15,165 rapes were reported to the police in England and Wales in the year 2009/2010, according to Home Office figures. Of those, just over eleven hundred were by men.
Recently, one male victim spoke out, the account of his ordeal being published in The Guardian. The victim is also a police officer who had spent fifteen years specialising in serious crime and sexual offences. It gave him a traumatic insight into what rape victims - who are overwhelmingly female - often experience and why so few are willing to take their case to court.
Here is a quote from early on in the article:
...a couple of weeks ago, I made a series of choices that led to me, a heterosexual man, waking up in a man's bed, trapped underneath him. Being raped. I'm still struggling to come to terms with how, despite my decades of professional experience, I made the choices that led to me being raped. At no point the evening before had I felt at risk. At no point did I think I was making a bad decision.
Sadly and in common with many, many other people, this experienced police officer came to the conclusion that the rape was to a large extent his - the victim's - fault. He talks of "choices" and a "bad decision" that led to him being raped. He feels he placed himself in a situation that allowed another man to attack him, rather than laying the blame where it truly belongs: at the door of the rapist.
The rapist made the choice to force himself on his victim, that was the only "bad decision" that was made in the scenario outlined in the article.
The victim was by his own admission very drunk and he woke from his stupor while the rape was in progress. There was no doubt in his mind that he did not give consent to sexual intercourse. And when he mentioned the incident to his boss in the police force, it seems there was no question mark over whether he gave his consent to the act or not. It was simply taken as read that he did not.
Likewise, when the victim refused to co-operate with the police desire to push to prosecute his attacker, there was no suggestion that this was because the allegation was in any way false.
These are his reported words on the reasons why he refused to press charges:
I'm a victim first and a police officer second. I'm not the first victim to decide not to press charges, and I won't be the last. Being a cop means I know the system, and it has scared me off. I know this case would be likely to end in court and, from that point, I couldn't maintain my anonymity. I couldn't cope with the added burden of being a cop as well as a victim.
Let me make it clear: I feel extremely sorry for this rape victim. His was a harrowing ordeal - as all rapes are - and he was left with his self-esteem and emotions in tatters. But I can't help wondering how his case would have been regarded had he been a woman reporting the same scenario. Or a man unknown to the investigating officers.
The article ends with the police officer saying he now has more sympathy and empathy for those victims he has been working with.
What is sad is that it took a rape for him to gain this understanding.