Why I stopped encouraging women to disclose to police or doctors after rape

Written by Jessica Eaton

17th January 2019

Aye. Not shy of a controversial topic or two on this blog, are we?

It’s true. Over the years, I stopped encouraging women to talk to their doctor or to the police if they had been raped. When women asked me what to do, I stopped advising them to report to the police and I stopped advising them to go to their GP for support. I want to talk about why I made this decision and why I still do not encourage women to report to police or disclose to doctors that they have been raped or sexually assaulted.

Some people might be surprised to read this. Others who know me well, know what’s coming in this blog:

We have to talk about the way disclosure and reporting sexual violence can make the situation much worse for women.

This year, I have been working in sexual and domestic abuse for nine years. That includes years spent managing vulnerable and intimidated witness programmes for sexual, domestic and physical violence trials, manslaughter, trafficking and homicide cases. In addition to another few years managing rape centre services for women and men. And a few more years working in child sexual exploitation.

Over the years, I noticed the same pattern emerging everywhere: we were advising women to disclose and to tell people what had happened to them, but they were not benefiting from that disclosure. In fact, lots of women I worked with were negatively impacted by disclosing or reporting rape.

Those of you who work in these services will know what I mean:

– Women who report to the police only to be questioned for hours about what they were wearing, why they were drinking and whether they were telling the truth
– Women who report to the police to be asked why the didn’t report sooner
– Women who report to the police, initially believing they were not to blame, leaving the station convinced it was her own fault
– Women who try to report to the police but are told their evidence was not good enough or that their complaint would go nowhere
– Women who reported to the police but had their case NFA’d (no further action) because she was not ‘credible’ enough
– Women who reported to the police but were told they were not reliable enough because they have autism, mental health issues or addictions
– Women who go to their doctor to disclose abuse or rape and are met with a GP who has absolutely no idea what to say to them because no one has trained them in how to support a disclosure
– Women who go to their doctor about trauma responses to abuse or rape and get told they have mental health issues and are prescribed anti-depressants with no other assessment
– Women who tell their doctor that they were raped or abused and are asked intrusive and judgemental questions
– Women who disclose to their doctor that they are having flashbacks or trauma responses to abuse and are told they need to ‘get over it’

The reality is, in the UK, when a woman is raped or abused, we hear the same two ‘routes’ to care advised over and over again: “You must report it to the police” and “I’m sorry you feel that way, have you spoken to your GP?”

But what if those two routes are causing further harm? What if the people in those routes don’t have the right training to be the first response to rape and abuse disclosures? What if our systems are not set up for women and are instead penalising them for disclosure?

What if women were better off not reporting the rape at all? What if women were better off not speaking to a GP about sexual trauma?

Case Study 1: Dina

Dina was sexually abused by her parents for many years but has only recently come to understand what happened to her. She is a 36 year old female with two kids and a husband. She has been feeling low, distant, erratic and having a number of physical and psychological symptoms of trauma. She talks to her friends who tell her to go to her GP for help. She goes to the GP after weeks of building up the courage. When she gets to see her GP, she uncomfortably tells them how she is feeling and some of the thoughts she has been having. The GP looks disturbed and asks her why she has only just remembered. The GP asks Dina why she has never told anyone before. Dina doesn’t know what to say. The GP asks her some standard questions about her low mood and suggests that she is suffering from anxiety and depression and prescribes 25mg Sertraline. Dina leaves the surgery to get the prescription and goes home.

Do not be fooled. This case study is so common, people reading this blog will identify with it straight away. This is an example of the way trauma is medicalised and trivialised by untrained and unsupported medical practitioners who have not had decent, trauma-informed training. Women are often labelled, medicated and sent on their way. Sometimes, if severe, they will be referred to a mental health team who will further label and medicate them. True trauma-informed approaches that would look deeply at the sexual trauma, the memories and the context of her symptoms is lacking in the UK, so thousands of victims of sexual trauma will simply be told they are mentally ill and medicated for many years with no access to decent support or therapy.

In this case, was this really the best outcome we could have provided for Dina? No.

