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What is consent?

Posted in Personal Blog

“The Rape Delusion: The Voices of the Victims

If there is one thing that tells us something perverse and disturbing about our society it is the fact that we even countenance the notion that a woman might be responsible for being raped.

When we rationalise to some level of normality the rape of women as being, somehow different, that there are grey areas, that ordinary men can spontaneously lose all form of moral consciousness and violate someone sexually in a moment of uncontrolled lust-fuelled madness, then it is an indictment not only about our attitude towards women in society but also a shockingly offensive and naive view of “mainstream” male sexuality. The sight of any woman in supposedly “provocative” circumstances does not have the potential of converting any man into a rapist. Rape has no connection with mutual, caring, sexual relations, however tenuous, it’s about power, control, domination, and a lack of respect for the dignity and rights of another human being. A rapist plans to rape.

The psychological impacts of rape, and society’s attitude towards the crime, create a damaging lifelong legacy for the tens of thousands of women who have to remain silent about their experience, who are isolated from society – all because of the rape “delusion”.
Click here to read the full article on Derby News (opens in new window)
By Russell Pollard, first published 11th August 2015″

This video gives you a clear picture of what consent is by using making a cup of tea for someone as an example. It saddens me so much that this type of video needs to be made in order for consent to be understood. You can read more fully about sexual consent here.

In case you haven’t time to look at the website its basic message is as follows…

“These are the words of real people commenting on the Thames Valley Police Facebook page in 2015. It is wrong to place any responsibility on the victim. Help prevent rape by speaking out and challenging views you know to be wrong.

Sex without consent is rape

Rape is a crime. Rape occurs when a person penetrates another person’s mouth, anus or vagina with their penis without their consent. It happens to men and women. If someone initially agrees to have sex, but later withdraws their consent and the other person continues anyway, that person will have committed rape. Being drunk or on drugs is not a defence.

If you are accused of rape your future will change forever. You will be arrested and questioned by the police. Your belongings will be seized and your DNA taken, analysed and added to a database. If charged with rape you will appear at Crown Court for trial. If you are convicted of rape you could be sent to prison. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment. You would be ordered to sign the sexual offenders register.

After being convicted it may be harder to get a job or a place at university. You may not be able to travel to some countries. You may also damage or even lose relationships with friends and family.”


Sadly, two people I care about very much have been raped over the past few years, something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.  The police were informed, they were incredibly kind, patient and caring. On both occasions the first thing they said was to access help via the local SV2.

SV2 ~ Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence; were amazing. They helped them to work through the assault, learn to face and come to terms with what had happened to them. Finally to decide whether they wished to press charges or not, or whether, for the time being, to leave it in order to maintain mental health.

I know they both considered pressing charges but felt that they did not want to pursue it at that time. The mental health of the victim is paramount and to go to court and re~live the experience is incredibly traumatising and takes and enormous amount of guts and strength to do. However, a decision not to pursue now does not rule out the possibility of pursuing it in the future.

This specialist counselling helped both these people to pick themselves up and face what had happened to them. Also how to recognise who their true friends were, the people to surround themselves with. For them it was to retreat from large groups and focus on people they could trust and feel safe with.

I cannot underline strongly enough the vital importance of charities such as these who help victims address the trauma of the attacks and learn how to move forward to reclaim control over their lives.

Their service in their own words is…

“SV2 will support you regardless of when your experience of sexual abuse or violence occurred. We support all genders from any age and offer counselling to anyone aged 14+.

You do not have to report the abuse to the police to get support from SV2. However, if you do want to report we can support you through the reporting process, during the forensic examination if one is needed, through the investigation and when you are at court.

SV2 will help you access other services such as sexual health if you need to and we can provide specialist counselling.

SV2 also works with young people to raise their understanding of what “consent” means.
We do not work with perpetrators of any gender”

Very sadly, I have noticed that our SV2 has had to closed its books to referrals as they have not been able to secure enough funding to take them. Instead they are looking at helping those already on the very long waiting list, whilst searching for more funding so that they can then re~open their books to referrals once more.

