After years of calling us rape victims liars, the Met Police have relented


10:00 am - June 9th 2012

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contribution by Nikky C

Yesterday, when news broke that the Metropolitan Police admitted they need their McPherson moment because their handling of sex crimes has been so appallingly bad for years, I could hardly breathe.

Part of me was furious that such cases are still prevalent. Part of me was overwhelmed that the Met are being upfront and asking for evidence. And the rest of me was flooded with emotion to be proved that I was right, I am not a liar and I did deserve better.

Seven years ago I made a complaint against the Westminster Sapphire Unit because I was so unhappy about how they had handled my rape in August 2004.

I had no idea what I was doing when I started it. Traumatised, shell shocked, naive and not entirely sure what I wanted or needed, I sat down and wrote them a letter detailing every single issue I had with my case. It took days to write, overwhelmed me utterly and arrived with them exactly one year to the day that I reported the rape.

It triggered off more than I ever thought I would cope with and as I detailed here, it would last almost 4 years before it was concluded. It was the hardest and stupidest thing I have ever done.

And I’d be lying if I said I’d done it for the greater good of feminism or other women. I didn’t. I did it for me to start with and then by the time it really got rolling, I’m not even sure I wanted to do it for me but I was in too deep and was too stubborn to back out then. I think I thought that the police admitting they were wrong was going to undo the original attack.

I have no idea why other victims decide to make complaints. Maybe they have a bigger sense of collective responsibility? Maybe they are just grasping at something to stop them drowning as they try to find their way back from sexual violence? Maybe it makes them feel in control?

I’m not sure it matters what the reason was, but that they stuck it out and increased the number of voices to be heard to a point where the attitude in the Met has changed so much.

When I complained, in fact even when I wrote that blog post last year, I didn’t forsee the Met being even the tiniest bit transparent. After all when my officers destroyed evidence in case and faked the paperwork and lied through their fucking teeth for months on end to me and their superiors, nothing much happened. The original officers got ‘words of advice’ and everyone else got a bollocking, but the Superintendent who forged my signature repeatedly to try and illegally end the complaint got off scot free and none of the officers who phoned me at 4am to put the frighteners on me saw any consequences.

And it took almost 3 years to convince them I wasn’t lying and make them actually look into the case properly in the first place which messed with my head no end. The mixture of hostility and ambivalence had me sure they would never really change and that they’d just continue to pay lip service.

To hear them go public tonight and ask for evidence of their failings has blown my tiny mind. It does not for one minute say they’ve changed for good and that no victim in future will have to endure a lack of justice and the worst of institutional failings and misogyny. But it is a massive sea-change that really makes me think that years of activism and campaigning and individual effort has had an impact.

So to see people who identify as feminists splash the story all over their timelines by focusing entirely on the negatives is like a slap in the face to me.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that this is all down to me, but I am expecting that those people respect the amazing achievements of the hundreds of women who went through hell standing up to the biggest police force in the country to keep the pressure on, even when they doubted themselves and the media ripped them apart and their lives fell apart round their ears. They made this difference in attitude possible and they should not be cheated of their moment.

They should be applauded and thanked for blazing a trail and making a change because they stood up and made a fuss.

It’s taken me years to be able to say ‘I did something. I helped. I fought back when I could’ and whiny as it might be to seemingly make this all about me, it stings when people you have helped smoothed a path for don’t even acknowledge the wider issue, instead believing that the Met changed attitude all by theirselves. I hope they’ll recognise that Rome wasn’t built in a day and grow to support those who have been working on this for a long time so that we and the police know this is the voice of the majority speaking, not just the victimised.

In the meantime, I’d like to thank all the people who helped me add my voice. You’ve helped me pick up the pieces afterwards and you’ve been essential. Especially the other women I don’t even know who also complained and kept each other company from afar in all those bloody waiting rooms. I appreciate your efforts more than you’ll ever know. And I hope that now the Met has confirmed we aren’t liars, fakers, hysterics, freaks or drama queens, we can continue to put pressure on them en masse and build on what we’ve managed so far. Turns out it’s not as unlikely as we all thought…


A longer version of this blog post is at Life in a Pickle, where ‘Nikki C’ blogs more regularly

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Reader comments


1. Dissident

Good, makes you wonder who the Met are protecting. Amazingly, police officers are people, so there is a guarantee that there are rapists amongst them. Organisations with any power always slime around to protect themselves first. The hell with the consequences for victims. The Catholic Church did similar…

2. Just Visiting

Dissident

Please be careful with your choice of words, as you may inadvertantly undermine this important issue.

> Amazingly, police officers are people, so there is a guarantee that there are rapists amongst them.

Using the word ‘guarantee’ there is not helpful.

It’s no more helpful than saying ‘nurses are people so there is a guarantee that there are rapists amongst them” or ‘LC bloggers are people so there is a guarantee that there are rapists amongst them’

I don’t think Nikki is claming that the Met are rapists, just that they very badly mis-handled cases like hers.