There was no discussion of the memories, the trauma, the responses, the fact that her feelings are normal. There was no explanation of the psychosomatic and physiological manifestations of trauma that would have helped her understand why her body and brain are feeling different now she has remembered the abuse. Instead, she is labelled and medicated with a standard dosage of a massively over prescribed anti-depressant and sent on her way.

Case Study 2: Rachel

Rachel was told to seek support from the local mental health team for her feelings and thoughts after she was raped. She spoke to a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) a few times over a period of weeks. This week she has been told they think she has borderline personality disorder. Rachel was sure that her feelings were because she was raped by her ex-partner, but this professional has just explained to her that she actually has a personality disorder that is making her think and feel differently about herself and others. Rachel is now flagged at her GP surgery, by the police and by the A&E department as having a personality disorder which means people are less likely to believe her and more likely to assume her reports or behaviours are due to, or affected by, a personality disorder. She is likely to struggle to ever get the incorrect diagnosis removed and it may affect her employment, education and opportunities in the future as it is so stigmatising.

Again, extremely common. Women and girls are 7 times more likely to be diagnosed with BPD than boys and men (Ussher, 2013). Also, it is a very common catch-all diagnosis for women with histories of abuse and trauma. Borderline personality disorder and the newer ’emotionally unstable personality disorder’ are well known to practitioners working with women and girls who have been abused or raped, because they often have been diagnosed with these terms instead of trauma. In fact, you may be interested to know that the criteria for BPD and EUPD is very similar to the old criteria from DSM II for ‘hysteria’ (Ussher, 2013). That’s right. Personality disorder in women has the same criteria as a sexist old diagnosis of ‘hysteria’. Hysterical women. Crazy, mad, angry women with mental health illnesses caused by their crazy wombs.

With Rachel, our professional or personal advice was for her to speak to the mental health team in her locality – but was that really in her best interests? Did Rachel need support or a psychiatric diagnosis? Why did we tell her to go to the mental health team in the first place? Isn’t trauma after rape normal?

Case Study 3: Lisa

Lisa was raped on her way home from drinks with work colleagues. It was around 7:45pm and she was in familiar streets walking home. She says that a man came out of nowhere and attacked her, dragging her up the street before pushing her over. She says there must have been witnesses because the street was full of people walking home in the light summer evening. After she was raped and the man ran away, she rang 999 and waited for the officers. She was feeling hopeful, because she had been raped before when she was a teenager and because that happened in a relationship with no witnesses and no evidence, the case was closed. She thought, this time, she would definitely be taken seriously and she knew it was not her fault. The police arrived and took her to the station and to the SARC for examination. It was when she was giving her interview that the officers asked her questions that made her question herself. They asked her if she had been drinking because she smelled of wine. They asked her why she was walking home alone after drinking. They told her they knew she had reported rape before and ‘it had come to nothing’. They asked her why she couldn’t remember what he was wearing. They asked her why she didn’t fight him off or scream for help. Lisa explained she had mental health issues she was currently seeking help for and then realised that was making her sound even less credible. Lisa started to cry and realised, she was not the ‘credible’ victim she thought she was. The case was NFA’d three weeks later and nothing was done to apprehend the offender.

As much as this might read like a ‘worse case scenario’ for women reporting rape, it really isn’t. It’s common. It’s happening everywhere. Women are scrutinised from the moment they report. Everything is considered: their behaviour, their character, their mental health, their background, their criminal history, their sexual activity, their story, their intoxication, their appearance and their body language. We know this to be true. We know the research has been telling us consistently for the past 40 years that women who report rape to the police blame themselves more and wish they hadn’t reported at all (Campbell et al, 2009; Ullman, 2004; Eaton, forthcoming). We also know that only around 13% of people (men and women) who are raped ever report to police (CSEW, 2017).

We know that the research explains this trend clearly: victims are measuring themselves against rape myths and stereotypes to consider whether they will be believed or not (Campbell et al., 2009; Sleath, 2011). Even research from University of Bedfordshire (2015) showed that girls who had been sexually exploited in childhood who were encouraged to report and then go through a criminal prosecution process in court had worse outcomes, worse mental health and much higher rates of trauma. So why do we keep telling women to report to police?

