In the light of MSP’s involvement in the latest headlines with Coronation Street, Sam Thompson shares his thoughts.
In March 2017 whilst engaging in therapy with MSP founding member, Survivors Manchester, I made the decision that I wanted to grab my negative experience, take back the power that it took from me and turn it into something positive that gave my life meaning again.
I was hammering my way down the recovery highway with less than a handful of miles to go before I reached my destination when I realised that I was beginning to loose momentum, but why? My tank was full of determination, I was being regularly serviced by Survivors Manchester, and I had more than enough supportive passengers to keep me on the straight and narrow. As I glanced in my rear view mirror the realisation applied itself to my breaks and escorted me into the nearest layby. I was leaving other survivors behind.
I had found my voice, broke my silence and started to rebuild the life that had crumbled from all around me. This though is not the same for every survivor out there. On average in takes men over 20 years to talk about being a victim of sexual assault or abuse and when we combine that with the fact that 1 in 6 men worldwide have survived these experiences… that is a shockingly high number of people that are battling to contain a mixture of uncontrollable emotions. Why do we as men feel the need to put ourselves through that kind of pain? I have no idea but what I do know is we isolate ourselves by not talking about our feelings, get trapped behind the outdated perception of masculinity and essentially feel like we have to face every one of life’s problems alone.
This then gave me the idea to share my story as far and wide as possible in order to show other men that talking about our feelings and experiences actually helps us to recover. Additionally I wanted to show that certain experiences and events are out of our control and therefore by experiencing them we are not any less of a man. But most importantly men need to know that we do not have to face everything on our own and even as a survivor of an unwanted sexual experience we are not alone. With the help of Survivors Manchester, JamPR and a number of other people I managed to achieve worldwide coverage of my story on a variety of media platforms, encouraging an unbelievable number of people to break their silence.
Once I’d taken a moment to recover and process everything that I had achieved I was contacted and asked to take part in a documentary for Channel 5. In this documentary ‘Raped: My Story’ 9 women and me shared our experiences with the hope of breaking down some of the myths surrounding rape and changing some of the misconceptions. We all received a phenomenal reception for out involvement and an exciting level of engagement from people that once believed rape to be about the length of your skirt or the number you’d score on a breathalyser.
More recently I have been involved in working alongside Survivors Manchester and Coronation Street to develop a storyline that has projected male rape in to the forefront of people’s minds. On Friday 16th March our televisions implied that David Platt had been drugged and raped by Josh Tucker. On Saturday morning there had been a 200% increase in the number of males seeking support from the National Male Survivor Helpline, delivered by MSP founding member Safeline, for the first time and this had increased to 1700% by Wednesday. Incredible!
I can now safely say to myself that I have turned my negative experience into something positive and I am proud of that. What I can also say is that there is a direct correlation between negative experiences featuring in the media and the positive outcomes that follow when they are covered with the right level of care and attention. Some people may be appalled that the rape of a man has occurred on their beloved soap however aren’t they willing to let it slide? Just for a few weeks? Isn’t it more important that thousands of people are making the life changing decision to embark on the highway of recovery?