Isn’t It About Time We Tried A Holistic Approach To Mental Wellbeing? By Kelly Grehan

By Kelly Grehan

Mental health problems are the scourge of our time. 

Around one in four adults in England is diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives. This includes depression (3.3 million people are currently diagnosed with this), eating disorders, psychosis, personality disorder and anxiety. 

The NHS spends around £11.7 billion on mental health, including £400 million on drugs every year. But all indicators are that this is woefully inadequate and terrifyingly 57% of Clinical Commissioning Groups planned to reduce their spending on mental health services this year.  

I fear we will make no progress in improving the overall mental health of citizens in this country whilst we continue to rely solely on a heavily stretched medical model to fix the problem. 

That is not to say that I am not absolutely in favour of increasing the mental health treatment budget (indeed I am a trainee counsellor). However I think we need to start looking at mental health in a holistic way. 

To quote a well known leaflet by charity Mind “good mental health isn’t something you have, but something you do.”

So I am cheered by the publication of the report Creative Health: 

‘The Arts for Health and Wellbeing from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing http://www.artshealthandwellbeing.org.uk/appg-inquiry/

The report found that arts-led alternatives to conventional therapy and medicine could serve as effective treatments for many mental health issues. 

Some of the findings conclude that:
Music therapy reduces agitation and need for medication in 67% of people with dementia.

● An arts-on-prescription project has shown a 37% drop in GP consultation rates and a 27% reduction in hospital admissions. This represents a saving of £216 per patient.

Arts therapies have been found to alleviate anxiety, depression and stress while increasing resilience and wellbeing.

● Visual and performing arts in healthcare environments help to reduce sickness, anxiety and stress.

The heart rate of newborn babies is calmed by the playing of lullabies. The use of live music in neonatal intensive care leads to considerably reduced hospital stays.

● A 10-week art and craft programme with mothers experiencing anxiety and their children saw a 77 percent reduction in anxiety and depression and an 86 percent reduction in stress. The bonds between mothers and children improved, and the emotional, social and cognitive development of the children was stimulated.

None of these things sound unattainable to roll out across the country do they? 

I suggest that rather than finances being the problem, what is needed is a change in culture and an acceptance that mental wellbeing is something that requires investment and that should be addressed through multiple disciplines. 

Is one reason that mental health is not addressed in this way because the Ministry of Health works in a silo? 

Could an approach of working with the Department of Culture could have greater success?  
Is it possible this problem is compounded by an attitude that persists that art is something to be enjoyed by the privileged?

The proportion of GDP spent on the arts by the government remains below the European average

This was recognised in the Labour Party manifesto with a promise to rectify this and introduce an arts pupil premium for every primary school pupil, in line with the existing PE pupil premium. 

Announcing the policy Jeremy Corbyn said :

“There is creativity in all of us but we need to give people the opportunities for this creativity to flourish.”

Art based activity (including drama and music) is repeatedly shown to cut stress even if the person is not good at it!!

Therefore it is logical to assume that a if society gave people of every age access to art then they would have less mental health issues.  
Continuing with the theme of looking at holistic approach to wellbeing, last year Natural England published a study which reviewed the benefits and outcomes of approaches to green care for mental ill-health. Nature is known to be one of the most reliable boosts to mental health.

However it has strangely become less accessible to people as we spend more times in offices, cars and generally trapped indoors. 80% of people in England agree that the quality of the built environment influences the way they feel yet our environments are typically becoming more urbanised and our leisure time increasingly spent inside. 

It is unsurprising that as people live in increasingly overcrowded housing and towns that mental well being suffers. We know access to parks, rivers and natural improves lives: people who live in the areas within our cities and towns that have more green or blue space have better mental health.
 
As with art, a new approach is needed to ensure people of all ages are able to access and enjoy outdoor living. The evidence for this being of benefit is plentiful. For example:
Spending just 15 minutes a day in nature can boost focus and ease anxiety.

● From a mindfulness perspective being in nature helps us to become present.

