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Michelle Thomson MP reveals she was raped as a teenager

Colleagues were moved to tears as the independent MP shared her personal story.

By STV News

Published 08 Dec 2016.

An MP has moved colleagues to tears after revealing she was raped at the age of 14.

Independent Michelle Thomson, who represents Edinburgh West, shared her personal story during a Commons debate on UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Ms Thomson told the house she knew her rapist before the attack and that he had offered to walk her home from a youth event before taking her to a woodland area where he attacked her.

She said: "It was mercifully quick and I remember first of all feeling surprise, then fear, then horror as I realised I quite simply couldn't escape - because he was stronger than me, and there was no sense even initially of any sexual desire from him, which I suppose, looking back, again I find odd."

She said afterwards she walked home alone crying, cold and shivering from shock.

Ms Thomson said: "I didn't tell my mother, I didn't tell my father, I didn't tell my friends and I didn't tell the police. I bottled it all up inside me.

"I hoped, briefly and appallingly, that I might be pregnant so that would force a situation to help me control it."

Ms Thomson said she felt "ashamed" she had "allowed this to happen to me", debating internally what had happened.

She added: "I felt I was spoiled and impure and really felt revulsion towards myself.

"I, of course, then detached from the child up to then I had been.

"Although, in reality, at the age of 14 it was probably the start of my sexual awakening, at that time, remembering back, sex was something that men did to women and perhaps this incident reinforced that early belief."

Ms Thomson said the rape "fatally undermined" her self-esteem, confidence and sense of self-worth.

She said: "If this was the effect from one small, albeit significant, event in my life stage, how must it be for those women who are carrying this on a day by day basis?"

Ms Thomson told the Commons: "A rape happens when a man makes a decision to hurt someone he feels he can control. Rapes happen because of the rapist, not because of the victim.

"We women and our society have to stand up for each other, we have to be courageous, we have to call things out and say where things are wrong. We have to support and nurture our sisters as we do with our sons."

She concluded: "One thing I realise now is I'm not scared and he was. I'm not scared, I'm not a victim, I'm a survivor."

Following her speech, Ms Thomson was comforted by colleagues.

Speaker John Bercow told her she had "left an indelible impression on us all".

Ms Thomson's decision to share her story publicly was hailed as "brave and important" by Rape Crisis Scotland.

National co-ordinator Sandy Brindley said: "Many women who have been raped find it very hard to tell anyone about what has happened. It is not uncommon for women to contact rape crisis many years after a rape and tell us this is the first time they have ever spoken about it.

"Someone speaking so publicly about rape can send a strong message to other rape survivors - that the shame is not theirs, and it is okay to talk about it and to seek support. "

The Rape Crisis Scotland national helpline is open every night from 6pm till midnight on 08088 01 03 02.

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