The Vagenda

Why Young Girls Aren’t Speaking Out About Rape


A recent NHS campaign poster. You can sign a petition to have it removed, alongside over 100,000 other people, here. 

When I was raped I felt embarrassed and ashamed, I was afraid no one would believe me. I felt weak, like somehow I had let this happen. I told a very close friend, one of the few people I did tell. She told me it was my fault that I had led him on somehow. She told me that because I had spent time with him alone, that meant I had automatically given consent. She then said to me: ‘Well you do dress like that’. At that moment, when she accused me of provoking my own rape by the way I was dressed, I was wearing a thick black baggy jumper, an ankle length body-con grey skirt, black tights and flat ankle boots. In fact it was the first day in two weeks that I had bothered to try to feel like a normal person. It was the first day I got myself out of bed without someone having to motivate me. It was the first day I went somewhere on my own- the place I was meeting her.

It took an awful lot of courage to tell her, to confide in her. I wasn’t prepared for her response, that as my friend, she would not only accuse me as being in the wrong but have the ability to make me feel so small and so much worse. This is exactly why people don’t speak up when they get assaulted. It’s not just the fear that random people won’t believe you or might have some backwards-thinking beliefs, but also the fear that someone close, the people whose opinions matter most to you- might just say the very things that she said to me.

I hid in my room, I hid from my friends, from my life. I thought they would judge me or worse – look at me in that way, that pitying look. Eventually I started to join the world again, slowly. I wouldn’t go into town in case I saw his friends, and when I did I frequently thought I’d caught glimpses of him and it would suddenly be very hard to breathe. I wouldn’t walk anywhere alone especially in the dark. I’d freeze when someone touched me, I’d recoil when a stranger scraped my hand on the bus.

I feared that if I told my friends they would treat me differently. I was worried that if someone at work found out that maybe I wouldn’t get as many shifts, that they would think I wasn’t fit to work. It’s been six months and I still won’t walk alone at night, I don’t like people touching me and I still won’t go on a date. If I could go back, I’d speak up sooner. I would have told that friend exactly where to stick her opinion. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed anymore.

At night, when I close my eyes I see his face and I feel stronger. I’m still here, I lived through that, I got here on my own. I am not this experience, this is just something that happened to me, an awful terrible thing- but that doesn’t define me. It doesn’t define you.

There are people out there who think rape is provoked. They are wrong. But there are also people out there who understand who are on your side. It takes a lot of courage to speak up, to speak out and you should. Don’t let this experience destroy you or your friends. You can do this. If we stop tolerating it, promoting it, judging it, saying it’s provoked- if I speak out, if you speak out, together we can end rape.

In 2013 the statistics from the MOJ UK were:

  • Around 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales.
  • On average only 22 per 100,000 of those are reported.

You are not alone.

- Elizabeth Lorelei

54 thoughts on “Why Young Girls Aren’t Speaking Out About Rape

  1. I know. It’s absolutely terrible. My car was broken into once and my purse and jewelry, which I had left sitting on my front seat in direct defiance of these victim blaming signs asking me to not to, and someone BROKE INTO my unlocked car!

    And the police, after taking my statement and descriptions of the items, and then helping me to cancel my cards, while saying they would let me know immediately if they find the guy, had the NERVE to be VICTIM BLAMING PIGS and say “remember to lock your car next time, this is a pretty bad neighborhood”!

    This victim blaming has to stop!

      • You may need to start moderating this site. It’s becoming a target for utter scum like the poster above, and as I’m sure you’ve noticed, there’ve been aggressive attacks on posters that are simply abuse rather than arguments on the topic.

        • We do have moderation, but this one clearly slipped through the net, though in a way I’m glad it appeared because it proves Elizabeth’s point about people’s reactions to rape EVEN IN 2014 (and shamefully was written by a woman as well).

