“Chances of getting a rape case to prosecution at lowest levels…”

So, I came across an article the other day and have been meaning to share some of my outrage and hurt over it:

“Exclusive: Chances of getting a rape case to prosecution at lowest levels since records began” 

“Everyone with an interest in the protection of women is encouraging rape victims to come forward and it seems that they are starting to.

Good news, that seems like it could be a step forward, so why haven’t the number of convictions or even prosecutions risen also?

It is therefore profoundly disappointing that we have not seen a surge in the number of decisions to prosecute. In fact, the proportion of rapes being sent for charges, prosecuted and convicted have been shrinking every year under this Government.

How is this progress? This is no better than almost 10 years ago when I reported rape. I hoped, stupidly perhaps, that things were getting better. It seems the right noises are being made, but ultimately too little is changing. 

the Safer London Foundation reported that gangs were switching from knifing their rivals in revenge to raping their girlfriends because criminal charges and a lengthy jail sentence are so much less likely to arise from a rape.

That is shocking. Horribly, sickeningly shocking. These men rape, because they know they can hurt their rivals with little chance of prosecution. The wrong message is being sent to these people. Yes, they should be afraid of prosecution if they knife someone- I hope it deters them, but similarly, they should be deterred from rape for the same reasons. Men should know that if they rape they are going to be detained, prosecuted and then removed from society. It’s like we are giving rapists a free pass.

To be a victim of rape is hell- I don’t quite know how else to describe it. Unless you have been raped, you cannot truly understand what it is to live through it, and then with it. I am confident I am on a journey to healing, yet equally confident that my rapes will be with me for the rest of my life. It is a life sentence.. and what do the rapists get? For many- most even, nothing.

I read a comment on a similar article to this and someone had written “it’s like a slap in the face to survivors of rape”. No, it isn’t, that doesn’t even come close to the pain and the disgust I feel right now. It makes me feel like we don’t matter, that I don’t matter.

So, what are our government doing to ensure rapists think twice before raping? What are they doing to show those victims they will do everything they can to find justice for them? Sweet F A from the looks of it.

It is all well and good to publish stats showing the rise in reporting of rapes, but that doesn’t get rapists off the streets. They are not doing enough. Putting a victim of rape through the hell of reporting and then not seeking justice for her is a crime in itself.

I have heard (read) women describe their experience of reporting as feeling raped all over again. I concur. I have done it, reported and re-lived my ordeal, yet nothing was done. Nothing.

Why encourage victims to come forward, what is the purpose?  It sure as hell isn’t to bring the rapist to justice.  It may make the numbers look good for the government, but that is all.

So UK Government, don’t bother encouraging victims to come forward if you aren’t going to do anything about it. Prosecute- find justice for these women (and men). They deserve it. We deserve it. I deserve it. 

Abuse should never be the norm

 

I woke today with my wrists feeling sore, though the bruises healed long ago, the pain feels very real to me. My husband seemed to know, he took my hands and caressed my wrists gently and then held them firmly. I felt safe, loved and comforted. I thank God for my husband everyday.

I have been with my husband for longer than the abuse went on for. Though I trust my husband completely, as part of the PTSD, the hyper vigilance remains. The fear of being hurt again is always there.

This morning it struck me that it was a little messed up to feel so grateful that he did not and does not hurt me. That should be a given, with every man, with every person. No one should be abusing anyone else.

I am grateful for how wonderful my husband is- but I should not have to be thankful that he is not abusing me. It should never have to cross my mind.

Abuse should never be the norm, rape should not be part of every day life. What kind of world are we living in where this is accepted even ridiculed. Rape can destroy lives, abuse eats away at the soul.

I should not have to feel relief, or be grateful that my husband or any man in my life treats me the way I and everyone deserves to be treated.

 

Abuse is not OK, it should never have been part of my life. No one deserves abuse and I will never accept it as the norm.

 

 

Don’t wolf whistle at me…

It is not a compliment, I am not flattered.

