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Last Updated: Friday, 18 July, 2003, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Trauma of reporting rape
Rape victim
Victims are often afraid of what will happen when they report the rape
Most rape victims never report the crime to police.

Of those who do, the majority will have no idea what level of support to expect when they set about finding help.

The inconsistency of rape services across Britain is the subject of a new report published on Friday by the Fawcett Society, which calls for more specialist centres and a 24-hour helpline for victims.

One woman who spoke to BBC News Online - but did not wish to be named - said she reported being drugged and raped by a senior colleague, a few days after the attack.

"I woke up one morning after a work function, with my hands tied. I had no recollection of what had happened. I was badly bruised, I could tell I'd had sex, and had the worst hangover of my life. It was unusual as I had been hosting the event and hadn't been drinking much."

The county police withheld the number for Victim Support because they said they would talk me out of pressing charges
Rape victim

Her last recollection was talking to her attacker. When she rang to ask what happened, he casually apologised for the bruises and said it had been "quite a night".

After showing her injuries to a few friends and colleagues, she began to realise the horror of what had happened, and was persuaded to go to a doctor.

"The doctor took blood and urine samples to find traces of drugs. The first big mistake made was when he told me to take them to the hospital myself. When the police found out later, the samples were ruled inadmissible, because the defence could argue I had tampered with them."

After finding the local Rape Crisis centre closed, she went to a Home Counties police station.

Kept waiting for hours

"I got there at 2pm, and was kept waiting for six hours in a little boxy police station room, for the forensic medical examiner to come. They wouldn't let me leave to get something to eat, because they said if I missed him he wouldn't come back.

"I would have preferred a female doctor but it was a male. He and a police officer took me to the hospital for the examination, where we bumped into two parents from my daughter's school.

Rape victim
Reported rapes have risen by 27% in the last year
11,441 rapes were recorded last year
Only 7% of cases result in conviction
There are seven sexual referral assault centres in England: none in Scotland or Wales

"The police withheld the number for Victim Support because they said they would talk me out of pressing charges, which I now know to be completely unfounded.

"It was determined that I had been violently anally raped, and I decided to press charges." The man was arrested, and suspended from work.

Two weeks later she found out she was pregnant. She was referred for a termination but told, despite her circumstances, she would have to wait six weeks for a counselling appointment. The police advised her to go private.

Officers also advised her to "get herself checked out" at a sexually transmitted disease clinic, and offered no support.

"It was liked being raped again. I had to explain to the doctor - who didn't speak English - what rape was."

In the meantime her case was handed to the Metropolitan Police in London - where the attack had occurred - and things started to improve.

"I couldn't fault them. A highly trained male officer took on my case, and checked I was okay every day."

The officer accompanied the woman to the termination clinic, after which he arranged tests on the foetus. The baby was her boyfriend's.

"The officer knew exactly how to deal with me. I hadn't a clue what I was doing."

"I have since found out there are dedicated centres for this kind of thing. I say roll them out, and stop doing pilot projects.

"It is still so hard to get good information on the services available. I spent hours on the internet - but when you type 'rape' into a search engine you find a lot of grim websites.

"We need more places for victims to go, well marketed information, and a national helpline."

* After the victim was persuaded to accept plea bargaining by the Crown Prosecution Service, her attacker pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, and was given a one-year suspended sentence.

Is rape really rocketing?
17 Jul 03  |  UK
'Date-rape' drug ban welcomed
29 Jun 03  |  Health
New rape law 'will protect victims'
01 Nov 02  |  Scotland
'One in 20' women raped
23 Jul 02  |  UK News

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