Justice starts with you

 

Registered by the Charity Commission (Charity number 1194627) our purpose is:

To advance the education of the public in the subject of rape as a criminal offence and the attitudes and false beliefs surrounding rape (otherwise known as ‘rape myths’) to reduce the prevalence of rape within society and to support victims of rape. To work within the judicial institutions to support efforts to reduce PTSD of a complainant and ensure increases in rape conviction rates are sustained.

On 26th January 2023, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released its latest crime figures, showing that sexual offences are at the highest level recorded. For complainants who can wait 2 years for their trial to go to court, the level of retraumatizing is high.

Where are we with the changes promised after the Governmental apology to victims within  the Rape Review? Whilist some green shots of positive change evidenced in the 2023 RAPE CRISIS report: The rape review two years on. Evidently, we are seeing a postcode lottery of best practices or slow to stagnant change. 

We strongly believe that when the Law Commission release their Evidence in Sexual Offence Prosecutions report, scrutiny of the on-the-ground implementation of the proposed changes must be sustained. Our objective in Pillar 3 is to further empower complainants, disseminate valuable insights gained from their experiences, and pursue appropriate resolutions wherever necessary.

The 3 pillars: 

Pillar 1: Judicial Reform:

Our goal is to create a world where justice for victims of sexual violence is not the exception but the norm. We are focused on making a difference within the UK judiciary. Our advisory board consists of barristers who specialize in defending and prosecuting sexual violence cases. Over the past 18 months, they have closely listened to concerns raised in reports such as the End-to-End Rape Review.

We are committed to transforming the education system for barristers (please contact directly for further details). Additionally, we aim to directly engage with barristers to understand their attitudes towards achieving justice parity and their proposed solutions. A crucial aspect of our work involves gathering insights from barristers on why cases can be dismantled.

University students who are studying Law are currenly undertaking Court Observations. 

The advisory committee is dedicated to advocating for the creation of a distinct set of guidelines and code of conduct to improve the treatment of complainants within the courtroom.

By working closely with the judiciary, we aim to find solutions to the complexities that contribute to the low conviction rate. Furthermore, we strive to share best practices from the judiciary to ensure continuous improvement across the board.

Pillar 2: Policy and Service Provisions for Victims and Survivors:

Advocacy calls:

Policy/service design and commissioning calls:

1. Mitigating the Impact of Delay on the Criminal Justice Process for Victims and Survivors. Time off work, the financial burden, and the consequences for children and families when a parent or guardian has to attend court as  complaintant of a serious sexual offence.

2. Examining the Rates of Revictimization After Exiting the Criminal Justice System, regardless of the outcome of the conviction.

3.  Research, policy, and commissioning efforts focused on addressing the ongoing needs of complainants in cases where the defendant is acquitted.

Pillar 3. Direct delivery:

Providing support to individuals who have completed their cases where the defendant was acquitted or found "not guilty". Gaining an agency of voice is the core experience for complainants.

There is a large provisional gap in this part of the complainant cycle, and they need assistance in complaining and sharing their experience across the necessary agencies responsible for their court experience. We receive referrals from ISVA and specialist rape support agencies to support clients through this process. Utilizing pro bono legal expertise and personal testimony to support their individual needs. All those referred undergo therapy at the same time.

  • Bar Standards Board/SRA 
  • HMCTS -for example in court staff and infrastructure/communication challenges in court
  • Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (For example, a complaint must be made within three months of the matter complained of.)
  • Parliamentary and Health Service Omunsbund
  • CPS
  • IPCC
  • Awareness of civil cases and safe signposting.


Court observations:

Students who are studying law at University's across the UK who may become Criminal barristers are observing trials following this model: https://www.victimsupportni.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/VSNI-Report_BearingWitness_Final.pdf

The above model was completed in 2020. Our observers are looking forward to seeing improvements in 2024/25.

12th of February 2024: News on Barrister challenges: 

https://news.sky.com/story/crisis-in-barrister-numbers-as-average-wait-for-rape-victims-exceeds-five-years-13070171

JusticeIsNow, seeks to gain global perspectives on Justice and share best practice/areas for improvement. We are pleased to see Netflix address Victim Blaming in its new documentary, Victim/Suspect:

Watch Victim/Suspect Netflix

Megan Rondini suicide

The police rape interview that shocked Britain

In 1982 the BBC broadcast a documentary called ‘A Complaint of Rape’. It was part of a fly-on-the-wall series about the police in which officers were filmed aggressively questioning a woman about her allegation of rape.

It made news around the world and inspired the then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to question the procedure as well as the attitude of those involved. The woman was asked personal questions about her sex life, menstruation and her mental health. The officers told her directly that they didn’t believe her claim. It led individual police forces to reassess the way they investigated allegations of rape.

The film-maker Roger Graef told Witness History what it was like being in the room during the police interview.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p09lqp6t

Release date:

Hear our Trustee Dr Dominic Willmott dismantle Rape Myths:


HERE ARE SOME COMMON RAPE MYTHS:

  • Most rapes are carried out by a stranger - in reality around 90% of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim.
  • Rape occurs late at night in dark alleyways - victims are often raped in their own home, or in the home of the perpetrator.
  • Women who dress in revealing clothing provoke rape - rape has nothing to do with the type of clothing a woman wears. Anyone can be a victim of rape, from babies to elderly people, including boys and men.
  • If someone has drunk a lot of alcohol or taken drugs they are responsible for their rape - if a person is incapacitated by drink or drugs in law they cannot consent to sex. Drinking alcohol or taking drugs is not an invitation to rape.
  • A genuine victim will scream and fight back - the most common reaction to rape is for a victim to freeze. Other reactions include flop, friend and flight, as well as fight. These are instinctive and automatic responses to fear.
  • Rape leaves visible injuries - rape does not necessarily lead to physical injuries. Rapists often use manipulation or coercion to force their victims into sex.
  • Rape is a crime of passion - rape is a way of gaining power and control over a victim. Most rapes are premeditated and many rapists fail to get an erection or ejaculate. Men can control their urges and choose to rape as a way of feeling powerful.
  • False rape accusations are common - most victims do not report their rape to the police and false reporting is very rare. A CPS report from 2013 showed that over a period of 17 months there were 5,651 rape prosecutions and only 35 prosecutions for making a false allegation of rape. Men are more likely to be raped than to be falsely accused.
  • If someone is not crying hysterically they can’t have been raped - there is no one reaction to rape, often victims appear flat and calm as a result of shock.
  • If the victim didn’t report it straight away it wasn’t rape - often victims do not report rape straight away due to feelings of shame and guilt. This is particularly true if the rapist is known to the victim.
  • Only gay men get raped - the sexual orientation of the victim has no bearing on rape. Rapists rape due to their need for dominance, control and power. 

Students who are studying law at University's across the UK who may become Criminal Barristers are observing trials following this model: https://www.victimsupportni.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/VSNI-Report_BearingWitness_Final.pdf

The above model was completed by 2020. Our observations are looking in 2023 to see how things are improving. Post each observation we share with the Resident Judge/Barristers involved. Every 6 months local stakeholders from Criminal Justice agencies in the area, are invited to a dissmentation day where the court observations and feedback from all involved is sharing. Law students who may go into to be Criminal Defence Barristers/Criminal Pyschology and Crimonlogy undertake the opprutnity as an observer to learn. Before this training is provided, a Defence Barrster is part of this to provide balance and further the learning circle. A video of this training will be available soon!

Recent Observation: August 2023 - Outcome Acquital for the Defendant 

Judge highly praised: The Judge is amazing and did an impeccable job of explaining the process, clearly summarizing facts, and treating everyone with kindness. She is clearly aware of rape myths and addressed them. She acknowledged having her eye on the law while Defence counsel cross-examined the IP.

Recommended change: Perhaps I’m sensitive to this as a major difference between US courts (where I am licensed) and UK courts, but the barristers should never call the witness a liar! Or even suggest, ‘You’re not telling the truth at all, are you?’ This happened a lot in cross-examination.


