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Monday, 20 July 2009

Words Can describe

Words Can Describe by Abi Grant is about her descent into hell after being attacked and sexually assaulted in the middle of the night by a stranger in her own flat. It makes harrowing reading but it is also lightened by her own wry sense of humour. After despair and addiction and being unable to work, Abi manages to rebuild her life with the help of friends and colleagues. Her attacker is not identified until twelve years after the event and brought to trial.

Abi describes the horror of the trial itself where she feels she is fighting to convince the court she was not a willing participant in the assault. The defence also tried to convince her that it was a coloured man she'd spoken to on the same evening who had attacked her. Abi knew it was definitely a white man and in the end the attacker was convicted by means of forensic and DNA evidence putting him at the scene. The jury verdict was unanimous. Abi was horrified to find he had been in prison for similar attacks and was actually on bail for another offence when he attacked her.

I found the chapter towards the end of the book about other sexual assault trials made me extremely angry because even though the attacker was a stranger some blame had been attributed to the victim . The courts would never suggest a mugging victim should not have behaved in a certain way. I can't imagine the courts would suggest a male victim of rape or sexual assault was partly responsible for the attack against him. It really is about time the defence was prevented from attacking the victim's character and attributing blame to the victim. Juries are not allowed to know about previous convictions or allegations against the defendant so why introduce previous behaviour of the victim?


Anne Brooke said...

That's so true - it makes me furious too.


Jilly said...

The major problem at the moment seems to be the growing assumpttion in certain ections of society that ALL rape accusations are made up and are just a way of getting back at men!!