          If people have been getting abuse in the comments then that is very worrying. If this occurs then please email us on [email protected] we have the power to delete comments. Our filter is by no means perfect so big apologies if some nasty stuff has got through x

          • Well, it’s written by someone that says they’re a woman, anyway. After all, on the internet, no one knows you’re a dog. Although generally it’s pretty easy to spot a complete bitch…

            To Elizabeth – what happened was not your fault. Please don’t forget that. X

    • Because your car being broken into is JUST like someone breaking into the most intimate area we have in life and making you wish no one ever touches you again? Jeez, girl. Get a grip.

    • Well done KiraKrumpet, you know what a metaphor is. What a shame you have no decency or tact along with your literary skills.

    • KiraKrumpet.. How about trying to aspire to some EMPATHY or COMPASSION before comparing a person’s very real and traumatic experience to the theft of inanimate objects. Shame on you indeed.

      Elizabeth, thank you for sharing your experience. Your courage is an inspiration. X

    • Oh my god, thank you for being revolutionary enough to say it. The people who leave items of value unattended in vehicles are EXACTLY like all those people who walk around, you know, being women… It’s like if they exist and they’re female what do they expect to happen? And also thank you for telling us all how caring and cooperative the police are at all times- especially during sexual assault/rape cases- because I had been under the impression that this wasn’t always the case (mainly from personal expieriences of me and people close to me. so glad to know we were all lying and/or hallucinating and that I can relax)

      just to add that I’m not intentionally isolating male victims, just responding in the generics that this person spoke in.

    • I’m worried that these comments are appearing more and more since the emergence of the “I don’t need feminism because…” shit. Is internalised oppression becoming aggressive now????

    • How disgusting that you consider a purse and money as even remotely comparable to someone’s basic HUMAN RIGHTS. How revolting. I’m struggling to even comprehend this.

    • The argument of comparing womens rape to an unlocked car or a theft is a pointless and stupid reason. This is mainly because the stolen goods are items, even if they have sentimental value or are expensive, they are simply objects. Yes it would be sad/heartbreaking/traumatic to be stolen from but you would eventually recover.
      Rape is completely different, rape happens to a person, theft happens to an object. You cannot equate taking objects to violating a persons body., it is a horrific experience A better example would be if a person was mugged or beaten, telling them they were asking for it by their looks or demeanor would be stupid and nonsensical. So, no a body and an object in a car are not the same thing, so your example is redundant.

  2. 15 years later and I still feel ashamed and if someone smells a certain way, has a certain look maybe is dressed simular I feel the panic and fear rise up in me. They told me it would get better but It doesn’t it just hurts differently.

  3. To the person who wrote the car theft parallel: shame on you to equate women with inanimate objects. To the author of this article: we stand with you.

  4. Elizabeth – just to say that, despite the horrendous troll who wrote the first comment, most people on here don’t think like that.

    It was very courageous of you to write this piece. I hope you keep getting stronger, and that if you do decide to confide in other friends, they react with the support you deserve.

  5. There is a very obvious difference between those two situations. The police offering you advice on how to avoid getting your stuff nicked isn’t victim blaming, it’s simply a helpful tip. ‘Unfortunately, we live in a world where people do bad things, and your stuff’s less likely to be nicked if you lock it away’ is just sensible. At no point is anyone saying ‘it’s your fault if it got nicked’.
    Similarly, if someone said to me, ‘Don’t walk home on your own through a dark alley at 2am because something might happen to you’, they’d be looking out for my safety. That’s not the same as ‘it was your fault for walking home alone’.
    Pieces of advice like these are wise to follow, because they might actually keep you safe. But ‘don’t dress like this’ or ‘don’t spend time with men’ aren’t going to stop you being raped. They’re just excuses the rapist comes up with afterwards. He would be a rapist whatever you were wearing, because he’s a rapist.

    • If someone says to you that you shouldn’t walk home through a dark alley at 2am to protect you from rape, they need to be better informed. Most people are raped by someone they know, many are date raped, many are raped by abusive partners. Really, if they wanted to protect you from rape the advice should be: avoid relationships with men because most rapes happen in the context of relationships with men. ‘Don’t walk home at 2am down a dark alley’ is not really such useful advice if you want to protect women from rape. If you want to protect male privilege, however, it’s excellent advice.