I am not walking along the road so you can beep your car horn at me. I don’t exist so you can leer out your window and shout sexual remarks at me.

Funnily enough your intimidating behaviour (and normally when I’m with my young children) is not something I enjoy.

My body is not yours, I am not a object for you to stare at. My breasts and behind are not for rating, I don’t want to hear what you would like do to me.

I am not interested how sexually attracted you are to me. Keep your thoughts to yourself and leave me be. I have been putting up with this shit since I was 13.

 

It is never a compliment, not for me.

Women should not accept street harassment as ‘just a compliment

 

 

My boys.

Today, is difficult, I’m very sore, tired and grumpy. The rain during the school run, the young boy yammering on at me, the toddler screaming because he was wet (but refused the pushchair rain cover) all added to my stress. I have been hyper vigilant, so the crowds at school and the people walking behind me were quite difficult to handle. I was fighting dissociation at work and now I’m home I just feel exhausted. But my children are close by, the youngest singing and dancing “Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes”, the oldest playing with his cars on the rug and I remember just how good I have it.

I don’t blog about my children much. But right now I want to write about them, I want the reminder of just how good my life is now.

Things have been improved in recent weeks and with that I’ve noticed a change in mood with my children. Normally, I’m quick to anger and I spend a lot of time and effort in keeping that from my boys. I manage that mostly-they are clueless -but all the emotional toll is on me. It leaves me exhausted.

Over the last few weeks, I struggle less often with that anger. I’m more patient with the children, I feel more natural with them and more relaxed too. It’s not always that way, today for example, I’m back to struggling once more. But in general, things have improved a lot. I’m thrilled with that, I have hated feeling so stressed out and so angry around my children. The effort to hide it from them and to be the level mother they need, has been so incredibly hard.

 

My Boys:

 

My oldest child is beautiful,  he has big eyes that draw you in. The first moment I saw him, I couldn’t believe his beauty. He was the smallest baby I had ever seen, he had to wear “tiny baby” clothes and “newborn” were way too big. I was so thrilled to be his mummy. He slept well from a young age, fed regularly and generally he was a dream. I struggled with depression and PTSD a lot after his birth. I admit, it took some time to bond with him, but I loved him from the start and somewhere along the way he suddenly felt like mine and now I couldn’t imagine my life without him.

He was quite an independent baby. He was happy to sleep alone, happy to sit and observe the world around him, happy to just be. Now he is a bit older, he is shy and quiet around new people and situations. In the last year or so (since starting school) he has needed a lot of comfort and a lot of reassurance, which isn’t a problem for me.

He was once a daddy’s boy, but now he is definitely all me. He is kind and he is sweet, on occasions he has even comforted me when I’ve been down. He is such a charmer, he tells me I look pretty, or that he likes my hair, he finds things in my favourite colour and present them to me. He has learned to tell me when he wants a hug (so he doesn’t just throw himself at me), he understands that we don’t jump out on people in our family, he knows we don’t scare on purpose. He takes it all in his stride. He is an amazing little boy and I am so proud to be his mum.

 

My youngest child, also a boy, I refer to as my baby. He’s not really a baby anymore I suppose, but for now he continues to be “baby”.  He too is beautiful, he is loving, affectionate and quite needy. He has been needy since he was born. He always needed to be held, always wanted to be attached to me. I used to carry him in a sling so he was always close. He was a chubby baby, he fed often and slept very little. He has definitely been more of a challenge than his brother!

From the moment he wakes, he wants to be with someone, he cries as soon as he opens his eyes until one of us is with him. He still needs someone to sit with him while he falls asleep. While it can be tiring, I wouldn’t change it, there’s something very special about soothing a child to sleep.

He is a little behind with his speech, but manages to communicate his needs to me (and his dad) quite well. Around other people, he is incredibly shy, he becomes mute with people he doesn’t know and even those he does know, his speech is selective. He too is a bit of a mummy’s boy. We hear all day, “mummy do it!”. He is a nervous child, yet strong willed. He has loud and long tantrums that can be difficult to handle, but I wouldn’t change him, not for a minute. I adore my needy baby.

