A solitary place: a phenomenological examination of male-on-male rape and sexual abuse

Widanaralalage Don, Bimsara Kennath Suwaris (2022) A solitary place: a phenomenological examination of male-on-male rape and sexual abuse. Doctoral thesis, University of West London.

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Male-on-male rape is a critically under-researched area in the sexual violence literature. This is in part due to narratives that portray sexual violence as a female-only issue, which has led to substantial gaps in the current knowledge on male-on-male survivors’ experiences. However, evidence suggests that male sexual violence is prevalent and carries significant psychological consequences for men. Furthermore, additional barriers exist for male survivors due to regressive gender norms that restrict emotionality, discourage men from seeking professional help and reporting to the police. As such, a detailed exploration of male-on-male survivors’ experiences is desperately needed to understand i) the challenges for recognition and disclosure, ii) the barriers to access and successful therapeutic support, and iii) the challenges in accessing and involving the police and the Criminal Justice System (CJS). The current research programme addresses the gaps by utilising a phenomenological approach to examine male-on-male rape in two interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA: J. A. Smith et al., 2009) studies. Study 1 examines the accounts of 12 service providers working in specialist organisation in the UK, and their experiences of providing therapeutic support to men affected by sexual violence. Study 2 examines the experiences of nine male survivors of rape and sexual abuse and their experiences of victimisation, recovery, accessing and engaging with support, and involving the CJS. Bringing together the perspectives of professionals and survivors, the thesis contributes to the current literature by emphasising the need to recognise male-on-male rape as a distinct form of sexual violence. Traditional masculinity ideologies defined participants’ experiences, with male survivors having to negotiate between norms and ‘male’ standards that reject emotionality and distress. Furthermore, such ideologies shaped encounters with public stigma and informed male-rape-myths experienced both externally and internally as barriers for successful recovery. Findings and implications are discussed in relation to policy and practice, with an emphasis on how therapeutic interventions must be catered towards meeting specific male-needs, by tailoring support to how men view themselves in relation to constructs related to masculinity and sexuality. Furthermore, findings highlight the importance of targeting survivors’ beliefs around rape to support them in rationalising their victimisation and facilitate recovery. Broadly, the thesis provides recommendations to tackle and address the stigma and false beliefs encountered by the participants across both studies in a variety of settings in the public, third, and criminal justice sector.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Law and criminal justice > Criminal justice
Medicine and health > Clinical medicine > Therapeutics
Social sciences > Communication and culture
Depositing User: Bimsara Kennath Suwaris Widanaralalage Don
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2022 09:53
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2022 09:53
URI: https://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/8990


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