Updated: Saturday, 22nd February 2020 @ 5:50am

Manchester’s Unsung Heroes: Rape victim who set up male-only support group vows to never turn anyone away

Manchester’s Unsung Heroes: Rape victim who set up male-only support group vows to never turn anyone away

By Sarah Brook

The Jimmy Savile effect has taken its toll on mancunians, according to charity Survivors Manchester, after recent figures reveal the number of male rape victims asking for help is on the rise.

Founder of Survivors Manchester Duncan Craig – who was abused himself as a teenager – was inspired from his own experiences to provide support for boys and men in the north of England.

Mr Craig, who was also sexually exploited in his early twenties, said he was forced to travel to the south for help, after being turned away from rape support groups in the area for being male.

“People can’t escape now from cases such as Jimmy Savile, it’s everywhere – it’s having a real impact on people,” Mr Craig said.

“Men that have been sat there quietly not speaking out for the past 20 years are suddenly being faced with this ambush of information.

“It is triggering events in their brain and making them remember and that’s why they are turning to us for support.”

Mr Craig said receiving counselling was the catalyst for setting up the charity and was the starting point for him realising he wanted to help others.

Survivors Manchester was founded in February 2009 after he completed his Masters degree in counselling at the University of Manchester.

“As a mancunian for me Manchester University has always been that really exclusive place that people like me don’t go to,” he said.

“It had always been a fantasy for me to go somewhere like that after everything that happened to me.

“The person who abused me told me I was useless and would never achieve anything. I have proved him wrong.

“I felt amazing after my first session of counselling and I realised there and then I would like to do this for someone else.”

Once he had qualified Mr Craig offered counseling to other people who had been raped and abused.

“My life felt like it had taken a 360 degrees turn,” the founder said.

“I love my city, so when I realised how many cases there were in Manchester and from my own personal experience, I knew I had to do something to help.”

Setting up the charity has not been easy for Mr Craig who said people slammed doors in his face when he asked for help.

“Some people would say it is a mental health issue or criminal justice issue,” the 37-year-old said.

“No-one was willing to accept responsibility for it and I knew I had to stand up for myself and other victims.

“After years of blaming myself that I should have stopped it, pushed him off me or shouted ‘no’, I finally realised it was not my fault and I had a sudden burst of injustice.

“Rather than getting angry from it, I turned this into a positive and was determined to put a stop to people who are suffering in silence.”

Survivors Manchester offers support to men and boys who have been the victims of any form of sexual assault or violence or any sexual attention at any point in their life.

They are there to break the silence and offer services to males who need support, and even services for those who are affected by the rape of men and boys.

“We want people to know they are not on their own and can say it happened to us too,” he added.

Following the Rochdale case, Survivors Manchester has seen a 500% increase in Asian males looking for support.

“Narratives coming out in the papers have not been nice about the Asian community,” he said.

“There are Asian lads that come to ask for support because they think they are being tarnished with the same brush.

“It is sad it has take something as horrific as the Savile or the Rochdale case and all those other horrible people, for peoples eyes to be opened.

“The country is now thinking, yes it is terrible what has happened in the past and we need to support these people.”

A £5000 community grant is given each year by Zurich Insurance to help with the running of Survivors Manchester but they mainly rely on donations.

“It costs to run services but the thing we have been clear about from the start is that we will never turn anyone away,” Mr Craig added.

Mr Craig – who travels the country sharing his story to raise awareness – also offers a workshop to forensic medical examiners talking about male rape.

Additionally each month he helps with police training at the school in Manchester, teaching 999 response officers how to deal better with men and rape.

A true inspiration to others, Mr Craig’s colleague John Newton could only praise his employer’s work.

“Duncan has helped many men in Manchester to talk about their experiences in safe places with sensitivity and respect,” the project worker said.

“Duncan is very good at listening which is the essential skill for our work.

“He is always willing to invest in the people he supports which makes working with him very rewarding.

“He is inspirational to me, as a shining light and demonstrates good practice, giving me confidence in working to the same high standards.

Picture courtesy of Survivors Manchester, with thanks

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