    What information does the judge give the jury about the nature of the case before it is opened? (Tick all that apply)Charge in the case X
Defendants name X
Location of the crime X
Instruct the jury not to discuss the case or to go on the internet X
Judge excelled at providing clear instructions on the jury’s role, what consists of evidence, how to listen to that evidence, as well as an estimated structure for how the whole trial would proceed She explained that determining credibility of the evidence was the job of the jury, and determining how to apply the law was her job as the judge She explained that the ABE video was the victim’s evidence and should be treated as if she was giving that testimony in-person. Although it is a video, it may only be watched once, just as testimony in court is only given once.

  

Does the IP have a Witness Service or other formally appointed support person with them? (for example, Registered Intermediary)Yes
NoNone that I could see, but the witness was also behind a screen. If someone was there with her, or out in the hall, it would not have been evident to those of us in the public gallery.
Are these formally appointed support persons sitting beside the witness whilst they give evidence?Yes
NoUnknown – see notes above
How do the formally appointed supporters interact with one another and with other court staff? n/a

 

Are there any special measures in place for the complainant?Yes X
No
If special measures are in place, what are they?Screens around witness box X
Please tick all relevant boxes:Live link: witness giving evidence from another room via TV live linkno

Pre-recorded evidence in chiefX

(Achieving best evidence ABE interview)

Closed court (no public gallery) no

Removal of wigs and gownsno

Registered Intermediaryno
Were you aware if an application for Special Measures was made on the day?Yes
NoX
How did you know an application for Special Measures was made on the day?No discussion among the barristers and judge. All Special Measures were determined prior to jury selection and trial.


I Prosecution Opening

Did the prosecutor's opening statement set out the facts of the case?Yes X
No
Was this clear, easily understood and concise?Yes
NoDifficult to follow because the rape was not explained chronologically; prosecutor told the full story of events at least 3x, with each retelling longer than the previous, including more details
Did it properly set out the burden and standard of proof?Yes
NoX
Was there any mention of the IP's previous sexual history?Yes
NoX
If the IP's previous sexual history was mentioned, in what way was it made relevant to the argument?n/a
Was there any mention of rape myths?Yes
NoX
 If rape myths were mentioned, what was said? (Note rape myths you heard) Beliefs that blame the survivor Beliefs that cast doubt on allegations Beliefs that excuse the accused Beliefs that assume rape only occurs in certain social groupsNone were mentioned by the Prosecution in his opening statement nor throughout the trial. The Judge was the only one to address rape myths throughout the trial.

 


Any other comments or observations:
After the prosecution’s opening, court is called to an end for the day. The facts of this case are fascinating, and the jury seems intrigued to learn more tomorrow. 

 I IP evidence in chief 

  • ABE= Achieving best evidence


What date and time did evidence in chief begin?Video was shown at the start of the day (1 Aug 2023) 10:16 am, lasted about 30 minutes. Following the video, the prosecution read through a text message exchange between the victim and defendant from a few days prior to the incident.
What methods did the Judge use to help put the IP at ease when they entered the witness box to give evidence?n/a – ABE was a pre-recorded video from 22 Dec. 2018 taken around 15:50.  
Was an ABE interview (pre-recorded with police) used?YesX
No
If an ABE interview was used, please record any difficulties there were with it:The sound quality was a little irritating, but this could have been the result of both the poor quality of the police video recording equipment or the court’s mediocre sound system. The location of TV screens in the courtroom was not conducive to easy viewing by the jurors. The nearest screen was to the right on the jury box, mounted high above them, so jurors had to strain their necks to look up to the right. The other TV screen was on the far wall, so far away that any details or text on the screen were incapable of being seen or read.  


If there was no ABE interview, did the prosecutor take the IP through their evidence in a way that helped them to be as clear and concise as possible?Yes n/a
No n/a
How long did the evidence in chief last? 30 minutes
Was the IP offered a break (during video)?Yes
NoX
Date and time the examination in chief ended (including breaks)ABE video ended at approx. 10:46 am
Any other comments or observations:The Prosecution asked a few questions of the IP after the morning break (starting around 11:46am), but turned it over to the Defence after only a few minutes

 

Was the IP asked about compensation?           NO
If the IP was asked about compensation, how was the question asked and what was the response?n/a
What did you see and hear that made you think the IP was treated disrespectfully? For example: Persistent questioning Accused of lying or being a liarAccusations that IP was flirting with the Defendant over text, and she was mature enough to know it. Accusations that on the night in question told him, ‘Fuck me,” kissed the Defendant with his wife there, and that she was lying about it now. Accusations that they had ‘rough, passionate, enthusiastic’ consensual sex in various positions after his wife left “Its all part of your pretense that you were so drunk that you didn’t remember. That’s all a lie.” “You know full well….and you’re lying about it now’ ‘This isn’t true at all, is it?’ ‘Is this really true? Is this your evidence?” After the Defence summarised text messages from the Defendant expressing how beautiful and sexy he thought she was (including a description of specific body parts he found to be ‘hot’), the Defence then showed the photo that the IP had taken of herself in bed that night and sent to the Defendant in response to his persistent requests over hours for a better picture than her WhatsApp profile pic. With this photo displayed, the Defence said: “We don’t need to know your age, but you’re a woman in your 40s, although you don’t look it at all,’ while raising her eyebrows to prove the point that she was a very attractive woman. (If Defence counsel was a man, this would have been very inappropriate, and I don’t consider it much better at all coming from an older female barrister. It was not flattery.).
Please identify any rape myths that were used. How were they expressed and used? Beliefs that blame the survivor Beliefs that cast doubt on allegations Beliefs that excuse the accused Beliefs that assume rape only occurs in certain social groups--Belief that IP flirted back and requested sex multiple times (according to the Defendant) --Accusing the IP of lying about how drunk she was and faking her unconsciousness because she was a heavy drinker who binged regularly --Rough, consensual sex myth as excuse for her injuries --Defence accused IP of ‘jumping on the bandwagon' with her son by bringing charges against Defendant and lying now ‘because it was easier’ t avoid punishment by the Jehovah’s Witness community The IP yelled back ‘You think this is easier? To testify and go through this whole trial? This is HARDER. I’m here because I need to protect other women from him, so that this doesn’t happen again.”

I IP cross-examination by Defence Counsel

Date and time the cross-examination startedThe 1st Aug 2023, after the morning break, 11:46 am
What did you see and hear that made you think the IP was treated respectfully?When the IP did come into court for cross-examination, the Judge assured the IP that her voice was nice and strong, and gave her permission to sit, if needed. The Judge also explained to the jury that it was ‘perfectly normal’ to have the screen up during her evidence, and that this used to be called ‘special measures,’ but there’s really nothing special about it.
If the IP's previous sexual history was mentioned, what was said about it?Sexual history was not mentioned, but the Defence asked about her marital history (she is now married to her second husband), and how her adult son (a witness) is the child of a different father from either of her husbands
Did the defence make an application for No Case to Answer at this point and if so, on what grounds?no
What is your personal opinion of the strength of the case at this point?Very strong. IP is a credible witness. The ABE video was chilling. Her willingness to testify in court was brave, and her story corroborates the record. Also, the text messages between IP and the Defendant are particularly damning of him – its quite obvious that he wanted to have sex with her, and he would not stop pressuring her to give him a nude photo or meet up in the middle of the night. Her text replies were delayed, polite, but not interested.

