Hollyoaks star James Sutton will reflect on the show’s male rape storyline at a festival in London later this month.

The actor, who plays John Paul McQueen, will be joined by Hollyoaks‘ executive producer Bryan Kirkwood at the South Bank Centre’s Being A Man Festival on November 28.

Sutton and Kirkwood have both agreed to speak on a panel titled ‘Breaking the Silence – Rape on Hollyoaks‘, which will look back on the impact of John Paul’s emotional storyline.


Channel 4’s drama commissioning editor Lee Mason will also be present alongside Survivors Manchester CEO Duncan Craig, who advised Hollyoaks on the storyline.

John Paul was raped by his pupil Finn O’Connor (Keith Rice) in dark scenes which aired in January 2014. The subsequent story ran for almost a year, building up to Finn being arrested, charged and ultimately jailed once John Paul finally reported his tragic ordeal.

Hollyoaks‘ storyline has been credited for helping male rape charities to lobby for a government fund solely for male survivors, while some episodes were also used to help train police officers.

Earlier this year, Kirkwood revealed that he had originally wanted to run a similar story during his time in charge of EastEnders – but was blocked by bosses at the BBC.

Speaking in September, he explained: “The story we told [on Hollyoaks] 18 months ago is the thing I’m most proud of in my career. I was determined to tell it at 6.30pm in a way that some people told me we couldn’t.


“It was a story I felt passionate about for many years. When I was in EastEnders, we wanted to tell it and were told in no uncertain terms we couldn’t.”

The Being A Man Festival, which is now in its second year and still has tickets available, plays host to a number of events which address the challenges and pressures of masculine identity in the 21st century.

“I had my dressing gown and slippers on when he told me he was going to rape me. I have no idea why he did it, he was really angry.”

Five years ago, John Lennon, a 46-year-old dog groomer from Manchester, was brutally attacked and raped on a Tuesday morning by a man he barely knew.

The attack took place in Lennon’s own flat after he confronted the man, who he had met four days previously, about some money that had gone missing from under the sink.

“It was vicious,” Lennon tells The Huffington Post UK. “It lasted for around three-and-a-half hours. He repeatedly raped me – sometimes conscious, sometimes semiconscious.”

Lennon required plastic surgery on his face and suffered from genital mutilation, photos of which later had to be shown in court as evidence.

At first when Lennon called the police, he reported a theft. But his mother later persuaded him to call back and report what had really happened.

His attacker, who was 20 at the time, was sentenced to four years, three months and two days (to be exact), but was released after 15 months.

“Within the first few days of release he attempted to get to me through Facebook,” Lennon explains. “I reported it to police, who investigated, and he was stuck back in prison for violating his terms of release. Then he served every single day.”

report published today, called ‘Silent Suffering: Supporting The Male Survivors Of Sexual Assault’, reveals that as few as 3.9% of male victims of rape and sexual assault report the crime to police.

The report, which was commissioned by Greater London Authority (GLA)Conservative London Assembly Member Kemi Badenoch, crunches numbers from various official reports alongside research conducted by Survivors UK, a charity working with male survivors of rape and sexual assault in London.

It estimates that across the UK between 2010 and 2014, 679,051 sexual assaults and rapes of males took place. Of these 652,568 were not reported to any police force.

According to figures released previously by the Ministry of Justice, more than one in 10 victims of rape or attempted rape are male.

Michael May, chief executive of Survivors UK, tells HuffPost UK that, as with women, most perpetrators are known to the victim, with the same proportion of rapes taking place in relationships.

However there are marked differences between male and female victims.

“Males are more likely to be assaulted by multiple perpetrators and to have had threats of violence or weapons used in the commission of the crime,” he reveals.

May also notes an increase in rape-related incidents at sex parties where people take drugs, such as gay ‘ChemSex‘ parties which are fuelled by meth, meph and G.

But this is far from a ‘gay issue’. The ‘Silent Suffering’ report states that 60% of victims of male rape or sexual assault are heterosexual and May quotes international research that suggests most men who rape men identify as heterosexual.

The law on rape and sexual assault:

  • Under the Sexual Offences Act 1956, the statutory definition of rape is any act of non-consensual intercourse by a man with a person – and the victim can be either male or female.
  • In 1995 Andrew Richards became the first man to be convicted of raping another man.
  • The Sexual Offences Act 2003 defines a rape to include the penetration by a penis of the vagina, anus or mouth of another person.
  • At present, women are legally unable to rape a man. If a woman forced unwanted sexual activity on a man, which included penetration, this would be considered under the offence of sexual assault by penetration, but not rape.
  • The CPS also recognise the pervading myth surrounding male on male rape that only gay men rape and only gay men get raped.