Children who play outside are more physically active, which helps prevent obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues

● Research done in hospitals, offices, and schools has found that even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety.

It is a failing of our society that mental health remains so neglected in terms of recognition, treatment and approach. 

Let’s see a truly comprehensive integrated approach, across government departments and across all organisations including employers, aimed at improving emotional wellbeing. 

It is quite evident that such an approach and investment in relevant projects would save money and would lead to happier people, surely that should be the real goal of our community?


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Dear Mr Clegg: Austerity Is Not The Victim In All Of This!!! And There Is An Alternative…

Nick Clegg has criticised Corbyn and Labour for “Demonising Austerity” . This will no doubt anger many of us but worryingly it will probably fuel the fire of those that support austerity measures. 

He has personified austerity. As if austerity is a defenceless being that has feelings. 
So let us take a look at the meaning of the word austerity. 

** Spoiler Alert – Austerity is not an actual person **


The truth is that austerity has been falsely used.

True austerity would mean cut backs in all government spending including MPs salaries but that hasn’t happened has it?

The average basic income for an MP increased from £67,000 a year in 2015 (the year they won the election and got into power without the Lib Dems) has rose to £74,000. A whopping 10% !! Hardly ‘tightening our belts’.

Well perhaps they can console themselves that they solved the deficit problem, which surely was the reasons they introduced austerity in the first place? But that hasn’t happened either.

In fact the deficit has increased by 53% (and that is taking into account inflation, otherwise the figure would be much higher).


** Provided by FullFact.org

So what exactly has austerity ‘achieved?’
If you can call a 134% increase in homelessness, a rise in the deficit, a pay cap on public sector workers so severe that now 17% of nurses now have to rely on foodbanks an ‘achievement’ then yes it has achieved something.

The biggest ‘badge of honour’ that austerity has achieved is the UN finding that the Human Rights of disabled people has been violated by austerity.  That is surely something to write home about?

If Nick Clegg would like to point out exactly what  positive outcomes austerity has achieved, then I will gladly listen to him. Because I don’t understand how can you ‘demonise’ a severe economic policy that has left millions in poverty. 

What about the feelings of families that have to choose between eating and heating? Do their feelings not matter?
Many of those in favour of austerity may cry well how do we deal with the economic problem that we have following the Global Crash of 2008? 

Well there is an alternative…

Perhaps we need to think outside of the box that is Neoliberalism, we have afterall been in this situation before. 

The Great Depression of 1931 was followed by austerity and a World War that plunged many of the poor into even worse conditions than they were already living in.
Similarly, the Global Crash of 2008 and subsequent recession led to the introduction of austerity measures in 2010, and an increase in poverty.

Has no one learned yet that tightening our belts after an economic crisis does not work?

On the back of the austerity that followed the Depression, Labour Party created the Beveridge Report of 1942, which set out a grand vision of public spending much like the Labour Manifesto of 2017 did. It provided an alternative to austerity and eventually it was accepted and proved very popular. It led to a landslide victory for Labour and the creation of NHS and the Welfare State. After years of austerity and changed the social and economic landscape of the UK for the better and it was just what everyone needed.

So when will we learn from previous mistakes and eventual victories?

The Crash could have been avoided. Remember, it was caused by the over inflation and free market economics, much like 1931. Keynesian economics would have controlled the over inflation that preceded the 2008 crash and would have opposed austerity measures that followed. 

Keynesianism is an economic theory that works on the belief that economic demand determines economic output, in other words the more the public are willing and able to spend, the better the economy will perform. And this means investing more into public spending, not less . If the public have more money to spend the economy recovers quickly. If the public are skint and poor, how on earth can they spend anything? It’s quite logical really! 

Today we see that austerity has not reduced the debt but that the government are quite happy to spend generously when it suits them with the £1 billion DUP deal, so how long can we live under a false austerity?
The Tories voted against the public sector pay cap only a fortnight ago, flying in the face of hopes of an end to austerity. 

The optimist in me however, would like to think that we are on the brink of a radical change for the better and that it is only matter of time before we have a government that rejected austerity.

