I can’t imagine what it must be like for a parent hearing your child was raped.
I told my mum in an email. And looking back, I wasn’t ready.
However, some not very nice people had found out my past that they could exploit and threatened to tell the world – I couldn’t let her find out that way.
It felt like I had no choice but to disclose to my family all about the attacks, the numbness, and the lack of self-worth, the bad relationships, the exploitation, and the subsequent problems that followed.
But, there it was – all written down, cold, brash and in an almost unreadable emotional splurge.
Then, my mum passed away suddenly in 2016. It took us all by surprise.
But her words live on today, and what she said to me before she passed – helped me change my whole approach to life.
I didn’t go into detail
I didn’t tell her about going into the bathroom, or how I didn’t see him follow me.
No words about the headlock or the pain as my head hit the cubicle wall.
Keeping it brief was key; knowing the fact of the story alone – was already more than a parent could bear.
But, I do remember being told by a sibling that my mum had read it.
So I know how was hard for her. And ultimately all she wanted me to know it is all okay.
We never spoke about the email again with one exception. Months later I visited home and it was like the email never happened.
Making my mum a cuppa in the kitchen she came out with the sentence that emotionally knocked me over;
‘What happened to you was terrible; now go out there and stop it happening to someone else.’
Being turned away as a rape victim – because of my gender
When I finally gather the courage years ago to ask for help I was turned away due to my gender.
Being told the helpline was only for straight women and men are the abusers it shattered all the courage and bravery I had gathered to ask for help.
And as per my mum’s wise advice, I was going to make sure that doesn’t happen to someone else.
Those words from my mum inspired me to create Stay Brave – a charity that plans on being a voice for all survivors of abuse. Rape is mistakenly seen as a woman-only issue.
However, Office of National Statistics figures show 72,000 males per year are estimated to become victims of sexual offenses whether reported or not.
The charity Stonewall also say that almost half (49%) of all gay and bi men have experienced at least one incident of domestic abuse from a family member or partner since the age of 16.
Stay Brave’s mission is to erase the barriers that prevent the lesser-known survivors of abuse get the help they need. Even in a digital age one in four victims of revenge porn are male – it makes sense that our solutions and help we provide be inclusive to all genders and orientations.
I stand strong with survivors like me every day
Fast forward and it’s 2017. There are about 30 people standing outside a pub in the Docklands, all wearing the same charity t-shirt, chatting apprehensively about agreeing to this challenge.
They’re all about to walk 10-miles across London, from Canary Wharf to Hammersmith, to raise awareness for survivors of abuse and assault.
Walking Brave symbolizes something that seems easy but is hard when you have to do it yourself – much like asking for help.
I was grateful to organize Walking Brave but was more proud to stand by the side of some amazing people. Some were survivors like me but others were regular people who could see that something needed to change.
Most importantly, they all wanted to show other survivors that there were people out there that believed them, and were prepared to walk the miles for them to find the help they needed.
Money raised from the walk is going to help Stay Brave achieve its goal.
Due to that gentle nudge from my mum, Stay Brave is now on its feet and generating projects for those who thought they were the only ones find the help they need.
Each milestone Stay Brave achieves for survivors like myself always makes me think back to those words she said. She knew I didn’t need comfort, but a push. And with the support for Stay Brave’s mission growing every day I can’t help but think she lives on.
So, all right mum, what happened to me was terrible; but now we’re stopping it happening to someone else.
Follow @alexjaymorgan on twitter
Looking for support?
If you would feel you need help or wish to speak to someone you can find useful contacts on Stay Brave’s website: www.staybraveuk.org/help
If you want more information about rape, sexual assault or any of the issues in this article see:
- Stay Brave – Male rape survivors charity
- Galop – UK LGBT anti-violence charity
- Survivors UK – UK rape survivors charity
- RAINN – US Sexual Assault resource and advocacy organization
Globally we have also compiled a list of LGBTI friendly organizations you may wish to seek help from.
You can find out more about Alex’s story in Male Rape: Breaking The Silence airing available on iPlayer from 10th December 2017 and airing on BBC One 20th December 2017 at 22:45.