Michelle Thomson – Survivor

Michelle Thomson MP for Edinburgh West must go down as one of the bravest and strongest women that has spoken out in a public arena about rape. She used the UN International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women to speak out. Anyone who heard her speech couldn’t fail to be moved, the speaker of the house John Bercow certainly was, and I admire for his visible upset. A brave, honest speech that told it how it was. At the end of her speech she said possibly the most empowering thing she could for all women who have been touched by this horrendous crime, she is not a victim, she’s a survivor. If you haven’t heard her speech, I have put a transcript in that was published by the BBC. Or click here for more informationMs Thomson told the debate that she had been raped, “as is common”, by someone who was known to her.The MP added: “He had offered to walk me home from a youth event and in those days everybody walked everywhere, it was quite common to do that.”It was early evening, it wasn’t dark. I was wearing – I’m imagining, I’m guessing – jeans and a sweatshirt.”Ms Thomson said she knew the area but they went a slightly different way, noting: “I didn’t think anything of it.”He told me he wanted to show me something in a wooded area and at that point, I must admit, I was alarmed. I did have a warning bell – but I overrode that warning bell because I knew him and therefore there was a level of trust in place.”To be honest, looking back, at that point I don’t think I knew what rape was. It was not something that was talked about.”Ms Thomson added: “It was mercifully quick and I remember first of all feeling surprise, then fear, then horror as I realised I quite simply couldn’t escape – because he was stronger than me, and there was no sense even initially of any sexual desire from him, which I suppose, looking back, again I find odd.”She said that afterwards she walked home alone crying, cold and shivering as she was in shock.Ms Thomson said: “I didn’t tell my mother, I didn’t tell my father, I didn’t tell my friends and I didn’t tell the police. I bottled it all up inside me.”I hoped, briefly and appallingly, that I might be pregnant so that would force a situation to help me control it.”Ms Thomson said she felt “ashamed” that she had “allowed this to happen to me”, debating internally what had happened.Ms Thomson said she later told a school boyfriend, who was “supportive”, but that she had carried feelings of “guilt, anger, fear, sadness and bitterness” for many years.She said she felt a “duty” to tell husband when she got married 12 years later, but it was only when she was in her mid-40s that she took steps to get some help.Ms Thomson said the rape “fatally undermined” her self-esteem, confidence and sense of self-worth, but that despite this she is “blessed” in her life and happily married for 25 years.She said she thought carefully before deciding to share her story, adding: “There is still a taboo about sharing this kind of information and certainly for people of my generation – it is truly shocking to be talking in public about this sort of thing.”She said could not bring herself to tell her mother, who died of cancer, about the rape – noting this was “possibly cowardly” but “an act of love” to protect her.Ms Thomson said she now knows rape is not about sex but power and control – and also a “crime of violence”, as she questioned myths of rape perpetuated from a male perspective.She told the Commons: “A rape happens when a man makes a decision to hurt someone he feels he can control. Rapes happen because of the rapist, not because of the victim.”Ms Thomson said she had encountered “other aggressive actions” towards her in business and politics.She concluded: “One thing I realise now is I’m not scared and he was. I’m not scared, I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor.”

Source: Michelle Thomson – Survivor

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