For now though if Nick Clegg wants to defend and personify austerity then we should treat austerity as a person.

And in that case (Mr or Mrs) Austerity should be punished by the UN for its’ Human Right Violations and stand trial for fraud. It has been lying to us all from that start.


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The worry of raising a child who has mental health issues By Miriam Gwynne 

By Miriam Gwynne

This morning was not a good morning. In fact most mornings recently have not been good.

My child has health problems but I can’t call the doctor. There is no cream I can rub onto her sore areas, no plaster I can stick onto her cuts and calpol will make no difference. She worries me so much. 

I am a sensible grounded parent. I know what to do when my child has a sore throat, or a temperature or a rash. I know if she has an accident and needs checked out I take her to hospital. I know if she is unable to keep her food down I can take her to the doctor to make sure she is not dehydrated. I have a full first aid box at home with basic over the counter remedies for most things. 


But when it comes to her mental health I am lost. 

She cries far more often than you would expect from a child her age.

She is sad far more often than you would expect from a child her age.

She has no interest in life, or toys or doing much at all. 

She has little interest in food.

She has no spark, no energy about her, no motivation. 


If she was 28 instead of 8 I have no doubt she would be diagnosed with depression and given medication.
She may even be lucky enough to be offered counselling. But she is 8 so it is different. Mental health in children is so unrecognised, so misunderstood and far too often just ignored. 

People tell me things like ‘it’s just a phase all children go through’ or ‘it could be her hormones’ or even things like ‘she is manipulating you to get her own way!’ Stop for a second and think about that: imagine if we said that about adults struggling with mental health? 
I spend so much time talking to her. Sometimes we get to the bottom of things that are bothering her, sometimes we don’t. Tomorrow it could be something else again. 

That’s what people don’t understand: the simplest thing can send my child into such a negative spiral for months. 

She is over sensitive I am told. She is just an anxious child. She will grow out of it. 

I know she won’t though. She is a child with mental health struggles and it is likely she will be an adult with mental health struggles. That worries me so much. I don’t know if she will ever manage to live alone, have a job or raise a family. She jumps every time the phone rings and panics if the door bell goes. She lives on her nerves. 

There simply isn’t  the help for children like her. Children are supposed to be energetic, care free, loving life and eager to learn. We make assumptions that if a child is sad then the parents are at fault or the child is just naughty. We say that children who struggle to eat are just fussy eaters. 

As a society we are doing our children a real disservice by not accepting that mental health issues can affect children every bit as much as they affect adults. 

It was a hard morning again today. My child struggled to eat, to get dressed and to walk to school. I worry how she will cope with all that a school day demands when her mind is so fragile. I worry about how she is interpreting what others say when she is so sensitive. I worry if her anxiety will allow her to talk or eat today. 

Had she been going to school with a broken leg everyone would know to keep her safe. Had she been going with an asthma inhaler the staff would be protecting her. Instead she is going to school with mental health difficulties and no-one seems to understand. 

It’s that lack of knowledge and lack of understanding in society that causes me to worry most as a parent of a child who has mental health issues. 

Miriam Gwynne is a renowned blogger who has her own site where she discusses issues she faces raising two children on the autistic spectrum 

https://faithmummy.wordpress.com/

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My Open Letter to The PM About How Austerity Affected My Childs’ Mental Health

By Lisa Mulholland 

Dear Prime Minister  

I feel compelled to give you an insight into how austerity has affected my family.  
Tonight, I sit here in despair, anxious about tomorrow and what the day will bring. I wonder what battles I will have to fight tomorrow to ensure that the eldest of my three children has access to a service that everyone is entitled to; an adequate education.  

What strings am I going to have to pull tomorrow? 

How on earth am I going to manipulate the system this week, just to get a fair chance at a place at a school that meets his needs, or to get access to mental health service, or health service for that matter?

I wonder what tactics I’m going to have to resort to this week. Yes. This week. The overwhelming challenges change weekly. These are the things that are going to keep me awake tonight.  