When the CSEW is reporting that 510,000 women were sexually assaulted or raped in 2017 but only 2991 offenders were convicted – that gives women a 0.5% prospect of conviction of the person who sexually assaulted or raped them. So why do we keep putting women and girls through the process of questioning, interviews, evidence collection, trial, waiting and agonising for sometimes 12-18 months? Is this in their best interests? Is reporting to the police really the best thing for them as a victim? No. It isn’t. Is it good for society? Supposedly, but if the conviction rate is anything to go by, then no. Will it protect others from being raped? Probably not.

So I got to the point after working with hundreds, maybe thousands of women and girls who have been raped (and the thousands of women and girls who write to me about their experiences of this too) – where I just stopped encouraging women to report to police or disclose to the GP. And trust me when I say, I know I am going to get backlash for coming out and publicly saying this. I know people are going to argue that I am being irresponsible.

But riddle me this, if women disclosing to their GP is resulting in them being stigmatised, labelled and medicated instead of being supported – and reporting to the police is causing women to blame themselves or become more traumatised than before – in whose interest is this advice?

What if we started being honest with women when they were raped?

What if we told them that if they went to their GP and disclosed rape, exploitation or abuse, there is a high chance they will be met by someone who has no training in how to support them, has no idea how to explain sexual trauma to them and is likely to either medicate them or refer them to a mental health team who will medicate them too?

What if we told women the truth about what happens when they report a rape, how it might make them feel, how waiting 12 months for a trial date might impact their lives, how being made to relive their experiences 18 months later in a courtroom when they were just starting to feel okay again, might affect them? What if we told them about the conviction rate? What if we told them about the way justice actually feels when an offender gets a suspended sentence but you live with the memories of the rape forever?

What if we suggested something else entirely? What if we actually advised women and girls based on what was in their best interests?

Not our best interests. Not the state’s. Not the professional’s. Their best interests. The interests of the woman.

I no longer advise women to report to the police and I no longer advise women to go to their doctor. Neither are supporting female victims in the way they should, and the evidence is consistently showing us that these routes cause further trauma.

So what do I advise them?

Well, it’s simple really:

– Seek out women’s centres and specialist, third sector rape and sexual violence services
– Use helplines to talk anonymously and confidentially about how you feel without having to commit to a service
– Seek free mental health support from third sector organisations and research them to check they use approaches you agree with
– Report anonymously to Crimestoppers if you would like to
– Read lots of reports and research to inform yourself before making a decision to report to the police about abuse or rape
– Seek advice from experienced women’s centres and sexual violence services about reporting without any pressure or bias
– Make a decision based on what is best for you, and do not think about anyone else. Be selfish. Do what you want to do.
– You are not responsible for the offender’s actions or next victims, reporting them is highly unlikely to stop them from abusing others long term
– Decide whether you are ready to disclose at all, there is no pressure and no rush. Talk to people you trust and who love you and care about you
– Seek trauma-informed advice and therapy to learn about your body and brain after sexual trauma without being diagnosed as mentally ill
– Talk to other survivors and victims if you would like to, to learn and to find some common ground with others
– Use reflective techniques to process your memories and feelings such as writing, art, singing, reading and learning
– Look after yourself and do something nice for yourself every day
– If you do want to report, seek support and don’t go alone
– If you do want to go to your Doctor about concerning health symptoms you need advice with, take someone with you and prepare what you are going to say and what answers you want and don’t want. You are in control of your health. If you do not want a medical response (medication and diagnosis), tell your GP you are looking for therapy or support and ask for referrals or signposting.

In reality, there are many more routes to recovery and support than two systems that are failing women right now. Until the services are staffed by people who are fully trained and until responses to women with sexual traumas are reformed and redesigned to stop scrutinising, medicating and blaming women for rape, women are better off avoiding them all together.

There are better, more woman-centred, trauma-informed, strengths based approaches out there.

Let’s put victims first, not systems. What’s in their best interests? Can we do better?

Jessica Eaton 


Email: jessica@victimfocus.org.uk

Tweet: @JessicaE13Eaton

*Short, tongue in cheek disclosure: Yes, I know this happens to men too. Yes, I know there are some great police officers. Yes, I know you might have a great GP. No, your anecdote does not trump years of research and real experiences of women and girls.

