There has been little help for men, and perhaps this is partly due to the fact that men have not banded together in the same way to campaign on this issue. The male victim has largely been invisible “we’ve looked one way and not looked the other way”. There is scant help for men. There are just four dedicated services for males (in Brighton, London, Leicester and Manchester). Men need safe spaces (and also shared space) to be believed, helped, listened to and cared for. It is perhaps understandable that men do not readily talk to each other about their experience of rape and sexual abuse.

In our society two major perceptions of maleness are strength and sexuality; being raped or sexually abused is experienced by the victim as a loss of both. The task of therapy is to work with this loss and also to unpick what it means to be male.

Duncan briefly took us through the definitions of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Rape, Serious Sexual Offences, and these can be found in the Sexual Offences Act 2033.
Male rape wasn’t classed as a crime until Andrew Richards became the first person to be convicted of attempted rape in 1994.

We were also given a description of Finkelhor’s Model of Sexual Offending, (Google it!) which charts the steps which take an offender from Motivation to offend, Overcoming their internal inhibitions, Addressing external inhibitions, to Ensuring the victim’s compliance.

Duncan packed an awful lot of information and insight into this presentation – too much to reproduce here, but his closing message was this:

There are so many barriers for a male to speak out, so lets remove what we can!

  • Boys and men have the right to heal.
  • No one should have to feel that they can’t speak out.
  • Abuse happens in isolation.
  • Healing happens together.
  • Stop, Listen and Believe.

More information and resources at www.survivorsmanchester.org.uk

Also www.survivorsuk.org

There is an interesting article by Duncan on the PODS website:
www.pods.online.org.uk/index.php/information/articles

Click on Child Sexual Abuse in the list of subcategories and you will find the article.

Recommended: ‘Forms of Feeling: The Heart of Psychotherapy’ by Robert F Hobson. A book which Duncan says influenced and helped him greatly.

Frances Owen