 

Did the prosecutor intervene at any stage in the questioning? If so, how and what happened?No
Did the judge intervene at any stage in the questioning? If so, what points did the judge make? Do you have any other comments?Defence started a line of questioning about whether IP was flirting with the Defendant’s wife’s younger brother on the night of the incident. The Judge interrupted immediately after Defence’s question ‘I’m not suggesting anything wrong with this, but for context, was there some harmless flirting?’ The Judge called a break, and with the jury out of the room, asked the Defence where they were going with this line of questioning. The judge said she had an eye on Section 41/42 the whole time. They decided that questions about the brother were only appropriate as to her memory about him flirting with her or not, but nothing could be asked about her reciprocation or not.
Did the prosecutor re-examine the IP and if so, what issues did they cover or go over again with the IP?Fifteen minutes of re-examination, solely about whether IP had any memory of talking to her son on the morning after
Was the IP offered a break?YesBetween 12:43-14:00pm for lunch then again between 14:45 and 15:00
No
Date and time the IPs evidence ended1st Aug 2023, 15:19
How long did the IPs evidence last, including breaks?Approximately two hours of testimony, spread out between 11:46 am and 15:19 pm
Any other comments or observations:IP requested the break at 14:45 (after the most accusatory section of cross-examination). The Judge gladly gave it to her and suggested she go outside for cigarette or get a cup of tea. When the IP returned, the Judge apologized and said it was crass of her to assume that she was a smoker. ‘I hope it didn’t make you feel any more alienated,’ the Judge apologized. Also with IP out of the court, Judge suggested having someone for her to speak to about the case that night who was not her son Josh, who would testify tomorrow. Defence counsel suggested IP’s husband, and Judge declined, saying ‘Its uncertain how much she’s told him about this case and shouldn’t have to rely on him.”
 

 I Other witnesses' evidence (for the prosecution) 

Were any other witnesses called by the prosecution? If so, who were they?IP’s son Josh Josh’s girlfriend at the time Toxicologist Dr. Fiona Perry Witness #2 was also recalled on the final day of trial after closing statements because Defence Counsel made refernce to a ‘crucial fact’ that this witness testified to, and the judge claimed that the Defence’s interpretation of her testimony was incorrect. Witness #2 clarified the ambiguity – and not in favour of the Defence – and then was gaslit by a frustrated Defence Counsel that she has to be mistaken because it didn’t fit Defence’s narrative.
How well was their evidence handled by the prosecutor?The court had technological problems in the morning with getting the toxicologist set up to appear remotely with video and audio. The other witnesses took the stand first, and the toxicologist was moved to the afternoon. Prosecution’s questioning of the toxicologist was fairly technical and likely unclear for the average juror. The Prosecution asked her to give a range of BAC levels and sample behaviours for each one – this was by far the clearest and best use of her expertise.


Were they cross examined by the defence? If so, did the defence manage to throw doubt on their evidence in any way?Yes, but not very effectively. Defence counsel began her cross-examination by asking to show a photo of the knife that the son grabbed before finding the IP and Defendant naked together under the blanket. It’s a small, pastel green kitchen knife, and the Defence’s argument is weak that he was a maniac and unreasonably threatening the Defendant.  Defence accused the son of not acknowledging that his mother was an adult who could make her own decisions about sex. Defence asked accusing questions of the IP’s drinking habits, suggesting that she was an alcoholic. Defence judged the son’s decision to not call an ambulance as evidence that IP was not as unconscious as he claimed. There was no recognition that the son was traumatised in that moment and doing the best he could to make decisions that kept his mother safe.  (‘you were not a child, you were 20 years old, a full adult and capable of knowing what to do…) Defence counsel also characterized the toxicologist’s work as ‘educated guessing’ with the help of science. She claimed that because we don’t know how IP personally eliminates alcohol as compared to the ‘average social drinker,’ we have to assume a level that is most favourable to the Defence’s case.
Was other evidence available? What was it and how well was it used?Arrest report with Defendant’s own statement; Photographs of the IP’s bruising along her right hand and arm; Body maps and medical reports from a physician explaining where she felt pain and tenderness. Defence counsel attempted to discredit these injuries as normal for rough consensual sex. It was also pointed out that the IP took the photos herself a couple days later.


Please identify any rape myths that were used, how they were expressed and how they were used. Beliefs that blame the survivor Beliefs that cast doubt on allegations Beliefs that excuse the accused Beliefs that assume rape only occurs in certain social groupsDepiction of the defendant as a ‘family man’ of good moral character, still married to his (now pregnant) wife, OMITTED ith two kids and a baby due in October, and nothing on his criminal record before these charges Accusing IP of reasonable flirtation back and a level of reciprocation Blaming IP as an alcoholic and claiming that she was not unconscious during sex because she regularly drank to excess. Assumptions by Defendant that everyone had equal amounts to drink, and thus, everyone was equally affected by the alcohol. Because he and his wife were still conscious, so was IP in his mind Blamed the victim for taking off her own clothes and putting on a robe Blaming son for not acknowledging his mother’s agency to have sex with whomever she wants Blaming son for misinterpreting the sounds of his mother having enjoyable sex as sounds of struggle and protestation Blaming son for threatening Defendant with a knife when he found him hiding naked under a blanket, claimed that he was going to stab him
Was the defendant offered a break?YesX
No
Date and time the evidence in chief ended11:42 am, at the morning break
How long did the evidence in chief last?Approx 1 hour and 20 minutes
Any other comments or observations:Defence counsel asked (before jury arrived) that no guard stand by the witness stand, as Defendant has been out on bail and this would serve to give a presumption of guilty or danger that wasn’t necessary


I Defendant's evidence 

Did the defendant give evidence?Yes X
             No

 If yes:  

  What date and time did the evidence in chief begin?3rd August 2023; 10:23am
   What methods did the judge use to help put the defendant at ease when they entered the witness box to give evidence?Asked him to take a deep breath, acknowledged that he was emotional, offered him water and the chance to sit. Told to take his time and take breaks as needed.
Did the defence take the defendant through their evidence in a way that helped them to be as clear and concise as possible?Yes
No
 
Did the defence intervene at any stage in the questioning and if so, what happened? No
Did the judge intervene at any stage in the questioning and if so, what happened? No
Did the defence re-examine the defendant and if so, what issues did they cover or go over again?No
Was the defendant offered a break?Yes
No X
What time did the cross-examination end? 15:20
How long did the cross-examination last, including breaks?Approx.. 1 hour and 30 minutes Not including the break for lunch
Any other comments or observations:Defendant is extremely self-deprecating, acknowledges that he was unfaithful to his wife, and embarrassed to testify about the explicit sexual details of his affair with her friend. He takes full responsible for ‘being an idiot,’ but he also tries to characterize himself as ‘just a bloke’ who let ‘the girls’ (not the women) plan the evening, bought white wine for them, didn’t choose the ‘girly chick-flick’ movie that was put on, and didn’t even know what Spanx were at all until this trial. In his text messages, and now in his testimony, he has no sense of when he is being persistent, forceful, demanding, and refusing to stop until his demands are somewhat met. He seems entitled to whatever the women in his life have to offer him. He seems extremely threatened by younger men (i.e. the IP’s adult son, but also his wife’s brother – who despite being approx. two decades younger than the IP, seems to think the brother wanted to sleep with her, and this was enough of a threat to him that he needed to get rid of this guy NOW, according to Defendant’s own texts to his wife). Defendant also seems to sleep a lot on sofas, whether at his own home or someone else’s. It makes me wonder what was going on in his life and marriage at that time that made it so difficult for him to sleep in his own bed like a reasonable adult.