The report says that the reasons men are not coming forward are complex and multi-faceted.

Many men do not perceive what happened to them to be a crime, fear they will not be believed or are concerned their sexuality will become the focus of the investigation, the report reveals.

If a man ejaculates or gets an erection during the assault, he could be left questioning his sexuality and whether the crime was indeed a crime. Experts stress that any physical reaction on the part of the victim is, of course, purely physical and due to stimulation rather than enjoyment.

Duncan Craig, founder of Survivors Manchester, who support men who have experienced sexual assault and rape, says that male on male rape is often (wrongly) framed around sexuality, when the real issue is power and control.

“As a result men start to question their sexuality,” Craig explains.”‘Did this happen to me because he thought I was gay? Does this now make me gay?'”

Lennon, who identifies as gay, agrees: “If you are a heterosexual man who has been raped, it must be almost impossible to come to terms with.”

Lennon says that despite his initial “wobble” where he reported theft but not rape, he hasn’t had any doubt about pursuing the course of justice. “Rape is a crime and you are the victim.”

Another major issue preventing men from coming forward is due to society’s expectations around masculinity.

May explains:

“Society is generally afraid to see men as victims. From infancy males are told that they should strive to be resilient, self-sufficient, protectors, dominant in sexual interactions and able to defend themselves.”

He adds:

“An experience of rape or sexual abuse contravenes all of these masculine expectations. It leaves the survivor feeling ‘less than a man’ and society feeling that without a firm, inviolate masculine ideal – so safety is fundamentally compromised.”

May recognises that reporting an experience to police is particularly hard for men.

“Police are one of the major alpha male representations in our society, so we’re essentially asking someone who has been robbed of masculinity to go to the biggest man in the room to talk about it,” he says.

One of the key ways to overcome the societal taboos is talking about the issues openly, and Craig believes this has to be led by men.

“We have to make the change, we have to ask for help,” he says. “If we don’t create the conversation, men won’t have the vocabulary. We need to teach men to talk about sensitive issues and give them permission to do it.”

For those who do overcome these odds to seek help, services are limited. There are far fewer specialised services for male survivors of sexual assault and rape, compared to those for women and girls. As such, rape is still perceived – and tackled – as a gendered crime.

The report says that while the Mayor Of London has been “hugely supportive” of female victims – quadrupling Rape Crisis Centres and establishing a specialist command within the Metropolitan Police Service to tackle rape in 2013 – male victims have not had the same support.

Earlier this year a ‘misleading’ CPS crime report on Violence Against Women And Girls (VAWG) conflated male and female figures without due effort to identify them as such. The CPS has since agreed to be more transparent with their figures.

Some of the key recommendations from the ‘Silent Suffering’ report is to develop a Sexual Offences Against Men and Boys strategy to help victims and to have services better sign-posted.

That’s precisely why Craig, who was sexually assaulted and raped in his teenage years and early twenties, set up Survivors Manchester, after he became aware of the lack of male-focussed support services in Manchester.

Craig called his local Rape Crisis Centre, but as he was male he was only permitted a phone conversation and was forced to travel 180 miles to Wiltshire to have face-to-face counselling.

Lennon, who is also based in Manchester, echoes this experience and said it was difficult to know where to get support as a male victim. Although he “cannot fault” police for the way they handled his particular case, he says:

“My recovery was down to myself, nobody else.”

He was referred to a St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) which supports both women and men, but he was acutely aware of being the only male victim at the service.

Then Lennon contacted Survivors Manchester and had one-to-one counselling with Craig, who is a qualified therapist as well as CEO. “Seeing him was a great help as it made me leave the house and talk to someone,” says Lennon. “After the rape, I isolated myself and locked myself away because I didn’t trust anyone.”

Lennon was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) six months after the attack and says the condition has “controlled and ruined” his life.

“After the rape my business went kaput. Now, I work part-time three days a week, which is as much as I can manage. All the dreams and ambitions that I had have all gone,” he says. “I’ve thought about killing myself many times.”

Five years on, Lennon has therapy once a fortnight. He is very vocal about his experience and hopes that speaking out in the media will help raise awareness and change the way male victims of sexual assault and rape are seen by society.

Lennon is determined to get his life back on track. He went on his first date since the attack just last week, which was with an old friend and went “brilliantly”. Lennon, who describes himself as a “very open person”, says they ended up talking about the rape.

“After all, this is my life now. I’m not going to live in shame because of what my attacker did to me,” he says. “Society creates the stigma around rape, not me.”

If you have suffered or been affected by anything mentioned in this article please contact First Step, or any other local organisation.

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We are witness to a record rise in suicide amongst young men. The latest figures show that male suicide accounted for 76% of all suicides in the UK in 2014, some 4,623 deaths. Suicide is the single biggest cause of death of men aged under-45 in this country.

