Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Equality of Women?

So today has been a good day! I have got meet and greet Jessie J tickets for her tour NEXT MARCH…yes that’s 2013, it’s a while off but it will be worth the wait I am sure! To say I am excited would be an understatement. I never get into the whole pop star thing (apart from Hanson and The Spice Girls!!) but I have a lot to thank Jessie’s music for. I was suffering from really bad PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and it was just horrific on a day-to-day basis. When I started to listen to Jessie’s album I would cry and cry and cry. I released emotions that I had been bottling up for like a year! Her songs actually stopped me from having flashbacks so as you can imagine I am very grateful!!

In other news my article went live just under a week a go and I have been amazed at the positive responses I have received. I was so scared that the article would be bad as writing has never been my strong point but it appears no one has noticed! The joy of people reading my article and it resonating with them soon turns to sadness as I read some of the comments and emails. I am so happy that people are finding some small comfort in my writing but also so sad that they have too. I always knew it wasn’t spoken about amongst people but I am quickly realising just how common it is.

How many people do you know who have been raped? 1? 2? None?! How many people do we meet in one day? In a month? In a year? How many of those people would have been raped or sexually abused. Take 20 of your friends. 1 in 20 women have been raped. Take a look at those 20 friends again.  We are all much closer to rape than we realise and it terrifies me to think how many people are walking around with that secret inside of them.

The other shocking theme that seems to be running through the emails I am getting, is how it is the victims nearest and dearest that aren’t able to deal with rape. How they are unable to open themselves up emotionally or in some cases friends are actually ignoring them because of this awful event.  The fact that loved ones and really caring, honest and loyal friends are disassociating themselves from the victim is baffling to me. I understand that it is a very uncomfortable subject. It is also very painful to have a friend suffer in such a way that you are completely powerless to prevent. Before I was raped I supported a good friend through her recovery. I did not feel uncomfortable and was able to be there for her as best I could although I did not understand anything about it at that time. So, I am at a loss to understand why victims are losing friends. I wonder if it should not be viewed as an individual’s uncertainty of what to say in the situation, but as a deep routed issue in society. Does society have a bigger secret it is not telling us? Do we need to look past the act of rape and into the relationship between men and women? I am beginning to think that this could be helpful.

Before women burnt their bras and went to work they were very much seen as the lower gender.  Men were dominant and women were obedient. Women were suppressed in most aspects of their lives and were not heard and most of the time their feelings were not considered. Sound familiar??? I am purely thinking out loud here. It does make sense that although lots of people say they are not scared of rape they are potentially scared that rape of the reality of women not being as equal as men?! Has society really moved on as much as we would like to think?! I shall ponder…….

Friday, 18 May 2012

Dance and the stigma of rape

Have you ever been the victim of a house burglary? Many victims of burglary don’t need to be subjected to violence or see the burglars to no longer want tolive in their house. They feel “dirty” and that their personal space has been invaded

Friends and neighbours will be curious as to how the burglar got in.  But even if the back window was left open or the door unlocked, the victim is not blamed.  You are the victim and what the thief (or thieves) did by entering your property and stealing or destroying your belongings is unthinkable.  The burglar will forever remain a criminal and you the victim of a horrible crime.

What if I told you that I was raped?  What if I was wearing a short skirt when I was raped?  Would that be the same as an open window?  Would that easier access to my property be a factor that people would hold against me?  In the case of the burglary, the open window is disregarded; the thief should not be entering to begin with.  In the case of rape do you feel the same about what a girl might wear?  Is it her fault or the rapist’s? Would he have left me alone if my skirt had been five inches lower?

When I was raped, I was on my way to buy food, wearing flip flops, shorts and a t-shirt.  I was dragged off of the main street and raped.  Was that my fault?  Was there something about me that led the rapist to think he had access me? 

When I told my friends I had been raped, they were not quite sure what to say.  The questions they asked me seemed to suggest I was on trial as a criminal:  What time of day was it?  What was I wearing?  Was I alone?  Was I drunk?

