When I was 16 my friend called me to say she’d been raped in an alley outside a bar. Two years later a young woman I worked with told me she had been raped by her ex boyfriend while she was sleeping. He was HIV positive and didn’t use a condom. Later a girl told me she had been raped by her dad for years, starting when she was 7. Over the years more stories have emerged from the people I know about what has been done to them. Each is embedded in my mind; I will never forget them, just as I will never forget that I was abused when I was 14 by my 25 year old “boyfriend”, and then suffered through 2 years of sexual and psychological abuse with another partner.
I carry a list of rapes in my head, and not one of them has been prosecuted. Over twenty three crimes, more each year, and not one rapist will face charges for the lives they ruined. I’m tired of carrying this list around with me, only sharing it with other survivors; they already know. It’s time to show the rest of the world the reality of rape.
Recent research from Rape Crisis tells us that an average of three women are being raped in Scotland per day. Data from the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Office for National Statistics tells us that over the last three years, an average of 69,000 women and 9,000 men have been raped in England and Wales per year. Only 15670 offences become recorded crimes, and only a shocking 1070 people a year are convicted of rape. You got it: 78000 rapes, 1070 convictions. Some of those 78 000 people, are people you know. Sexual violence is a part of our culture; it affects all of us. We are all either fighting it or allowing it, and we are all responsible for trying to change it.
The Outrape Project is a new project based in Edinburgh, inspired by the success of Every Day Sexism. It is a blog that can be updated by anyone anonymously, where survivors are encouraged to document and share their experiences of sexual violence.
The aims of the Outrape Project are:
- To encourage survivors to tell their story
- To enable them to do this in an empowering way. They decide, what they say, how much they tell, and whether or not they use their name
- To build an online community offering solidarity and support.
- To collaborate with other organisations to encourage open discussion, leading to better understanding, education and maybe even legislation.
In the same way that the Every Day Sexism project provides a list of events where women have experienced sexism, the Outrape project aims to build an indisputable list of evidence of people’s experience of rape and abuse. People are ready to talk, and the possibilities of remote sharing via social media help to counter the fear and shame surrounding disclosure. One woman who told her story for the first time to the Outrape Project wrote:
“After posting on the site, I was able to tell my therapist all of the details I’d been unable to speak, for the first time saying it all out loud to someone …
This is a big process, but I feel like it’s begun, and really it began with writing it all out for the blog. That means a lot to me … Thank you for your support, understanding, insight, and encouragement. It means a great deal to me.”
I believe that if enough people have this conversation out in the open, it will no longer be a conversation that can be ignored.
What this project needs is more brave people who are prepared to tell their stories. I need to reach those who want to talk but have no forum to do so. I need to reach other activists and like-minded organisations so that we can work together to change attitudes towards sexual violence and to create a better understanding for survivors.
If you like what you’ve heard, please share Outrape information by re-tweeting and promoting Outrape on social media. If there is any other way you can help or you would like to collaborate, or you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I started this project to make the truth about rape public. To drag the shame out into the light. To smash through complacency and bust the myth that the issue of sexual violence is something you can opt out of. If it happened to you, speak out about it. Tell your story: It is important and people need to know.
Break the silence.