41 thoughts on “Why I stopped encouraging women to disclose to police or doctors after rape

  1. Thanks for writing this, Jessica, you do such wonderful work. My own way of dealing with it is to keep quiet. My ex-husband was angry with me when I told him what had happened to me in the past and the fact I had not reported it. It was brought up occasionally in arguments, he basically couldn’t deal with it. I could. I wouldn’t tell anyone again, no matter how close I was to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A database of offenders names/details available would be useful. If the same rapist keeps offending, and keeps being logged it’d surely be easier to have a group of women with similar stories reach a successful conviction. The offenders know they’re going to get away with it with our current system. A system where history can catch up with the offender is a far bigger deterrent, IMO.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree. Something warning other women. Like they did with that circulation of “shitty media men”. Are there any victims out there of UK police officers?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sad fact is a lot of GPs are useless. A lot are doctors who could not handle the hospital culture for one reason or another or who want a part-time but well-paid job. Increasingly we are seeing small surgeries peter out in favour of the large practices where there are several GPs and it’s the luck of the draw which one you get. I’ve had GPs who could not wait to get me out of the door, one who slipped in a whole lot of other tests without my consent when I went for a routine yearly thyroid check (and then tried to put me on statins when I was 30), and one who didn’t pass on my referral request until I called him up, two or three months after the consultation, to remind him. So, I understand the logic of not recommending a GP visit for something this sensitive unless you know who their GP is and that they’re educated on this and sympathetic.

    BTW: another concern about approaching the police is that they might be more interested in your immigration status than in the crime you’re reporting. Has happened more than once with domestic violence.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I am being pressured by social services and family to report ex partner or risk being seen as not removed enough from ex partner, this article validates how I feel as after over a year of trauma in the family courts, police and social services involvement no way do I feel ready for more court and police, i am healing and part of amazing support womens groups, I know I can be an amazing mother and I shouldn’t have to prove that by pressing charges but that is what everyone is pressuring me to do. I am going to print this article out and bring it with me to show my parents, family, social workers, legal teams etc. do you have any of the research/stats to make it more legit in the professionals eyes? Thank you, you have given me reassurance to keep doing the right thing for my emotional and mental well being, you are a blessing.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Where I agree with you in some aspects of not disclosing I think it is wrong to assume that all victims of either rape/sexual abuse/domestic violence etc who disclose for various reasons may come away more damaged for doing so.
    I was raped by my father from the ages of 11yrs until 21yrs. Often up to x4 daily. He got me pregnant twice and attempted his own DIY abortion on me.
    He broke me literally, broke my jaw, battered me, broke my spirit, stole my childhood and most of my adulthood.
    In May 2018 he got a 20year prison sentence.
    My life is just starting, I’m pleased I disclosed, it wasn’t easy going through the trial but I wouldn’t be here now if I hadn’t disclosed and done something about it.
    No matter what training you have you can not and must not coerce people into doing what you feel is right. You can guide and give advice. The victim has to do what they feel is right for them. This is from someone who has suffered and experienced various emotions, someone who would not be alive now had I not disclosed and seen it through.
    I did what was right for me.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thank you so much for writing this.
    It took me several years to come to terms with the experience of being interviewed by police for (historic) child sexual abuse. I assumed there must be something very wrong with me, because I believed – deeply – that going to the police was empowering, would seal me as a truly healed survivor, gold star. In fact the experience I had caused me harm, and went no way to keeping the perpertrator of my abuse away from other children.
    I had very good support from the state healthcare sexual violence service, but to add to your list of what service providers like you can do for survivors I would say, don’t make the policies of the medical and legal institutions the survivor’s problem. I think my counsellor thought it was helpful for me to hear what best practice involves, but at the time that was just confusing to me – I didn’t have a sense of myself as one instance of a kind of case that should be dealt with according to this or that set of policies, I was just me, suffering. (I don’t mean that best practice policies and procedures aren’t important to research and apply, from the institutional / service provider perspective, just that it didn’t mean anything to me as a service user, and conversation about them wasn’t helpful).
    I would also recommend Germaine Greer’s recent writing on this to people – I realise it’s controversial, and if it doesn’t help you it doesn’t help. But her ideas around pursuing civil action and other alternatives to what we currently expect of survivors of rape and sexual violence – I think they can kick off some very important conversations.