Shouldn’t they be focussing on the crime he committed? HE was the one who forced the door open, HE was the one who came up the stairs and HE was the one who stole from me. HE had the power and I had none. He stole all my belongings and I was left with the empty house.

Somebody penetrated me sexually using violence.  He held me so hard and covered my mouth so that I couldn’t move or scream. But my experience is that rape victims are held at arms length for mental scrutiny and interrogation.

When I told people I’d been raped, I was faced with reactions of utter discomfort. Some people looked scared of the topic, some people didn’t make eye contact and some people said the necessary things in order to move on and change the conversation. These reactions, although the people were not conscious of how they were making me feel, provoked shame and embarrassment. If someone got struck by lightening would you interrogate them? Where were they were standing? What were they wearing? Were they alone?

Why does society struggle with truly accepting people who have been raped as victims? I think there are many reasons but the main one is certain. People are scared of rape. Scared that it will happen to them and scared to talk about it. Society sees advertisements of rape prevention but very rarely do we see support for victims. They have no voice because society is scared to hear it.

After becoming a victim of rape I feel that I was further victimised by society. It was as if the rape wasn’t a random act but something I had brought on myself.

In a world where sexualisation dominates and even children idolise sexualised figures, why is it we are so uncomfortable with talking about rape?

As a rape survivor I feel it’s my responsibility to speak out and give people the chance to understand the feelings of a victim.

This is why I am looking for rape victims who are willing to take part in dance therapy workshops. These workshops aim to give survivors a different way of experiencing therapy and they will be held in a supportive space with dance therapists and councillors. As a rape victim I know how hard it is to articulate the feelings that stem from rape. I asked myself, ‘we feel in our body so why not communicate through movement?’

I am asking other victims to join my ambition to change public attitudes. Together we can overcome and change the stigma. As Ghandi once said “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Silly Man

I started this blog with the direct intention that I would NOT make it my personal ranting place. However, ironically the entry that has the most moaning in has been read the most. Maybe it is ok to be myself and moan away ?? Lets see…

This morning started much like any other. I hated my alarm and loved my snooze button but eventually snooze broke up with me and I had to get up. I am a nanny so mornings are a little hectic but we have a good routine that seems to work. We left the house at 8am, right on schedule and avoided the normal London rush hour traffic.  

As I turned into the school gate there were a trio of teenage girls walking on the side of the road. I slowed, they turned and I signalled for them to cross but they must not have seen as they moved and stopped to let me pass. So after waiting for about ten seconds I drove past them only to be stopped by the schools parking attendant. The conversation went like this:

Him: ‘you must always give way to pupils’
‘ But I did give way’
‘You must ALWAYs give way’
‘But I stopped, gave way and signalled for them to cross, you saw, you were standing right there!’
‘I understand but you must always give way’
‘I understand that, but I did give way. Instead of holding up traffic, after the students declined the offer I decided to drive on. Maybe when you saw me giving way you could have told them to cross as I was patiently waiting for them to do so’
‘Always give way’

At this point I drove off as clearly he hadn’t added the 10th word to his word bank that morning and was unable to bring anything else to the conversation.

I parked and walked with the two youngest to school and dropped the elder of the two to his classroom. I then went and sat down in the coffee shop with the three year old. 15 minutes after the conversation with the delightful attendant he comes marching. He stares at me whilst he marches. He marches with such force that he knocks a chair down that happened to be in his. Around me were about thirty or so mothers and children.

‘You need to sort out your attitude’
‘Excuse me?!’
‘You have such a bad attitude’
‘This is the second time I have had to deal with you’
‘Sorry, when was the first time?!’
‘You can not speak to me like you did, you must change your attitude’

Then he storms off.  I am left with several thoughts and feelings. I was aware that he was on a power trip, aware that he was projecting his issues on to me, aware that he was a typical bully by shouting at me in front of other people and aware that I was becoming very triggered. Enter massive flashback! I haven’t had one in just over a month but boy, did it come on strong. I was hit by mental images and lost all bareing on my location. I lost the ability to stabilise myself in the present and I began to spiral into the past. I could smell him, I could feel him and I was scared.