I am so lucky to be the mother of two awesome little boys.

 

 

I have never considered myself to be a natural mother, I certainly couldn’t be at home all day with them. At times I’ve felt pushed to the edge by the demands of two small children while also dealing with PTSD. But, all things considered, I think I have shielded them well from it all and that is evident in recent months. I have changed, but they are consistent, they are no happier or less happy than a few months ago. They have remained unaffected by all of this. And that makes me want to weep with relief. I’ve been so afraid, so paranoid that my issues could affect them and I know now, that has not been the case. I am determined to continue to move forward, to let go of the fears that still hold me back, so one day I can look back and confidently say, that the boys have never been victims in this.

Causes of Rape.

A little rant for a Sunday evening.

What is it with society thinking women in short skirts/dresses are “asking for it”? It’s a rape myth. I think people hold on to that (ridiculous) idea because it’s easier to victim blame than to admit the truth. The truth being that more rapes occur in the victims own home, perpetrated by someone they know, than by strangers in an alley way. Stranger rape is a lot rarer than a lot of people seem to realise.

It is absurd, it really is. I hear and read so often, that somehow the victim’s clothes are a factor in rape. This suggests rape is about sex , it suggests men cannot control their sexual urges (which frankly, is offensive to all the decent men out there). It suggests that by wearing a short skirt, the female is indicating she is sexually available. Clothes have nothing to do with consent and rape is not about sex. Rape is about power, rape is about control, it is about dominance, it is about humiliation, rape is a way to feed the rapists ego.. etc etc. I was not forced to have sex, I was not forced to perform sex acts. I was raped.

I wore short skirts sometimes, dresses occasionally but mostly I wore jeans or combat trousers or school uniform trousers or jogging trousers, or at times long skirts. What I and every other rape victim wore is irrelevant. It didn’t matter whether I was in a short skirt or in jeans, the rapes took place anyway. My clothes did not mean I was asking for it, my behaviour did not mean I was asking for it. I was raped because I was in the presence of a rapist.

Rape has nothing to do with the victim’s behaviour or dress, nothing at all. The only cause of rape is the rapist. It is as simple as that.

Not guilty = innocent?

So today a famous actor was found not guilty for a string of charges against a young girl, including rape. I don’t want to speculate as to his guilt, I do not want to argue for and against him. It’s not for me to say. It has however, prompted me to put down a few of my thoughts about some of the ways society views victims of sexual crimes.

I haven’t really followed the case, I found the coverage, in particular the details, quite upsetting. However, I did read up on the verdict and I, stupidly perhaps, read some of the comments left. While it came as no surprise, they really bothered me. There were several things, but the one I want to talk about is that it seems to be that a lot of people believe “not guilty” equals innocent.

Very few rape/ sexual assault cases make it to court, the conviction rate for those that do, is low. This is not because the accuser is necessarily lying, I’d go as far as to say that is rare. The rate is so low because it’s hard to convict “sexual” crimes, it’s usually  a case of one word against another and often there is very little evidence. How do you find someone guilty based on two versions of a story, with no evidence, or at least very little evidence? If there is any reasonable doubt, the jurors have to return a “not guilty” verdict. This does not mean that the accused is definitely innocent. Do people really believe that not guilty = innocent? No, no NO. Perhaps in the case today not guilty does equal innocent, in fact I really hope so, because the idea of another guilty man walking free sickens me. In general though, not guilty does not necessarily mean innocent, in rape cases particularly. To bring these cases to court and find the accused guilty beyond all reasonable doubt is very difficult. I don’t know how we can change that, I don’t know what the answer is, I don’t even know that there is one. If it cannot be proven, if it cannot be shown without reasonable doubt, then how can there be more convictions?