  6. In a rather self indulgent move I have snarkily replied to a vile comment on this beautiful piece,so this one is because i want to make sure you know (if you even read these replies!!) that I think this is an amazing thing for you to have written and a wonderful thing for me to have the privilege to read. Keep fighting the fight- you seem to be doing much better at it than me :)

  7. This is one of the most powerful things I have ever read. That you are sharing your awful experience to support and encourage other people going through the same trauma is just so amazing to me. I hope that things get better for you really soon.

  8. It is very brave of you to share your story. You are right in saying that it is impossible to gauge other people’s reactions if you tell them what happened to you. The effects of rape and sexual assault are not well understood by many people despite their prevalence.

    Your positive attitude in not letting this defeat you shows your own personal strength. We are so much more than the things that happen to us.

  9. Thank you for this. Sorry a trusted friend could be so heartless; I hope she’s seen the error of her ways now. It’s appalling that the government and NHS think it is appropriate to restrict women (and people of other genders) on their social activities rather than restricting rapists from raping. Liking forward to the withdrawal and apology for that poster.

  10. Just want to echo what others have said here, both in support of you and against that pitiful excuse for a human being who commented first. Thank you for sharing your story – I’m glad that you are feeling stronger each day, and feel certain that you are strong enough to handle trash like the first poster! The rest of us back you 100%!

  11. To take the first commenter at face value (and obviously everything everyone else has already said about equating women with objects, empathy etc it spot on), their point still does not stand up. Why should I not be able to leave my wallet and keys in my unlocked car? It is fairly obvious they’re not unwanted by me; not having been left out for the bin lorry or bagged up for the charity shop. I expect in some parts of the world they would be left untouched on my car seat and even here in London it is possible the first person to spot them might try and get them back to me sooner than steal them; hey, I wouldn’t take them in similar circumstances and nor would my lovely friends. Would you? The fact that where I live they most likely would go walkies along with the car and contents of my house speaks of wider problems within our society, too numerous and complicated to go into now. And I wouldn’t leave my keys and wallet in my unlocked car, sadly (could really do with utilising the extra space my car would bring) but I wish I lived in a fairer society where I was able to. Don’t you?

  12. An aside: Interesting to google the name of this victim of theft. There emerge several superficially clever-clever and admittedly well-written interventions in feminist blogs etc that don’t stand up to much scrutiny, and no subsequent defence of his/her position once shot down.

    Courageous post, Elizabeth.

  13. I’m not sure what comes of that. Plenty of people don’t defend their positions, and many fail to even offer something superficially clever. The (possibly?) trolled post opening this discussion is certainly in poor taste, but I agree with the editor’s comment: in a roundabout kind of way, it proves the point of the story. One may want to object to the emotional cack-handedness of the writer (someone says something heartfelt; s/he responds with sarcasm), but I don’t think you can just dismiss this as something that should have been caught by moderators. For this is to presume a kind of ideological closed-ness around the question of what victim blaming is, when it is this question that is precisely at issue here. And without drawing in issues from other discussions on the site, one perhaps ought to be mindful that specious or not, there are many claims that feminists are elitist and closed-minded. As I make clear elsewhere, I’m of the opinion that these claims ought to be taken seriously (even though they are for the most part wrong), since one does not win a debate by ignoring one’s opponents.

    On this, then, I note that it’s interesting that neither Elizabeth Lorelei, nor KiraKrumpet, nor Sarah Jane touch on the difficult question of the NHS poster above (for Elizabeth this may be perfectly understandable – I presume she didn’t choose that as the picture). Elizabeth’s point is that the culture of victim blaming runs deep and is very, very harmful. KK’s metaphor is presumably intended to suggest that it is reasonable to urge precaution even in highly emotional issues, like rape. And SJ says precaution may be reasonable, but saying that women are directly to blame is not urging precaution and is ridiculous. I concur, but I also think that the NHS poster does not say that women are directly to blame.

