Guardian Experience Article, 14th May 2011

Last Saturday The Guardian published one of its regular Experience columns, this time describing the husband’s reaction to his wife being raped. That piece is here.

Normally we just link and let you read the article. This one is different. The Guardian has had a long history of op-ed columns from non-staff contributors such as Adrian Sell about contentious issues. However one sentence in his article regarding his wife’s rape stood out;

“I don’t feel anger towards the rapist. I pity him. We found out later that he was only 17, and I’d put money on him having been abused as a kid.”

Firstly, being an opinion piece in a column doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility of presenting the facts, either the French authorities made it public record that this rapist had been abused or they hadn’t, or he is yet to face trial and Mr Sell has no bloody clue about the offender’s history. This fact should have been made clear by Mr Sell or The Guardian in its own clarification. “I’d put money on” is one level above Twitter talk and gossip, not the same as legally tested public record and it’s a bad joke that this was allowed to be printed.

Adult male abuse survivors, including myself and the founder of this blog, are tired of being labelled potential offenders later on and the stereotype (along with the presumption of current homosexuality or future porn addiction or paedophilia) forms one of the main brick walls that keeps abuse against boys under-reported across the world. What people like Mr Sell fail to understand is that sympathy for victims related to the idiots that perpetuate that stereotyping view (along with the collective male guilt bullshit later in the article) can drop very easily, even as his article accidentally preceded a nationwide debate about rape in the UK and the sentencing policies surrounding it.

Mr Sells reaction and assumption might have been honest, but it’s still misses the point on the reality of crime. Just like some people would rather steal what they want than get a job and pay for it, other people will rape a person because they just want the power or feel like it rather than talking to and propositioning someone they are attracted to. Looking for the abuse excuse as an automatic cop-out from responsibility for the crime is the lawyer’s job – and doesn’t need to be perpetuated by the relative of the real victim.

This Experience column is best updated when the trial is complete, since despite the Sells’ intention to be completely open, that’s physically impossible before the legal process has concluded, we will know the offender’s history, and it can be openly discussed, hopefully without any further crass assumptions dressed up as fact which stereotype the 1 in 6 reported male victims of abuse.


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