> Organisations with any power always slime around to protect themselves first.

That sadly is all too often the case, but should you not be pleased that in this case a big organisation has ‘fessed up that it can improve?

3. Dissident

@2, I know the risk of undermining, it is the fact that men from all walks of life commit that kind of crime, no matter their status. Hence using the word guaranteed. The real problem is a closing of ranks, and the attitude a woman somehow asked for it, when she doesn’t. Hopefully that kind of mysoginy will be made socially unacceptable, and legally unacceptable too.

It is a shameful fact that 1 in 7 women face that kind of abuse, and anything that can reduce it should be pusued. In these cases it appears that the Met took the rapists side, so the victim was raped again by the law, is that acceptable at all?

In these cases it appears that the Met took the rapists side, so the victim was raped again by the law, is that acceptable at all?

Given that it was the Sapphire Unit which is supposed to be, if anything, even more sympathetic to victims of rape, no, it is not acceptable in the slightest.

5. Chaise Guevara

@ 3 Dissident

“Hopefully that kind of mysoginy will be made socially unacceptable, and legally unacceptable too.”

Woah, woah. As pathetic and damaging as the “she asked for it” attitude is, are you seriously suggesting we jail people for expressing an unpopular opinion?

Because as far as I can see, anything beyond stating the opinion is already illegal. Rape’s illegal. Domestic abuse is illegal. Police cover-ups are illegal. Accusing a specific woman of “asking for it” when she didn’t stands a fair chance of being libel or perjury, depending on when and where you say it.

As for “raped by the law”, I’m all for dramatic metaphors, but I don’t think it’s a great idea to mix metaphor and reality when this is specifically a thread about rape.

@OP

I’m glad things seem to be moving in the right direction, and hope that this continues into a solid cultural change rather than lip service. It appears the Met has to be fixed one problem at a time, and suffers from relapses into the bargain.

6. Michael Doherty

A very well put chronology of the behaviour of the Metropolitan Police, how they fail victims of crime, how they cover up and harass complainants when they have the temerity to challenge their behaviour/conduct.

I too am going through the most traumatic experience with the Metropolitan Police after reporting the sexual grooming of my child to their SAPPHIRE sexual offences unit. Instead of investigating the case, they decided to frame me…. you can read more in these two national media articles;

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4PQp1NQ39MPYzU5NDVhY2QtMWViYi00MDRkLWE4OWQtOTc2NjA5MWZiNWI3/edit?pli=1

And from the Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/12/police-truth-blair-peach-tomlinson

We are organising a PROTEST AGAINST POLICE CORRUPTION on the 12th of JUNE, see flyer for more detail – http://twitpic.com/9spdp1/full

It is time we all came together as a community, enough is enough this shameful treatment of victims of crime must stop.

Michael Doherty

@5 precisely chaise, it is illegal to use that opinion as a defense in a court of law, because that kind of mysoginy is not a truthful premise. I don’t know about you, but I simply do not see a woman wearing a short skirt as asking for it, because I know it is false. What you wear is irrelevant, and actually says much more about the assailant than the victim.

The expression of that kind of opinion leads to the guilty get off scott free, frequently to commit the same crime to another woman

8. Chaise Guevara

@ 6 Dissident

“it is illegal to use that opinion as a defense in a court of law, because that kind of mysoginy is not a truthful premise.”

It’s not because it’s misogyny, it’s because it’s simply irrelevant to whether or not rape has occurred. Rape is forcing sex on someone against their will, so the woman’s clothing, words and behaviour up to that point matter not if she said no to sex.

“I don’t know about you, but I simply do not see a woman wearing a short skirt as asking for it, because I know it is false. What you wear is irrelevant, and actually says much more about the assailant than the victim.”

Given that I described the attitude as “pathetic and damaging”, what do you think I think?

“The expression of that kind of opinion leads to the guilty get off scott free, frequently to commit the same crime to another woman”

I’m not sure what you mean by this. We’ve already agreed that it’s inadmissable by court of law. If you mean it can allow people to get away with it because witnesses, or even the victim, think that the victim deserved it, then yes, I suppose it does. But that doesn’t justify locking people up whose political beliefs we disagree with, if that’s truly what you’re arguing for.

It was actually about that sort of opinion used to justify perverting the course of justice, perjury and libel.

Men who commit rape all to frequently ramped up to that from lesser crimes, and are more likely to have either commited it in the past, or will commit it again in the future, like other forms of abuse you mentioned. I have seen the scars, both psychological and physical on more than one woman who I was emotionally attached to.

It is very hard to limit your outlook in that situation, as you know some sorry excuse of a man has done that, yet walks free. Obviously, you have to be careful with your own emotional reaction, just in case that person is innocent.

10. Chaise Guevara

@ 9 Dissident

I agree with that, but what actual action are you suggesting? You still haven’t cleared up whether you want to ban unwanted political opinions.