Again in their own words they state…

“Unfortunately as SV2 has not been able to secure future long~term funding for therapy and as the waiting list is already significantly high, SV2 has reluctantly taken the very difficult decision to close the waiting list and will not accept any more referrals into the therapy service.

SV2 acknowledges this is a very difficult decision for the agency and for clients and is hoping to review this in a few month’s time.”

I find it appalling that such services have to constantly seek funding to continue their vital work. I feel exceptionally strongly about this because I have seen first hand on two separate occasions how incredible the work they do is. How they help give the victim their life back and coping mechanisms for when the post traumatic stress kicks in.

Another unpleasant issue victims have to face is their physical health, being raped usually doesn’t involve “safe sex” and therefore leaves the victim open to potentially contracting sexually transmitted diseases. So here is a basic checklist of what action you should take if you are victim of a sexual assault…

  • Make sure you are safe, go to a good friend of family members house.
  • Try to tell someone you trust what has happened to you, remember it is not your fault no matter what your abuser has said to you.
  • Resist the urge to scrub yourself clean in a bath or shower, you may have vital forensic evidence on your body which the police could use in a case against your abuser.
  • Ask your friend/family member to go with you to either A&E or the Police (the police have a forensic doctor if you prefer going to them) ~ as soon as you can to be checked over and for them to collect forensic evidence and to test you for any sexually transmitted diseases and to treat you for any injuries.
  • If you go to the Police they will give you your options of how you could proceed, they also give you a crime incident number and their telephone numbers should you want to talk to them at any time. Most areas have local rape crisis centres and the police will give you their details and advice you to contact them. This is because the specialist counsellors at these centres  can help you through the whole process and support you if you wish to press charges. Even if you decide not to the counsellors work through the assault and help you address what has happened to you and how you go forward from that.
  • REMEMBER; you don’t have to go to a police station.  But if you do they will ask for you to see their  doctor who will take swabs and samples in their examination suite (you can similarly have these tests at your local A&E if you ask them for them and tell them why or your local rape crisis centre if you have one). These samples/swabs can be stored so that if you aren’t ready to press charges after your assault, you still have the option to go down that route in the future, should you wish to. These swabs and samples cannot be used without your express permission either. So don’t be afraid of having them taken, they are there for you, should you need to use them.
  • If you don’t want to go to the Police you can go to any clinic or hospital to receive treatment for any injuries and to obtain emergency contraception and be checked for any sexually transmitted diseases. These are not forensic tests and I would always urge you to have the contraception and sexually transmitted disease tests done as soon as possible, in order to protect yourself as much as possible.  Doctors and nurses cannot contact the police if you go to see them, your treatment is confidential and only you can report the matter to the police.
  • Just a heads up if you ever need to know this for either yourself or someone you care about. We have been informed that medical evidence should ideally be collected within 72 hours of the attack, after that any medical evidence will be lost. They may also ask to keep your clothes as evidence so ~  don’t worry if you haven’t got any spare clothes to change into because the police will usually have a spare set of clothes.

If you do report to the police these are examples of questions you may be asked ~ it will be distressing for you to recant your experience but it will help them to work for you in catching your attacker;

  • When did it happen, give as accurate timings as you can
  • Where did it happen, if you don’t know the area try to describe it as accurately as possible.
  • What happened prior to the attack, give a timeline of the events leading up to when it happened, where you were, who you were with, what you were doing and so on.
  • Try to remember any conversations you had which may be relevant to the attack.
  • Try to remember how you resisted the attack, did you fight back?
  • Can you remember what your attacker looked like ~ was it someone you know?
  • Did they threaten you in any way.
  • Did they have weapons or threaten to use weapons.
  • Did you manage to inflict any injuries to the attacker.
  • Did you receive any injuries from the attack.

