“Finlay McFarlane is 27-years-old but his world was turned upside down when he was raped after having his drink spiked.”
This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 12/10/2020
Finlay McFarlane is 27-years-old but his world was turned upside down when, shortly after his 18th birthday almost a decade ago, he was raped after having had his drink spiked. Sexual violence tends not to be something you associate with males alongside the narrative of the victim. However, as Evening Telegraph reporter Lindsey Hamilton revealed in her recent interview with a man who sought to remain nameless, male sexual violence – extending even to domestic violence – is prolific.
Finlay was born in Carlisle but almost his entire family are Scottish and he spent most of his childhood growing up in North Ayrshire and Inverclyde. One night, while celebrating a friend’s birthday on a night out in Greenock, Finlay says: “A man, perhaps aged in his late twenties or early thirties, approached me and offered to buy a drink and I just remember waking up the next day.” He recalls: “My cousin told me I was found on the ground vomiting in Greenock town centre in the early hours.”
So much of what Finlay experienced that night is a blur which he has spent years trying to reconstruct but he was in no doubt concerning the extent of the physical and psychological violence he experienced that night. He also recalls, with earth-shattering clarity, the moment he encountered the perpetrator around six months later whilst returning home to Greenock on a train from Glasgow. Finlay says: “He got on the train, recognised me and sat across from me and my body just froze.”
Sometime later, a friend of his shared her experience of rape and Finlay broke down. He says: “I did not ever want to acknowledge it was rape or to even go as far as to use that word.” He adds: “I was experiencing poor mental health at the time and was having night terrors. Sadly, this was my first sexual encounter and it affected various relationships. I just did not feel like me anymore.” Conscious he needed help, Finlay approached a charity who responded saying they did not deal with men.
This has changed now but Finlay says more needs to be done: “Firstly, people need to stop focusing on the police. As a survivor, it is hard enough to tell friends and family members without expecting survivors to go to the police.” He adds: “Secondly, men need to start talking to each other about their feelings. A #Me Too moment is needed for survivors of male rape.” Finally, Finlay says: “A separate strategy is required for men and boys around male sexual assault to stimulate a national conversation.”
Finlay’s overriding concern is that men and boys are currently a footnote in strategies that focus solely upon violence against women and girls. He says: “This reinforces the misconception that men cannot be victims of these crimes, which makes it harder to access services and is why a separate strategy is required.”