    The difficulty here is that if we DO generalise from Elizabeth’s post in order to draw policy conclusions, as I think KK wants to do and thus SJ does in rebuttal, it is not at all clear precisely which policy we’re talking about. EL’s implicit argument (don’t victim blame) sits squarely on one side of the ledger (the downside). The problem is, do we know anything about the upside? Is it possible that the poster above – which, again, does not say women are directly to blame but does suggest (by way of statistics) that there are riskier and less risky choices, and that women should choose the latter (and by implication, that if they choose the former, they are at least partly complicit in the risks they face) – does more good than harm? I’m not saying that it does, only that it MIGHT (I’ve had a look on the DoH’s website to see what evidence (if any) exists that shows that such posters reduce rape rates but can’t find anything). If it turns out that alcohol is independently implicated in rape, then it may be the case that however distasteful, such posters do improve human welfare after all.

    Now this is ridiculously complex stuff. For one thing, the pain felt by women like Elizabeth, whose ordeals are made even harder by the effects such posters have on general attitudes (and thus on the attitudes of friends and families), cannot be immediately or easily compared against the benefits of lowering rape rates. The pain of the former is immediately visible, while the lack of pain caused by the latter will (by definition) never be felt, despite it being incredibly important. Moreover, this is a very fraught debate; the cold calculus of statistics (and independent variables) seems horrific when what we’re discussing is real-world, human experiences and real-world, human aggressors. Hence the claim that if we can just stop aggressors by the force of our arguments/indignation, the problem goes away. Intuitive as this is, it just doesn’t match the reality of real-world policy-making. In ALL crimes, policy-makers use statistics to identify the causes of criminal behaviour, even while we all know intuitively that the only “real” cause is the criminal’s choice. The reason (all) governments have to do this is that there is simply no policy mechanism (or at least, none yet found) which tap directly into the cognitive processes behind human decision-making. So they have to use indirect mechanisms (like posters) instead. As stupidly phrased as the point is, KK is kind of addressing this.

    Elizabeth’s contribution is valuable not because it is conclusive, then, but because it clarifies a few points about one side of this very tricky decision: the culture of victim blaming is real and invidious, so policy-makers (such as the DoH) need to take this into account. But rather than assuming that these costs MUST outweigh any benefits from a policy such as the DoH’s posters above, we should in fact be asking to see the evidence base, so that we can have more of an idea about the other side of the tricky decision. Public policies always involve trading off often equally desirable goals, and this is no exception: we may be able to have a perfectly accepting and reasonable culture around rape, and we may be able to minimise absolute numbers of rape. But we might not be able to achieve both, for the simple reason that criminal decision-making is only influenced (never determined), by public policy mechanisms. One set of policies will therefore have one set of indirect effects upon the context of criminal decisions, a different set of policies will have another.

    I hope I don’t come across as insensitive (especially bringing the language of costs and benefits in. Unfortunately this is how all public policy-making is done, and has been done since WW2, so since I want to make a serious point, I had no alternative jargon). Elizabeth’s post is very moving, but it is precisely because it is so moving that I think it ought to spur us to think seriously about the difficulties we face with regards to rape. We want to both minimise the number of rapes as far as possible, AND help rape victims as much as possible. But it is the nature of the universe that these are two, separate, goals which may or may not overlap.

  14. Thank you so much for sharing this. It is perfectly succinct and to the point.

    I know your fear: it was my fear and my reality. I was sexually abused as a child. And the fear that I would be accused of lying- instilled in me by my abuser- kept me silent for years. And when I did speak up, the first thing I was told was that I was an evil, lying bitch. That feeling: that horrible, shattered, hopeless feeling that had… I don’t wish it on anyone.

    Victim blaming is a problem. It keeps victims like me from ever seeing justice. But much, much more damaging is the reinforcement of the terror that you already feel. To have something so life altering and horrific happen to you while everyone blatantly pretends and thinks it didn’t is the worst feeling in the world.

