My thoughts on The Stanford Uni case…

It has been a while since I blogged but the Stanford University case has left me angry and utterly bereft at rape culture in western society in equal measure so I felt I needed to write about this. I read the impact statement written and read bravely aloud by the victim of Brock Turner with tears in my eyes, the hash reality of her words mirroring the harsh reality of rape. The violation of sexual assault does not deserve flowery verbiage, when she described how “You do not know me yet you have been inside of me” this is a line so many women will have read and related to, even more will have related to yet and yet will have known their attackers.

I’m sure we all remember that famous front page of the Independent newspaper in the UK a few years ago showing the stark difference between the number of rapes which occur, the number who report their rape, those who get as far as court and then the pitifully low number who get a conviction. What that incredibly shocking front page didn’t go as far as to show was for those very few who succeed in conviction following prosecution how poor the sentences imposed often are. It answers the age old question as to why so few women report rape.

The outcry at Brock Turner only being sentenced to six months imprisonment in all honesty would have probably gone unnoticed were it not for the callous remarks made by the judge passing the sentence. Judge Persky shared his concern that a longer sentence could have a “severe impact” upon the life of the young athlete turned rapist. As someone who has experienced rape, albeit not stranger rape, I can assure you Judge Persky that his actions DID have a severe impact however they had that impact on his victim. The impact on Brock Turner has a different name altogether, that name is Consequences!

Next to step in to this by now infamous case discussion was Brock Turner’s father who could have chosen to stay silent out of respect for his son’s victim or even given commentary that he stood by his son but that he recognised he needed to be punished. He didn’t choose either of those options, he chose instead to try to shame his son’s victim again by stating that in his opinion “20 minutes of action” shouldn’t ruin his son’s life. One doesn’t have to look far to realise where Brock Turner got his morals and sense of entitlement. His son’s “20 minutes of action” will have life long implications for his victim, she may heal well but his actions will still catch her off guard on occasion; she may find herself seeing his face instead of her husbands when making love or the pain he caused her physically may return during an intimate examination or may intrude on what should be her perfect experience of childbirth. His “20 minutes of action” will be with her for life.

Brock Turner was found guilty and his victim should have been comforted that he was being punished for his crime, no custodial sentence would ever compare to the life sentence she was awarded on that January night. No prison sentence will ever restore her dignity or her mindset. She can and hopefully will heal emotionally as well as physically however she will forever see the world through tinted glasses. Her vision tinted, tainted even, with the violation of that night.

Actions have consequences and no mitigation offered by Turner such as his blaming of “peer pressure”, “party culture” and “drinking” make him any less culpable for his crime. Although rape culture in western society does take all of these things into account, if it didn’t he would have been sent to prison for far longer. If it didn’t then he may never have felt that his behaviour was acceptable and never have acted this way. It seems that although both Turner and his victim were intoxicated his intoxication is deemed to offer mitigation for his actions yet her intoxication have society questioning if she brought this upon herself.

Let me be very clear here alcohol does not make people rape or indeed make people get raped. Rapists cause rape. Not difficult as a concept is it?

In the same way short skirts or walking home alone or even a premiscuous past do not cause rape. One thing causes rape; Rapists. Brock Turner has released a statement sayig he wishes to educate his peers on the dangers of drinking excess alcohol, here’s an idea – educate them on consent!!! It’s simple really if someone doesn’t say yes then that is a no. If they say no, struggle or are even simply unconscious and unable to consent then this is rape.

As a society we teach our daughters how not to get raped, we tell them not to wear certain things and not to walk home alone late at night but we don’t teach our son’s not to rape. We talk about the dangers of alcohol and drugs but not about consent. Does it make you uncomfortable? Maybe it should! Rape is an uncomfortable subject and a life changing experience. Brock Turner has talked about a culture of promiscuity, I have not heard anyone refer to forcibly penetrating someone with a foreign object as promiscuity, just rape.

The victim in this case has said she has chosen to remain anonymous because “I am every woman” well “I am every woman” too and so are some of my friends and we stand along side her. We stand together to raise each other up when one of us doesn’t have the strength in our legs to hold us up. We stand together to challenge rape culture. We stand together to say victim blaming is not acceptable. We must ultimately teach our son’s not to rape and not simply rely on teaching our daughters to wear longer skirts.

Broken Vases…

Last year I published a blog post about my thoughts on the Rotherham report, I received some very kind feedback but also some heart wrenching disclosures from people about their own experiences. One person telling me that I was the first person she had ever told about what she had endured. That blog post was written in anger and not even proof read, I just knew I needed to get it out of my head via my laptop before I would be afforded the luxury of sleep that night. Continue reading

Celebrate Recovery – A reflection

You may remember I blogged a while ago about starting to attend a group at church called ‘Celebrate Recovery’. It’s a Christ focussed twelve step programme which helps people with their hurts, habits and hang ups. You can find more details about Celebrate Recovery and whether it runs in your area from the link at the end of this blog. A standard introduction at celebrate recovery is “Hi my name is… , I am a Christian and I am in recovery from…” Which seems simple or so you’d think. Not to me it seems who over analyses everything I say and do. As a nurse I pride myself on being a reflective practitioner, which is a vital part of nursing, yet can’t help but berate myself for taking this too far and obsessing over my inadequacies. I have managed to skirt the introduction thing thus far and it has been without issue but tonight I was asked if I would be willing to read out the beatitudes which would involve an introduction in front of the whole group. I was happy to read out the beatitudes but quickly had a moment of realisation that I didn’t know what to say in my introduction. I could have confidently said I am in recovery from mental illness or childhood sexual abuse or even promiscuity if I go far enough back but however true those statements are they do not reflect why I am attending CR.

