Rape case was 'chaos' says victim

21/09/09

Depressed girl
Rape victims aren't getting enough support, say some women's groups

Hundreds of rape claims reported to police across the UK don't end up on official crime records, a Newsbeat investigation has found.

There are also concerns that police don't handle rape allegations in the same way and that women aren't getting the support they need.

Newsbeat spoke to 26-year-old rape victim "Sarah" who says she was left traumatised by the "chaotic" way police dealt with her case.

She was attacked last summer by a work colleague and agonised over whether to contact the police.

This is her story...

_____________________________________________________

I didn't want to think about it. It probably took three or four weeks to realise that trying to ignore it wasn't going to do me any good - that ignoring it wasn't possible...

After about a month I hadn't made the decision to report it to the police because it was too overwhelming... (But) I decided that there wasn't a perspective you could look at where that man did the right thing.

Given I worked in an office with other women the most important thing was that those women were also safe, and ultimately I made the decision to report it to the police.

I was torn apart because it was done by someone I genuinely considered to be a really good friend.
Sarah

I was worrying about whether or not people would think I deserved it because I was so drunk. I was torn apart because it was done by someone I genuinely considered to be a really good friend.

I explained to the police officer what had happened to me and he was extremely convinced that I'd been raped... The police said I should report it officially and they would do everything they could to convict him and make sure it went to court.

I felt very empowered... However because the crime hadn't taken place in the area that I'd reported it to, the case was passed on to another police force.

I was confident that the police in the station that I was taken to would be consistent in their approach and treat me in the same way.

Delays

The first time that I questioned whether they were going to deal with me in the same way was when we were driving over to the police station.

I was telling the specially-trained officer what had happened to me… She said, 'You're a pretty girl with really nice eyes. It's not like you're a fat minger that a guy wouldn't want to have sex with.'

I thought that was quite a strange comment and irrelevant.

It's not like you're a fat minger that a guy wouldn't want to have sex with
Police woman's comment to Sarah

I had to really push to do a video statement so they could go and arrest him. They wanted to delay it because they were short of officers.

But I said that it was a completely unacceptable situation because a man that had raped me was going to work each day with people that worked there knowing he'd raped me.

Once I convinced them to act quickly they said that once I'd made my statement they would arrest him.

'Absolutely terrified'

But instead they were waylaid and made the decision to ring him up and let him know he was going to be arrested and to go to the police station the next morning.

They didn't even bother to communicate to me that he hadn't been arrested. I only knew through other sources.

I was up all night absolutely terrified that he was going to come after me. At five in the morning I rang the station to find out what was going on. I was crying and absolutely terrified.

There seemed to be absolutely no guidelines or procedure. It was just absolute chaos.
Sarah

At seven o'clock I managed to get through to a female officer and she basically had a massive go at me, that just because they hadn't arrested him when I wanted them to, I should just leave them to do their job.

At that point I thought, 'I don't know what's going on here'.

I've been told by one police station that they were going to do everything they could, that it was going to be taken really seriously and now all of a sudden I'm facing this different police station that thinks I'm this irrational, hysterical girl.

I was just really scared because I literally had no idea what was going on.

Then all of a sudden I had a massive realisation that they weren't even going to protect me. I was utterly terrified and the people around me. No one could get their head around it.

It was unbelievable. There seemed to be absolutely no guidelines or procedure. They couldn't explain to me what the procedures were. It was just absolute chaos.

The police woman kept ringing me up at 10 o'clock at night and she'd be like, 'Are you sure he meant it?'

I was repeatedly told I could drop it, that it was so hard to get the CPS to actually put cases through to court.

It just got to the point where I thought they didn't believe me, that they didn't think there was any point pursuing it, that they thought we'd just had a bit of a drunken one-night stand, that I couldn't remember so I'd decided just to turn my world upside down by reporting rape.

Sarah's attacker was questioned by police but the man was never charged with rape and the case was eventually dropped.