A male rape survivor has been carrying around an unbearable ‘guilt’ for 15 years after suffering a sex attack when he was a young child.
Today, Sheffield man Jon Dexter has finally broken his silence in a brave effort to change the fact there is no help available in the city for men and boys who have suffered sexual abuse.
There must be other people who feel they can’t come forward because there’s nothing there. What I’d say to those people is, ‘Don’t feel ashamed’Jon Dexter
Jon was just six years old when a ten-year-old boy persuaded him to have sex.
The call centre worker said: “It was someone on the estate and he was a kid himself. He was quite friendly, he would give you sweets. I was always quite trusting.
“I didn’t tell anyone until I was 16 and I always carried that guilt as I thought it was my fault. It was within the last few months where I thought, it’s not my fault, and I shouldn’t be carrying any guilt.
“I have trust issues and I have trouble socialising generally.”
When he was 16, Jon told his parents he had been raped.
He said: “I just sat them down and said, ‘This happened. I don’t want a fuss being made of it’. I felt a weight had been lifted. I still felt guilty at that point, I felt I was getting other people into my guilt.”
Jon said he has never had a proper relationship as he tends to ‘push people away’ and his past has affected his subsequent sexual encounters.
Eventually, he decided to seek help so he could have the support he needed to move on his life without the ordeal continuing to haunt him.
He said: “I looked on Google to see if there were any charities or services and there’s just nothing in Sheffield at all for men.
“If there was something for men and not for women, there would be a big uproar.
“It makes me feel like your own city feels like men can’t be raped, or don’t need help if they are.
“There must be other people who feel they can’t come forward because there’s nothing there. What I’d say to those people is, ‘Don’t feel ashamed’.”
Meera Kulkarni, of the Sheffield Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, said a lack of funding means the service – which is only available to women – is ‘fighting for survival’.
She said: “We recognise that the service and provision for all survivors of sexual abuse is inadequate.
“We are fighting for funding year on year and we know that we only touch the tip of the iceberg in terms of the people that need our support.
“There’s an increase across the board. We are trying to meet more and more people’s needs with a shrinking pot of money.
“It’s shocking to think that at the moment, when they men and boys in Sheffield do come forward and speak there’s no support for them.”
Counselling services are available for men in Rotherham and Barnsley until at least March 2016 thanks to a grant from the Ministry of Justice. Sheila Mudadi-Billings, clinical lead co-ordinator at the Rotherham Women’s Counselling Service and PIT STOP Counselling for men in Rotherham, said about ten per cent of their referrals are men.
She said: “I can’t tell you when there’s going to be something for men in Sheffield but Jon is welcome to come here and there are slots available now.
“With men, when they do start with us and engage they sustain counselling, but some don’t engage. Women talk easily and express their emotions more easily than men do.”
WHAT IS SEXUAL ABUSE?
Rape and sexual assault are types of sexual abuse. They involve being forced to have sex, or when somebody intentionally touches you in a sexual way without consent. It can happen to anyone – either male or female, of any race, age or sexual orientation.
Experiencing rape or sexual assault can leave victims feeling frightened, confused, and vulnerable or feeling all sorts of emotions and it is OK to feel that way.
Some victims may still experience those feelings years after the abuse took place. The support services remind victims that it is not their fault and they should never blame themselves for what happened.
The Sheffield Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre offers services for women including a helpline on 0114 244 7936, which is staffed a number of times a week. At times when it is not staffed, you can leave a message.
The centre also offers counselling sessions for victims and support for friends, partners or relatives of those who have suffered sexual abuse.
The Rotherham Women’s Counselling Service and PIT STOP Counselling Service for Men has a helpline – 01709 830238 – which is open on Thursday mornings from 9.30am to 10.30am.
Again, callers can leave a message and a counsellor will ring back during the helpline operating times.
- Useful sites for victims of childhood abuse include The National Association for People Abused in Childhood, napac.org; or The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children,nspcc.org.uk.