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My Journey…

I gave a talk tonight at the Annual Members Meeting of the Mental Health trust for which I am a governor, my talk was about my journey of recovery and what it meant to me as I made the transition from service user to staff nurse, the words that follow are what I read:

My first contact with mental health services was in 2007 following the birth of my daughter, Eve. After she was born I knew straight away that I didn’t feel right. I spent the first five weeks after she was born racing around, I decorated my entire flat and held a dinner party every night for three weeks! When my daughter was five weeks old depression hit me like a shovel in the face, I didn’t just slow down, I stopped. Continue reading

Nearly a statistic; Postnatal depression


Trigger Warning re childhood abuse/birth trauma/suicide

I have been involved with a piece of work with the midwifery education school at my local university, the same one incidentally I am due to graduate from this summer with a BSc Hons Mental Health Nursing although this is totally separate to my academic studies.
What started as an email saying ‘you’ve talked about having had postnatal depression haven’t you?’ has evolved over the past 14 months into something I am exceptionally proud of. The email was from someone I have come into contact with in a service user voice worker capacity and on behalf of a senior midwifery lecturer at the uni, we agreed to meet for a coffee in December 2012 to discuss what was being asked and how it could work. Continue reading

2013; The good, the bad and the ugly


The end of a year encourages us all to reflect upon how the year treated us and I am no different. 2013 has like any year that has gone before it seen highs and lows (although neither to an extreme in my mood thank goodness!!!), over all it was a good year, stable and steady. Continue reading

Nature or Nurture?


I have just watched the Kerry Katona documentary on catch up for Channel 5, it’s called ‘My Secret Past’ and is worth a watch. I have long believed that my battle with mental illness is a combination of the two, that I have a genetic predisposition but that trauma I experienced during my childhood triggered it off. I guess it’s no different to someone having a genetic predisposition to heart disease but whether that person eats a fry up for breakfast then sits on their backside everyday makes a difference to whether they trigger those heart problems off or not.

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Letter to my younger self…

Ten things I wish I could tell my younger self:

1. To always have hope. Through both mental illness and via situations I have faced I’ve felt hopeless at times in my life. I can’t necessarily change how I think or feel when in the grips of mental illness but I can change how I deal with situations that life will invariably throw at me in the future. I have ‘Dum vita est spes est’ tattooed around my ribs which means whilst there is life there is hope in Latin. I truly believe that no matter how utterly hopeless you may feel at any given moment if you just keep on going moment by moment it can get better. So no matter how low one feels it is important never to take a permanent action to solve a temporary feeling. Continue reading

“Gosh aren’t you getting tall?”

Yesterday was my daughters seventh birthday party and although I knew I was stressed trying to arrange it along with working full time and writing university assignments nothing prepared me for the reaction that this party provoked in me yesterday. Continue reading

Cost per use reduced…

Today I feel lighter. I feel like the honesty I entrusted upon someone today was the right thing to do.

Being open today also reduced my cost per use of the phrase “I’m no longer ashamed about my past” as that cost me around £4000 in therapy to be able to say out loud!!! Continue reading

Stop the Victim Blaming!

64166_10151526939649417_996056550_nToday April 3rd 2013 is International day against Victim Blaming. I have posted this on my social media accounts today and been amazed by the responses I have received, in both a positive and negative way. Continue reading

Is a mental health diagnosis a modern day equivalent of a straight jacket?

27521_103617956343859_280_nIs a mental health diagnosis a modern day equivalent of a straight jacket? I began to wonder this after a few conversations recently where the subject has come around to the different way people react to a person once they discover a diagnosis of mental illness. Continue reading

Disclosure – The Sequel

Last month I blogged about how I respond when someone asks me why I have come into mental health nursing and received some positive feedback on that piece.
This morning a conversation between myself and a lovely, very dedicated and very experienced nurse turned to the subject of ECT or Electro Convulsive Therapy (I will write a whole blog on this in more depth sometime), she asked had I seen this treatment and it felt entirely natural to reply “seen it? I have had it!” Continue reading

Faith in Hope and Hope in Faith…

On a form if I am asked for ‘Religion’ I always put RC or Roman Catholic and recently I have questioned my allegiance to the Catholic Church. By this I do not mean I have questioned my faith as I feel strongly that I am guided in life but I mean that some of the actions or lack of actions of the Catholic Church have disturbed me and also I have been questioned as to how I can class myself as a catholic when I use contraception. I feel this blog may be as much for me to work out my thoughts on being a modern catholic woman as for me to share these thoughts with you.

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Tess of the D’Dubervilles…

Why do I find dieting so hard? Why can I not be happy when I look in the mirror?
I remember when I was at school studying ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ understanding on a deep and very unfortunate level why Tess felt the need to shave off her eyebrows to disguise her beauty to men following her rape. I knew what it meant to wish that I hadn’t been so appealing in that way. Continue reading