If you are EVER attacked and sexually assaulted but are afraid to contact anyone or seek help then please consider ringing either of these numbers and talk to them about what has happened to you. They may help you work out what action you want to take and who you want to talk to. Remember, you should not feel ashamed or responsible for what happened. It is highly likely you will experience some or all of the following emotions, fear, anger, shame, guilt, anxiety ~ it is very common to have post traumatic stress after this assault and that is why it is vital you seek help and support to help you through such a distressing and frightening experience.

The numbers are:

  1. National Rape Crisis helpline on 0808 802 9999 (open 12pm to 2.30pm and 7pm to 9.30pm every day of the year)
  2. Victim Supportline on 0808 16 89 111

Some other useful numbers are:

  1. Derbyshire Domestic Abuse Support Line
    08000 198 668 (24/7)
    Support and information line for anyone experiencing domestic abuse in Derbyshire
  2. Derby City Domestic Violence Service – run by Refuge
    0800 085 3481 (8am-8pm Mon-Sun)
    Support and information line for anyone experiencing domestic abuse in Derby City
  3. Derbyshire Recovery Partnership
    01246 206514
    Information, advice and support for those affected by drug and alcohol use Derbyshire
  4. Derby Drug and Alcohol Services
    0300 790 0265
    Information, advice and support for those affected by drug and alcohol use in Derby City
  5. Samaritans
    116 123 (Free Support Line UK)
    Samaritans of Derby and District – 01332 364444
    Support for anyone feeling emotional distress
  6. Derbyshire Friend
    LGBT Helpline 01332 207704
  7. Derbyshire Sexual Health Services
    0800 328 3383
  8. Derbyshire Police:
    101 or 999 in an emergency
  9. Derbyshire CORE
    0300 303 1973
    Support for victims of crime in Derbyshire
  10. Mind:
    Support for mental health issues
  11. Childline:
    0800 1111 (free phone)
    Free 24 hour helpline for any young person in trouble or danger and also provides on-line support
  12. NSPCC Helpline:
    0800 800 500 (free phone)
    Advice and information for children or anyone concerned about a child

Supporting someone close to you who has been through sexual assault is heartbreaking, you want to protect that person at all costs. However, that’s not the solution, in order to be able to live with what has happened they need to face it, address it, talk about it and learn how to deal with it and be able to go forward with their lives. The two people I know who have gone through this terrifying ordeal are in my opinion incredible individuals, who strive every day not to let it hold them back but yet still even to this day have episodes of PTSD and anxiety because of it.

However, through the help of the specialist counsellors at SV2 they understand that it was not their fault, that they were victims of attacks, they did not consent to having sex and it was forced upon them. They have worked through every aspect of what has happened and been supported as they worked through the trauma that it has caused them. It does leave you scarred and wary in the future of who you surround yourself with. You are more cautious and frightened than others would be. BUT and this is a big but, SV2 therapists have helped them leave the four walls of their safe haven which is their home and re~enter society and start rebuilding their lives.

These specialist counsellors are incredible, the work they do is far~reaching and essential to the victims of this type of assault.

Seeing the work they do second~hand has made me decide that it’s time I did something to give them something back for the help they offer and continue to offer to victims.

As I stated earlier, SV2 need funding urgently in order to continue providing their services to victims. This made me think about what could I do to help and led me to decide on a head shave in return for donations.

I will be collecting donations from now, this very minute and hopefully reach my target before I shave off all my hair on 1st November. Not just to a number one, oh no, but completely shiny headed bald.

If you feel strongly about consent, rape and other types of sexual assault, I beg you to please support me in raising funds to help this valuable service to continue helping other victims.

It costs £42 to pay for just one counselling session, whatever I can raise will help make a difference for someone who needs this specialist help.

You can leave a donation via my online fundraising page and every penny will go to SV2. The link to donate is below and will take you to my fundraising page on the SV2 website:~

Hair today, gone tomorrow ~ head shave to raise funds for SV2

A full video of the head shave will be uploaded to my YouTube channel and shared in a blog afterwards.

Thank you


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