After the Mail on Sunday row broke many rape victims contacted me, most to offer support. Two were hostile but when I replied they apologised and promised to read the boom rather than react to how others had reacted.
This email came from a woman who deeply resents ‘the madness’ and ‘the rants’ that drown out voices like her own:
‘I was raped twice in my teens. Neither were traumatic experiences. I didn’t feel great about myself afterwards but I put myself in situations where there would certainly have been confusion/ambiguity on the man’s part in my desires. It was to do with my generally low self-esteem at the time, but that was my problem, and not theirs’
One yearns to address the lack of self-esteem which led her to this view of herself, but voices like hers must not be ignored. Of course hers might be a minority view. But that’s the point: victims refuse to submit to a stereotype.
Another woman, who was forcibly raped by a man she knew well, emailed:
‘It sits there in my memory, and rears up and bites me when I least expect it… but the act did not blight my life, leave me traumatised [or] afraid of men. Nick is right. Tell him so please, and long may he continue to say what he thinks. I have rarely admired a journalist more,’ adding, ‘He is welcome to use my tale as he sees fit.’
And another wrote:
‘In company with most people I’m getting irate about this story. I am a victim myself and I certainly see the variations between what I experienced and what other victims in other situations might experience. It is a great shame we can’t talk seriously about the very real problem of rape because any comment that isn’t baying for the blood of all offenders everywhere is screamed down. The vitriol makes sensible discussion impossible.’