Coronation Street male rape storyline is already having a positive impact on men who have been sexually assaulted.
Last week the long-running soap began a plot that saw David Platt (Jack P Shepherd) drugged and then raped by mechanic Josh Tucker (Ryan Clayton).
Although the attack itself was not shown, viewers witnessed David waking up to a photo of his attacker, seeing all his clothes lying on a chair and realising what had happened.
The show also showed the aftermath of the attack as David collapsed in the shower in shock.
Keeping the ordeal secret from his friends and family, across the next couple of weeks the soap will follow David as he struggles to deal with the incident.
Ensuring that the topic was tackled in a sensitive manner, the soap’s writers and cast members were advised by the Manchester branch of Male Survivors – Survivors Manchester – a charity which helps boys and men affected by sexual assault.
Since the storyline started, Survivors Manchester has seen a remarkable 1,700 per cent increase in calls from people asking for support.
In a statement provided to UNILAD, CEO of Survivors Manchester, Duncan Craig, confirmed the boost that shows the impact the storyline is having.
Since the male rape storyline started on Friday March 16, the Male Survivors Partnership and the National Male Survivors helpline run by Safeline, has seen a 1700 per cent increase in male survivors contacting them – actually picking up the phone and asking for help.
I think it’s mind blowing, and I am so proud of Kate Oakes, the producer at Coronation Street, and all the team there for presenting what is a difficult, but important, story so well.
When we agreed to work with Coronation Street on this storyline, it was on the basis that they did it properly and that people watching at home could identify with it and say ‘that’s me – that’s my story and I’m ready to talk about it’.
The results we have seen already prove that we have achieved that and I am so proud that we have been able to achieve our goal.
We could not be more proud to support @itvcorrie #KateOates @JackPShepherd88 @RClayton92 #VickyThomas and the whole team for being brave enough to tell a life changing story of #MaleRape. It’s time to #BreakTheSilence thanks to @Schofe and @hollywills for #ThisMorning discussion pic.twitter.com/GVgSIgeERU
— Survivors Manchester (@SurvivorsMcr) March 19, 2018
Male rape survivor Sam Thompson also advised script writers alongside Survivors Manchester.
The 23-year-old from Newark, was attacked in a hotel room in Manchester city centre by two strangers in an ordeal which lasted for hours.
Speaking to UNILAD, Sam emphasised how important it is for popular television shows such as Coronation Street to cover the topic:
It enables us to start conversations among people that may never have thought about male rape previously, let silent survivors know that they aren’t alone and ultimately create a safer space for people to seek the support that they deserve.
The personal connection that people have with Coronation Street and David Platt brings a sense of realism that just can’t be portrayed through traditional media outlets.
It is only then that people can believe that one in six men worldwide fall victim to these crimes and lead to a greater acceptance that even as a man, we are no less masculine when these tragic events happen outside of our control.
You can watch his full interview here:
Just like David, Sam believes he was spiked by his attackers while drinking with them.
He spoke to UNILAD about the night:
I met a group of people and they asked me to go for a nightcap with them. I didn’t think anything of it, I have met lots of people in that way before.
So I decided to go with them back to what I later found out was a hotel room. I had a few drinks and everyone else bar two people had left. Those two then decided to take it upon themselves to rape me.
While it was going on I tried to block out that it was happening. I just laid there and flopped.
Essentially that is one of the responses that your body can have, you can either fight or flop. I flopped. It is a natural reaction.
I remember bits and bobs. The next morning was like when you wake up from a dream and you can remember certain details but not the whole picture. That is how I felt.
When Sam woke up he had no idea where he was and he only found out from the police later on it was a hotel room.
His girlfriend at the time and best friend told him to report it to the police straight away even though all Sam wanted to do was ‘have a shower and get the smell of these people off’ him.
The most recent UK government statistics estimate about 78,000 people in the UK are victims or rape or attempted rape, and about 9,000 of these are men.
Research suggests the notoriously low report rate is particularly true among men.
Although the police quickly made arrests, no further action was taken as Sam ‘voluntarily entered into that room and left that room and there isn’t a way they can prove it’. Unless other evidence comes to light, ‘that is all that can be done about it’.
Survivors Manchester supported Sam in the aftermath of the incident and he is therefore delighted the Coronation Street storyline is encouraging more men to ask for help.
People don’t feel alone anymore. Millions of people tune in to Corrie.
People may be finding out for the first time that there is support out there or that people can move on from these horrendous ordeals and most importantly they are discovering that they don’t have to go through this on their own
I’m just lost for words. We’ve all said that if this storyline just helps one person then it has been worthwhile, but in fact it is helping thousands!
When I shared my story for the first time last year because I wanted to turn a negative experience into something positive, it brings a tear to my eye to know that my involvement with this has undoubtably helped me to achieve that.
Male Survivors Partnership is available to support adult male survivors of sexual abuse and rape. You can contact the organisation on its website or on its helpline – 0808 800 5005.
Local support agencies for all male and female survivors can be found at The Survivors’ Trust.
If you are a victim of rape – or know someone who is – you can call the police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.