 

I Defendant cross-examination                                                                                                       

Date and time the cross-examination started12:27pm until 13:00 Resumed after lunch from 14:20 to 15:20
What did you see and hear that made you think the defendant was treated respectfully?Prosecution used an even tone of voice, never shouted or scolded the Defendant (unlike his Defense counsel did with other witnesses) Prosecution’s approach was to discuss the events reasonably with him and use logic to point out where Defendant’s story seemed far-fetched.
What did you see and hear that made you think the defendant was treated disrespectfully? For example: Persistent questioning Accused of lying or being a liarProsecution asserted that Defendant kept texting IP in order to ‘up the sexual ante,’ and ‘You REALLY needed to pop on over for a cup of tea and to have sex with her, did you?’  Prosecution claimed the Defendant believed that he ‘hit the sexual jackpot” with IP. Prosecution used the words ‘three-hour sex-a-thon’ to describe Defendant’s likely-untruthful and exaggerated testimony of events. ‘You lied to your wife to fulfill your sexual fantasy?” ‘Are you lying to us now to cover up for what you did?” ‘Are you inventing a narrative of feigning sleep? Is that your story to get yourself off?’ ‘You were filling your boots before you left.’ Persistent questioning about Defendant’s need to control, about being forceful, and about IP’s injuries and whether or not he caused them
Did the prosecutor intervene to challenge any rape myths and if so, what myths were challenged and what happened? Beliefs that blame the survivor Beliefs that cast doubt on allegations Beliefs that excuse the accused Beliefs that assume rape only occurs in certain social groups N/A – The cross-examination is conducted by the prosecution


 
How well was their evidence handled by the defence? n/a
Were they cross-examined by the prosecutor? If so, did the prosecutor manage to throw doubt on their evidence? n/a
Was any other evidence available? If so, what was it and how was it used?See previous sections about character statements

 What is your personal opinion of the strength of the case at this point?
Very strong. Defendant’s claims that IP wanted to have sex with him are exaggerated and based on his own fantasies. Even the words that he claims to attribute to the IP (‘Fuck me,’ ‘I love you,’ etc.) seem like something he’s dreamed up from porn, or what he’s wants but was not receiving from his own wife.  The Prosecution has pointed out that the Defendant is testifying to the IP saying certain words that he also used in his own statements and police report about different events, so he must be making them up.

 

I Other witnesses/evidence (for the defence)

Were any other witnesses called by the defence? If so, who were they? No, but the Defence read three character statements  (all from women) written about the Defendant. Two of these statements are written by women who hired him to photograph their weddings, both claiming he is a ‘hardworking, generous, family man’ or ‘affectionate father.’ The third statement is from an elderly woman in the OMITTED who has known him for almost 14 years and ‘the allegations do not fit with the man that I know.”
Were any rape myths used and if so, what were they and how were they used? Beliefs that blame the survivor Beliefs that cast doubt on allegations Beliefs that excuse the accused Beliefs that assume rape only occurs in certain social groupsNothing in the character statements mentions IP Statements assume that a man of such strong character, generosity, family values, and helpfulness to others cannot possibly have raped a woman However, later on in the summing up, the Judge explained that good character is not a defence to the criminal charges.
 

 

I The summing up 


Set out the law about the burden and standard of proof X
Refer to the offences set out in each count spelling out what is in disputeX
Summarize the evidence of both the defence and the prosecutionX
Explain the verdict and how the jury reach itX
Refer to the law about the defendant not giving evidence (if applicable)n/a

 

Do you believe the summing up to be a fair representation of the case? Please explain why you reached your conclusions.Yes. The judge began her ‘summing up’ of the facts on Monday 7 August 2023 and read from actual testimony said by each of the witnesses (and some questions from counsel) throughout the trial. The judge was chronological, methodical, and did not editorialize. Her quotes from witness testimony were accurate and just as I remembered from watching the trial myself. I don’t believe she missed any major facts or arguments from either side.  She told the jury to not speculate as to her opinion of the case as she summed it up. She did a good job of not expressing opinion or showing bias in any direction.
Did the judge explain reasonable doubt?Yes X
No
If so, please note what the judge said about reasonable doubt.  To decide a guilty verdict beyond reasonable doubt is to make ‘sure’ of it – there’s no legal magic to being sure. It’s the same as being sure of something whether inside or outside the courtroom.
What is your personal opinion of the strength of the case at this point?Very strong, but I will also acknowledge my bias to believe the IP, knowing that ‘women cry rape’ is a myth. I worry that the jury will acquit the Defendant because of the Judge’s definition of ‘beyond reasonable doubt.” Nobody can really know for ‘sure’ without being present in the moment.

 

Did the prosecution or defence requisition the judge in their summing up? (i.e. request the judge to refer to something from the Bench Book in their summing up) No

 

 The jury                                                                                                                                                        

How long did the jury retire for?1 hours and 47 minutes. (11:43am – 13:00pm, break for lunch, then again from 14:00-14:40ish) NOT GUILTY verdict on Count 1 (rape). Count 2 (attempted rape) was dismissed.
Did the jury raise any questions during deliberation? If so, what?No, none that I was aware of

 

 Delays                                                                                                                                                        

Were there any delays during the trial? If so, what was the reason for the delay and the length of the delay? (Please note all delays)Previously mentioned delay in getting the toxicologist to appear remotely due to tech difficulties with the audio. This was resolved behind the scenes, and other witnesses went forward first in order to not delay the day. One juror was late on both Thursday and Friday (3rd and 4th August), but this only caused a delay of 10-20 minutes. One juror fell asleep during Defence’s closing statement, and she stopped to ask the judge to wake her up. One juror fell ill on Friday 4th August and went to the A&E over lunch after closing statements.  The rest of the afternoon was cancelled so that the jurors could resume altogether on Monday. One juror was seen talking to the officer on this case and learned that he worked at the same police station as her adult son. The judge called in the juror to ask that she had not discussed this matter at all with her son. She acknowledged that she had followed instructions, did not talk with him, and he was currently on holiday.


How often was the jury asked to leave for legal arguments?Legal arguments were briefly discussed before and after the jury’s presence in the room, so this did not detract time from the overall flow of the trial.
General impressions
 

 

 
What is your overall impression regarding this case?Fascinating facts – it truly plays out like a Netflix mini-series drama. The judge and barristers are quite experienced and esteemed. I can tell that the Defendant paid a lot of money for his representation. The barristers are friendly and collegial with one another, despite the adversarial nature of trial. I can’t help but feel disappointed that the jury did not return a guilty verdict when I was very certain that all the testimony and evidence clearly pointed to this being rape, and the Defendant was lying under oath. I wonder what took place during the jury’s deliberations, but because they cannot share those details even after the trial is over, we can never know. While rape myths were properly address by the judge, it still seemed to me like the jury may have allowed their own biases about sex, gender, etc. influence their decision. When a conflict is portrayed as he said/she said, isn’t it always the man whose side of the story wins? Was the jury more willing to give the benefit of the doubt to a wealthy, tall, attractive, white man, especially when his visibly pregnant wife is waiting for him in the courtroom?  Was the jury unwilling to believe the IP and discredited her testimony because she was a single mother, a binge drinker, overly-beautiful woman for her mid-40s, and a formerly-disfellowshipped OMITTED whose adult son was also OMITTED at the time of the rape? I can’t help but think the Defendant is a stereotypical ‘insider’ while the IP was painted as the ‘outsider’ and villain.
Did you observe anything particularly positive in the case and if so, what?The Judge is amazing and did an impeccable job of explaining the process, clearly summarizing facts, and treating everyone with kindness. She is clearly aware of rape myths and addressed them. She acknowledged having her eye on the law while Defence counsel cross-examined the IP.
Do you have any suggestions for changes to include?Perhaps I’m sensitive to this as a major difference between US courts (where I am licensed) and UK courts, but the barristers should never call the witness a liar! Or even suggest, ‘You’re not telling the truth at all, are you?’ This happened a lot in cross-examination.
 

 

 

 






2020 OBSERVATIONS FROM THE REPORT:


Myth: If they did not scream, fight or get injured, it was not rape

During cross-examination of the complainant in T20, the defence barrister was recorded to have said “you didn’t say no” “you didn’t scream” “you didn’t say stop” “you didn’t say anything at the time that meant you weren’t consenting.” 

In T16, this myth was used frequently: “The defence barrister said ‘You weren’t struggling but behaving in a way that was leading him to believe that you wanted it’ – when the complainant answered that she was crying, the defence barrister replied ‘you didn’t say anything’. The defence barrister argued: “You did not struggle, you did not shout” / “You didn’t explicitly say ‘please get off.’” The defence asked “‘Did you actually say, “Please get off, or what are you doing here?’ (She said she froze)”. 