All because of one insignificant TINY LITTLE MAN. I know he does not know about my rape but the thing is no one knows anything about anyone’s lives. My issue with men is most of them think they have power over woman, in lots of different ways. That perceived power could be scary and triggering. Just saying.

Check your issues at the door before engaging in a conversation with me PAlease….

Ok rant over, il be able to tell by the response if you guys hated it…sorry if you did!! 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Hi from a wet and rainy London.

I am not sure if it is the weather that is making me miserable but my mood is definitely deflated. I was so excited when I started this blog and although I knew I had set my self a hard task I think I am realising just how hard it is!

I am asking people to talk out about something horrific that happened to them or to someone they know. Not only am I asking them to not be afraid and be proud that they are a survivor, I am then asking them to actively get involved with a load of strangers and dance around a bit!

It’s a big ask and if someone had come to me 6 months ago and asked me to take part I think I would have said no. Although I have never shied away from saying I was raped I do not think, until now, I have been ready to actively try and overcome my experience.  So if I put myself in your shoes I understand why it wouldn’t be intriguing.

There are two things I want to say and both go hand in hand. Rape is not talked about because of the stigma attached to it. If I had been mugged, or if I had been shot I think I would have been a lot more forthcoming with the details to my friends and family, and equally they would have been a lot more forthcoming with love and support. There is a resistance to talk openly about rape unlike any other tragic event I can think of that might occur in someones life. Whatever the reason is for this, it makes me angry. We are not to blame, we should not feel ashamed and we should not be embarrassed. So I am angry when I face awkwardness from my friends or people around me because, whatever the reason is that causes them to react that way, it makes me feel dirty and like I have done something wrong.

So I thought lets speak out loud and clear and not give anyone the opportunity to become awkward. If I am comfortable with it then so can everyone else be. And also, if I am not telling people how much it has affected me then how are they meant to know how much to support me?? BUT I am realising that by writing this blog and deciding to do workshops I have not solved the problem. I am once again powerless. Without other people who have had shared experiences coming to me and sharing my frustration and wanting to be proactive about changing this for future victims, I am just another person shouting into an infinite void.

I am frustrated, and it is without judgement to anyone. There is a frustration there because I am finally getting angry. I am angry about what I went through before, during and after the rape. But underneath this, there is bubbling hope. I am hopeful. I hope each day that people will share my frustration and we can work together to overcome and make a difference.

Give me hope…

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Dance Therapy Workshop

It is all well and good moaning about the lack of support out there but unless something is done about it nothing will ever change. So here I am, blogging away like a crazy person trying to reach out to anyone who has been affected by rape. I am reaching out and really asking for you to be brave and resilient and step forward to help me.

My aim is to do a dance therapy workshop for rape victims of any age, race, gender with their friends and families who may have been affected by this topic. Anyone can participate but I am keen to ensure that people involved in the workshop experience have been through similar experiences as I am hoping this will stop any feelings of shame or embarrassment.

It will be an extremely supportive environment and although it will be based around dance (I will explain why in a second) no one will do anything they are not comfortable with. The whole purpose of this worksop is for it to be supportive and therapeutic.

Why dance? Personally, having done dance at university it has always helped me to express myself. It is a way to communicate without words and sometimes this is vital. As I have discussed before, society can be prone to shying away from the topic of rape and the actual word has such a stigma attached to it it is hard to reach people without getting a reaction first. Dance therapy has been proven to help trauma victims work through their issues in a physical way and it has been extremely helpful for them.

I will ensure that I have trained dance movement therapists at the workshop along side counsellors in case anyone needs them. As I have said it will be a safe place to breakdown if needed whilst at the same time cartwheels and jumping is celebrated!! It will be a support group with movement to use however you see fit.

Sounds good right??? I NEED YOU! I can put this workshop on by myself but it wouldn't be too much fun and it would just be me dancing in a room by myself. Please be brave, please come forward and please email

Taboo subject?

