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Betsan Powys | 07:19 UK time, Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Perhaps you live in a street of around sixty people.

Perhaps you work with around sixty colleagues, some of whom you know well and have a drink with after work sometimes; others you nod to in the corridor but know very little about. They're only around for a few years and then they're gone. Some you'll miss, some you won't.

Perhaps you're an Assembly Member sitting at your desk this morning and reading that three of your colleagues have chosen to respond to an anonymous questionnaire about domestic and sexual violence, a short questionnaire sent just to all sixty AMs to coincide with a far wider-ranging survey of students in colleges and universities across Wales.

If you are an AM you probably didn't respond to it. You might not have had time. Perhaps you had nothing to record. Perhaps you did but didn't want to in a survey of just sixty people. It's anonymous you're told but all the same, you may not have wanted to be drawn into a numbers game. You're one out of just sixty.

Eight did respond; seven women and one man. And when you read that three of your colleagues have revealed anonymously to Plaid Cymru AM Nerys Evans that they have been raped, you'll probably be shocked.

When you read that 64% of the students that responded to the Amnesty/NUS survey say they know women whose boyfriends or partners have hit them, you'll be less surprised somehow. And when you read that 41% know women whose boyfriends or partners have coerced or pressurised them into sex - again, you'll probably carry on reading without pausing too long.

Would that story have made it into the headlines? Probably not.

But that three of your colleagues say they've been raped?

That'll probably make you, make most of us stop for a second. And that will make it into the headlines.

That is the point, of course. Nerys Evans, who at the Senedd today launches the larger, wider-ranging, more informative and reliable survey about students and their attitudes to women and domestic or sexual violence wanted to show that it's far more prevalent than you might think. That none of the three AMs reported what happened to them to the police 'chimes' says Nerys Evans, with the wider picture of women from all walks of life who tend not to report what's happened to them, who aren't sure how to deal with what's happened to them.

That's why she's decided to put her sixty colleagues under scrutiny, why she's revealed what the eight who responded told her.

As they sit at their desks this morning I wonder how the fifty-two who didn't respond - but who are part of the sixty and therefore part of the story - will respond to this morning's headline that three of them have been raped.


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