Sunderland students shine light on devastation of male rape

Adelle Hulsmeier, Lecturer in Drama and Performing Arts at the University of Sunderland.
Adelle Hulsmeier, Lecturer in Drama and Performing Arts at the University of Sunderland.

The devastating impact of male rape on victims has been captured on film by Sunderland students.

The University of Sunderland students have captured the heartbreak in a series of powerful short films aimed at raising awareness of this hidden crime.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria Dame Vera Baird at the awards last year.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria Dame Vera Baird at the awards last year.

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, 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."