Survivors share their stories to highlight issues facing women at university
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Two brave survivors have shared their experiences of being raped and sexually assaulted whilst on nights out at university to highlight the harsh reality many women face in pubs and clubs.
We are committed to tackling male violence against women and girls (MVAWG) and as part of an ongoing campaign, the force is sharing real life experiences to give survivors a voice through its #MVAWGVoices series.
One survivor spoke about when she was raped at university and the impact it had on her life.
She said: “My rapist was a man who had visited the area and gone out to the same club as my friends and me. He was later removed from the club after causing an altercation and stood waiting at the club exit.
“He was described in court as a predator waiting, as he stood for a considerable amount of time before spotting a drunk female leaving alone.
“That female was me.”
Opening up about her experience, while accepting the blame lied solely with the perpetrator, she talks about the role others could have played in helping to prevent the assault.
Since the start of freshers week in September, police officers have attended events across the county and spoken to more than 2,000 university and college students.
Whilst the force is working to target perpetrators, the force worked closely with the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Safer Streets project and partners to distribute items such as personal alarms, anti-spiking bottle stoppers and anti-spiking glass toppers.
In May, we launched Project Firefly to ensure women no longer face unacceptable behaviour in places like pubs and clubs. The project has a significant focus on holding perpetrators accountable, including specialist training for officers, an increased police presence and a targeted campaign aimed at challenging perpetrators who leave women and girls feeling unsafe.
Since the launch, training has also been delivered to staff at 19 licensed venues across the county, with each business also displaying posters.
Recently officers also carried out specific engagement events in Luton, following concerns from women in the area.
Detective Chief Superintendent Dee Perkins, the force’s lead for male violence against women and girls, said: “Bedfordshire Police has a significant focus on targeting perpetrators, and we will be looking to hold people engaging in this abhorrent behaviour accountable and take police action where we can.
“We are working to create a safer environment for women and girls across Bedfordshire, and as part of that work we are creating a safe space for women’s voices to be heard.
“We are working closely with a number of partners, and are committed to earning the public’s trust that we understand these issues and are committed to getting our response right.
“As these survivors bravely speak out about their experience, we must take the time to listen and understand, we must all do more to work together and challenge these attitudes and behaviour. It is no longer acceptable to stand by and let this happen - be an upstander, not a bystander.”
Although this campaign focuses on male violence against women and girls, we remain committed to tackling all forms of abuse, supporting victims of any gender, and tackling both male and female offenders.
The force is keen to support other survivors who feel comfortable and confident enough to come forward and tell their story. All of these stories will be handled with the utmost sensitivity and can be anonymised. Please contact Bedfordshire Police’s corporate communications team to discuss further.
You can also contact Bedfordshire Victim Care Services for free and confidential support, whether the crime has been reported or not. The experienced staff and volunteers know what emotions and challenges victims may be going through.
They are specially trained to listen and give help and advice. They also work with a range of specialist organisations and community support groups and can make referrals to help victims on their journey.
Victim care co-ordinators will also discuss the benefits of restorative justice, which gives victims the opportunity to tell the offender about the real impact the crime they committed has had on them.