  7. I was raped, and I even got a recorded phone call where he said “I’m sorry I hurt you” and admitted to persisting even after I told him No and that I had a boyfriend. The cops assigned a rookie to the case and he claimed it wasn’t enough evidence and “at least he apologized to you” and used the guy being an ex against me. The guy deliberately got me shitfaced, and he was supposed to be my best friend. Smdh. I have found other women (for the most part) to be the most sympathetic.


  8. Also, if you report, you may be made to repeat what happened to you, in great detail, to many different professionals, over and over – because each one will want to hear the story and judge you. Police (usually multiple interviews) doctors, social workers, Cafcas, your own solicitors, you can end up having to say it a lot of times over a long time frame. And if you’re traumatised, about the worst thing to do is have to re-vist the memory of the trauma in extreme detail. That the professionals may be indifferent through to pretty hostile doesn’t help much either.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Not to mention the fact that CPS guidelines demand that we who are traumatised must remain suitably so, in order to be credible.
    I’m in the middle of reporting my historic abuse, and I’m waiting for a decision, either way. That decision (to prosecute, or not) will then mean that I can actually begin the detailed de-sensitisation trauma work.

    I cannot start that before then, because if I do, my therapist will be called as a witness in the trial, and it would jeopardise my case. Because heaven forbid we actually provide support and healing to women – they need to be broken and miserable in order to be good witnesses.

    Everyone I’ve dealt with so far has been brilliant, and I can still see the gaping flaws in the system.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “Women are scrutinised from the moment they report. Everything is considered: their behaviour, their character, their mental health, their background, their criminal history, their sexual activity, their story, their intoxication, their appearance and their body language.”

    The police can and do even force victims to reveal their social media history. So if you ever said anything on FF, for example, that showed confusion about what happened, or a past relationship with the attacker, or if you were amicable with the attacker on FB after the assault, even out of fear, your case is dismissed. The word “scrutiny” doesn’t even begin to cover how victims are treated. It’s a witch hunt, complete with a total stripping of privacy and dignity.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. As a survivor of an assault that took place when I was fifteen years old, the choice I made that I regret the most was going to the police.

    The male chief of police called me names, threatened to charge me for filing a false police report if I persisted with the charges, and had inappropriate semi-nude or nude (too traumatic, can’t recall properly) photos of me, bent over his police desk, taken of me.

    The photos scare me the most. I have no idea if they are on the internet, or which child sex pests or perverts may be using them as gratification or encouragement to commit real life child sex offenses.

    When I was raped when I was 24, I didn’t report it at all, because I didn’t want to be treated like that ever again.

    We must have laws that mandate that rape victims have a paid advocate that lobbies for them in the police departments and prosecutors’ offices. Rape victims should never *have* to be alone with a male police officer or male medical staff immediately after a violent attack.

    If we can improve the system, maybe we can make it safer for women and girls to report.

    Thank you for listening.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A brilliant piece of writing. I think this could equally be applied to those of us who have experienced domestic abuse. I didn’t report to the police but did talk to mental health professionals. I was traumatised by ongoing emotional and psychological abuse by an ex-partner. I was incredibly naïve and genuinely believed that if I told the truth I would be believed, get some support and my children would be protected. I was labelled as ‘over-sensitive’, not communicating effectively with my abuser and a bout of depression from decades earlier was dragged up. Anti-depressants and sleeping tablets were pressed upon me. I found the whole experience, the lack of empathy, understanding and knowledge about the dynamics of abuse from the very people I believed would be the best informed, even more traumatising than the abuse. The abuse continued for years. I didn’t speak about it again, not wanting to risk not being believed or pathologised further. Many years later I was finally diagnosed with PTSD.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I wish this wasn’t true, but it is. I was raped twice, as a teenager and a young college student. I reported the second rape to the police in my college town. And yes, I was questioned about my dress, if I’d been drinking etc. The police never even interviewed the rapist, even though I knew who he was. The police went to his house once, he wasn’t there, and the case was closed. They had the gall to tell me that my injuries could have been due to “rough sex”.