I have been trying to figure out for ages why no rape victim ever speaks out about their experience and why they would feel ashamed about being a victim. Can anyone enlighten me?? I have been at times ashamed and embarrassed about what happened to me. Mostly those feeling have developed from peoples responses to my story. These people did not react out of menace but out of awkwardness and were unable to connect in the way I needed them too.

Why is rape such a taboo subject?!
Why do they seem scared about something that happened to me and not them?

Hear are my thoughts. I think firstly and foremost people are scared of rape becoming a reality for them. And of course, this is totally natural. They can only imagine how horrible the experience is and therefore, like most humans, they avoid the conversation.
I am scared of getting cancer, or being in a plane crash, or losing someone in my family but I do not think this fear makes me unable to be there for someone whose mother has died or someone who has cancer. I do not think these problems are contagious.

Yet, there is something that stops people talking about rape. There is a definite fear that I have noticed in people’s eyes even when mentioning the word rape. I have even been asked what clothes I was wearing at the time, if I was drunk and if I was walking alone. People who asked these questions seemed deeply disturbed by what had happened to me and I think they were desperate to find out ‘where I went wrong’ so that they were able to avoid the situation. These questions do not intend to place blame on me but I did feel ashamed.

The thing that shocked me the most by these questions was the total lack of understanding as to how utterly powerless I was. The above questions seemed to give me power after the rape had happened. If I had been wearing a different outfit would I have gone unnoticed? If I had been with ten people would he have walked past me? Possibly, but the fact is I was taken and against my will I was raped. If I had any choice in the matter, believe me, it wouldn’t have happened.

I am not going to sit here and give you a detailed account of my rape, that isn’t what I am here for. I am going to sit here and say (type) that it is the hardest thing that I have ever been through. My whole world disintegrated in front of my eyes and I was literally powerless to stop it from crumbling.

I get that it is a horrible thing to talk about. And there are blurred lines when it comes to what technically rape is. To me it doesn’t have to be so complicated. Whatever the situation may be, whatever caused you to be alone with that person if two people consent to sex it isn’t rape. If one person says no and it still goes ahead it is rape. Fact.

I would really love to hear any responses to this blog. I am so interested in what feelings this post provokes in people. Whether you have been raped or not, I would love to hear your opinion. 

This is my platform to air my thoughts; I would love to share it with you.

Rape and The Police

Rape and the Police

Txt taken directly from:

Rape claims are being left off official crime records, the BBC has learned.
Figures obtained following a Freedom of Information request showed some UK police forces were failing to record more than 40% of cases.
Rules state only allegations verified as false, reported to the wrong force, or recorded in error can be removed. The Association of Chief Police Officers said advances had been made in rape investigation but campaigners said women were being denied justice. The figures showed wide regional variations but some forces had such a high number of cases removed from records - known as "no-criming" - that critics said it was evident the rules were not being properly applied.
Cause for concern
In Northumbria, there were 382 reports of rape. Of those, 172 never made it into official Home Office figures and that was before any were "no-crimed". Police in Durham said only five of 130 cases had been "no-crimed" yet the figures showed a further 83 cases were never officially recorded in the first place. In contrast, forces in Humberside, Gloucestershire, and Northamptonshire recorded at least 90% of cases for investigation. Northern Constabulary, which covers the Highlands, Western Isles and Orkney and Shetland, puts every case on its records. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary demanded improvements in recording rape claims two years ago but has admitted there is still cause for concern.
 The figures also showed hundreds of complaints lodged in the year to March 2008 never went forward to a full investigation. The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said significant advances had recently been made into investigating rapes but admitted there was still much more to do.
Chief constable of Cheshire Police, Dave Whatton, who speaks for Acpo on rape issues, said even when allegations were withdrawn they must still be investigated. "If somebody's saying, 'I have been raped but I'm not prepared to go forward with this at court,' then it should still stay as a crime.
"That isn't something that should be withdrawn. Because in terms of threshold tests, it has to be proved that the offence did not take place, not that we can't take forward the investigation."
Lisa Longstaff, of campaign group Women Against Rape, accused police of not taking rape seriously enough. She said police have 72 hours in which to investigate a rape allegation and declare it a crime but some were using this as a way to avoid investigating.