You see, my 11-year-old son is high functioning autistic. He also has ADHD, dyspraxia and some possible mental health issues. He is what the paediatricians would call ‘complex’.  

They have a 2-year waiting list just to diagnose a child with autism.
I know this because my youngest child is on that waiting list. It’s a pretty confusing place to be, pretty desolate, pretty frustrating. Not at all pretty really.  

My eldest needs to be treated by CAMHS. But In some parts of Kent there is a 5-month waiting list for children or teenagers that need ‘urgent’ treatment. By urgent I mean suicidal. I know this because the poor receptionist at CAMHS has told me so. She must deal with many desperate parents daily.  

I am lucky that I have only waited 8 weeks for my ‘urgent’ referral to CAMHS.  So here I am, feeling lucky.
Waiting for the paediatrician to plead with CAMHS to treat my anxious son. They are overstretched and are trying to pass my son onto the paediatric services. So, they are now in a battle, and my son is piggy in the middle. 

Even after referrals from the ADHD nurse, GP and a paediatrician working the night shift at A and E (yes, we ended up in A &E when his panic attack prevented him from being able to breathe) we have waited and the problem has escalated. 

He cannot leave the house without having a panic attack.  The only school that is suitable and can possibly meet his needs also have a long and difficult history and they are wary of taking him on. The children that attend that school are very vulnerable and have also been pushed from pillar to post. Getting a place in a specialist school, especially this one, is not straightforward.  

You see their funding was cut last year and they were to be closed permanently. They were saved at the last minute but they are now under very high pressure to perform better and stay open. Can they afford to waste a precious place on my son who might not be able to manage there? 

Tomorrow my anxious, autistic son who desperately wants to go to school, who desperately wants to go to university, must swallow his anxiety, crush all his fears, put two failed school placements behind him and go and spend a day at this school (without the promise of a place).  
He must try his utmost best to convince them that he fits their criteria. I know they do not want him there. I haven’t told him this. I have had to give him many pep talks tonight. We have had tears, self -harm and panic attacks and the night is only just beginning. 
I know I won’t sleep. He may wake several times with night terrors tonight. Who knows what will happen.  
Nevertheless, I will get up in the morning and pray he holds it together long enough for them to see that he is worth teaching. I will then come home and call CAMHS and plead with them to treat my son for this anxiety that is preventing him from leaving the house and getting an education.  

It isn’t CAMHS fault, it isn’t the Schools’ fault, it isn’t the local authorities fault and it is not the paediatricians’ fault.  
Who is to blame?  

It isn’t my son.  

It isn’t me. 

I did not ask to have an autistic child in a time where services are on their knees and schools cannot cope with children like mine. Where funding for schools, and all NHS Services have been slashed. Who would have imagined services in the 6th richest nation in the world would get this bad? 

Crippling cuts to services under the guise of a false ‘austerity’ is not the way forward. It is merely an ideological tool that suits your agenda but not ours. 

But it’s not YOUR money to spend as you see fit!! We have paid for services via tax and national insurance and we aren’t receiving them. It is OUR money and we deserve the services we pay for.  

You represent us, you work for us. You cannot do that without understanding us, the people. 

Democracy is supposed to be “For the People, Of the People and By the People”. 

Yours 

Lisa 

A mum, a voter, a volunteer, a campaigner.

 

Lisa’s letter attracted the attention of the BBC and eventually her letter was read out to the Director Of CAMHS. To find out what happened next please click here:

https://theavengeruk.com/2017/09/18/my-letter-to-the-pm-about-my-childs-mental-health-got-an-unexpected-response/

My Letter To The PM About My Child’s Mental Health Got An Unexpected Response 

By Lisa Mulholland

I am an autism mum and I get ‘political’ sometimes. 

It is difficult not to be when current waiting times for an autism assessment in North West Kent is between 2 and 3 years due to NHS cuts and over the years has varied between 1-2 years.

