A Desperate Plea From A Relative Of A Rough Sleeper By The Masked Avenger Anonymous

We have all walked past a rough sleeper on the street. Sometimes we give it a second thought. Sometimes we stop and chat, maybe even try to help.

But mostly we walk on by.

Most of us are fortunate enough to have never been there and while we sympathise, we often try and forget it and move on with our busy lives. Rushing to get somewhere; an appointment or some such.

We often don’t see the person beyond the sleeping bag. Sometimes it is very hard to imagine how someone got there. The government dehumanise rough sleepers. They advise us not to feed them as though they are pigeons in Trafalgar Square. They put spikes on floors to stop them being able to get some shelter in a shop doorway. Again treated like pests. So it’s no wonder that we walk on by. Sometimes it is a taboo subject.

But for me it is different. I happen to know a rough sleeper very personally.

You might want to ask me a few questions. Does anyone help him? Is he loved? Do you help him? The answer is yes. To all of the above.

But our help is not enough and the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ he gets into this position is what is complex.

My uncle has undiagnosed mental health conditions. He is an addict. Self medicating I guess. He has never had the support he needed from the professionals. And this is the product of years of neglect.

Born in the 60s to parents with severe mental health issues that lost everything down to gambling, my uncle was not diagnosed with anything himself or supported. Instead when the family broke down, my grandmother had a mental breakdown and no one was there to help. The authorities left my grandmother to it and just took my uncle away into care when he was 7. And that was the start of it. In and out of care. In and out of trouble.

” A handful, naughty, out of control, the mother can’t cope”

While he was in the place that was supposed to care for him, he was abused.

He went in as a child with problems and came out disturbed with even bigger problems.

No one knew what happened at the time. This is only a recent revelation. So he continued. In and out of trouble causing merry hell for the family.

As he got to adulthood he started to ‘self medicate’ and slowly but surely became an addict. Which led to petty crime, prison. And eventually being institutionalised .

“A write off'”

On paper yes. But what no one else saw was the snippets of the man he could have been if the support had been there during his childhood.

Detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure, he had structure, routines and he flourished. He took courses and passed them all. He read and learned and became a talented writer.

He did endless courses and took all of the opportunities he could. He grabbed them with both hands.So when he went back into the outside world he started his own business, he even wrote for a national newspaper as a regular columnist. He became a published author. Some semblance of a normal life was finally coming his way.

He was capable and intelligent and we could see the person he could become if he’d been given more support as a youngster.

But things happened and again the support fell away. Without the guidance of a probation officer, without the structure, his mental health problems that simmered under the surface reared their ugly, scathing, self destructing head again.

Addiction came back with a vengeance and along came some new ones too.

So we saw him slip back. He lost everything and again he went on the slippery slope into the abyss of addiction and self destruct.

So, we try to help as a family, but its not possible to keep an eye on him 24/7.

The downward spiral was and is fast and relentless;he loses touch of where he is and he ends up on the street. He loses contact with any kind of support network and before you know it he is sleeping rough.

We can’t track him. We don’t know where he is.

We’ve had phone calls in the past from wonderful passer bys that have tried to help him. In his moments of lucidity he remembers a number of a random relative and some very nice person decides to help him and calls.

We then hear he’s been in various places begging as he has lost everything. So we get there and we have to try and get him some help. He’s unwell and doesn’t know where he is. The police come and tell us not to bother with A and E as they are overcrowded but that they will try to help him.

Do you notice that even though I’m describing events in the past that I am using present tense? Why you might ask?

Because this is a recurring event. This happened last month but it could happen tomorrow, next week, next month. We never know what will happen next. This is the pattern that happens over and over again.

Services that are cut to shreds still try their best to help him. There are genuinely good mental health staff, hospital staff, police officers and key workers out there.

But it’s not enough.

The services need to be joined up. They need more funding to give him the intensive therapy and support for his mental health needs as this is the root to all of his problems, I believe.

But all that happens is the problem is treated that day. Acute support is given while he is physically unwell. But there is not enough in place to prevent this from happening again.

So I sit here and wonder what people must think when they walk past him. When he ends up on the street, bounding in and out of shops, trying to get someone to help him.

They will never see the man he can be. The man he has been, the man he could have been.

Every person has a story, but homeless people are nothing more than pests to the Tories.

If we followed the advice that they give us, which is to ignore a homeless person, don’t give them money or food; if every passer by that has helped my uncle thus far listened to this advice that this ‘government’ dish out my uncle would be dead by now. Perhaps that’s what they want. By treating homeless people like pests perhaps they think they will just die off.

But instead there are good people out there, people try to help. And for now he and we are riding our luck. That might just change one day. And we dread phone calls sometimes. What will happen next we just don’t know.

So I want to say to the people that help, the doctors, the nurses, the passers by, the staff in Pret that give out food, the key workers: Thank You!!!

Don’t ever change and maybe one day if we fight hard enough we will have a government that cares too so that real change can happen and people living in the streets being dehumanised by a callous government will be a thing of the past.

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