Carol Anne Davis on the misunderstood topic of male on male rape.
A woman steps under the shower and begins to wash her hair. Seconds later a man rushes in, throws her to the ground and brutally rapes her. That woman would have the nation's sympathy - but replace the word 'woman' with 'man' and many people suggest that the victim is weak for not fighting back.
In truth, most of us have laughed at jokes about prisoners bending down to pick up the soap - but the reality is no laughing matter. Men suffer this horrendous pain and humiliation in British and foreign prisons every day. Young slender youths are often targeted and used as substitute females, whilst larger men are gang-raped as a punishment for their crimes or for offending another con.
But male on male rape isn't confined to the jail shower room or isolated cell. Men and boys are raped in quiet suburban streets and darkened railway stations, anywhere that they are vulnerable. When researching my male-rape novel Kiss It Away I found a case where a young man was abducted from a gymnasium car park and raped by two men. He was gay and his attackers constantly made homophobic comments as they beat and sodomised him. In other words they believed that they were raping him as a punishment for his sexuality. Another case involved a happily married man who was raped at gunpoint by a vicious stranger whilst hillwalking alone.
People often assume that male on male rape is an exclusively gay crime, but the reverse is true - most men who rape their own gender consider themselves to be strictly heterosexual. Many are married or living with a girlfriend. They use the rape as an extreme form of violence and degradation rather than as an expression of sexual desire. That's probably why gang rape is so popular with this kind of crime - there's less opportunity for the rapist to view this as a one-to-one sex act when his macho cronies are standing in line waiting for their turn and cheering him on.
Victims of such gang rapes often commit suicide. Plagued by nightmares and flashbacks, some kill themselves years after the event. But I wanted to give my rape victim hope, so he is raped by a single attacker, finds a support network and eventually gets his life back on track. Most of the novel is from the rapist Nick's viewpoint, as such crime doesn't exist in a vacuum. The reader learns of the pivotal moments which make him want to rape both women and men, but he's still master of his own destiny as he chooses to give in to his sadistic desires. He tries to project the blame onto his male and female victims whose only mistake is being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Until a few years ago, society did little to help male victims of rape - so if the police took away a victim's clothes for forensic testing they didn't have an outfit for him to go home in. And if he phoned a rape crisis centre he was regarded with deep suspicion by the exclusively female staff and turned away. But medical and police personnel are now much more aware of such sex crimes and there are support groups (albeit few in number) for these traumatised men. The police told me that they take such assaults very seriously and the man is given the same compassion and assistance that a female victim gets. Even so, statisticians are convinced that most men don't report their rape ordeal to the authorities and don't even tell their wife or girlfriend. Instead, they try to repress the memories or anaesthetise them with drink.
One man I know was lured to a paedophile's house as a lonely adolescent. What followed was statutory rape and the boy began drinking heavily and became an alcoholic by age eighteen. Though heterosexual, he was obsessed with anal sex and was so violent that he soon had a record for GBH.
Rape is a cruel invasive crime regardless of the victim's gender and the man who is raped deserves medical, judicial and societal support.
It Away by Carol
Anne Davis is now available in paperback.
The Bookseller 'Davis understands primal fears from the inside,'
Forum Magazine 'Davis produces psychological thrillers with a strong erotic edge'
Crime Factory 'a tightly drawn psychological tale told in the raw.'
Tangled Web UK Reviews by Cath
Staincliff and Martin