Responding to Michelle Thomson MP’s relating of her rape at the age of 14 in the House of Commons this morning (8 December), End Violence Against Women Coalition Co-Director Sarah Green said:
“Michelle Thomson MP is to be commended for speaking out clearly about her rape as a 14 year old girl.
“Sadly, rape is an extremely common offence, and thousands of women could tell a similar story to Michelle. They would also talk about the way they froze rather than fighting back, and they would also talk about not telling others close to them for wanting to protect those people.
“Michelle talked about finally getting some help to talk about what happened many years later when she was in her 40s. While many survivors of rape choose not to report to the police, and not to tell friends and family, specialist counselling services like Rape Crisis can make a real difference to their wellbeing. These services often struggle to ensure they have sustainable funding and run under a ‘postcode lottery’ meaning survivors of rape cannot be sure of accessing support when they make the decision to seek it.
“We need politicians, everyone working on the frontline of our public services and journalists to understand what Michelle’s story tells us about how those who are raped often question themselves, about how they protect others by not disclosing, and about how essential community-based support services are.”
Michelle Thomson’s disclosure took place as MP’s from all parties discussed violence against women and girls in all its forms and what should be done to prevent it. There were also powerful contributions from Maria Miller MP, who celebrated the Women and Equalities Select Committee’s report on sexual harassment in schools, and recognised the cumulative problem of sexual harassment in schools, universities, and on the street; and from Seema Malhotra MP who stressed the need for strategy in this area to be turned into clear outcomes, such as the urgent need for compulsory Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) in schools.