Survivors Manchester, a charity that supports male survivors of sexual abuse and rape, has received over 200 new enquiries to its Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVA) service in the past 12 months.
The service offers confidential help and advice to men and boys affected by sexual abuse and rape, providing a tailored support plan. In addition, survivors are also offered assistance through the criminal justice system - from initial report to court and beyond - should they request it.
The recent series of Broadchurch highlighted the work of ISVAs when a lead character took on the role of an adviser to help with the aftermath of a sexual assault case - a potential factor in the surge of new clients.
CEO and founder of Survivors Manchester, Duncan Craig, said: “Programmes such as Broadchurch have really helped highlight the issues surrounding sexual abuse and are no doubt a factor in the increase in clients that we’ve seen.
“Despite this, the shame and stigma that surrounds male sexual abuse remains a problem. I founded Survivors Manchester in 2009 after I realised that there was a severe lack of support for male survivors of sexual abuse in the North West. As a society, I think we’ve created some rather destructive idealisms surrounding men. We’re made to feel as though we should be unemotional beings that shouldn’t come forward for help or support when it comes to mental health or issues such as sexual violation.
“The purpose of the ISVA is to offer confidential and completely impartial support. For survivors that do decide to report their experience to the police, for example, the reporting process and court proceedings can sometimes be rather complex and daunting; it’s the ISVA’s role to explain what happens and how the criminal justice process works.”
The service is completely confidential and not linked to the police, and survivors do not have to report the incident if they choose not to. The role of the ISVA is to ensure that survivors have all the necessary information and support to make an informed choice about what’s best for them. The ISVA service can assist with anything from support with attending court proceedings to safety planning.
Duncan continued: “Specialist services such as ISVAs are really helping to break the taboo that surrounds the issue of male sexual abuse. The fact that Survivors Manchester’s ISVA has seen a strong year on year increase of people using the service suggests that men are becoming more aware of the support that’s available to them, which is a very positive and encouraging step.”
The ISVAs at Survivors Manchester have all undertaken accredited training and are formally recognised by Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Prosecution Service. Clients are also able to choose from a male or female ISVA.
For further information on Survivors Manchester, please visit www.survivorsmanchester.org.uk