I am taking part in a Parliamentary debate today about male suicide. It is right that this important issue is being properly discussed and I shall be seeking answers from Ministers. As the Campaign against Living Miserably (CALM) has shown in a new survey 42% of men in the UK have considered taking their own life.

Four in 10 of those who contemplated suicide never thought about talking to anyone about it for a variety of reasons including shame (32%), not wanting to sound weak (25%) and not wanting to worry anyone (49%).

Although whenever there is a high-profile case of suicide people are quick to ascribe a ‘reason’ for the death, the fact is we do not properly understand what causes suicide. It is not accurate to say that someone who takes their own life does so for a rational ‘reason’.

However, we can discern certain factors which come before a suicide. One is psychiatric illness, and particularly depression, although only a tiny minority of people with mental illness ever contemplate suicide.

Another, according to psychologists, is certain personality traits such as severe self-criticism and the desire to be perfect. Allied to this is social deprivation and poverty. Research published this week from the University of Liverpool linked nearly 600 suicides to the government’s Work Capability Assessments, and the changes to some of the poorest people’s welfare payments.

A report by Samaritans outlines some of the possible reasons why men are more likely to commit suicide. The report suggests that men compare themselves to a gold standard of masculinity, power and control. They are more likely to feel shame and guilt when they fall from this standard. That’s why there is a link between unemployment and suicide. Unemployed people are two or three times more likely to take their own lives. Shockingly, in recent years suicide in prisons have increased by more than 50%. Every four days a prisoner will take their own life.

Analysis by the Samaritans and others shows that there is also a link between socio-economic class and suicide, with those living in deprived areas on the lowest incomes are the most at risk. Men are more likely take risks with drugs and alcohol. Men are less likely to seek emotional support. These genetic, economic, and cultural factors mean that men are more at risk than women. Gay men are also at more risk – over a third of LGBT young people have attempted suicide at least once.

We need a revolution in the way suicide is prevented. For too long, mental illness has been the source of stigma and prejudice. A few brave public figures such as Stephen Fry, Graham Norton and my parliamentary colleague Kevan Jones MP have spoken up about their own mental illness. But for many, mental health remains hard to speak about openly.

We need a new focus on talking therapies being available throughout the NHS. Employers must play a role in ensuring good mental health in the workplace. We need true ‘parity of esteem’ between mental and physical health.

Most of all, we need a cultural shift so that men can discuss their mental health, seek help, overcome the stereotypes of masculinity placed upon their shoulders, and get the support they need. Each suicide is a terrible tragedy and a waste of a precious life. Together, we can prevent suicide and save the lives of vulnerable young men.

Luciana Berger is the shadow mental health minister, and Labour and Co-operative MP for Liverpool Wavertree

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8740Charges are pending against an assistant principal of a River Grove high school for allegedly sexually abusing a male student.

The president of the school says the victim is a student.

Yesterday, the Guerin College Prep sent home to parents a letter explaining the situation.  The letter identifies the assistant principal by name. But because charges are pending on the 34-year-old, we can not name the suspect.

Guerin College Prep says the assistant principal has been on leave since the allegations first surfaced Sept. 10.

The alleged incident occurred outside of school in the 2600 block of North Sayre Avenue in Chicago

Police say the victim is a 17-year-old male. Steve Baldwin, president of Guerin, released a statement saying:

“We are cooperating with authorities, including (the Department of Children and Family Services) and the Chicago Police Department and will continue to take actions that are in the best interest of our school community.”

The Archdiocese of Chicago also put out a statement saying:

“(They are) aware of the situation and confirm that the situation was properly reported to DCFS. We are monitoring the situation and will continue to cooperate with civil authorities.”

The president of Guerin says the assistant principal was not on school business when the alleged incident occurred and it appears this was an isolated incident.


We are shocked and share the devastation that our service users will feel with the outcome of today’s decision. Our priority now remains as it has always been, to provide support to those who have suffered the trauma of sexual abuse act which have often taken place during their formative periods of their lives.

For many accessing our services found that the system failed them in the past and the criminal justice system is failing them again. Not many will be able to comprehend how each individual will feel after the publication of the Director of Public Prosecution s decision today.

What we can be confident of is that support services such as ourselves and Leicestershire Police will be working tirelessly together to provide survivors with any support they may need in coming to terms with the decision taken. The impact of this decision will be far-reaching for the victims, their families and the Police officers from Leicestershire who have stood solidly together to get to this point.

At all points during this investigation there has been collaboration between the Police and agencies such as ourselves to ensure that support has been on hand at any point and this will continue to be the over-riding focus at this present time.