Mia* a former Sue Lambert Trust client, was raped many years ago. And has openly shared her experience, and hopes that by telling her story, it will help to shift outdated attitudes and myths about rape, and sexual consent.

Please be aware that the content of this story may be triggering for some. 

One summer’s evening, Mia arranged to meet a work colleague for a couple of drinks, someone she trusted and knew well.  She recalls what happened next.

“I was a single woman living in Norwich, and had a job I really enjoyed, where I had made a lot of good friends.  The nature of my work meant a lot of my colleagues were male, and I got on well with everyone.  I was sociable, and liked going out, so, when a colleague and friend invited me for a drink one evening, in the city, I thought nothing of it.  Just two friends, meeting up, chatting about work and life.

“I’d had the day off, doing housework and cleaning my oven.  I remember, I didn’t dress up to head out, it was just a casual drink, so I wore scruffy clothes with my hair tied up. Not that any of that should matter.

“He bought me endless drinks, and soon, I was feeling quite unwell. He asked if he could sleep the night on my sofa.  I didn’t really hesitate, I could trust him, he was married, we were just friends, and he had no way of getting home. I would be in in my own home, safe, with a colleague I knew well.

“Arriving home, the room was spinning, and I was so nauseous. I dressed in my PJs and laid down to sleep.  And that’s when he came into my room and raped me.

“I was drunk, but I know I said “no, stop it, I don’t want this, I don’t want you”. But it went on. He didn’t stop.  It felt like an outer body experience.  Then I collapsed, drunk, and fell asleep.

“The following morning, I scrubbed myself in the shower, while thinking – “I must get to work. I must carry on like normal.” I wouldn’t report it. What would be the point? Who would believe me? It’s my word against his. I switched off, got in his van, and arrived at work. Why I did that, I don’t know. I was in pain, shock and in autopilot mode.

“For the next two and half months, I kept the whole ordeal to myself and told no-one.  But a female colleague could see I was in distress and traumatised. I was really struggling, not acting like myself.  I opened up and told her everything.  She encouraged me to speak to Sue Lambert Trust, to get professional help.  She believed me, and it was a huge relief.

“It was Sue Lambert herself who I first met at the charity, and she sat me down, and we talked about going to the police.   There was no pressure to file a report, and we talked about why I hadn’t reported it immediately.  The truth – because I thought I was drunk, and therefore somehow, it was all my fault.

“She reassured me it wasn’t. I had not given consent. I had no capacity to give consent. He had raped me.

“I did go to the police, and while the questioning from CID was extremely tough, they were brilliant and took me seriously. There had been reports this man had done this before.

“It wasn’t the police questioning that I found most difficult.  But the doubts and accusations thrown at me by my work colleagues, many of them female. The police interviewed people at work, and as the news broke, some colleagues made me feel like I was the person on trial. And that I was ‘crying rape’.

“Some would ask ‘but what were you wearing?’ ‘oh, you didn’t have perfume on did you?’ ‘do you really think its acceptable to go for drinks with a married man?’.

Because I was single, they presumed I was promiscuous.  I was being judged and victim blamed.  In their minds, it was all my fault. I’d asked for it.

“But I told him to stop. He had forced himself on me.  I did not consent. I did not want sex with this man.

“Other colleagues were totally on my side, they believed me, and were there for me. And together with the support of Sue Lambert Trust, they got me through.

“My case eventually went to court, but the jury could not reach a majority and it was a hung jury.  He wasn’t convicted but he will forever have a black mark against his name.

“When my therapeutic counselling programme started at Sue Lambert Trust, that’s when I felt like I started to regain control and could be heard. They matched me with an incredible counsellor, and over the next few months, we spoke over the phone and in person. They made me feel I had someone by my side, someone who would listen and believe me. They helped me to understand that it wasn’t my fault and that I wasn’t responsible for what happened.

“The counselling saved me, but without doubt, being a survivor of rape changes you forever.  And it impacts on your family too.  I had to explain to my then 19-year-old son what had happened.

“And ever since, I still question myself and my behaviour.

“Before travelling somewhere, I’ll carefully plan my route or means of getting there. I assess how much perfume or make-up I wear and analyse whether it’s too much.  I avoid walking places on my own, and I carefully pick out clothes, always conscious of the length of my dress or cut of my top.

“It shouldn’t be that way. Women are taught how not to be raped.  It’s so wrong.

“No matter where you are, what you are wearing, whether you know the person or even if you are married – saying no to sex means no.

“There is so much work to be done to help survivors of sexual abuse feel confident that they will be believed, because, sadly, the accusations I faced at work, when this happened over 15 years ago, have not gone away.  These outdated attitudes and myths surrounding sexual consent, must be addressed to ensure other women, like me, are believed.

“As a society, we must talk about sexual consent more. Especially in schools. It’s not a taboo topic. And we must challenge these damaging and dangerous myths about rape.

“As long as these attitudes prevail, women who have been raped will continue to feel scared to speak out, for fear they will not be believed, and their reputations could be tarnished forever. And rapists will never be brought to justice.

“If, by sharing my story, I make one person reevaluate their attitudes, or encourage them to find out more about what consent really means, then it’s all been worth it.

“And if one other woman reads my story, and they speak out and they get help for something that’s happened to them, then it will be worth sharing this all over again.

“I spoke to Sue Lambert Trust because I didn’t want him, my rapist, to take any more of me.  He had taken enough.  Please, if you need their support, reach out.  You have every right to feel safe, secure and to take back control. Sue Lambert Trust and the professional therapeutic counselling services they provide, for sexual abuse survivors, are simply wonderful.  It’s not easy to go through therapy, but it will, in the long run, it will help you to heal and move forwards.

“I’m so grateful they were there for me, and to have met Sue, all those years ago.”

*Mia – not their real name. Name changed at the request of the interviewee to enable them to remain anonymous.

“You have every right to feel safe, secure and to take back control. It’s not easy to go through therapy, but it will, in the long run, help you to heal and move forwards. "Sue Lambert Trust matched me with an incredible counsellor. "They made me feel I had someone by my side, someone who would listen and believe me."

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