  15. How you design public policy depends on how you see the problem, and how you see the problem depends on your understanding of the available evidence. If you see rape as an inevitable result of male sexual desire, mainly perpetrated by strangers and weirdos, then you end up with a response that says we can’t stop men from raping women , so women have to adapt their behaviour to make themselves less vulnerable. If women take these steps, there will be less rapes. The problem with this is not only does it lead to victim blaming, it’s also based on a fundamental misunderstanding about rape. There is a rich and extensive evidence base that shows most (85%) of rapes are perpetrated by men known to women – boyfriends, friends, colleagues, brothers. Also that rape is not about desire, it’s about power, control and entitlement. Telling women to stay indoors, dress modestly, stay away from strangers and stick to soft drinks isn’t going to ‘solve rape’. An evidence based policy approach, including Education about consent, challenging misogyny and sexual objectification if women, progression towards gender equality, and less farcical penalties for rapists are a lot more likely to get us there.

  16. Yeah, I have a policy masters too. How you design public policy depends on how you see the problem, and how you see the problem depends on your understanding of the available evidence. If you see rape as an inevitable result of male sexual desire, mainly perpetrated by strangers and weirdos, then you end up with a response that says we can’t stop a few weirdo men from raping women , so women have to adapt their behaviour to make themselves less vulnerable. If women take these steps, there will be less rapes. The problem with this is not only does it lead to victim blaming, it’s also based on a fundamental misunderstanding about rape. There is a rich and extensive evidence base that shows most (85%) of rapes are perpetrated by men known to women – boyfriends, friends, colleagues, brothers. Also that rape is not about uncontrollable desire, it’s about power, control and entitlement. Telling women to stay indoors, dress modestly, stay away from strangers and stick to soft drinks isn’t going to ‘solve rape’. Victim blaming crap like this poster (and it is victim blaming, because it is a poster about women’s behaviour, that links drinking alcohol to being raped ) is actually more likely to increase rapes, since it adds the weight of the home office and the nhs to ‘she was asking for it’. An evidence based policy approach, including education about consent, challenging misogyny and sexual objectification if women, progression towards gender equality, and less farcical penalties for rapists are a lot more likely to get us there.

  17. Ps Paul – whether you’re a Paul or a Pauline in ‘real life’, super patriarchal to assume that feminist ire about victim blaming is based on emotions, not evidence, and that the people who made this campaign know best

    • Eve,

      How flattering to have not just one’s name, but one’s education second-guessed! Kudos to you for that (if I may); it’s always worth asking where people’s ideas come from and my own are no exception.

      In any case, in your otherwise thoughtful reply I think you misunderstand/mischaracterise what I was trying to say, so I thought I’d offer a quick reply. In particular. I think you’re off the mark to characterise my point as patriarchal. For one thing, “patriarchy” is a feature of a structure rather than an ideational position, right? Maybe you think that I’m just blindly going along with a sexist assumption given to me by a sexist structure, but a) I have no sympathy for structural arguments (at most they’re descriptions of beliefs rather than explanations), and b) you’re just plainly wide of the mark. For various reasons, I’ve thought long and hard about this issue, and I can assure you that my beliefs are based on what are at least prima facie good reasons, not on blithe assumptions. I’m not saying that either the people who made the campaign DO know best (that’s exactly what I’m questioning), nor that all considerations of victim-blaming are necessarily emotional. However, one has only to look at this board to see that SOME are.

      Anyway, I digress. You are of course correct that public policies are constructed with an idea of the problem in mind. How could it be otherwise? Again, I’m with you completely when you note that how one understands a problem is entirely connected to how one interprets the evidence. Specifically, causality matters. I want to know what causes the problem I’m addressing. However, I need to bear in mind that it’s easy to misunderstand causality, right? Interpretation is a tricky thing because it’s about positing a theory of causality because you can never fully KNOW causality.

      The problem is that after setting out this interpretive position (one that fully fits with my description of the policy problem), you then move towards a position of seemingly absolute certainty that your opponents in this debate fundamentally misunderstand rape. Just because 85% of rapes are conducted by people known to the attacker, it is by no means definitively true that rape is therefore about power. The latter is a theory; an interpretation. As it happens, I tend to agree with this theory, but I don’t think it is infallible. Moreover, it’s not a complete theory; it doesn’t allow us to predict exactly when rape will happen, for one thing (something that a really good theory would do). As such, it’s utility for policy-makers is questionable. You advocate an “evidence-based policy approach”, for instance, which seems to include broad political (not policy) moves that are unlikely to ever be properly couched within evidence, such as “challenging misogyny and sexual objectification” and “progression towards gender equality”. These are of course valuable and important goals (who could reasonably say otherwise?), but my concern is that we don’t know how to do this effectively nor have any clear evidence of the causal links between general sexist attitudes and sexual violence, so it would be foolish to rely on these moves alone to reduce rapes.

