Lucy Allwright & Jennifer Holly
Not Worth Reporting: Women’s Experiences of Alcohol, Drugs and Sexual Violence
Lucy Allwright is a project manager at AVA (Against Violence and Abuse). She has been working in the Violence Against Women and Girls sector since 2008 in a variety of frontline, training and policy roles in both the charity and public sector.
Jennifer Holly has spent almost fifteen years working in the violence against women and girls sector in a wide range of roles. More recently, Jennifer’s roles as a researcher, trainer and organisational development specialist have focussed on improving policy, service and professionals’ responses to survivors affected by mental distress and substance use problems.
I first came across AVA back in 2012 when I was interviewed by AVA as part of the Stella Project, as my case had involved alcohol. This research is the focus on Lucy & Jennifer’s chapter, so, it felt like coming full circle to have them contribute to the book.
Their chapter in Part Three opens with Ched Evans, a name that will I think forever give me chills in the way that remembering the name of my rapist also gives me. The title of their chapter also gives me chills, and an intense feeling of sadness. I had been drinking, and one of the reasons the CPS gave for not prosecuting is that I had been drinking.
As Lucy & Jennifer state, figures from the Metropolitan Police showing that a third of survivors who report being raped stating that they had consumed alcohol or drugs prior to the attack. Something needs to change, because incapacity to consent is not consent and it should be worth reporting whenever a crime is committed.
The main aim of the research that was conducted, and that I was part of, was to find out from survivors themselves what they thought about the concept of ‘capacity to consent’ and explore how alcohol or other drugs affected their ability to consent – or more accurately not to consent – when they were raped.
This chapter explores the findings of the research, and it is a very bleak picture.
The parallels with my own path continue, as Jennifer & Lucy also talk about the statement made by Judge Lindsay Kushner QC, that rapists “gravitate towards vulnerable women” and that, “a girl who has been drinking is less likely to be believed than one who is sober at the time. I beg girls and women to have this in mind.” As Jennifer & Lucy say far more eloquently than I did on BBC Breakfast, “instead of focusing on the choice of women to go out and drink, the emphasis should be put on the perpetrator’s decision to be sexually violent.”
AVA (Against Violence and Abuse) is a leading UK charity committed to ending gender based violence and abuse. They strive to improve services for survivors through learning, resources, consultancy and end Violence Against Women and Girls through policy, research and prevention work. Theirr particular expertise is in multiple disadvantage and children and young people. www.avaproject.org.uk
There was a lot more we discussed, but I don’t want to give it all away before you read it!
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Image: Mute Justice © Lizzie Emmett
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