On Thursday 25th July 2019 the Law School hosted an ‘end of project’ event where I launched a report detailing the findings from my British Academy funded research project, ‘Experiences of men forced-to-penetrate women in the UK’. The event, and the report, were 15 months in the making, with the research project beginning in May 2018. The aim of the launch event was to disseminate the research findings to attendees, and to explore how they could be useful for those working with male survivors of this form of sexual violence. The event was attended by fellow academics and practitioners from third-sector support services, the NHS, and local government safeguarding boards.
The event began with a male survivor sharing his story. He hasn’t been named here to protect his privacy, but he was incredibly brave and spoke eloquently and in detail about being forced-to-penetrate his ex-partner as part of the domestic violence she perpetrated against him during their relationship. He took a number of questions from the audience and provided thought-provoking and comprehensive answers. This was a powerful way to start the day.
Dr Joanne Hulley was the incredible research assistant on this project. She spoke next and shared our data collection and analysis methodologies, as well as the key ethical considerations that arose during the project. We interviewed 30 men about their forced-to-penetrate experiences and were able to gather a wealth of qualitative data that was coded and analysed. Joanne explained the support that we put in place for participants who were discussing an emotional topic and sharing what were often traumatic experiences. She also discussed the benefits of collaborating with our project partners Survivors Manchester.
After lunch, it was my turn to present. I shared the key findings from the project. Anonymised extracts from the interviews were used to centralise participants’ voices and to give attendees a real sense of the impact of this form of sexual violence. I shared findings on the contexts within which this form of sexual violence takes place; the impacts that it had on participants’ mental and physical health and their relationships; and their engagement (or lack thereof) with criminal justice organisations and support services. I also discussed participants’ perceptions and understandings of the current law in this area and their suggestions for law reform. It was a privilege to be able to share the stories of the men who participated in this research, especially as some of them had never told anyone else about their forced-to-penetrate experiences.
The final speaker of the day was Duncan Craig, CEO of Survivors Manchester. Duncan and his team partnered with us on the project and worked with and supported us, and our participants, throughout its duration. Duncan discussed how the research findings could be used by organisations to support their policies and practices, and gave examples of how Survivors Manchester will be using the findings to inform their own work. As always, Duncan was full of knowledge and ideas, and inspired those in the audience to reflect on their own practices and organisational approaches.
This led seamlessly into the final part of the day, which was a roundtable session (accompanied by the all-important tea, coffee, and cake). Attendees were asked to reflect on everything they had heard and discussed during the day, and to consider three key questions:
1. How can the research findings be used by you/ your organisation?
2. What support would be beneficial in relation to using the research findings?
3. What additional research in this area would be useful to you/ your organisation?
The responses were comprehensive and detailed and left me with real food for thought for taking the research forward.
The day was a success, with great feedback from attendees. The icing on the cake for all those involved in the project was that it also featured heavily in the press, raising awareness of both the findings, and this form of sexual violence. BBC News wrote a fantastic piece, and an amazing episode of the BBC Sounds podcast, The Next Episode, was produced based on the research. I was also interviewed by several radio stations, including TalkRadio and BBC Radio London to discuss the findings. We even made it ‘across the pond’ and featured in the New York Post! It was great to be able to share the findings of the project with the public in this way, and to raise awareness of this overlooked form of sexual violence.
To read the project report from the research study, please click here.