Police and partners raise awareness of services for male sexual assault victims

Police and partner agencies in Cumbria are aiming to raise awareness of services for male victims of rape and serious sexual offences – and to encourage people to report these crimes.

A campaign this month (OCTOBER), supported by Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, the Crown Prosecution Service, Victim Support, the county’s Bridgeway Sexual Assault Referral Centre and The ManKind Initiative – which offers support to male victims of domestic abuse and violence, will deliver key messages and offer support to those people affected.

In the last year there have been 151 reports of rape or sexual assault involving male victims in Cumbria – nearly 10 per cent of all such crimes in the county.

The key messages being shared across online channels are:

  • You are not alone.
  • You will be listened to – by the police and partner agencies.
  • Support is available, with or without police involvement.
  • You have choices of who you speak to but please speak to someone.
  • Reporting an incident can help you positively move forward.

Detective Chief Inspector Vicki Coombes is the rape and serious sexual offences lead for Cumbria Constabulary.

DCI Coombes said: “This campaign is important because we understand that male victims are less likely to report crimes of this nature.

“We have listened to feedback and taken steps to break down the barriers to reporting.

“As a result, we have worked with partner agencies, such as Victim Support and The Bridgeway, to enhance the services we can provide to male victim of sexual violence.

“Through this campaign we would like to raise awareness of all the support that is available to male victims and how to access that support, whether or not you wish to have police involvement.

“Taking that first step to telling somebody what has happened to you is often the most difficult – but please know that if you do, you will be provided with information which will enable you to make choices on how you wish to move forward.”

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall said: “When we talk about sexual or domestic violence, we tend to assume the victims are women and girls.

“Whilst they remain the larger group, it is important that we also acknowledge and support men and boys who are vulnerable to being victims of these crimes.

“Accessing support for any type of crime can be difficult, especially for men.

“This is often due to traditional perceptions and outdated stereotypes of masculinity, that leads to a reluctance in men asking for help or reporting their abuse.

“We need to understand why certain groups within our communities do not come forward to report crime so that we can provide the right support, challenge any barriers male victims face and understand more about the fact that men access services in different ways to women.

“Anyone can be a victim of sexual violence and/or domestic abuse, which is why it is vital to offer specialist support for men, women and children across the county. I urge victims to come forward. Don’t suffer in silence, help is out there.”

Howard Gough, Head of the North West Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: “The way society views masculinity can make it very difficult for men and boys who are the victims of sexual and domestic abuse offences to come forward.

“Many of the barriers to reporting are based on gender stereotypes of masculinity and femininity, sexist or homophobic assumptions.

“Our specialist lawyers apply CPS policies for sexual and domestic abuse offences fairly and equally to all victims, and we are committed to securing justice for all victims regardless of their gender.

“We would encourage males who have suffered sexual or domestic abuse to have the confidence to come forward and report it to the police, in the knowledge that they will be listened to by the police and partner agencies.”


This campaign is supported by specialist support services that can provide access to a wealth of free, local, support services, covering a wide range of support areas, including housing and counselling.

These include:

The Bridgeway

The Bridgeway is the county’s dedicated SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre).

It supports and provides a service to anyone who has experienced rape or sexual assault.

Anyone who attends The Bridgeway will receive non-judgemental care and advice, including a full forensic medical examination and onward referrals to essential support services, whether they have reported to the police or attended as a self-referral.

Donna Cardell, Manager for The Bridgeway, said: “We are proud to be supporting this campaign by Cumbria Police aimed at males who have experienced rape or serious sexual assault.

“The Bridgeway supports anyone who has experienced rape or serious sexual assault, whether recent or non-recent, regardless of gender, age or sexual orientation.

“We understand how difficult it is to report such crimes, but our service offers people the choice.

“If you are over 16 years of age you can self-refer to us and we offer the same service as if you had reported to the police.

“The service includes full forensic examination, hepatitis B vaccine and HIV pep where appropriate and ensures that you have the proper aftercare in place including ISVA and sexual health referrals.

“Any evidence we collect will be stored securely for up to two years, giving you the opportunity to report later should you wish to.

“We can also signpost relevant counselling and therapeutic support for non-recent sexual violence. Our service is available every day of the year and there is always someone at the end of the phone. Our free 24/7 helpline number is 0808 118 6432.”

Victim Support

Victim Support have a team of specialist Independent Sexual Violence Advisors, known as ISVAs, across Cumbria.

ISVAs offer free non-judgemental and confidential support and advice to survivors of sexual abuse. They work with adults, children and young people (age 5+).

The service’s new Male Independent Domestic and Sexual Violence Advisor role will provide dedicated, tailored support for male victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse.

He will work to encourage male victims to access vital support.

In 2021-2022, Cumbria’s Victim Support IDSVA team received 773 sexual violence referrals. 10 per cent of victims supported were male.

The service hopes this new role will ensure that more males reach out for support after suffering sexual abuse whether reported to the police or not.

If you would like to access this free specialist support, please contact the service line 0300 3030157 or visit the service’s webpages for alternate ways to contact: https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/cumbria/

The Mankind Initiative

Mark Brooks, Chair of the ManKind Initiative, said: “There is no shame in being a male victim of sexual violence, rape or domestic abuse.

“There is help available from those who will believe you and will take you seriously. Please do come forward, you are not alone.”



If you wish to report to police you can do so online at www.cumbria.police.uk/report-it.

You can also phone on 101.

Always phone 999 in an emergency or if a crime is in progress.

Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.



  • Cumbria-wide, Victim Support – Victim Support can support anyone over a number of crimes, including abuse, Mon – Fri 9am-6pm and can be reached on 0300 303 0157. The national 24/7 helpline is 0808 1689 111. Victim Support also has a 24/7 online chat on their website, victimsupport.org.uk
  • Cumbria-wide, The Bridgeway – The Bridgeway Sexual Assault Support Services offers a vital lifeline to those who have been victims of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse in the county. The Bridgeway is open 24/7 and can be contacted on 0808 118 6432.
  • North and West, Safety Net – Safety Net support anyone who has experienced rape, exploitation, sexual and domestic abuse. They can be contacted Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm on 01228 515859.
  • North: Gateway 4 Women, Carlisle, provides support on issues like domestic abuse, mental wellbeing, homelessness, housing etc. and can also provide information on other domestic and sexual abuse services. They are open Monday – Thursday 9.30am – 4.30pm, Friday 9.30am – 1.00pm. They can be called on 01228 212090
  • South, Birchall Trust – The Birchall Trust offer counselling sessions to males and females of all ages who have experienced sexual abuse/rape. Counsellors help survivors to make sense of their story, answer difficult questions about what has happened to them, help people to come to terms with their situation and heal. The Birchall Trust can be reached on 01229 820828, Monday –Friday, 9am-5pm.
  • South: Women’s Community Matters, Barrow, can help with issues like domestic and sexual abuse, benefits and housing issues and mental wellbeing. They can also provide information on other services that can help you. They are open Monday 9.30am – 4pm, Tuesday 9.30am – 6pm, Wednesday 9.30am – 4pm, Thursday 9.30am – 6pm, Friday 9.30am – 1pm and can be reached on 01229 311102.
  • ManKind Initiative offers a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and domestic violence across the UK as well as their friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues and employers. For more information go to: www.mankind.org.uk

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