Male sexual abuse charity sees 80% increase in demand following ‘Baby Reindeer’ release
(Credit: Netflix)

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Male sexual abuse charity sees 80% increase in demand following 'Baby Reindeer' release

It seems that Baby Reindeer has successfully opened up a wider conversation about and drawn more attention to the issue of male sexual abuse. One charity has reported a mass influx of calls after the show, with more victims reaching out for support.

In the fourth episode of Richard Gadd’s Baby Reindeer, a new Netflix drama based on his lived experience with stalking, he tackles the topic of abuse in a stark and devastating way. As his character Donny Dunn is abused and assaulted by a TV executive, the rest of the reason is coloured by the PTSD impact that experience had on him.

“The only way to get through these negative emotions is to tackle them head-on,” Gadd told GQ, claiming that the confessional show was a way to deal with these feelings. It seems that it has also proved to be a vital show, encouraging more victims to deal with their own experiences and reach out for support.

One Manchester-based charity called We Are Survivors which offers support for men, including trans and non-binary individuals, who are survivors of sexual abuse and assault, has seen an influx of calls. They said that since the show was released, they’ve been “inundated” with new referrals to the service.

In the first two weeks alone, they saw an 80% increase in first-time callers asking for support. 53% of those callers directly cited Baby Reindeer as the reason they decided to reach out. They also noted a 40% increase in referrals from men ages 26 to 35, clearly seeing themselves reflected in Gadd.

Duncan Craig, the CEO of the charity, said he’s never witnessed a response like this. “Before, some people might’ve read newspaper interviews and maybe a month later picked up the phone,” he told The Independent. “But with Baby Reindeer, it’s been absolutely instantaneous. I’ve never in 15 years I’ve been in this field seen a response like it.”

He added, “Therapists have examples where people have literally brought lines from the show that have really resonated with them on backs and scraps of paper and said ‘this is what I’ve been trying to say all this time’.”

As the social media storm regarding the show has veered off in the unhelpful direction of fans attempting to find the real-life people behind the characters, it is this mission to advocate for victims that Gadd hoped the show would succeed in. Netflix director signpost to We Are Survivors at Gadd’s request. 

“I’ll always give them a shout out,” he told The Guardian, “because they’ve helped me tremendously down the years, and they say breaking the silence is the first step. Sometimes I speak to male survivors, and I’m not an advice giver or a professional, but the first advice is: break the silence. Talk to someone, and if that’s too scary, just write it down, process it into something. Because I think the more you get it out, the smaller it becomes.”