    I didn’t have mental health issues or any other issues that should have made my story hard to believe, I was an honor student in good standing at the university, and yet I was not believed. I don’t necessarily regret reporting the rape, but nothing good came out of it for me or anyone else, and it made things a lot worse for me for a long time.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Really sad to read this but can’t say I’m surprised.
    Out of interest, would there be a way to be medically assessed and evidence collected after a rape without having to report it to police? My concern would be that by not having a medical exam immediately after you would lose physical evidence that could help you in the future, if you decided prosecution was the right thing for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, you can make a self-referal to a SARC to have forensics taken but this depends on being able to physically attend a centre. In Scotland we have one SARC. Samples are held for six months giving survivors time to consider their options.


  15. As a third sector ISVA I can, sadly, relate to this, as will most of my clients…
    I spend so much of my time trying to manage expectations of not only reporting but the whole sorry state of the CJS when it comes to rape and sexual abuse.
    There is NFA after NFA and I can barely remember the last time there was a guilty verdict.
    This is the shit part of my job…but the best part is giving my clients the opportunity to tell their story…to help them understand the impact of the trauma they have experienced and to help them understand everything they feel is normal, physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically…it is the ‘this is normal’ that always has the biggest impact…
    I recently received a wonderful letter from one of my clients to thank me for my input as a ISVA (her case was NFA’d).
    The letter reduced me to tears, as she wrote, so very eloquently, what I did to help and support her, as an ISVA. It clarified why I do my job and why I love my job…
    Your blog hits the nail on the head and I applaud you for it…
    Please do get in touch should you need anymore feedback…
    I think you are wonderful..,

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Thank you for your article. It has given me much food for thought.
    I have pondered a number of years now on disclosing my rape but all you have mentioned, added to the violation of social media and text messages, the fact it was in a relationship and he was a police officer have made me feel my only justice is the moving on with a happy life. The law needs some major changes and then we may see the reality of the situation, when women feel enabled to come forward.
    No one prepares you for the mental trauma (it comes and goes, and sneaks up on you at the worst of moments). It is this, in addition to the physical trauma that is completely misunderstood. Anyone who tells you to ‘get over it’ is neither helpful or a friend.


  17. Borderline personality disorder is real, and dangerous to other people. Borderline personality disorder are psychopaths, which will use any means to hurt other people, including false rape accusations.

    Just because somebody complains that had been told that has borderline personality disorder does not makes that person innocent.


    1. Borderline personality disorder is the most contested psychiatric disorder in history. It’s sexist, it’s stigmatising and it is generally diagnosed in girls and women after abuse and trauma. It has absolutely no basis in reality and is utter and complete claptrap that causes the views you hold.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. So you’re suggesting that BPD, a disorder that has the same criteria as ‘hysteria’, that only seems to be diagnosed in traumatised females, that has no evidence based whatsoever, that even lists being bisexual as a symptom, is totally legitimate?


        Liked by 3 people

  18. Are you daft? GPs are not therapists why would they start psychoanalysis if that’s not their area? And what do you even think psychiatry is? There are no tests or assesments. You literally prattle of your symptoms and they write you a script. Are you serious?


  19. This is something I’ve thought a lot about. I was sexually abused as a child and went through the horrible ordeal of a trial as a 10 year old. And even though I was protected from most of the process, it was traumatic. In the end my abuser was found not guilty because of lack of evidence. I know now as an adult that I would never report a rape if it happened again because as someone labelled BPD I would never be believed.
    A year and a half ago I also had a close friend who was raped and many people told her she should report but I didn’t encourage it because I knew just how harrowing it would be for her. She’s just now starting to feel better, but if she had reported she might STILL be in the court process.
    I’ve been lucky to have had counselling with a third sector sexual abuse and rape centre. I’ll always recommend that over reporting to police.


  20. Dealing with rape survivors is extremely difficult, and I myself was able to start to talk my rape as a child only when I grew up. Even then I could talk only with people whom I trusted. I needed years of professional help to be able to share my experience publicly.
    So yes, I understand problems here. Nevertheless offering rape survivors silence do not help with the rape epidemic. Research shows that the most helpful here is working with boys and young men.