This is frustrating and can really affect an autistic child’s life as diagnosis means children get support they desperately need in school. Well for now anyway as schools all over the country are having their budgets slashed, meaning many Teaching Assistants will no longer have jobs.

Terrible for the teachers but a disaster for the children who so heavily rely on support staff.

The school budget for my child’s school alone is also set to be slashed by £72,000 by the year 2019. And I dread to think about how many children will feel the fallout of this.

For me once I finally got a diagnosis for my eldest I was unaware that the battle had only just begun and it took 4 years from seeking an autism diagnosis to finding the right primary school setting. 
Anxiety, school refusal and mental health issues became a barrier to my son’s education and eventually his overall quality of life.

It started aged 6 with self- harm and progressed into suicidal tendencies by the time he reached the age of 10.

Although shocking, my son is not a one-off case. While autism itself IS NOT a mental health condition, 71% of children who have autism develop mental health conditions, according to the NAS. * 

Compare this to non-autistic children where the figure for developing a mental health condition is around 10% and you have a staggering 61% difference that cannot be ignored. ** 

When I had reached the end of my tether with new battles arising after two failed secondary school placements in the space of 3 months, due to my son’s panic attacks, self- harm and absolute emotional breakdown I put pen to paper. 

Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) had rejected us from their service a total of 6 times, so we had an escalating mental health issue that no one would treat. 

I literally had nowhere to turn so when I was given a glimmer of hope of prospective specialist school that could cater to my son’s high academic ability, I was overjoyed.

There are not many schools like it and he was deemed too ‘bright’ for other specialist schools.

But he was initially rejected by the school, so another simultaneous battle ensued. Eventually they agreed to let me son have a trial day.

The night before the trial he burst into tears and said, ” Why do I have to be autistic, I just want a normal life, I just want to go to school and hang out with my mates” before having a panic attack and physically harming himself many times throughout the night.

That night I wanted to complain to someone. But I didn’t know where to start. So, I started with David Cameron who was the Prime Minister at the time. 


I was desperate, heartbroken and angry all at once but when I finished writing, I felt a sense of relief that I had got it off my chest.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it, but a friend of mine read it and was moved by it. She had a political group on Facebook and we decided to share it.

I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. 

My letter kept being shared and people started commenting about how they could relate to it and I was being spurred on to continue my battle by people I had never met.

Then I was contacted by a BBC journalist who was interested in my story. 

I was apprehensive at first, but after much deliberation and assurance from The BBC we agreed to do it. We felt we had nothing to lose and wanted to speak out about mental health and felt that is we could help just one other family then it was worth it.

The BBC staff came to our home so that we were comfortable and were very sensitive and respectful.

My son really opened up and the staff were so moved by our story that they offered him a treat to visit the studios and watch the editing process. The staff spoke to him about anxiety in the workplace and gave us some hope when we felt there was none.

We appeared on BBC Inside Out and the Health Correspondent took my letter straight to the Director of CAMHS Kent and Sussex Partnership.

To see my letter being addressed by the Director of CAMHS on the BBC was surreal but it encouraged other friends’ children in similar situations to speak out about their mental health issues too.

Just that alone for me feel like I had made a positive difference.

Just when I was about to lose all hope, a letter and a political group help
ed to give me a second wind to fight some more. It helped us push the services some more, fight for mental health treatment and fight for a school placement. 

We were then invited onto radio and Victoria Derbyshire to speak about our issues and 18 months later and talked to people who had influence over mental health services.

We are still in contact with the staff at BBC South East. They were personally touched by our plight and are now delighted to hear of the progress my son has made. They often drop us a line to ask how is he getting on.


He is no longer plagued by his anxiety (albeit still present) he now has a quality of life that everyone is entitled to.

The school listened to my case and gave him a chance. He is now the happiest he has ever been in his life because he is in a school setting that caters to his academic and social and emotional needs and finally got the CAMHS treatment he desperately needed.

He is excelling in subjects that I never thought he would attempt and he no longer has panic attacks and we are able to manage his anxiety and mental health issues.

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t been so compelled to ‘get political’.

