A young man has bravely spoken out about how he was brutally raped by two strangers, an event which nearly drove him to suicide.
Sam Thompson, 22 from Newark, was attacked in a hotel room in Manchester city centre in an ordeal which lasted for hours.
Sam was on a night out in the city, which he had just moved to with his girlfriend at the time, when he got separated from his friend with no phone and therefore no way of contacting him.
He spoke to UNILAD about that night.
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Sam told us:
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.
His memory of the night is very hazy and Sam believes that he may have been spiked by the two men as he was ‘more with it until [he] had that final drink with them’.
Sam spoke about how he felt during the ordeal:
While it was going on I tried to block out that it was happening. I just laid there and flopped.
Essentially that it 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 that it was a hotel room.
I was in this room and I just left.
The first thing I remember was the arches on Dale Street car park.
I then walked back to my flat and as I walked back I was still in shock.
When I came to the bridge near my flat it all hit me and I started to think ‘I don’t want to live with this, I don’t know what to do’.
If it wasn’t for the thought of the devastation for my family and friends, I would have jumped off that bridge.
When Sam arrived back at his flat he saw his best friend and girlfriend at the time and immediately burst into tears.
They 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.
Sam told UNILAD that the police response was not the best:
I felt that I wasn’t believed and their questions seemed irrelevant. They were asking me about my sexuality and whether I had ever cheated on my girlfriend.
I had gone to report something that was about consent.
When I went to St Mary’s, which is where they take forensic evidence, the way that they dealt with me was brilliant and if I hadn’t had the officer I had, I don’t think I would have given all the evidence I gave.
I think the police reacted in that way because they don’t deal with males as often as they deal with females.
Maybe they haven’t got the same level of compassion as I think they should and this should change.
The police quickly made arrests but decided to take no further action.
Sam explained to us what this meant:
Unfortunately, as in a lot of rape cases, it comes down to the issue of consent.
It happened behind closed doors, I voluntarily entered into that room and left that room and there isn’t a way that they can prove it.
I know it happened and they know it happened but unfortunately unless other evidence comes to life that is all that can be done about it.
It is irritating knowing that they are still walking the streets and it is upsetting knowing that they can do this to another person.
For Sam the first weekend after the ordeal was particularly awful.
The only thought going through my head was I don’t want to deal with this, I want to die.
It resulted in me being horrible to my family, chucking tables and chairs, losing control of myself, screaming that I want to die.
That first month I didn’t leave the house. I couldn’t even leave for a cigarette as the anxiety would take over and I would start panicking.
However, when Sam was offered a DJ booking, a passion of his since he was a teenager, he took it as it was a venue he was familiar with in his hometown and his brother offered to go with him.
This was the first time Sam had properly left the house since the ordeal.
Things did not get better for Sam though and he hit his lowest point in January this year:
I had a big breakdown, I had burnt myself out.
By not talking about it and bottling it all in, which is what a lot of men do, I hadn’t helped myself.
I decided then to get therapy and within a month or two talking to a therapist and being more open with my friends and family, I felt better.
The place I went to, Survivors Manchester, has this tagline, ‘break the silence’, which now I understand as the more you talk about these things the better you feel.
Survivors Manchester supports male survivors of sexual abuse and offers clinical therapy, group therapy, sessions on mindfulness and they also work with Greater Manchester Police to help teach them how to tackle this subject.
Sam believes that although there is more support for male survivors now, a change in attitude is still needed.
With regards to male rape we have to accept that we are all human, we are all the same.
It is okay for a man to talk about what happened. It was just a situation we were put in and it is no different than if we were female.
With women it is drilled into them that you need to keep yourself safe but this applies to all of this.
Today Sam is starting a 48 hour DJ marathon that is fundraising for Survivors Manchester and aims to raise awareness about male rape.
Sam spoke to UNILAD about the marathon:
I hope that I can raise money for Survivors Manchester, give something back to them, and help other people to come forward.
I also want to raise awareness about male rape as before this happened to me I didn’t realise that it can happen to males, and my friends and family had the same thoughts as well.
I want to tell male survivors now and in the future that it is okay and it doesn’t matter how you feel right now as it is going to be okay.
It doesn’t make you any less of a man and people will believe you and will support you. It is very hard but you need to give them trust.
— bassduckfresh (@bassduckfresh) July 20, 2017
The most recent UK government statistics estimate that about 78,000 people in the UK are victims or rape or attempted rape and about 9,000 of these are men.
Research suggests that the notoriously low report rate is particularly true among men.
Hopefully men like Sam will encourage more survivors to break the silence and raise awareness about male rape.
If you would like to donate you can do via Sam’s Just Giving page or by texting 70070 with SURV48 and either 5 or 10 pounds.
If you are a victim of rape – or know someone who is – you can call 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.