  21. Thank u for this article. I’m only now starting to deal with being raped when I was 13. I’m now 40. I had not wanted to come forward back then as I knew I wouldn’t be believed as I was drunk and passed out. But I also didn’t get any treatment which led me down a road of using alcohol to medicate. I’m now seeking help from third sector and counselling. Thank god for these services!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Yes. This. For myself, I never reported to police because I instinctively knew I wouldn’t pass scrutiny on what a good ‘victim’ looks and behaves like. I did years later, when suffering PTSD and flashbacks, disclose to my GP. The prescription pad came out in a matter of seconds. I was lucky to eventually find a good therapists, well versed on abuse trauma. Disclosure will always be a sticking point for me. I’ve had negative experiences disclosing to some friends, partners and family members. I’ve learned to trust my instincts about who and what situations are ‘safe’ for disclosure. They are few, but they’re also incredibly affirming and helpful. Thank you for writing this and for your blog in general. All the best. H.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. “– Seek out women’s centres and specialist, third sector rape and sexual violence services”
    Be very careful here as many of these organizations and individuals have agendas for which they will use an assault victim to further the purposes of their organizations rather than putting the victim’s interests first!
    Consider reporting not rape or sexual assault but instead the non-sexual aspects: punching, beating, choking, cutting, robbery. These are much more straightforward than rape and specifically sexual assault as no one presumes that a victim of brutality consented to or invited being punched, beaten, choked, cut or robbed. “Simple” non-physically injurious rape differs from consensual sexual activity by the attitude (consent) of the recipient.
    While a rape victim may hope for satisfaction in getting a perpetrator labeled “rapist” and “sex offender,” the object of police and prosecutors is to obtain convictions. Of anything they can. Not sympathizing with victims. Not soothing injured feelings.
    Isn’t a, say, 90% chance of a conviction for aggravated assault, assault and battery, and the like better than a 1% chance of a conviction for rape?


  24. I completely agree with much of this, the police do drop the ball with people who have conditions like eupd, which is itself often brought about by abuse, thus compounding trauma.

    There most certainly needs to be more sympathy for ALL victims of sexual violence.

    My ex partner was raped in rehabilitation after a head injury. She was treated like it was somehow her fault, and had to cope alone with no support after being discharged. I wasn’t with her when this happened. But I saw the aftermath.

    It’s very painful to see someone who has just about relearned talking and walking having the extra pain of that. She’s a braver person than me.


  25. As a survivor of child molestation and date rape I can understand why women need to think of themselves first, but I have to wonder if I would have been victimized if someone had fought harder to bring my perpetrators to justice BEFORE I was victimized.

    As women, do we not have some obligation to each other to inform the public about offenders? How can we accomplish this so as to protect women who are blindly going into relationships with men who’ve previously raped or abused?

    I’m so disgusted with men at this point that I’ve stopped dating because I don’t trust men anymore and I don’t trust the system to protect me anymore. I can see more and more women reaching that point. But of course, #notallmen. What’s it going to take for men to stand up against the predators who keep re-offending over and and over again and making all men look bad?


  26. I thought I would leave this comment that might provide a very, very odd perspective, regarding number 2: BPD is precisely what kept me from entering any kind of a romantic relationship, ever. I’m almost 38 and I am terrified of expressing that kind of vulnerability in advance, being thought of as somebody’s crazy girlfriend or crazy ex-girlfriend, when people interpret a mostly innocent crush I have on a person as expected behaviour of a borderline. This is only vaguely related to your post and I apologise, but it was a thought that I had to share.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Does anyone have any advice for what to do if you have been “flagged”? I went to a psychiatrist for depression and he sexually assaulted me. I changed to a new psychiatrist and told him what happened and I was diagnosed with a personality disorder. Not BPD, just “personality disorder.” I’m afraid that I made a terrible mistake by disclosing what happened and that I am now flagged as untrustworthy. In my country, this diagnosis will be visible any time I seek medical help of any kind.

    I have heard horrible stories about people with mental health diagnoses being refused medical help because they were judged to be faking their illness. I’m also afraid of losing civil rights, for example what happened to Britney Spears. I am terrified of the fallout of this label. What can we do once we have been flagged?


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