I want to continue to make other parents in similar situations aware that the difficulties and frustrations many parents feel with a lack of services to support their children whether it be NHS waiting lists, CAMHS waiting lists or lack of school support is a political issue.  People need to be held to account and we should never feel silenced.

The buck stops with the government and sometimes direct action needs to be taken to let the voices of our children be heard. And above all we should never take no for an answer. 

Sources:

National Autistic Society “You Need to Know Campaign”

Mental Health Foundation

To read the actual Letter that was sent to the PM please click here: 

https://theavengeruk.com/2017/09/18/my-open-letter-to-the-pm-about-how-austerity-affected-my-childs-mental-health/

Misogyny and Victim Blaming By Kelly Grehan

 By Kelly Grehan

I’m going to start with a question: why is the starting point for hearing about crimes in which victims are typically women to ask what she did wrong?

 Disagree?

 How many times upon hearing about a rape do people respond with questions like – well why did she get in his car? Why did she drink so much? Why was she dressed like that? Why did she lead him on? Why did she not run/scream/fight back?  

 How many people on hearing about domestic violence respond by saying why did she not leave? Why was she was always winding him up? Why was she smiling if she was scared? Why did she have a baby with him?

 I could go on.

There are numerous high profile cases I could use to illustrate this- Adam Johnson, Johnny Depp Mike Tyson, Bill Cosby, Rolf Harris. Men for whom, as soon as their crimes became known excuses and victim blaming began. 

Of course people can cite ‘innocent until proven guilty’ as a reason, but my experience is that there is an approach taken by a large group of people upon hearing about these offences which differs from that they would take if hearing about a car theft, robbery or fraud.  

So why is this? Is it because of the misogyny which continues to plague our society? Or is it because by distancing themselves from certain behaviours people feel they can protect themselves from being a victim of such a crime? Or is it because there is a collective failure in our community to want to accept the scale of violence against women in our society because to do so would mean admitting an unpalatable truth and would surely mean we need to address it?

Statistics show that the number of offences against women, including domestic abuse, rape and sexual assaults, rose by almost 10% to 117,568 in 2015-16.

Although men do suffer violence from women research shows that domestic violence is a deeply gendered issue for example Metropolitan Police statistics show that male violence against women made up 85% of reported domestic violence incidents and that 5% of domestic violence incidents were perpetrated by women in heterosexual relationships. Staggeringly four times as many women as men are killed by a current or former partner. Two women a week are killed as a result of domestic violence in England and Wales.

With regards to sexual violence approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year; that’s roughly 11 rapes (of adults alone) every hour. These figures include assaults by penetration and attempts.

So 1 in 5 women aged 16 – 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16. Roughly 90% of those who are raped know the perpetrator prior to the offence. 3% of reported rapes are believed to be false.  

What we also know is that women who experience domestic, emotional and sexual violence experience guilt, denial, post traumatic stress and depression so a victim blaming culture is very damaging and can actually contribute towards reasons why women do not report or escape the situation.

I showed this blog to a friend who was a victim of long term emotional and domestic violence. This was her response:

Funny that thing about why didn’t she scream, why didn’t she fight back – I’d always thought I would fight back but logistically your size makes a big difference, fear is the biggest factor because I was too busy thinking how can I survive this and not make it worse than trying to fight. Self preservation kicks in and you try and survive. Who’s going to believe you when it’s your boyfriend and happened in your house/bedroom? You’ve got to live with him so you make it as easy as possible – enough people have said you should get out and should finish it. Now you’re embarrassed and hurt. It’s your kids birthday the next day or you’re meeting friends you can’t let down again. No one gets it so you just continue. Besides you have more placating to do and stories to cover so this doesn’t happen again.”

What I really want to do is to ask people to think about their reaction upon hearing of abuse against women and what the effects might be of that reaction.  

 

If you have been affected by any of these issues :

24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline 0808 2000 247

The National Rape Crisis Helpline 0808 802 9999
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What Happened When I Reported Rape in a Relationship By The Masked Avenger

Author Anonymous

When you make the first call, you are honestly at a point where you have nothing left to give.

