I had to deal with a shocking revelation from my husband on our first date…
By Kathy Holmes, 62, from Australia
Enjoying a romantic stroll by the canal, we looked like any other couple on a first date. Tim was handsome and kind and we had lots in common.
We’d met a few months previously, when we’d both been volunteering at the Samaritans. We got on really well and, over time, a spark developed. I was delighted when he asked me out.
Things were going so well, I couldn’t help but smile to myself. But when I turned to Tim, his expression had changed suddenly.
“Is everything okay?” I asked, concerned.
“Kathy, I really like you,” Tim said. “But there’s something I have to tell you.”
I felt my stomach tighten as a thousand thoughts raced through my mind. However, nothing could have prepared me for what followed.
“When I was 16, I was raped by two men,” he went on. “It really messed up my life. But I wanted to be honest with you from the start.”
For the next few hours, I listened in shock as Tim recounted his ordeal. He told me he’d been a carefree teenager when he popped into a public toilet on the way home from his work at a local factory.
Two strangers had attacked him completely at random, dragging him into a cubicle and violating him in the most disgusting way imaginable. He hadn’t told a single person for 16 years until he had a breakdown in his early thirties.
When Tim had finished speaking, I was completely drained. It wasn’t the romantic first date I’d had in mind, but I was glad he’d been honest with me.
“I can’t believe what you’ve been through,” I told him.
From that day onwards, Tim and I had an unbreakable bond. Soon, we became a proper couple and my shock at his attack turned to rage. How could these animals have done this to the man I loved?
In time, Tim proposed and shortly after our wedding, we emigrated from Yorkshire to Australia but the more I thought about the attack, the more angry I became. I didn’t want another innocent man to live through the hell that my husband endured for so many years.
Tim already did lots of charity work, helping other male survivors of sexual abuse but I felt there was more we could do to help end the stigma of male rape – I just wasn’t sure what. Then, I had a brainwave.
“Why don’t we write your story?” I asked Tim. “It will be tough, but other men who have been through this need to know they’re not alone.”
Tim knew the process would be draining, but he agreed almost immediately. I’d always loved writing, so I jotted down his thoughts as he poured his heart out to me.
The process wasn’t easy for either of us and I’d sometimes blame myself when Tim would wake in the night, having had an awful nightmare about the attack.
Although he’d always been open about what had happened, it was only when we started working on the book that Tim told me the full, horrific story. Putting the rape scene into words was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. In fact, I’ve advised some more sensitive friends not to read it.
Tim had been standing at a urinal when two older men dragged him into a cubicle and pulled down his trousers. Pain tore through him as he realised he was being raped. He begged his attackers to stop, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.
After what seemed like a lifetime, it was over but Tim would never be the same again. Badly bruised and humiliated, he vowed never to tell a soul what had happened to him. It was 1983 and men were supposed to be men. He was terrified no one would believe him, or worse still, accuse him of enjoying it.
His relationship with his girlfriend broke down and he became almost reclusive, only leaving the house to go to work. For the next 16 years, he was completely celibate and he even suffered terrifying hallucinations.
When he was made redundant from the factory aged 32, he hit breaking point. He finally confided in a doctor, who diagnosed him with psychosis and post traumatic stress disorder.
After many months of intense therapy, Tim gradually started to come to terms with what had happened to him.
There were times when I wondered if we were doing the right thing, but when the book – called Life Without Edges – was finally complete, we both felt like a weight had been lifted off our shoulders.
Since then, we’ve had amazing messages of support from all over the world. I only hope we can help persuade other men like Tim that they don’t have to suffer in silence.
Three decades on from Tim’s rape, there is still a huge stigma surrounding male rape, but we have to break the taboo.
When I first met Tim, I never imagined I’d spend months writing about his rape. But if it can help one man open up about a similar trauma, it will all be worth it.
Tim says: “I’ve always been honest with Kathy about the fact I was raped, as it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
“Working with her on the book was hard in parts but in the end it was very cathartic and now we’re stronger than ever. With her help, I’ve even begun counselling other victims and I can enjoy sex again.
“My rapists stole almost 20 years of my life and it’s too late for me to get justice now – but I want to make sure other men don’t have to go through the same hell.
“I just want to get the message out there – so many young men who have been sexually assaulted suffer in silence and some even commit suicide. I’m living proof that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
Kathy and Tim wanted to break the stigma surrounding male rape when they decided to sell their story to Bella magazine. If you want to raise awareness of an issue that’s important to you, fill in the form on right and we’ll give you a call to discuss your options.