In T18 the complainant was accused by defence of “not resisting the attack”. In the same trial the defence barrister was recorded as saying: “You didn’t say ‘no’ at any time” “Did you fight in any way?” “You didn’t fight even though you said you are good at defending yourself.” In T13, “The defence barrister said ‘you did not say anything’ because the victim did not react when the defendant assaulted her. She said she froze.” In T14, “The defence barrister asked the complainant why she didn’t jump or scream.”

Myth: If no injury or violence then no rape took place

Lack of physical injury was raised in several trials as evidence that no rape took place. In one trial, an observer reported that the defence commented “a lot about bleeding and physical damage – where is the physical evidence? Though rape does not need full penetration.” In another trial, defence counsel claimed that “She did not get injured” therefore it was not rape, even though it transpired she had marks on her legs after the incident. 

In yet another trial the defence barrister “did make a fuss over no injuries or damage to her clothes.” Myths around violence were observed even when violence actually did occur. The defence barrister in one case suggested that if the complainant “had her clothes on when leaving… she couldn’t have been raped.”  At another point, the observer records an exchange between the complainant and defence barrister about why she didn’t fight. When the complainant said she didn’t fight because she thought he had a weapon in his hand, “the defence barrister actually said ‘But he didn’t do anything with it did he?’ as if that threat of violence was OK.”

TREATMENT OF COMPLAINANTS

Defence counsel Of the 14 trials that reached complainant cross-examination by the defence, observers recorded what they viewed to be disrespectful treatment in 13. This conduct ranged from more minor behaviours like repetitive or persistent questioning, through to what observers regarded as behaviour that constituted harassment, aggression or bullying behaviour towards the complainant. In 10 trials, observers noted both respectful and disrespectful treatment of the complainant at different stages of the trial. In most cases, they observed initial politeness at the beginning of questioning, and increasingly disrespectful treatment as cross-examination progressed. In only one case124 did both observers comment that the defence was conducted in a respectful manner throughout the trial. It is interesting to note that the defence barrister’s exemplary and respectful behaviour was not disadvantageous to their client, as the jury delivered a Not Guilty verdict for the defendant. The main forms of behaviour that observers identified as disrespectful treatment were aggressive or harassing questioning; overly persistent questioning; cruelty or insensitivity during questioning; persistent accusations of being a liar; sarcasm, mockery and belittling complainants; raised voices and shouting; victim-blaming; and unreasonable attacks on the complainant’s character. During the course of the project, observers consistently expressed their opposition and distaste to what they felt was unreasonable treatment of complainants by defence barristers. There was also significant crossover between commentary on disrespectful treatment and evidence of rape myths provided by observers. In a number of cases, aggressive and dismissive treatment of the complainant on the stand were coupled with the use of rape myths, stereotypes and report as they were too numerous. 

Below is a selection of comments which highlight the different types of treatment identified. Aggressive treatment or harassment In T1, one observer described the questioning of Complainant 1 as “vicious”, and stated that there was “nothing respectful about this questioning – absolutely oppressive and set out to infuriate and belittle the witness.”

The other observer agreed, saying “There was no respect shown to the complainant – a young person about to be questioned about the most serious of sexual crimes which she alleged happened to her when she was a child”, and described the questioning as “very patronising and disrespectful”. In T14, one observer noted that “following some initially pleasantries the remainder of the cross questioning was mainly aggressive and confrontational” and that “the defence barrister’s tone and body language was aggressive from the start and became heightened at times.” When asked what they saw that made them think the complainant was being treated respectfully, the other observer of this trial answered “Not a lot honestly” and cited the barrister’s “very aggressive body language” and rudeness to the complainant. In T15, one observer noted that the defence barrister “did raise his voice against complainant gradually over the cross-examination.”

The second observer also reported: “If I’m being honest I seen very little respect for the complainant. The defence barrister was quite rude and aggressive with the questioning”, and recorded that “the defence was screaming at the complainant and constantly saying the complainant was a liar.” Interestingly, this was one of the few trials observed that involved a male complainant, and this led one observer to opine: “I feel that had the complainant been female then he would have been shown much more respect from the defence.” In T16, when asked if there was anything that led them to think the complainant was treated respectfully by the defence, the observer responded, “Nothing I can remember or noted.”

The other observer described the defence’s tactics as “treating the complainant quite hard but in a very sneaky way.” In T18, one observer expressed the view that “the defence should not have been allowed to get away with as much as it did.” The other observer reported that the “barrister called the complainant ‘darling’. His tone was patronising during the whole cross-examination.” In T23, one observer had multiple reservations about the defence barrister’s conduct. These included: “Not allowing the complainant time to read documents before questioning. Pushing her all round her statement and then demanding an immediate answer” “The defence barrister is argumentative and repetitive, spoiling for a fight.” “Very aggressive, pushy intrusive questions, mainly about their relationship, rather than events on the night.” The conduct led the observer to question “How far does a barrister have to go before he gets a penalty?” In T25, there was a divergence of opinion between the two observers about the conduct of the defence towards the adult and child complainants. One observer stated “it was the worst I have seen. The prosecutor complained within 10 mins of the defence starting of his hostile confrontational tone. And it went downhill from there”. They went on to say: “The cross examination was aggressive and demeaning. The defence barrister went out of his way to be unpleasant and dismissive. Complaining at every step about the effect his deliberately insulting questions were having on the complainant.” This observer also made comment about the crossexamination of the second complainant, who was a child both at the time of the offences and at trial. In particular, the observer was critical of the fact that the “questions veered away from what had been agreed [in ground rules] – i.e. short simple questions”. By contrast, the second observer made only one brief comment about the conduct of the defence, describing the nature of the cross-examination as “robust but not disrespectful.”

Lack of sensitivity / cruelty In some cases, observers recorded particular instances in which defence barristers showed lack of sensitivity to complainants, often causing them anguish or upset.

In T1, one observer recorded that the barrister pursued a line of interrogation which blamed the complainant for not reporting the alleged offences earlier. They recorded: “It got to the stage when you could hear the girl crying and shouting [in the live link room] because she felt she hadn’t protected her little sister adequately. The defence barrister then complained to the judge about her behaviour on the stand.” I

n T10, both observers highlighted one incident during cross-examination of the second complainant as being particularly lacking in sensitivity. The barrister declared it was “convenient” that the only person she told about the offence, her sister, was now dead and therefore couldn’t testify. One observer described this as “the most brutal form of disrespect” and stated that “this was a very low moment.” In T18, the defence barrister was described as “relentless with the barrage of questions put to the complainant” which “did not stop or slow down when the complainant got very upset. Defence seemed to completely ignore the fact that the complainant had become extremely distressed.” In T25, one observer described the incredulity and sarcasm used when the complainant described decades of rape and sexual assault by her abusive partner. The observer described how “The complainant is so upset she starts retching in the live link room” during cross-examination, and “cried a lot”. The defence barrister complained that her distress “hampered his questioning”, and accused the complainant of faking her distress. The observer also noted that: “The defence barrister also asked her why she cried so hard in court but not in the ABE”, reinforcing myths about how victims of sexual violence tend to react in the aftermath of an assault.You can edit all of this text and replace it with what you want to write. Use the advanced editor to design this content page. 

INSTAGRAM Video 1 - Myth 1

Myth1 - Rape is sex become #Rapeisnotsex

This INSTAGRAM video reads a myth that Rape is Sex and clearly explains Rape can never be sex as sex is consensual. For this first video in 5 days, it achieved 3,008 views on Instagram.

INSTAGRAM - MYTH 2 - WOMEN FANTASIZE ABOUT RAPE

4500 + views

https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/all-about-sex/201508/why-do-women-have-rape-fantasies

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TIKTOK

Rapists create opportunities

@justiceisnow39

Dr Dominic Willmott

Trustee

Dominic is a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology with substantial research experience within the field of Forensic, Legal & Criminal Psychology. Dominic is regularly invited to deliver talks and training about the role of bias in the courtroom, as well as how psychology can be used to better understand and tackle rape and gender based violence.

