Sam Thompson, a budding DJ who moved to Manchester, saw his entire life turn upside down after the incident. But breaking the silence on the assault has helped him cope.
Most times when we talk about rape victims and incidents, the victim is generally a female. This is not because men do not get raped, it is simply because society has made the whole idea of masculinity such that men are ashamed to talk about any of their problems. They do not confess or open up about things that make them feel like "less of a man." This idea needs to change. Everyone is equal and men can and should speak up.
Sam Thompson, a male victim of rape recently opened up about his story and how it has changed his life. Two-and-a-half years ago, he was raped by two men during a night out. He is a budding DJ who had just moved to Manchester to follow his dreams. He was a bright, cheerful, happy, confident 22-year-old (now 24) who had plenty of friends, a close and supportive family, and a girlfriend who had moved to the city with him.
In one night, everything changed. He felt as though everything was taken away from him. It reached a point where he found himself standing on the edge of a bridge, ready to end it once and for all. During his emotional interview with LadBible, Sam said, "A friend of mine had come up to see me from back home. We'd gone on a night out but got separated when we were leaving one of the clubs." This is when things started to change but in the state of mind Sam was in, everything seemed just fine. He met a group of guys and started talking to them, he then decided to go and have a drink with them as well...because why not?
Our ambassador @sam_thompson_uk has written this incredible blog following @calhancobtb's interview on @VictoriaLIVE please take 5 minutes to read it and share it #breakthesilence - thank you https://t.co/ErgWnvf7dE— Survivors Manchester (@SurvivorsMcr) September 27, 2018
"I got talking to a group of men outside and as you do in that frame of mind, I went to have another drink with them. It was a big group at the time, but it got separated down to just two people and then those two people took it upon themselves to rape me. When it's happening, you are kind of with it but you're not. I always describe as a nightmare - you wake up in the morning and you can remember snippets, enough detail so you know that it's happened, but you wouldn't be able to write it down." Sam was shaken after the incident. CCTV footage showed that the two men had taken Sam back to their hotel room where the assault took place.
When he woke up the next morning he felt as though his whole life had been taken away from him. In his opinion, there was no other option left but to take his life away. "I just wanted to die," he says. "I didn't want to be here anymore. I remember having to walk home and talk to my then girlfriend and friends who were waiting for me, and on the way home, I wanted to commit suicide." He further added, "I stood on a bridge on my way home and contemplated jumping off. I felt so ashamed, so dirty, I felt that it was all my fault. I could still smell them, I was still in pain from what had happened and I didn't think I would ever overcome that, so the only option was to end it."
He continued, "I didn't know how I was going to deal with this or how I was going to move on with my life, and that stayed with me for some time afterward." Sam struggled to come to terms with what had happened. He couldn't deal with the trauma and this drove his then-girlfriend away. The relationship he was in, ended two months after the incident took place. The only reason Sam didn't jump off the bridge that day was that he couldn't stop thinking about how his family would react to it. How would his family deal with his death, was it something he wanted to put them through?
Sam opened up about the incident to just one of his friends and then bottled everything up, refusing to believe any of it actually happened. One day at work it all got to Sam and he broke down, and that's when he finally decided to get help. "I went into my office, sat at my desk and started crying for no apparent reason. I went out to hide in my car and told my mum that I wanted to die. It was a horrible conversation to have with my mum. I promised her I would explore the option to go and find support." He admitted that the first few weeks of therapy he didn't really open up about the real issue. He just kept beating around the bush.
"I was adamant from day one that I didn't need (counseling)," he says. "I was going to get over this on my own. It wasn't until week four, something had happened. I'd been triggered before coming to therapy and I just broke down - I spent most of the session not really talking about anything but I'd overcome the fact that this had happened. So for the first time in therapy, I spoke about what had happened and as the weeks went by it got a little bit easier. And then I would start to talk to my family and friends as well and the more I spoke about it the easier it's become. It's breaking that silence that's key to start returning to a normal life."
It's the fear of opening and what society is going to say and think that stops men from coming forward and talking about such incidents. Sam isn't the only man who has been through something like this. According to government statistics in the UK, 140,000 men aged between 16 and 59 were sexually assaulted in 2017-18. However, the actual figure is believed to be a lot higher as most men do not speak out about it and often deny being victims in such situations. Sam, like many others, did not know that things like this could happen to men. He thought he would just punch people away if they tried to act funny with him. This only comes from the outdated idea of masculinity.
"As men we tend to believe that we are going to face everything on our own - manliness is defined particularly by how well we can deal with these things ourselves and we shouldn't show emotion, these things shouldn't affect us," says Sam, who is now an ambassador for Survivors Manchester, a charity that supports victims of sexual assault.
"I'd never heard of anything like this happening to a man before, particularly straight males, and I knew that I had this mentality that I didn't want to talk about it. I thought that if I put my story out there I'd found my voice. We are raising awareness but there are still men out there who think they're untouchable and that this would never happen to them. I hope that they never have to deal with it but the reality is that it does happen, and can happen to anyone."
Sam is now in a much better place in life. He is 24 and runs his own DJing company, lives with his present girlfriend, and plans to go back to university soon. Sam says he has come to terms with what happened that night. The men responsible for the incident and the trauma were never brought to justice. People need to speak up as soon as the incident takes place. It is hard to with all that is going on in your head and the complex emotions involved, but such sexual predators need to be dealt with as soon as possible.
"I've pushed myself to do things I never thought I would do. It's never going to be a positive thing that's made that happen but what's happened to me has made me realize there is a lot more life to be lived and I want to live it."
If you are a victim of sexual or domestic abuse in the UK, there are organizations out there which can offer support including Men's Advice Line on 0808 801 0327 and Survivors Manchester on 0808 800 5005