A young Midlands woman who says she was sexually abused by her long-term boyfriend has launched a campaign to show that there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ rape.
Caroline, whose real name has not been used, has produced a film with Fixers to encourage people to talk about sexual abuse more openly.
The 25-year-old wants to break the silence that surrounds the subject to encourage more victims to come forward and access support services.
Caroline, who was in a relationship with her ex-boyfriend for two years, says he would routinely have sex with her when she didn’t want him to.
At the time, Caroline didn’t realise this can be classified as rape. It wasn’t until a few months after they split, when Caroline was in therapy, that she realised she had been sexually assaulted.
‘My rape did not occur in an alleyway with a violent stranger,’ she says. ‘It was the exact opposite in fact, it happened – continuously - in the comforts of my relationship with someone I loved, trusted and wanted to be with forever. Rape is not one size fits all.’
Now working with Fixers, Caroline is hoping to show her film to as many university students as possible.
She hopes to ensure that young people understand that sexual abuse can happen to anyone, even those who are in a committed relationship – and that it should not be tolerated.
Go to the top of this page to watch Caroline’s film.
Caroline, who prior to working with Fixers had told few people about her experience, says: ‘I kept my abuse hidden because of the nature of it, because it didn’t fit the stereotypical ideas we all have about sexual abuse.
‘There were so many details in my experience that others could use to discount what I went through and I wasn’t ready for that, so I thought silence was my only option.
‘The more we open our conversations about sexual abuse, the less survivors will be shamed into silence.’
Caroline's project was supported by the Wellcome Trust.