      Now education about consent is rather different. And, significantly, it also seems to be the flip side of the coin of educating about risks (something which the NHS laudably tries to do across human health). Both of these seem to me to be measures aimed at addressing specific causal and behavioural mechanisms, so I cannot see why you are so certain that one would have a suppressing effect on rape rates while the other would not. In other words, nowhere do you explain in your reply why it’s wrong to consider ALL risks, and not just SOME risks. You do suggest that because (or more specifically, where) rape is about power, contributing to victim blaming narratives may actually increase rapes. This is an interesting hypothesis which ought to be investigated in the data (and would thus be apposite for the questions I raise above). But it’s by no means obvious why it’s a clear proof that the NHS poster campaign (which has stopped now, anyway) was wrong-headed. Presumably, that campaign was part of a policy drive to target the whole range of risk factors (I could be wrong here – if I am, then it’s proof indeed of short-sighted policy-making); if one reduces any one of these risk factors, it seems plausible that unless there are very complex interactions it will have an independent effect on the number of rapes. The whole problem here, of course, is that we cannot ever fully understand complex interactions/unintended consequences, which is why statistical modelling always contains a fuzzy error bar. I am quite open about this in my post above; it is the possibility of unintended consequences from targetting either side of the ledger that makes this issue so complicated.

      In any case, hopefully I’ve proven that my point is a sincere attempt to suggest that things are never as simple as our confirmation biases make them seem. As JS Mill had it, it is dangerous to become too certain in our beliefs because you may become blind to the possibility of your own error. On something as emotionally charged as rape (the acknowledgement of which is definitely NOT the same thing as saying that all those concerned with victim blaming are crazy harpies), this strikes me as an ever present danger. So as much of an idiot as it may make me seem, I think it’s worth questioning everyone’s unstated assumptions on here.

    • I wish you could edit posts on here. Accidentally I wrote “it’s utility to policy-makers” in the fourth paragraph above (or below) this comment, when I obviously meant “its utility”.

      • Don’t worry, I’m sure no one noticed – like me, they probably clocked the number of longwinded paragraphs, thought ‘jerk alert!’ and scrolled on down to the next comment.

  18. If you search KiraKrumpet in a search engine it flags up other comments he/she has made all pretty much pertaining to online rape discussions. Comments are generally sarcastic and not taking the subject seriously. I have a feeling they have some deep seated issues surrounding this topic that I hope they are one day able to resolve.

  19. This is pretty similar to what happened to me. Except that my attacker was my boyfriend, and even my mother said that I should have expected it since I was ‘acting like a whore’ – I still have no idea what behaviour she was criticising. Four years on, I’m still getting death threats from people I thought were my friends, because I’ve ‘ruined his life’. And no, the police ignored my complaint, so he’s never been so much as investigated for it.

  20. Brave of you to write this post Elizabeth, well done you if that’s not too patronising!

    Blah blah blah to the troll above, its not even fucking worth it. I don’t give a shit how much or how little people wear, it will never be a justification for rape. A person could walk around naked and it is still not a reason.

  21. Elizabeth, this is perfect, and you have summed up my feelings perfectly. I struggled with this for years, and I am so happy to read that it has only taken you six months to reach the sort of mindset and thinking that you have. Thank you for writing this. I completely agree with everything you are saying, and am on a very low-key campaign to address the same issues.

  22. This poster might as well just say ‘women: know your limits’. If I see an actual copy of it anywhere (and I mean ANYWHERE) I will tear it down. I am happy to be escorted/thrown out of anywhere. I only pray that my good friends who have been raped while drunk don’t see it before I get there.

  23. I fed the troll. Sorry. That said, I wanted to say that the strength you’ve shown in wrong this article is amazing. We stand with you.

