A SURVIVOR of rape and domestic violence is urging other victims to speak out.
The woman – who the Observer is calling Alice to protect her identity – was with her partner for around a year but did not recognise his manipulative campaign until it was too late. He began by telling her what to wear and threatening her if her phone kept ringing. It then progressed to violence and finally rape.
Alice told the Observer: “That whole year of my life was desperate.
“I hid what was happening from family and friends. He said he would ‘put me in the ground’ if my phone rang so I just turned it off to avoid an argument.
“I was a total different person and my friends said they didn’t recognise me.
“I was raped by my partner and was left so traumatised that I had gaps missing in my memory from that night. He had even ripped out my hair during the attack.”
Alice went to police for help and was put on a cocktail of drugs after the attack, which she was told was standard practice for rape victims suffering with Post Traumatic Stress.
But the PTS left gaps in her memory and the prosecution of her partner did not go ahead – although following cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnotherapy sessions she now remembers the harrowing night and wants to see justice done.
But what shocked Alice most was the lack of support for rape and abuse victims.
She felt she had to chase help, and as her job entails looking after people in a similar situation to her own, she was shocked to find she could not rely on the services she previously thought worked.
“I was quite well informed on the kind of help I should receive – but it felt like I was surrounded by help professionals who haven’t helped me.”
Alice – who is hoping to set up a charity for victims – is now calling for others who have been raped or are victims of domestic abuse to come forward and seek help.
She said: “Domestic violence is something that people talk about, but when you talk about rape it’s like no one wants to know.
“I want to encourage others in a similar situation to me to come forward. We need to report domestic violence and rape and find our voice. The shame is with the perpetrator not the survivor.”
And Warwick-based abuse charity Safeline backed up her call, and encouraged victims to contact them.
Chief executive Neil Henderson said: “Sexual abuse and rape is prevalent within our community with tens of thousands of survivors suffering in silence and finding it difficult to seek support for a whole host of reasons including feelings of “embarrassment or humiliation, or thinking that they would not be believed.
“Sexual abuse is wrong and it doesn’t matter how many times it happened, how long ago it was or whether they are male or female, it’s important that survivors get the help and support they need that will empower them to move on from the impact of sexual harassment, sexual abuse or rape.
“Survivors don’t have to wait for an emergency situation to seek help, women and men who have been sexually assaulted can get confidential support quickly and easily by contacting our helpline.”
Visit www.safeline.org.uk to find out more.