Chantelle Davis

Advisory Board

Chantelle is a solicitor working for a global law firm and she is a specialist in commercial litigation. She advises on a broad range of areas including political risk, product and property liability and prospects of recovery in complex insurance litigation. Chantelle also has experience in events organisation and marketing/PR.

Ramya Nagesh

Trustee

Ramya is a barrister and author, specialising in criminal law. Before coming to the Bar Ramya worked primarily in the not for profit sector specialising in human rights and international criminal law. Ramya currently sits on the CPS West Midlands Hate Crime Scrutiny Panel as the independent Barrister representative.

Danielle Davis

Advisory Board

Danielle’s background has spanned across the public and not for profit sector focusing on improving strategic responses to violence and abuse. Her research has included: young people who have experienced sexual exploitation, young men displaying harmful sexual behaviour and the needs of male sexual assault victims. Danielle has a degree in psychology from the University of West London and is the founder and director of Davis and Associates.

Eileen Doyle

Trustee

Eileen is a counsellor with extensive third sector experience. She is a specialist in providing therapeutic interventions to adults who have been sexually abused as children. She formerly worked for a charity providing counselling for people affected by rape and sexual assault. Eileen also runs a thriving private practice, working with adults and young people.

John Lennon

Trustee

John has a background in social work, training social workers and working with adults with learning difficulties. John is a survivor and has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of male rape. He is the author of ‘My Journey to Justice?’ which chronicles his experience. John has previously set up a charity to help male survivors of sexual violence.

Dr Anthony Murphy

Advisory Board

Anthony is a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology with a research focus on criminal justice, police investigation, psycho-legal process, and victim experience. Anthony’s work includes collaborating with the Metropolitan Police to develop rape myth training for officers, the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime for the 2019 London Rape Review, and multiple levels of the criminal justice system. Anthony is passionate about using research to build evidence-based practice in training of personnel in criminal justice to improve the experiences of victims.

Nicola Herbert

Advisory Board

Nicola is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and rape. She told her story 38 years later when she went on to endure a gladiatorial experience in the witness box and lived under the spotlight of the press during a high profile trial. The last six years she has put her experiences to good use as a public speaker helping the public and professional organisations to understand more about this topic. She works with NHS England and is part of a research project at Coventry University that is determining how to make a victim's experience through a SARC a more sympathetic and effective journey. In her private health and wellness practice she runs trauma informed yoga workshops supporting men and women in their quest to manage their trauma and recovery.

Madeleine Black

Patron

Madeleine Black has an unusual personal story which she uses to inspire and motivate others. She chose to forgive the two men who gang raped her at thirteen years old and she shares her story for many reasons. She wants to end the shame, stigma and silence surrounding sexual violence enabling others to find their voice, whatever their story is. The sharing of her story publicly on The Forgiveness Project’s website in September 2014, opened many doors for Madeleine in ways she never imagined, and the invitations started to pour in. Many women and men got in contact and explained how reading her story gave them strength, hope, and a different perspective of what’s possible in their lives. She has taken part in both TV and radio interviews and has been invited to share her story of being gang raped as a teenager at conferences, book events, schools etc. In March 2018 she won the Amazing Strength award at the No. 1 Magazine Amazing Women Awards and in October of the same year was asked to be the Patron for Say Women, a Scottish organisation which offers safe accommodation and support to young women who are survivors of sexual abuse/rape and who are homeless. She is one of 50 Thrivers taking part in research by The Global Resilience Project to develop a resilience blueprint for others. She is a TEDx speaker, a story teller for The Forgiveness Project and has recently become involved with their programme RESTORE, sharing her story in prisons Her memoir, Unbroken, was published on April 4th 2017.

You can read about our survivor's experiences here:


JOHN'S EXPERIENCE:

I was raped on 25th August 2010. I was held prisoner in my own home and repeatedly raped and tortured. I was left with numerous physical injuries and required plastic surgery. I was also left with dreadful emotional scars and now live with debilitating PTSD. 

There was overwhelming physical and forensic evidence and my perpetrator had an extensive criminal record and was in fact on the run when he attacked me. A year after my rape, my case went to trial at crown court. What I found most extraordinary was that, unlike the defendant, I did not have any opportunity to engage with the barrister prior to the trial and the only preparation I had was being given my victim impact statement on the day the trial started.

I was expecting the trial to be aggressive and that I would have to re-live the trauma by being cross-examined however nothing could have prepared me for the experience of giving evidence.

Surprisingly very little of the attack was questioned, which was initially most welcome, that is until the defence barrister asked me about personal issues which were (in my opinion) completely unconnected and irrelevant to the case. Without going into any detail I shall list these and you can make up your own minds:

1. My looks and dress sense

2. The financial viability of my business

3. My age (I was 40 and the defendant was 20)

4. The type of man I was attracted to

5. My family relationships, particularly my mother

6. My drug and alcohol use

7. My mental health history

8. The type of sex I enjoyed 

9. My medical records, from birth to date

Ultimately my rapist was found guilty. 

I have spent many years campaigning for the rights of victims and for a fair and more transparent system which would make it easier for victims to report. I wish to raise awareness of the complex issues faced by victims in the aftermath of rape, especially when in the court system.


DAVID’S EXPERIENCE:

Just 5 days after my mums funeral I walked into a Cheshire police station to disclose the sexual abuse I had suffered as a 12 year old boy.

Nobody else in the world had any idea where I was or what I was doing. In fact nobody was even aware of the abuse. This was Monday February 4th 2013 and to be fair to Cheshire police at that time I was treated well after my disclosure. I felt respected and listened to. I would travel back to Macclesfield just 2 days later to do my video statement.

My issues started on June 5th when I received my CPS letter informing me that my case would not be pursued as it was NOT in the public Interest to prosecute my offender.

(It’s such a long story, please read ‘My Full Truth, It was always in the Public Interest’ by David Lean.)

Remember this is now July 2013 and my offenders name is Barry Bennell…….

I demanded an appeal and eventually after almost 7 months I was informed that my case had changed the prosecution guidance in favour of pursuing cases such as mine as being in the public interest. (Did we really need to change the law, it should have been that way anyway!)

Barry Bennell was charged with four offences in March 2014.

I was then informed I would have to wait 15 months for the case to get to court. These people have no idea what this period of your life is like. I had already been waiting 13 months to get to this point. To try and function, to hold down a job when only a few people knew about the abuse was such a difficult period in my life.

Fast forward to April 2015, I was waiting to give evidence at court in the trial when I was told Bennell had just pleaded guilty to the charges. I knew immediately this meant trial, no media attention to help raise awareness and bring others forward and more importantly I knew he would then get rewarded for his plea in the form of a reduced sentence. I was devastated. After all this time of him pleading not guilty and putting me through hell, he can then do what he wants on the day of the trial and be rewarded!

A month later I was attending Court under special measures to read my victim impact statement. Court officials met me and took me to a private room. Then when it was time they came and got me and left me outside the Courtroom….alone with my abuser !!

The one thing I had said all along was that I couldn’t cope with seeing his new look, his current appearance. I had enough issues with the past, I didn’t need the issue of knowing what he looked like now.

As soon as he was led into Court I fell apart and then just seconds later I was asked to go into Court. I was a mess yet they didn’t care. As I was walking in I asked ‘the screens are up aren’t they?’ I was then immediately bundled out of the Courtroom, as guess what, they had completely forgotten to erect the screens! This was the last thing I needed.

Anyway he was sent to prison for 2 years, having to serve just one as offenders only serve half their sentence?! I also know that 1 year was knocked off his sentence for that ‘early plea’. Early??

So at this stage, Bennell was convicted and even though I had told police in 2013, there could be 100s of victims, that he was obsessed with me once we were alone, he wouldn’t leave me alone for a second during my 2 night stay at his house, I felt the police had done a good job. I had never been in a police station prior to February 2013 and was very naïve.