  24. The poster says that one in 3 rape victims had been drinking. What percentage of rapists had been drinking? Why is there no poster pointing out the dangers to men of drinking – that it might tip them into actually raping someone.
    100% of rapes are committed by rapists, so perhaps best to target their motivations.

  25. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Elizabeth! You are very strong and courageous.

    I am so sorry that the one person you trusted was so unsympathetic and blatantly victim blaming in her response. Always know that it wasn’t your fault and the most positive thing you can do is to continue sharing your story and maybe even campaign for consent education if you want to.

    I know myself how hard it is to face victim blaming as a few months ago I accepted that I have been sexually assaulted by 6 different men and seriously sexually assaulted by 4. I have also experienced attempted rape. I told almost all my friends and all my family apart from my grandmother as I felt I needed to so that I could accept that what I had experienced was wrong and I had unhealthy views of relationships.

    Unfortunately I faced indirect and direct victim blaming from a few of my friends and my mother and godmother as well as two people not even believing that I was assaulted! It was the hardest thing I ever had to deal with and I genuinely don’t know how I managed to get through it.

    Good luck with your recovery and stay strong! You are not alone, there are other people like you who cannot deal with people touching them or strangers brushing against their arms.

    We will fight and get through the aftermath.

    Catherine x

  26. A close friend I have known for only a short while spoke of her experience of rape at 14 by a man in his mid 30′s. I had to repeatedly tell her she was in no way to blame for this despite taking alcohol and cigarettes from him and this happened 14 years ago. Recently, whilst in bed sleeping with a different yet equally close friend, a man of 42 (ten years our senior) whom we both know and was a good friend of my boyfriend, felt it was perfectly acceptable to climb into my bed whilst my boyfriend was asleep in the other room and sexually violate me and my friend. I found it incredibly difficult to tell my boyfriend as I felt I was protecting him from finding out his ‘friend’ was in fact a sexual predator and possible rapist (I know not of what he may have done in his past) and could not shake the feeling that this behavior was in some way acceptable or that I was not blameless in this scenario despite having strong feelings about this subject and continually ranting at people about these behaviours not being acceptable.
    We certainly have a long way to go in addressing these issues, I was frightened of the response I would garner from speaking out against this man as we have many shared friends, the majority being male and was a little overwhelmed that everyone stood by what was right and in no way blamed me or my friend for his disturbing behaviour or tried to trivialise what happened to us. I just wish that everyone could be met with this response.
    I applaud you Elizabeth for your incredible strength and for speaking about your experience, I truly hope that others may use this to help them find strength in their own experiences, thankyou.

  27. Amazing article. It really rung similar to my experiences.

    I was raped aged 14 and told very few people. It was only a year after it happened that it really struck me what had happened.

    I had a few close friends giving flippant comments or terrible, offensive advice when I told them. Making me feel even worse.

    I was also raped a second time by someone I confided in about the first attack making me even less trusting. He raped be because I was a survivor.

    Even 9 years later I have vowed to never, ever tell anyone about what happened to me as it gives them too much power.

    The only person in my life who knows is my partner who has always been amazing in supporting me.

  28. Re: discussion of the NHS poster, if 2/3 rapes occur when the victim is sober, all the poster suggests is that it is more sensible to be drunk.

    Equating alcohol, clothing, attitude or any of the actions of the person who is attacked in having something to do with them being attacked is ignoring the overarching problem of sexual violence and placing the onus on the wrong people to change.

  29. Going to uni you expect maybe male students are civilised enough not to use roofies, but unfortunately anyone can be a rapist, probably the anyones you’d least expect. More awareness needs to be raised about University LAD culture, I don’t know anything about statistics but I’ve personally experienced and heard from others enough to know 18yr old girls need to be a lot more informed of the dangers that are real for lots of us.

    Fresher’s fortnight – outwardly quite a harmless time until you realise you don’t actually know any of you’re ‘friends’ and you’ve ended up paralytic outside, having lost your bag, with a guy who, despite noticing you’re inability to walk, decides to have sex with you, then scarpers before you even have time to get off the floor.

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