Notes from a Survivor: I

In November 2017, I made the decision to waive my right to lifelong anonymity and came forward to identify myself as a survivor of rape at the hands of a Tory MP’s researcher*. Until now, I have let others speak for me: journalists, friends, lawyers and my local MP to name but a few. As the second anniversary of the attack approaches, it feels like the right time for me to speak for myself and, in my own words, discuss what actually happened on the night I was raped. The press have been limited in the details that they can publish, owing to something called ‘jigsaw identification’, which could make it easy to identify the name of the man who attacked me and potentially form the basis for him to take legal action against the publication because he was never convicted for what he did. As an individual, I am not subject to such restrictions.

Why?

Because the key defence to defamation (and slander, libel etc) is truth. I have spoken with numerous lawyers on this matter, all of whom are of the opinion that my attacker could not sue me. Not only would it be prohibitively expensive, but would not succeed as any decent judge would throw almost certainly straight out. Then, of course, there’s the negative publicity such a case would attract. The main thing though, is that there is clear evidence to indicate that I was attacked, yet none to support the notion that I made a false accusation or report. If he is stupid enough to try and sue me, he will quickly find that: a) I have no assets that make me worth suing and; b) I am not afraid of facing him in court and fighting my corner. In suing me, he’d be doing me a massive favour. To be quite honest, most people who know or know of me, know the identity of this man. It is common knowledge in and around Westminster. Frankly, this makes the media fear of ‘jigsaw identification’ a bit of a joke. I will not name him publicly, here or elsewhere. This is something I have never done; I don’t want my name to be forever linked with his.

So what now?

I have, laid next to me, the contents of a subject access request from the Metropolitan Police. This is a file of documents that lays out the contents and progress of the police investigation into the attack, including transcripts and a DVD of my ABE (Achieving Best Evidence) interview. Crucially, it lays out the evidence in support of my account. I’d like to share this information and details of my own experience over a series of posts.

There are several reasons for this: Firstly, I want to show that there was always evidence to support my testimony and dispel the usual assumption that a rape case being dropped means that the allegations weren’t true. Secondly, I want to illustrate just how awful the criminal justice process is for survivors of major sexual crimes. As it stands, it is woefully inadequate and in desperate need of reform. More people are failed by the system, than are helped. The human cost of this is devastating, and made worse by common social attitudes to rape and other sexual offences. I hope my perspective provides both insight and clarity, not only into my own case but into the wider questions and issues that surround serious sexual crimes.

Many people have asked me “What happened?”. Depending on who is asking, the way that I describe what happened in the early hours of 15th April 2016 will differ slightly. Usually, I won’t go into the details of just how violent it was because it is upsetting for them to hear. I am so used to talking about my rape now – a conscious decision after finding that denying/ignoring it made me very unwell, both physically and mentally –  that I can discuss it, quite openly, without getting upset. Even though most people I know realise that my talking about it is a coping mechanism, it doesn’t stop some of them getting quite unnerved, particularly the first time they hear the details and notice how ‘disconnected’ I’ve become from it in the way I discuss it. It is nothing more than a way to cope; the more I speak about it, the less concentrated the pain is.

That’s not to say, of course, that it doesn’t hurt or upset me anymore. It does,. I think about what happened every day, and continue to suffer from PTSD. The extent to which I am affected varies day by day. There are good days and bad days. Fortunately, I can manage the pain attached to my rape much more effectively now, than when it first happened. Talking about it has helped get me to that point. I am finding now that with the PTSD and the amount of time that has now passed, it  has affected what I can remember and when. Some days I remember much more than others, and there are days where I can only remember certain aspects. In the same way, there are days where I get more upset than others and the things that upset me or trigger anxiety attacks change as well. This is, I am told, a fairly typical response to trauma.

For the sake of transparency and accuracy, here are screenshots of a scanned copy of the initial police report. To put things into context, you should know the following:

  • The attack happened at the flat I was living in at that time. I had invited him round for consensual sex.
  • I’d known my attacker for years and our ‘relationship’ (which wasn’t even that) had been tumultuous. It was on-off, with periods not talking to one another. These would then be followed by us bumping into one another, usually when quite inebriated, and going home together. I trusted and cared about him. I would never have gone to the police, had I not been 100% sure that what he did to me was completely non-consensual. He meant a lot to me.
  • I am not into S&M or any sort of pain. I NEVER gave any indication to him that I was into that sort of thing. There were no ‘boundaries’ or ‘limits’ in place because no discussion had ever been had about pain/strangulation – it simply wasn’t something I was into. He had tried lightly squeezing my neck previously during sex, and I had loudly objected. He stopped, therefore he knew that I wasn’t okay with it. He did it anyway, on this occasion – knowing I didn’t like it – and still tried to tell the police it was consensual. It absolutely was not.

Nothing has been changed in the below, except that I have redacted his name and the address I used to live at.

 

After making this report, my home was secured as a crime scene. This is what was found:

The first message I had sent that morning, before going to the police, was to a male friend. This is what it said:

As you can see, it matches up with what the SOCOs (Scene of Crime Officers) found. After making my report, I went to the Haven in Camberwell for a forensic medical examination. A female police officer came with me. The examination was horrible, and there was a great deal of waiting involved before I was seen. When I was eventually called in to see the doctor, my underwear was seized, internal swabs were taken to collect a semen sample and my body was combed over for signs of other physical injuries. They were listed as follows:

The red discolourations are from pressure on my elbows as I was being held down on the bed.

All of this supports what I have always said: that there was clear physical evidence of an attack taking place that night. I kept asking the police, in the weeks and months that followed, whether anyone had approached my immediate neighbours to see if they heard the disturbance because I was so sure that I made so much noise in fighting back that it would have been heard through the paper thin walls in my apartment block. After receiving the investigatory information from them once the case was closed, I now know that this was never followed up. No one ever asked my neighbours if they’d heard anything, even though that would have hugely supported my report.

In an effort to help, I also provided the police with names of several former sexual partners and invited them to contact them to ask if I had ever consented to or taken part in the kind of violent sex that I had reported. This included the male friend in the screenshot above, who was able to confirm to the police that I had told him *explicitly* a few weeks before the attack – in a text message – that I didn’t like pain or strangulation. This is key evidence. As far as I am aware though, they did not contact any of the other people I said could confirm that I would never have consented to being hurt during sex.

At this point, I need to take a break. In writing this, it feels like there’s a bottle being uncorked inside me. I am so relieved to finally start speaking for myself and make the above information available for the first time. There is so much the press could not report, that the full case has never been made clear.

I know that some reading this post will have wholeheartedly supported my attacker and believed in his innocence. It is not my intention, through anything I’ve written so far or will in future, to try and change anyone’s mind. Each person should decide for themselves what they believe, and that should be based on all of the evidence. Not just one side of the story and few incomplete press reports.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ – John 8:32

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* You can find out more about my background here