Mpower - Supporting Male Survivors of sexual abuse
If you're ready to talk, we're ready to listen
MPower is a registered charity - no. 1104195

Familiy and Partners
Legal matters

Family and Partners

At MPower, we receive many calls and emails from parents and other family members and from partners of men who have been raped asking "what can I do to help?"

It can be a distressing feeling that we cannot seem to help the person we love and it hurts us too to see him go through his pain. We want to help so much but we feel powerless to do anything that seems useful. He may reject you, you may be the target of his anger. He may seem to turn against you. It is natural to ask "what have I done to deserve this? This points us to the first thing that we must keep in mind.

> I didn't do it. I am not to blame for what happened..

It is really important that you keep reminding yourself of this. Raped men and those men getting in touch with earlier childhood experiences will be emotionally volatile and at times irrational and not logical. It may seem to you that he is pointing the finger at you; that somehow you are to blame. This is a natural part of his coming to terms with what happened and his process of recovery. Those closest to him are likely to become involved with his process; simply because you are close.

> This is not about you. It is not personal.

Take comfort from the fact that he has disclosed his attack to you. Firstly admitting to himself that it happened will be a difficult task and his feelings will be all over the place. He will quite possibly be taking a huge risk in telling you. Things that may be going on for him might include "what will he/she say or do? Will they believe me? Will they see me as different? How will this affect the relationship? It's too risky; I'll manage this on my own." But, despite all these fears, he has told you and you have become part of his recovery process. That says a lot about the trust he has in you and in the relationship you have with him.

> He trusts you.

Family members and partners often ask us "what can I do?" We would ask if there is actually a need to do anything at all in terms of actions. Just being consistent and reliable will be helpful. And, at times, that in itself will be difficult for you.

it is important for you to be "grounded" in yourself. It won't help if you get drawn into his low feelings and depression. Be yourself and be there when he needs you. If you are to help, let him remain in control of when he needs your support and help. Let him go through this at his pace and in his way. Stay being you, and the things that he loves in you that attracted him to you in the first place, and react and respond to him as he needs you. Of course, if he wants to talk to you (and he may, even though he seems to be holding you at a distance at times), then you are there for him in your grounded, natural self. Just listen. Don't be tempted to take on his problem and solve it for him. This is not the time to be directive. This may sound harsh, but he will be wrestling with all sorts of emotions and options and there is a danger you will force him to challenge things that are yet to become clear for him. That will be frustrating for him and may prompt anger to well up. During his ordeal, he had lost control and it is important for him to regain a real sense of control in his life now. Paradoxically, your help could feel like pressure to him.

>Be there when he needs you

If he is seeing a counsellor, don't expect a miracle cure; these things take time. It is also likely he will share things with his counsellor that he may not share with you. This won't be because he doesn't trust you, or have faith in you, but loved ones have an emotional investment and an interest and he won't want to hurt you or bring his pain to you. Men are not supposed to get raped. It is quite likely he will be questioning his "manliness", his ability to be a stong protector and defender. Being raped pushes men to question fundamental and important issues of maleness, including his ability to support you and his capability to live up to society's (and nature's) demands of men to be "big and strong" and protect their partners and family from danger. This is likely to put him in a very difficult position with you. He may be having feelings of inadequacy. You may find that he wants to be alone and is currently keeping his distance from you. He will need an awful lot of time to "process" what's going on for him. Try not to feel "excluded" if he prefers his counsellor to you. Counsellors are trained to keep the boundary clear; not to take-on the client's pain. There is no emotional investment from either party.

MPower is here for you too, his family or his partner - male or female. If you would like to talk, please call us. Your call will be welcome. It's free and it's confidential. We won't make you disclose his name or any details about him and we won't make you do anything you don't want to do. You may find it helpful to talk through some of your worries and concerns with us.

01603 667 687