Skip to main content

Mental Health Awareness Month: Male Sexual Assault and the Impact of Richard Gadd’s ‘Baby Reindeer’

by Keisha Myers

The narrative around sexual assault can often silence male survivors. Becoming a victim to a patriarchal society, men often feel a level of shame around sexual assault that makes it difficult for them to come forward, whether that be for a conviction, or to seek support. 


Recent statistics from ‘We Are Survivors’ highlights the staggering truth of male sexual assault victims, and that is that referrals have surged by 53% following the release of Netflix’s ‘Baby Reindeer’. 



‘Baby Reindeer’ is a dark comedy in which Richard Gadd shares his own experience with stalking and sexual assault, written, directed and starred in by the real victim, Gadd himself. The show follows his personal journey, and how he grapples with the aftermath of stalking and sexual harassment. 


Gadd’s candid portrayal of his traumatic experience resonated with viewers, sparking a lot of profound conversations about the societal stigma regarding male victimhood. 


‘Baby Reindeer’ was raw and honest in a way portrayals have struggled to be in the past. It is not an easy watch, but it should not be, instead it highlights how shamed Gadd was for what he went through and it shows the parts we are not usually exposed to, making it hit home even more. 


“We are Survivors” reported an 80% increase in first-time callers seeking support in the aftermath of the series’ release, showing a crucial shift in public discourse, as this programme was giving male survivors a level of empowerment that they had not received thus far, making them much more likely to break their silence and seek help. 


For way too long, the notion of masculinity and ‘lad’ culture has promoted shame and silence amongst male victims, allowing for them to suffer in silence. 


One statistic that is particularly concerning, is the 40% rise in referrals for individuals aged 26 to 35. This demographic represents that even younger generations are caught in the crossroads of stereotypes, and they are still too ashamed to speak up. The disproportionate impact on this age group indicates the dire need for intervention and support services that address the unique and complex challenges faced by male survivors.


It is extremely telling of how honest and true-to-life Gadd’s depiction was, as 53% of those referred to ‘We are Survivors’ cited ‘Baby Reindeer’ as a factor that persuaded them to seek help. The raw portrayal of the horrors Gadd endured almost served as a mirror for endless male survivors, validating their experiences and helping them confront their trauma. 


This response highlights the power storytelling can have in social change, making these things accessible to as many people as possible through platforms like Netflix, as the impact can only be felt if it is as accessible as possible.


While the surge in referrals indicates progress in the destigmatisation of male sexual assault, it also shows the inadequacy of support systems in addressing the needs of male survivors. Support services have been geared primarily towards female survivors thus far, leaving male victims marginalised in this sector. 


This disparity indicates that it is crucial, in order to promote justice against perpetrators of sexual violence, to acknowledge how diverse the experiences of survivors can be. 


Moving forward, it is pivotal that we move with the momentum generated by ‘Baby Reindeer’ to affect change in how male sexual assault is perceived, and how victims are treated. This can only happen if the harmful stereotypes regarding male victims being weak, vulnerable and not being ‘manly’ are dispelled, and replacing this culture with one of empathy and understanding, regardless of gender. Men need comprehensive, accessible support services that they are not ashamed to use. 


As activists, allies, and advocates for all humans that have suffered, we have a responsibility to amplify the voices of male survivors and challenge myths that often destroy their self-worth and confidence to speak out.


Edited by Emily Duff

Most Popular

‘Make Tattooing Safe Again’: Sheffield Based Tattoo Artist Exposed for Indecent Behaviour

 by Emily Fletcher TW: SA, Animal Abuse, Transphobia Photo Credit: @ meiko_akiz uki Recently, an  Instagram account  has been created to provide a  ‘space to safely give a voice to those who want to speak out about the behaviour of one, Sheffield based tattoo artist’. A  total of 40+ posts have been made by the above social media account regarding  one of Sheffield's most popular tattoo artists .  Thankfully, all posts are prefaced with a Content Warning prior to sharing screenshots of the messages that have been sent anonymously to the page. The majority of Content Warnings refer to sexual behaviour, abuse, and sexual assault. It is clear that there is a reoccurring theme within each submission, as many clients appear to have had the same experiences with the tattoo artist. Women, mostly, are being made to feel uncomfortable while being tattooed. One of the most vulnerable positions anyone can be in, tattoo artists should make their clients feel comfortable and safe during the pro

Fashion For a Cause: Brands That Stand with Palestine and the history of fashion as a form of Activism

by Oana-Maria Moldovan For over two months, there has been an ongoing genocide war in Gaza. To simplify a long and horrific issue, the situation that started, on a larger scale, around one hundred years ago, and has only become amplified since October 7th 2023. Taking place around the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Israel–Lebanon border, the armed conflict is between Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian militant groups.  The problem is about “stolen” land. Said land is seen as an important holy part of both religions involved. But really, how holy can we consider a land to be, if people kill other people for it? It’s important to remember that this genocide is about three things: forced occupation, zionism, and religion. It’s also important to remember what ethnic erasure is. This terrible expresion, also known as cultural or ethnic assimilation, refers to the process by which the distinct cultural or ethnic identity of a particular group is gradually diminished or erased, often due to ext

Now What? The Aftermath of the 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl'

by Susan Moore Here is a bit about me: I am an open, excitable, creative AFAB who is also moderately attractive. I have a unique sense of personal style and a personality that on the surface can only be described as “bubbly” and “quirky”. For this reason, dating is a nightmare. To be sure, I do not have a hard time finding dates or potential suitors. The problems arise when said dates spend some time with me and decide that I am a rare specimen, and the connection they feel with me is “unlike anything they have felt before”. Then, things go one of two ways.  Either a) they decide I am too high maintenance and no longer palatable, or  b) they choose to never look further than the surface and are content to date the idea of me rather than the real me. There is something rather interesting, perhaps funny, about my situation. It is in no way unique. I have met so many people who constantly dealt with the same problem. Even funnier still, is the fact that there is a trope that simultaneousl