'My world crashed when I saw my rapist again'

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Media captionFinlay was raped by a man he met in a club

Finlay McFarlane was in denial about being raped by a man who spiked his drink - until he saw his abuser again months later.

"My entire world came crashing around me," he says.

"I completely froze. I had never experienced that in my life before."

Finlay, from Edinburgh, was just 18 when he was the victim of a sex assault by a man he had met in a nightclub in a small town in the west of Scotland.

He had only been to a club once before and this one was "not much more than a big bar" where he was celebrating a friend's birthday.

His pals were in the smoking area outside but he was told by the doorman he needed to go inside because he didn't have a cigarette.

Image caption Finlay says it has taken years to come to terms with what happened

"I went back in on my own and this stranger offered to buy me a drink," Finlay says.

"I just thought it was a nice gesture."

Finlay told BBC Scotland's The Nine he remembers talking to the man and then the evening becomes a blur.

He recalls very little until he woke up the next morning feeling weird and hysterical.

His friends were able to fill in some of the blanks from the night before.

Finlay had gone missing from the club but he had left his coat and bag behind.

His friends found him on the ground outside Tesco, surrounded by a group of people.

"Apparently I was being sick but I don't remember any of this," Finlay says.

The passers-by wanted to call an ambulance but his friends took him back to the flat where they were staying.

The next morning a close friend confided in Finlay that when he was found the buttons on his jeans were undone and his scarf was tied around his waist like a belt.

Finlay knew something odd was going on but he found no physical evidence of a rape.

As the days went by he noticed himself getting emotional and angry.

"I had the feeling something did happen and I was trying to bury it," he says.

"I was coming up with thousands of excuses for how it didn't happen but at the same time I was lashing out at my friends and being a horrible person."

Months later Finlay was returning from Glasgow on the train when he saw the man who had bought him the drink in the club.

Finlay says the man recognised him and sat down across the aisle of the train.

He started typing a message on his phone, Finlay says, and he showed it to him.

In that message his rapist told Finlay what had happened on their previous meeting.

"I got the final nail in the coffin," Finlay says.

"It was confirmation undeniable that I had been sexually assaulted that night. Raped. I just wanted to get off the train but I couldn't move.

"He wasn't a particularly imposing or scary-looking person, he was smaller than me.

"I wasn't physically intimidated but I just froze."

Image caption Finlay met his attacker again on the train months later

Finlay managed to get off the train and get away.

When he got home he cried. "I just completely crashed," he says.

It was a turbulent time in Finlay's life.

He had just turned 18 and had never had a proper relationship. And he had not yet come out as gay to friends and family.

Finlay says he wanted to bury the experience as a way of surviving the trauma.

As a result he suffered night terrors, struggled to get close to people and was "triggered" by stupid jokes.

"I always was a bubbly, charismatic, fun person. I felt like I'd lost that completely," he says.

"I got really low. You have no control over your life, over your own body and the reactions it was having."

Finlay set his mind on getting into drama school and escaping to London.

That was almost seven years ago and he is still dealing with what happened that night.

He has decided to waive his right to anonymity as a victim of sexual assault in order to campaign for more awareness of the issue of male rape and better services for victims.

Report to police

In 2017-2018 police received 110 reports of male rape in Scotland.

Across the UK, men are victims in about 5% of reported rapes but police say they believe the numbers are actually far higher.

Finlay never went to the police over his assault and he feels guilty that he didn't.

He says he wishes the people who found him unconscious outside Tesco had called an ambulance and the decision could have been taken out of his hands.

But after he was taken back by his friends he was worried about what reporting the attack would do to his family.

"I wanted it all to go away and not to continue to be right in my face," he says.

"I was worried what people would think of me and would I ever be attractive to someone again?

"Would I only be seen as the person who has been through a trauma?"

Over recent years he has decided to stick his head "above the parapet" and admit what happened.

'You are not alone'

"It was a way of getting rid of the guilt of not going to the police and thinking it could happen again to someone," he says.

"I thought I'll repay my own sins by being an advocate for other people."

Finlay says fellow sufferers should know they are "not alone".

"The problem is people don't talk about it openly and you feel alienated," he says.

"I would encourage them to start to talk about it because the more you talk about it the more you can chip away at all those layers you had to put in to survive initially."

He says he knows that most victims of sexual assault are women but the assumption that men are not suffering such crimes adds to the alienation.

"It happens to men and women just the same way," he says.

"It is not your fault and you did nothing wrong. It is a crime and it is horrendous."

If you have been affected by sexual abuse or violence, help and support is available. Click on BBC Action Line

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