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Soton societies campaigning against men’s sexual assault this Movember

As well as men’s mental health, let’s open up the conversation around men’s sexual assault

This November, the Sexual Consent Awareness society are partnering up with MindSoc and Soton's Movember association to raise awareness surrounding men's sexual assault.

Sadly, there is still a lot of stigma associated with men being sexually assaulted. There is less access to mental health resources, often due to stereotypes and a lack of reporting and research into the area. As a result, less than three per cent of men report their sexual assault experiences.

According to the Survivor's UK webpage, around 12,000 men are raped a year and 70,000 are sexually assaulted. Under current UK law, a cis-woman cannot legally rape a man because of an absence of "penile penetration".

Research has shown that many men who experience something that would legally qualify as rape do not label their experiences as such, and that one of the main reasons for not doing so is the perpetrator of the offence was female.

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SCA president and some of the team

The Soton Tab caught up with Laura, President of Sexual Consent Awareness society, Kiana, the President of MindSoc and Josh, the student ambassador for the University of Southampton Movember Association to talk about why it is so important we raise awareness for men's sexual assault this month.

Why is it important to talk about male sexual assault?

Laura explained: "Sexual assault is not a gendered discussion, it's not about who has it worse or who reports the most, it's very much a personal experience.

"Men are often at a disadvantage because of the effects of toxic masculinity, which is why they don't report as much but also why they don't get as much access to support services. We are not drawing the conversation away from women who get sexually assaulted but instead focusing on the issue where men are a minority within the sexual assault conversation."

"One in six men are victims of sexual abuse. The fact of the matter is, it does happen and it needs to be spoken about."

Do men experience sexual assault differently to women?

"Sexual assault is the enemy and that is the main thing we're looking to address, but also the societal impacts of how people treat and view men who have been sexually assaulted."

"We want to make it so that men do feel comfortable coming forward, talking about their experiences and then getting the help they need."

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An example of the #scamen work

Why don’t men feel comfortable talking about their experiences of sexual assault?

"There's a real stigma attached to men who have been sexually assaulted. Society may view them as less of a man, they may view themselves as less of a man."

"The only way we can really address the issue is if people start to talk about it."

Men's sexual assault in the LGBT+ community

"While many men who are sexually assaulted are heterosexual, there is a high prevalence of assault in the LBGT+ community, with 26 per cent of gay men and 37 per cent of bisexual men facing sexual abuse in their lifetime.

"Often LGBT+ experiences are paired with hate crime, such as conversion therapy and gay bashing. It is important to remember that there is much predatory sexual abuse within the gay and bisexual community itself, too."

Men's sexual assault and their mental health

Kiana explained what MindSoc's aims for this month are: "We're looking to talk about the effects that men's sexual assault has on men's mental health as well as the mental health problems that men may face in general."

Josh also said: "76 per cent of suicide is male suicide and this is to do with men often not talking about how they feel and the experiences they go through – this is especially true with male sexual assault."

MindSoc have also created a pledge and have emailed every society President and Welfare Officer to sign the pledge to support male mental health within their societies.

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The team behind MindSoc

So, what's happening this Movember?

SCA want to get people using #scamen on social media and encourage men to use this when sharing their experiences.

Throughout Movemeber, MindSoc want to see as many people sending in pictures of your impressive facial hair, tagging their social media and using #MindSocMovember.

On November 8th, there will be a Quiz at Winchester Campus raising money.

On Red Brick there is a 24 hour cycle from the 15th-16th.

On November 22nd, there will also be a Survivors UK talk, followed by a discussion panel that SCA, MindSic and Josh from Movember will be attending. The event can be found on the SCA Facebook page.

After the discussion, Movember is taking over Stag's Karaoke. Members of the team will be going around with buckets, collecting money and the guy with the least money in his bucket has to get his legs waxed. They're also pushing to get a percentage of the drinks money to be donated to the cause.

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Soton's Movember team

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article, then help can be sought from the resources below:

University of Southampton and the Students’ Union: The Harassment Tool – An online anonymous reporting tool to report incidents and have a choice to investigate. Click the link here.

The Enabling Services: Drop in’s 1-3pm in building 37

Student Life: A 24/7 team within University halls that can be called, or found via your Halls reception

First Crisis: A first number to call for support on: 02380 597 488

External sources: Yellow Door Southampton’s Rape crisis charity: helplines are Wednesdays 4pm-7pm on: 02380 63 63 13. Treetops Crisis a crisis charity for survivors open 24 hours on: 0300 123 6616