My issues were very much with the CPS and Crown Court Officials at that time. The court changed their own procedures on how vulnerable victims are taken into court on the back of my case. They also apologised.

Most people think that a conviction is the end of the process. But this was just the beginning………

In November 2016 as the story of abuse within football broke I finally told my own truth to Sky News. Bennell was finally convicted of offences against 12 boys in March 2018 and sentenced to 31 years in prison. I always knew there would be more, as it turned out probably around 100 boys have now disclosed to police.

Whilst I was stood outside the Crown Court after Bennell was sentenced, I was informed by a reporter that when I first disclosed in 2013, police had already been aware of other victims from a previous 1998 case, so they could have brought additional charges relating to those victims, meaning my original case would not have been dropped.

I complained to Cheshire police and as a result of this I learnt that there were 23 children who came forward in the 90s case against Bennell but that they offered him a plea deal meaning some charges were laid on file meaning NONE could be used in any future cases.

I also learnt that after Bennell’s conviction in the 90s, Bennell himself asked to see police in a prison interview. At the start of this interview he asks for assurances that if he provides further names of other victims that he will not be prosecuted. These assurances were given!! Bennell himself then provided the names of nine other children who he admitted to sexually abusing.These are nine more, not part of the original 23 who disclosed!

I obviously wanted answers as to why the other victims were not contacted to strengthen my 2013 case and was advised it would have been viewed as a ‘going fishing trip’ or ‘trawling’!

So Barry Bennell names them and it would have been seen as trawling?

To make matters worse I was then told that during late 2016/early 2017 the police had attempted to trace the extra nine victims and the ones they could trace had been contacted. So most of the nine were now allowed to be contacted but not 3 years earlier in 2013? So when I had told the police that there would be more, asking them to let me go to the media, the police already had a list of names!

I eventually received an apology from the police and have been promised an independent inquiry by the Police and Crime Commissioner.

I believe that I have still not got to the full truth, this is all about change for me, to ensure others don’t go through what I went through, and continue to go through.

I also found out that in November 2016 when Bennell was put back in prison while the new investigation was going on, that I should have been informed as this could only happen as he was still on licence for the offences against myself. I should also have been informed that he was due to be released prior to May 2016 at his half way point of his sentence. On both occasions nobody contacted me. Again, I received an apology for the way I was treated.

The criminal justice system, in my experience, was completely unprofessional in so many different ways.

But I was a lucky one !! Lucky……

I got my conviction; it brought others forward. I have family and friends around me. I am strong and resillient. Change has been brought about, which I only hope will help others in the future.

I believe my Truth was and will always be….

In the public Interest !!


RACHAELS EXPERIENCE:

Having reported my own rape to the police I was immediately told that I would not be allowed to talk about the assault with my best friend as she was a witness in the case, as I had disclosed the offence to her prior to me reporting it. Having found the courage to speak out I was silenced by the system, effectively having my support removed. I was also not allowed to discuss any details of the incident with my ISVA (Independent Sexual Violence Adviser). The system had decreed that I was to live with the trauma of the rape on my own until after the investigation had concluded.

It wasn’t long into the investigation that I realised the system was set up to protect the rights of the defendant rather than the victim. I was not allowed to know what the defendant had said during his interview; he was obviously (and rightly) told what I had said. I was asked to provide my mobile phone as evidence. His mobile phone was not seized.

Waiting for the trial was agonising and being unable to talk about what had happened had a detrimental impact on my mental health. I was unable to receive any counselling until after the trial meaning it was over a year from the assault when I accessed therapy.

It felt as though the system was against me at every step of the way. I was told I was unable to meet the CPS barrister prior to the trial; I was told that the Judge would decide on the first day of the trial whether I was able to give evidence from behind a screen rather than via video link; I was not told of the defendant’s previous convictions which would have massively helped my feelings of guilt for reporting him.

Giving evidence at trial was the worst experience of my life. Having to walk past the defendant’s family to get to the witness box was intimidating. Having the defendant’s barrister use rape myths and trying to undermine everything I said made me feel as though I wasn’t believed. I felt trapped, attacked, humiliated, alone.

After the trial (I was one of the lucky few who actually saw the defendant found guilty) I was effectively abandoned by the system, having had the support of an ISVA up until the trial. After the trial I had no support at all. Despite being assured by the police on numerous occasions that after the trial they would be able to answer my questions about the investigation I was told that due to my diagnosis of PTSD they would not speak to me in case the meeting triggered my symptoms. (Ironic considering they weren’t concerned that giving evidence might trigger me!) I felt as though I had been completely used and abused.


* Stories featured on our website are to the best of our knowledge truthful and we cannot be held liable for any inaccuracies.



What are rape myths?

Rape myths are generally held false beliefs about rape. These beliefs are widely held and serve to shift the blame from the perpetrator to the victim. Given the prevalence of rape myths within society they can reinforce feelings of blame and shame felt by victims and can lead to them thinking that they won’t be believed.

What is victim blaming?

Like rape myths, victim blaming is a way of shifting blame for sexual abuse from the perpetrator to the victim. This includes looking at the victim’s behaviour, clothing, and situation rather than holding the offender responsible. It can make victims feel as though they will be blamed for what happened to them and can exacerbate self blame.

How likely is a rapist to be convicted?

Statistics from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) show that the conviction rate for rape is as low as 1.5% of reported cases. This has led to many people saying that rape in the UK has effectively been decriminalised. There is also controversy over police demands to seize victim’s phones and requests to view their medical records.

What are the effects of victim blaming?

People who experience victim blaming are more likely to suffer increased distress and secondary traumatisation. Victim blaming makes it less likely someone will report due to fear of not being believed. Jurors can be influenced by victim blaming myths meaning they are less likely to convict a defendant accused of rape.
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Profile Data includes your username and password, purchases or orders made by you, your interests, preferences, feedback and survey responses.  

Usage Data  includes information about how you use our website, products and services. Marketing and Communications Data includes your preferences in receiving marketing from us and our third parties and your communication preferences. 

We also collect, use and share Aggregated Data such as statistical or demographic data for any purpose. Aggregated Data may be derived from your personal data but is not considered personal data in law as this data does not directly or indirectly reveal your identity. For example, we may aggregate your Usage Data to calculate the percentage of users accessing a specific website feature. 

Sensitive Data. Sensitive data refers to data that includes details about your race or ethnicity, religious or philosophical beliefs, sex life, sexual orientation, political opinions, trade union membership, information about your health and genetic and biometric data, and criminal convictions and offences. We do not collect any sensitive data about you. 

How is your personal data collected? 

We use different methods to collect data from and about you including through: Direct interactions. You may give us your Identity, Contact and Financial Data by filling in forms or by corresponding with us by post, phone, email or otherwise. This includes personal data you provide when you (where applicable): apply for our products or services; create an account on our website; subscribe to our service or publications; request marketing to be sent to you; enter a competition, promotion or survey; or give us some feedback or contact us. Automated technologies or interactions. As you interact with our website, we may automatically collect Technical Data about your equipment, browsing actions and patterns. We collect this personal data by using cookies and other similar technologies. 

Analytics. We may receive technical personal data about you from analytics providers such as Google. We may receive Contact, Financial and Transaction Data from providers of technical, payment and delivery services such as Paypal. How we use your personal data. We will only use your personal data when the law allows us to. Most commonly, we will use your personal data in the following circumstances: Where we need to perform the contract we are about to enter into or have entered into with you. Where it is necessary for our legitimate interests (or those of a third party) and your interests and fundamental rights do not override those interests. Where we need to comply with a legal or regulatory obligation. To keep you updated about our products and services where you have consented to this. We shall send this information to you by email. You have the right to withdraw consent to marketing at any time by contacting us at leonie@justiceisnow.org and by clicking on the ‘unsubscribe’ button in our emails. 

Purposes for which we will use your personal data. 