For me there was no fear left when I reported my ex, I was nearly killed at his hands over an 18 month period so many times that I felt like it didn’t matter if he did kill me because he had tried to so many times that if he had as a result of me reporting him then at least I had tried to be free. 

For many out there in a relationship with an abuser the grooming lasts a long time , you can be belittled and made to believe it’s not rape. I did not consider I was being raped until the night I was attacked and fled to a friends house and then only when the police said they had charged him with rape did it even enter my mind. He made me believe I was frigid, a tease, or that I wanted it or even that I was in a relationship with him so I was obliged to have sex with him even if I was asleep or saying no. 

He was bailed but they managed to get him remanded.  It was so surreal,  I was now fitting in the box of a victim and I didn’t want to be that. I was emotionless, I could not cry for the want of trying. I could not face being undressed, I suffered vivid nightmares and flash backs … Years on they have settled but it still haunts me. 

The police I must praise for their hard work and support was brilliant although I know for some victims this is not the case.

I did have a victim support worker early on but for some reason they stopped contacting me and I wasn’t in a good place to reach out for support. 

Victim blaming is rife with rape. 

Even when it’s not rape in a relationship it goes on: 

Were you drunk ?

Were you dressed provocatively? 

Were you walking home alone in the dark? 

For rape in a relationship the questions are more direct: 

WHY DIDNT YOU LEAVE?

WHY DIDNT YOU RUN? 

WHY DIDNT YOU TELL SOMEONE? 

WHY DIDNT YOU FIGHT BACK? 

It should not be this way. To be brave enough to report rape is not easy and leaving an abuser is the riskiest time for the victim. I have only used the word victim because that is what you are classed as by the police. A victim of rape.
The jury sided with him despite a lot of evidence as defence was attacking me. The case lasted over two weeks . I didn’t go to the verdict because I was so exhausted . For the rest of the hearing I stayed at a friends house.

After the verdict the DC in charge of the case called me and told me he was acquitted. I crumbled to the floor. It was over, I gave everything I had to give and I had no fight in me. I wasn’t eating or sleeping or looking after myself days and the nights all merged into one. 
There was zero after care or support from any services. This is completely lacking, it was like all of a sudden it had ended and there was nothing more to do. Life for everyone moved on but really my life stopped that last day I spent in the court room wondering over and over again what I could have said or done differently.

I do not take on victim shaming. I have grown strong, through sheer grit and determination. I refuse to be a victim, but I’m not a survivor either. What happened to me happens to so many. The ‘rapes reported’ statistics have increased dramatically with the high profile celebrity cases of rape and grooming.

Conviction rates for rape are far lower than other crimes, with only 5.7% of reported rape cases ending in a conviction for the perpetrator. So is it any wonder that people don’t report rape seeing that statistic its so disgraceful. 

A jury has to be 99.9% sure of guilt or they have to aquit.

How many rapists are walking the streets?  It’s not the fault of the police.  The ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ ruling to sentencing means a jury has to be pretty certain it happened or they have to let them go. 

In 2015-16, police recorded 23,851 reports of adults being raped – nearly all of them women – compared with 10,160 in 2011-12. However rape convictions are still far lower then you would expect in recent years as low as just u dear 6% of reported rape cases ending in a conviction. 

There is nobody to blame but the ‘justice system’ and the rapists. 
We need to stand up to make a change for the people who come forward saying they have been raped. Better support and after care, not necessarily from the police,  but support services are crucial. Just having someone to talk to and be open with about how you are feeling about court and after the trial has finished, no matter the outcome could help people greatly in moving forwards. 

If you or someone you know has been raped and not reported it please seek the support to do so, although my trial ended with an acquittal I do not regret it

Slowly I am moving forward and I hope one day to be a part of the end to victim shaming for all.

If you or anyone you know has been affected by rape please and would like to find your nearest rape crisis centre please visit: https://rapecrisis.org.uk/centres.php
* Statistics provided by the Office of National Statistics