I Never Said Yes
A few years ago whilst living in Mexico City, I narrowly escaped a violent attack by a taxi driver. Even though I got away, it still left a mark on me. My experience made me wonder if I found it tough, then how do other victims cope with being attacked? Do they even cope at all?
As I was in a foreign country, I decided not to report what happened to me. But what happens when a victim does want to report an attack or rape here in the UK? Do victims have enough support to help them through their ordeal? What is it like to experience our justice system?
Meeting brave survivors who shared their story while making I Never Said Yes (Wednesday, 9pm) gave me an insight into some of these questions and to how our system works. It showed me that at each stage of the legal process the police, the CPS and juries don't always get it right.
I met five women, all of whom had very different experiences. Shockingly, all of the women I met knew their attackers. All of them have been deeply affected by being raped.
If a victim decides to report their attack, the police then decide whether to proceed with an investigation and gather evidence. I met people who work in different stages of the system and who admitted that it had flaws - so why isn’t anyone doing anything about it?
Two women I met did see their attackers get convicted, yet conviction rates are low in the UK. But a conviction is just the start, as victims then have to rebuild their lives. This can be very difficult, but all of the survivors I have met have taught me that victims become survivors and it is possible to fight back and regain power.
The problem that shocked me most of all was young peoples’ attitudes towards consent and what is and isn’t okay. Young people are the most vulnerable, yet it seems that there is a lack of communication amongst them.
I think we need to start talking about it. Let's face it, people don’t often talk about rape, but unfortunately in the UK it is a devastatingly common crime that most victims choose not to report, or even talk to a friend or family about. It seems that the myths and stereotypes that we hold in society can prevent people from coming forward. Victims fear that they may be judged, or even blamed for something that was NOT their fault. This must change - we must feel that we can talk about it as a society and not let it be one of our society’s taboos.
So I started talking about it among my own friends, and I was shocked at how many women I knew had suffered an attack, but who had never felt that they could talk about it. How many other women feel they can't talk about it?
Although people regard rape to be a depressing subject, meeting the survivors has shown me a hopeful side - that victims can regain power.
I Never Said Yes is on Wednesday 28 March at 9pm.