A COURAGEOUS father has spoken of his rape ordeal in the hope other male survivors of sex attacks will come forward.
Pete Shirley, of Bromyard Road, St John’s, Worcester, refuses to let the attack destroy him and hopes that by waiving his legal right to anonymity he will encourage other men to report rape.
The 42-year-old was raped by a gay man he believed was his friend in a motor home near Weston-super- Mare on New Year’s Eve, 2012, while his attacker’s partner was present.
Mr Shirley, who now abstains from alcohol, used drink to block out memories of the attack but eventually he could no longer cope and attempted to take his own life by slashing his wrist with a broken bottle on June 9, 2013. He needed 12 stitches in his arm and spent a fortnight recovering from his injuries. If not for his best friend’s son, who found him, he believes he would have bled to death. He could not sleep for weeks after the attack, suffered nightmares and experienced traumatic flashbacks during a recent realistic plot in TV soap Hollyoaks involving the rape of a teacher by a student. Although it upset him, he has praised the soap for the accuracy of its representation of the aftermath of rape.
The father-of-five and grandfather-of-three now wishes he had come forward sooner because he says the support available is excellent. He was helped by West Mercia Police, Avon and Somerset Constabulary, independent sexual violence advisor Anna Cockeram of Worcester Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre, based at a secret location, and had his interview at the Glade sexual assault referral centre in Bransford, near Worcester.
After he reported the attack he had to have tests for sexually transmitted infections, which came back clear.
He said: “I was ashamed of myself. I thought it was my fault it happened. I didn’t want it to happen and it happened and I blamed myself for that. I tried to bury it. I tried to drink to hide what happened so I didn’t have to think about it.” Mr Shirley, who said he could handle himself, said it did not matter what you looked like or how big you were when it came to rape. He said: “The support is there — it is just having the guts ‘I will not let them destroy me’ that will increase over time.
Emma Durmaz, clinical manager and forensic examiner at the Glade, said 90 per cent of men who were raped never reported it at all, let alone spoke openly about what had happened to them.
Mrs Durmaz said: “For anybody to come forward is really, really brave. For a man to do that, I think it takes a lot of guts. The flip side is that it may encourage more people to come forward. I think it’s amazing.”
She said there was a misconception that only gay men were raped and that rape was often about control rather than sexuality.
At the time of the attack Mr Shirley said he was very vulnerable and had been living in his car for four months after the breakdown of his 25-year marriage. The former courier driver, who was effectively sofa surfing or sleeping in his car, said he was befriended by a gay couple who offered him a room in their house.
On the day it happened he said he was given alcohol and then raped. He said: “I’m so glad I did it (reported the rape). You can feel a release.
“It was messing my head up by not speaking about it. If I had done it sooner I would not have ended up in hospital. One thing I have learned is ‘don’t bottle things up’.I won’t let them destroy me anymore. I did blame myself but it wasn’t my fault. I can’t let them beat me. The best thing I have done is talk about it.”
He still has counselling every fortnight as he tries to come to terms with it.
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: “In July 2013 we received an allegation of rape in Kewstoke. The incident was thoroughly investigated but there was not enough evidence to prosecute anyone.
Worcestershire Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre (WRSASC) is able to offer a number of free services to survivors of sexual abuse. The Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) service can provide practical and emotional support to both female and male victims aged 11 or over. The ISVAs are specially trained to work with victims of sexual abuse, whether they have reported the abuse to the police or not.
The ISVA is able to provide information about the legal process and offer support if the client decides they would like to report the incident to the police. The support is very much clientled, with the focus being on their needs. The centre also offers face-to-face counselling for female survivors over the age of 16.
The centre operates a helpline for both male and female callers. The helpline number is 01905 724514.
Referrals to the centre can be made by contacting the office on 01905 611655 or by emailing office@ wmrsasc.org.uk.
The Glade Sexual Assault Referral Centre based at Bransford offers co-ordinated forensic, medical, counselling and aftercare service to men, women and children who have experienced rape or sexual assault, whether recently or in the past 28 days. They can be contacted oncute anyone.”