Alan Doherty is the Service Manager of the Thames Valley Sexual Assault Referral Centre (usually referred to as the Thames Valley SARC). Last week he was one of our panelist for “It Happens to Men”, an event organized by It Happens Here to raise awareness of male rape victims.
He kindly accepted to be interviewed.
The interview was conducted and transcribed by Josh Rampton, our Male/Minority Gender Rep.
Pictured is Alan Doherty. Photo credits go to Alexandra Kimmons, our Disabilities Rep.
Josh: What’s your job specifically?
Alan: My name is Alan Doherty and I am the service manager for Thames Valley Sexual Assault Referral centres, which means I am the one thats there, both legally and personally responsible for both centres. One in Bletchley and one in Slough. I am also a crisis worker, which means I, with my staff, am on the frontline meeting and helping the clients that come and visit our centres.
Josh: How is your work different when the people coming through the door are men?
Alan: The vast majority of our clients are female, and the statistics would back that up. I have dealt with and looked after both. i do think that male victims have the same but also different, gender specific barriers to overcome when disclosing, and when seeking support, and a lot of that is pressure we put on ourselves as men, or that we feel society is putting upon us. “I feel less of a man” would be the classic thing that somebody would say in that scenario. I absolutely think it happens a lot more than is recorded. I think it is another barrier we have to get over to make people feel able to put their hand up and say “Yes, this has happened to me, and I need support for it.”
Josh: How much interaction do you have with student-age people, (18-25s)?
Alan: Quite a bit. I have an 18 and a 19 year old at home. I spend a lot of time as a crisis worker dealing with that age bracket. That would be the most common age bracket that would visit our centres, both male and female.
Josh: In light of recent data that reveals that 2/3 of male victims are under 16 what can you say about your work with children?
Alan: A lot of our work is done with paediatrics (anyone under the age of 18). People are examined differently, and there are different frameworks as to what happens with their case depending if they are pre or post-pubertal. I think its a lot more likely that a male of a younger age would find it easier to disclose because they’re still in a part of their life where they are still dependent on other people, whether thats friends or family, and are perhaps more used to asking for help. Also, younger people, especially men, thankfully, have a completely attitude than people of my generation, and of my fathers generation. Young people are a lot cleverer than we give them credit for, and a lot more progressive, and I think that the young are the ones that will learn more than anyone from things like the Saville inquiries, that you don’t have to be quiet. That they’re not good secrets. That someones status is irrelevant, from a member of the royal family, to a homeless person in the street, the boundaries they cross are still the same.
Josh: Finally do you have much interaction with the LGBT community?
Alan: We certainly look after LGBT people and we try to build pathways to their community structures and so on. Again, while all sexual violence is underreported, I think this is another area in which it is particularly so.
For more information about Thames Valley SARC visit their website.