Wales

Aidan Bradley victim: 'Rape is part of our culture'

Christina Punter
Image caption Christina Punter started dating Aidan Bradley when she was 16

"You know a woman who's been raped, or a woman who's in an abusive relationship - right now.

"It's not just a storyline in your TV show. It's insidious, it's part of our culture and it's all around us."

This is the view of one of two victims of serial rapist Aidan Bradley who have chosen to speak out about what it is like to see their perpetrator brought to justice and why more victims should come forward.

Christina dated Bradley when she was 16. On Friday, he was given a 15-year jail sentence.

"He was extremely confident, a lot of girls fancied him because of his confidence and talents," she said.

"He lived for singing and acting - that's how good an actor he was. No-one had any idea what was going on."

She said when he found out she was seeing somebody else "the anger came through".

"It was like you were going to be punished, I didn't think he'd go as far as what he did.

"He actually stayed the night as well and he left the next day, happy as Larry."

Her idea of rape at the time was "something that happened to someone in the street" - not in a relationship.

"I spoke to my mother after it happened who said 'this is very serious you need to report to the police', but I didn't want to - I didn't want to be that person to put somebody away."

'Speak to someone'

Christina has had flashbacks in subsequent relationships but only gave evidence against Bradley when police got in touch last year, after two other victims contacted two separate police forces with similar experiences.

"Then I felt bad because I could have said something in the beginning, but you're in disbelief to see somebody you were close to do it to other people - do worse things to other people - it's just really sad.

"If it didn't go to court I just think 'how much worse could it have got?'

"Even if you didn't shout out 'no' as loud as you could have, even if you didn't fight back as much as you think you could have, that's something that has to be reported.

"Even if you're in a loving relationship and it happened only once, speak to someone, get some advice.

"It is difficult, especially if you think about it, it's my word against his - and in a way it is.

"But maybe they'll keep it on file, maybe someone else will come forward and they'll start to build a case."

Bradley's most recent victim, who wants to remain anonymous, was in a 10-month abusive relationship with him.

"He had such a sense of entitlement. He moved himself in with me after a few days, using all my money and he'd never contribute.

"He was always very creepy - he'd talk to you as if he was talking to a child, throw tantrums if he didn't get his way, act like he was superior to everyone."

When she ended the relationship, Bradley harassed her, resulting in her calling the police who eventually took a statement, in which she disclosed she had also been raped.

"Even though he'd prove countless times he was unreliable and awful - a nasty piece of work - he could always manipulate you into feeling sorry for him again.

"He was always so convicted to his version of the truth that you'd think 'well I must be remembering it wrong'.

"It's destroyed my body, my life, everything really. Psychologically I've been not good, I'm on medication now for anxiety and depression, panic attacks."

Her advice to others in the same situation? "Know your truth".

"A lot of people are invested in making you think that you're lying, women didn't want to believe me because then they'd have to believe that it's happened to them.

"I think finally we're at a place where telling this story is actually going to have an effect, it's actually going to reach people and, no, it's not just a storyline in your TV show, it's not just something you hear in the news.

"You know a woman who's been raped, or a woman who's in an abusive relationship - right now.

"It's insidious, it's part of our culture and it's all around us.

"The more people actually start saying this out loud, the more people are going to go 'yeah, actually that is what's going on'.

"I want to change the culture and change the narrative and someone needs to be the person to stand up and do it."

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