11. Dissident

Not ban, chaise, just make certain the person/ group besmirched by people who hold to vile outlooks have an equal say. Right now that simply isn’t the case. Right now it is the highest bidder who has the freedom, while the rest of us only have the right to be ignored.

Not really freedom of speech is it, when smear campaigns from the rich and powerful have all the say. I would enforce true freedom of speech

12. Just Visiting

Dissident

What exactly would be done differently, specifically in practical terms in your suggestion:

> I would enforce true freedom of speech

Coz that sentence is pretty unspecific !

13. So Much For Subtlety

8. Chaise Guevara

It’s not because it’s misogyny, it’s because it’s simply irrelevant to whether or not rape has occurred. Rape is forcing sex on someone against their will, so the woman’s clothing, words and behaviour up to that point matter not if she said no to sex.

Sorry but that is not true. We have been through this before. The woman’s clothing, words and behaviour can and does matter in a trial for rape. Or it should despite the best efforts to exclude them all. Take the woman’s clothing. Suppose the defendant’s defence is that he simply refused to pay a prostitute for sexual services rendered. Then the question is whether or not she was actually working as a prostitute. In which case what she was wearing and what she was doing become very relevant points. Besides, in law, at least in the old days, rape was not forcing sex on someone against their will, but knowingly forcing sex on someone against their will. Crime takes place in the mind of the accused. So if the accused had a good faith belief that consent had been given, it was not rape even if it was not wanted by the victim. To that end, the words, behaviour and so on of the victim are entirely relevant to the formation of that belief.

It is not a pleasant thing to say, but I would treat this account with a little more caution than most people are. The OP is claiming vindication where I am not sure it is justified. All the Met has done is admit they have a problem with a few officers and so think, which is not surprising given the sensitivity of the issue, an outside inquiry is sensible.

14. Chaise Guevara

@ 13 SMFS

You’re right both in that the factors I listed can be relevant (another example might be where the accused claims that the accuser consented but then cried rape after her boyfriend found out; if the accused had told her friends that she was going off with the accuser to sleep with him, that might well be important) and that to count as rape it has to be deliberate or involve negligence. I was using shorthand in both cases (the second should be obvious; I imagine it would apply in almost any other political case).

My point was irrelevant details used to smear the accuser are inadmissible in court not because they’re misogynistic, but because they’re irrelevant.

15. Chaise Guevara

@ 11 Dissident

“Not ban, chaise, just make certain the person/ group besmirched by people who hold to vile outlooks have an equal say. Right now that simply isn’t the case. Right now it is the highest bidder who has the freedom, while the rest of us only have the right to be ignored.”

Not really freedom of speech is it, when smear campaigns from the rich and powerful have all the say.”

You’re confusing freedom with equality of access. Freedom of speech does not mean you have the right to force someone to give you a platform, although certain agencies (e.g. the BBC) are expected to at least broadly represent the range of views.

Now, equality of access is a problem, but it’s only tangentally connected to rape. It’s an issue on every political disagreement in the world.

“I would enforce true freedom of speech”

Like JV above, this seems meaningless to me. What does it mean in real, definable terms?

16. Robin Levett

@SMFS #13:

You are absolutely right; a woman’s words and behaviour are clearly relevant to the issue of whether the accused believed that the woman consented to sex; with the qualification that “No” means “No”. But the clothing?

Then the question is whether or not she was actually working as a prostitute. In which case what she was wearing and what she was doing become very relevant points.

What does a prostitute wear that marks him or her out as such? Low-cut tops and short skirts worn in cold weather with high-heeled shoes? You can see that any winter’s evening outside clubs and pubs.

Suppose the defendant’s defence is that he simply refused to pay a prostitute for sexual services rendered.

I’d advise against running that defence. If consent was conditional upon payment, and payment wasn’t made, then there’s a good argument that there was no consent; the more so if the prostitute demanded payment up-front.

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18. John P reid

the Met police has also falsely accused some of it’s own of being Rapists and sacked them from their jobs ,then when the people accused of rape have proved they weren’t even in the same part of london, the Met in one case a black woman and gay bloke on the sacking panel) havne’t even had the decency to apologise.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Jeremy

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  2. Sarah Graham

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  29. MUFC-Hughesy

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  35. Therese

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  52. Felicity Gerry

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  53. Felicity Gerry

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  63. Eleri

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  70. feministplus

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  71. Liz Steinborn

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  78. elliot herman

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  79. Trafford Rape Crisis

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  82. TonyC

    @DerekGHaslam @FrothyDragon @KerryMP What about this? http://t.co/eu9iQPXe Best not spout #rapeculture then admit from MET #ibelieveher

  83. Frothy Dragon

    @DerekGHaslam @FrothyDragon @KerryMP What about this? http://t.co/eu9iQPXe Best not spout #rapeculture then admit from MET #ibelieveher





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