Dealing with rape and sexual assault

I met Susan George over a year ago. She had been sent to see me because she had just completed a Counselling course at the college I work in and she wanted to move onto an undergraduate course, but her tutor was concerned that she couldn’t work at that level. After working closely with her for a couple of months on essay writing and research skills I gradually learnt about why Susan was reluctant to sit amongst students and interact with strangers. Just over a year ago she had been brutally raped by an ex-boyfriend and was lucky to escape with her life.

The story was covered by the national press, including the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail Reporter gave a fairly accurate version of events and the comments under the story were entirely positive. This is because Susan George was an acceptable rape victim. By this I mean that she didn’t drink, wear ‘provocative’ clothing and wasn’t sexually promiscuous.

Do not misunderstand me, I completely understand that the only person to blame for rape is the perpetrator and that none of the above factors should lesson the seriousness of the assault or place any blame on the victim. However, as Susan made clear to me, in her experience women feel shame after a rape and if they feel that they were drunk, or wearing a short skirt they are somehow responsible for their rape. Susan took the step of waiving her right to anonymity and it turns out that her rapist had a history of rape and serious sexual assault over a 21 year period. Several other rape victims came forward during the trial and her rapist was eventually found guilty of 19 offences.

Susan had not shied away from her rape and although she was still (and is still) attending counselling to deal with the trauma she has been through she went back into education in order to become a counsellor – specialising in helping trauma and rape victims. She wants to help victims of rape pursue their rapists through the courts in order to bring them to justice. She is acutely aware of how rape is a subject that is not talked about openly, and that rape victims are reluctant to come forward.

This is why she has now put her story on the Internet and offered her perspective on what happens if a rape victim decides to come forward. She has set up a website – rapecounselling.co.uk – with a chat forum and is ready to listen to and help victims of sexual assault. She has also started a blog and has just posted an introduction to herself.

So, please go and read her story, visit her blog and link to it so that she can help other rape victims come forward and bring more rapists to justice. She is also on <a href=”http://twitter.com/coming_forward”>Twitter</a> and should be using it regularly just as soon as I have shown her how to use it all, so please follow her.

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