Yet, I think it’s important we all realise that most victims reporting rape/ sexual assault/ abuse are not lying, they aren’t “devious madams” they are not “attention seekers” (some of the things I’ve read this evening). Who would do that? Who would go through all of that if it wasn’t true? Sure, it happens, some people are that devious, some are that broken, but not the majority, not in any way what so ever. I know I am not alone in thinking that way, but sadly, I do not think many stand with me either, not enough for sure.

I see and hear the denial and victim blaming in people around me, nice people, decent people, intelligent people. It saddens me, it upsets me as it affects me so personally too. Do you know what it’s like not to be believed? To be subjected to violent degrading acts, to be violated in that way, to go through horrendous pain and utter humiliation?  And then to have the resulting horrible shame and guilt magnified by people questioning the validity of your story. Do you know how that feels?

Society seems to not believe victims of sexual crimes as a default. If we had been burgled you’d believe us, if we had been mugged, you wouldn’t question us. So why question us when we say we have been raped, why the  automatic disbelief? Why do we have to justify our pain, why do we have to push through the denial of society to be heard, to then be shouted down and called liars?

Alright I’m done, it’s off my chest. Its late and I didn’t want to go to bed heavy hearted. I needed that out the way because I’ve had a positive evening, talked out some issues, had a big realisation (I think) during said talk and been reminded of all the progress so far. I want to hold on to all that as I go to sleep tonight, not this stuff.

 

 

 

The term Rape vs Sexual Assault/ Abuse

I was prompted to blog on this after reading a post on a blog I follow:

“They are Rapists and Should Be Labeled As Such” (thank you Kerri)

“Any time someone touches another person, forces themselves on another person or makes another individual do something sexual that they do not want to do, do not consent to do and do not want to experience– IT’S RAPE. Society can call it whatever they want, but its rape. They are not sexual predators, pedophiles or child molesters; THEY ARE RAPIST and should be labeled as such.”

I was nodding my head at this- absolutely! 

I struggle with what to call it to be honest, I tend to go with terms laid out by the law to explain myself (which I do with very few people). The term Sexual anything implies it’s about sex and as Kerri in her blog post stated “It is sexual only in the sense that all humans have sex organs.” It’s about power, control and violence not sex.

Personally, I find the terms sexual abuse and sexual assault too broad. Though there’s nothing minimal in any kind of abuse, I find the numerous times I’ve had my breasts and bottom groped a lot less traumatic than the abuse my abuser inflicted on me.  I don’t want anyone to get me wrong, so I’ll explain further. There’s a term used in UK law “Serious sexual assault” that bothers me a lot because it seems to suggest anything that doesn’t fall underneath that category isn’t serious. All types of unwanted sexual contact is wrong, completely and utterly. All brings about a sense of violation, it’s degrading, humiliating and traumatic. So any comparisons I am making are simply about my own experiences.

Ok, now that is out the way, I will be brave here (mostly because I’ve already put it in the comment box of the blog post I’ve linked too), I’m deeply affected by “incidents” that did not involve the strict term “rape”. Calling it a sexual assault minimises it for me, even serious sexual assault.  It was as bad as my experiences of rape, worse in some ways and I won’t delve any deeper, not just for myself, but I don’t want to over share any more than I may have already (yes I’m now worrying – what’s new there?).

Wow it’s going to take me a huge amount of courage to actually post this!

Even though I don’t like how broad the term “sexual abuse” is, I tend to use it anyway, partly for that very reason. I don’t want to be specific with many people, I would rather most people not know the details. I don’t want the questions, I don’t want the embarrassment, I don’t want the pity and I don’t want anyone to change their opinion of me. Perhaps these are things I shouldn’t worry about, but I still do.  The other reason I use it is because what else can I say, “I was raped” ? That brings about problems of it’s own, not just the whole over sharing, too much details aspect, but it also suggests “just” the once, (once is enough and utter hell) but again it minimises my experiences. 

So, I’m undecided, I don’t like the term Sexual Abuse or Sexual Assault, it references those experiences as sex crimes rather than violent acts, it downplays and generalises. On the other hand, what other term can I use without perhaps being more detailed than I want to be, or over sharing?