We have set out below, in a table format, a description of all the ways we plan to use your personal data, and which of the legal bases we rely on to do so. We have also identified what our legitimate interests are where appropriate. Note that we may process your personal data for more than one lawful ground depending on the specific purpose for which we are using your data. 

Purpose/ActivityType of dataLawful basis for processing including basis of legitimate interest
To register you as a new customer(a) Identity (b) ContactPerformance of a contract with you
To process and deliver your order including: (a) Manage payments, fees and charges (b) Collect and recover money owed to us(a) Identity (b) Contact (c) Financial (d) Transaction (e) Marketing and Communications(a) Performance of a contract with you (b) Necessary for our legitimate interests (to recover debts due to us)
To manage our relationship with you which will include: (a) Notifying you about changes to our terms or privacy policy (b) Asking you to leave a review or take a survey(a) Identity (b) Contact (c) Profile (d) Marketing and Communications(a) Performance of a contract with you (b) Necessary to comply with a legal obligation (c) Necessary for our legitimate interests (to keep our records updated and to study how customers use our products/services)
To enable you to partake in a competition or complete a survey(a) Identity (b) Contact (c) Profile (d) Usage (e) Marketing and Communications(a) Performance of a contract with you (b) Necessary for our legitimate interests (to study how customers use our products/services, to develop them and grow our business)
To administer and protect our business and this website (including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, system maintenance, support, reporting and hosting of data)(a) Identity (b) Contact (c) Technical(a) Necessary for our legitimate interests (for running our business, provision of administration and IT services, network security, to prevent fraud and in the context of a business reorganisation or group restructuring exercise) (b) Necessary to comply with a legal obligation
To deliver relevant website content and advertisements to you and measure or understand the effectiveness of the advertising we serve to you(a) Identity (b) Contact (c) Profile (d) Usage (e) Marketing and Communications (f) TechnicalNecessary for our legitimate interests (to study how customers use our products/services, to develop them, to grow our business and to inform our marketing strategy)
To use data analytics to improve our website, products/services, marketing, customer relationships and experiences(a) Technical (b) UsageNecessary for our legitimate interests (to define types of customers for our products and services, to keep our website updated and relevant, to develop our business and to inform our marketing strategy)
To make suggestions and recommendations to you about goods or services that may be of interest to you(a) Identity (b) Contact (c) Technical (d) Usage (e) ProfileNecessary for our legitimate interests (to develop our products/services and grow our business)


Marketing. We strive to provide you with choices regarding certain personal data uses, particularly around marketing and advertising. Our lawful ground for processing your personal data to send you marketing communications is either your consent or our legitimate interests (namely to grow our business). Under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, we may send you marketing communications from us if (i) you made a purchase or asked for information from us about our goods or services or (ii) you agreed to receive marketing communications and in each case you have not opted out of receiving such communications since. Under these regulations, if you are a limited company, we may send you marketing emails without your consent. However you can still opt out of receiving marketing emails from us at any time. <strong>Promotional offers from us. We may use your Identity, Contact, Technical, Usage and Profile Data to form a view on what we think you may want or need, or what may be of interest to you. This is how we decide which products, services and offers may be relevant for you (we call this marketing). You will receive marketing communications from us if you have requested information from us or purchased goods or services from us and, in each case, you have not opted out of receiving that marketing. 

Third-party marketing. We will get your express opt-in consent before we share your personal data with any third party. Opting out. You can ask us or third parties to stop sending you marketing messages at any time by following the opt-out links on any marketing message sent to you or by contacting us at Leonie@justiceisnow.org

Where you opt out of receiving these marketing messages, this will not apply to personal data provided to us as a result of a product/service purchase, warranty registration, product/service experience or other transactions. 

Cookies. You can set your browser to refuse all or some browser cookies, or to alert you when websites set or access cookies. If you disable or refuse cookies, please note that some parts of this website may become inaccessible or not function properly. 

We will only use your personal data for the purposes for which we collected it, unless we reasonably consider that we need to use it for another reason and that reason is compatible with the original purpose. Please note that we may process your personal data without your knowledge or consent, in compliance with the above rules, where this is required or permitted by law. Disclosures of your personal data. We may have to share your personal data with the parties set out below for the purposes set out in the table in paragraph 4 above: External Third Parties such as service providers, professional advisers, HMRC and regulators; and Third parties to whom we may choose to sell, transfer, or merge parts of our business or our assets. Alternatively, we may seek to acquire other businesses or merge with them. If a change happens to our business, then the new owners may use your personal data in the same way as set out in this privacy policy. We require all third parties to respect the security of your personal data and to treat it in accordance with the law. We do not allow our third-party service providers to use your personal data for their own purposes and only permit them to process your personal data for specified purposes and in accordance with our instructions. International transfers. To deliver services to you, it is sometimes necessary for us to share your personal information outside the European Economic Area (EEA), eg: • with our offices outside the EEA; • with our service providers located outside the EEA; • if you are based outside the EEA; • where there is an international dimension to the services we are providing to you. These transfers are subject to special rules under European and UK data protection law. Whenever we transfer your personal data out of the EEA, we ensure a similar degree of protection is afforded to it by ensuring at least one of the following safeguards is implemented: • We will only transfer your personal data to countries that have been deemed to provide an adequate level of protection for personal data by the European Commission. For further details, see European Commission: Adequacy of the protection of personal data in non-EU countries. • Where we use certain service providers, we may use specific contracts approved by the European Commission which give personal data the same protection it has in Europe. For further details, see European Commission: Model contracts for the transfer of personal data to third countries. • Where we use providers based in the US, we may transfer data to them if they are part of the Privacy Shield which requires them to provide similar protection to personal data shared between Europe and the US. For further details, see European Commission: EU-US Privacy Shield. If you would like further information please contact us using the contact details in clause 1 above . <strong>Data security </strong>We have put in place appropriate security measures to prevent your personal data from being accidentally lost, used or accessed in an unauthorised way, altered or disclosed. In addition, we limit access to your personal data to those employees, agents, contractors and other third parties who have a business need to know. They will only process your personal data on our instructions and they are subject to a duty of confidentiality. We have put in place procedures to deal with any suspected personal data breach and will notify you and any applicable regulator of a breach where we are legally required to do so. Data retention How long will you use my personal data for? We will only retain your personal data for as long as necessary to fulfil the purposes we collected it for, including for the purposes of satisfying any legal, accounting, or reporting requirements. We may retain your personal data for a longer period in the event of a complaint or if we reasonably believe there is a prospect of litigation in respect to our relationship with you. To determine the appropriate retention period for personal data, we consider the amount, nature, and sensitivity of the personal data, the potential risk of harm from unauthorised use or disclosure of your personal data, the purposes for which we process your personal data and whether we can achieve those purposes through other means, and the applicable legal requirements. By law we have to keep basic information about our customers (including Contact, Identity, Financial and Transaction Data) for six years after they cease being customers for tax purposes. If you are not a customer we shall retain your data for 2 years following your last engagement with us. In some circumstances you can ask us to delete your data: see ‘Request erasure’ below for further information. In some circumstances we may anonymise your personal data (so that it can no longer be associated with you) for research or statistical purposes in which case we may use this information indefinitely without further notice to you. <strong>Your legal rights </strong>Under certain circumstances, you have the following rights under data protection laws in relation to your personal data: Request access to your personal data. Request correction of your personal data. Request erasure of your personal data. Object to processing of your personal data. Request restriction of processing your personal data. Request transfer of your personal data. Right to withdraw consent. If you wish to exercise any of the rights set out above, please contact us at leonie@justiceisnow.org. No fee usually required. You will not have to pay a fee to access your personal data (or to exercise any of the other rights). However, we may charge a reasonable fee if your request is clearly unfounded, repetitive or excessive. Alternatively, we may refuse to comply with your request in these circumstances. Changes to this privacy policy.  We may change this privacy policy from time to time – when we do we shall inform you via our website.

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