The devastating impact male rape has on its victims has been captured as part of a series of powerful short films created by University of Sunderland students aimed at raising awareness of this hidden crime.

Northumbria Police and SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) were looking at ways to raise awareness and support males who find themselves the victims of a sexual crime, which remains undisclosed in many cases, with fewer than one in 10 male rapes reported, according to research.

This is the sixth year that Sunderland students have been funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria Dame Vera Baird to collaborate with Northumbria Police in raising awareness about an issue impacting on society, other successful projects have addressed issues such as modern-day slavery, the capacity to consent, sexual exploitation, domestic violence, and cyber-crime.

But this year’s theme has proved the toughest assignment yet for final year students from the Performing Arts  and Media Production degree courses, who researched, scripted, devised, filmed and edited all of the three films themselves. Their work will be showcased during an awards ceremony at the David Puttnam Media Centre, Sir Tom Cowie Campus, at St Peter’s on January 24.

Adelle Hulsmeier, Lecturer in Drama and Performing Arts at the University of Sunderland said: “While all the topics we’ve dealt with over the last six years have been harrowing, this year’s theme has been one of the hardest they’ve had to tackle, but they’ve shown so much professionalism that we’ve been continuously impressed with the mature and high standard of work they have produced.”

The brief was to capture three facets of the crime – a historic rape case, a rape in a heterosexual setting and an attack on a victim with a disability. The students then devised a piece of drama suitable for use as an awareness DVD in order to be used as an educational or training tool for the Police and specialists, and to promote awareness of this issue further afield. Specialist staff from SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) were involved in overseeing the content for accuracy.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, said:These films do a fantastic job at challenging the silence of an all too often taboo subject. Rape of anyone – whatever their gender or sexuality is a terrifying ordeal and one that can have a profound effect on its victims. Men are notoriously reticent at reporting and we want to use all possible means to encourage them to do so. I want to thank all the students involved in this project.”

Adelle added: “It has been great to work with Northumbria Police once again for the sixth year. We are grateful for the Commissioner’s funding which has meant the students have been able to deliver high quality films.

“They have been working with Northumbria Police, the SARC team and Sunderland councillors; it’s this input from specialists which has been really helpful and has meant the students have had lots of different voices to inform their work and highlight the issue of male rape.

“The events have been captured in flashbacks or intrusive thoughts, there’s a non-disclosure from the victim, but we know as an audience what has happened because we have been taken on that journey. It demonstrates how difficult it is for the victim to verbalise what has they’ve experienced.”

All three entries will be judged by a panel from Northumbria Police and the winner unveiled during a ceremony attended by Dame Vera Baird.

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