On 5th April 2020, welsh singer Duffy released a statement. A couple of weeks earlier, she had announced on social media the reason behind why she had ended her career so soon. In her emotional testimony, she revealed that she was raped, drugged and held captive by an attacker. A horrifying experience for anyone to face.
She created her own website with only one article, entitled ‘The 5th House.’ She provides details on what happened to her, along with explaining her reasons on why she has now decided to speak out. I will not be going into the details of the assault as that is not my story to tell. The purpose is to understand the power in the words she has written. In writing the post, it has allowed her to finally start to close that chapter of her life.
The significance of the post is that it reaffirms that sexual assault and rape can happen to anyone, at any time. It is a crime that has the power to destroy someone’s life as they know it. She describes a feeling of rape ‘stripping’ her from her human rights to experience a life with only fear. These will be sentiments that will be shared by many survivors.
In 2019, the Scottish Government released national statistics that reports for sex crimes was at an all-time high with a rise in 8% from the previous year. However, these figures only include those that have made a report to Police Scotland; many more will not have yet came forward.
Sexual assaults can happen to anyone; there is no gender, age or race that is immune.
In her post, Duffy explains her reasons for deciding to speak out now:
‘What is also hard to explain is that, in hiding, in not talking, I was allowing the rape to become a companion. Me and it living in my being, I no longer wanted to feel that intimacy with it, a decade of that intimacy has been destructive. I had to set myself free. I have been hurt and it would have been dangerous to talk from that hurt place in the past, prior to feeling ready.’
Aimee Anne Duffy from DuffyWords.com
In working within the Survivor department, I understand more than most the difficulties that are faced for those coming forward. In not speaking about their abuse, all survivors carry this heavy burden with them throughout their lives.
The importance in those that are high profile speaking out starts the process of breaking down the barriers that our society has created. For years, there has been a ‘victim blaming’ culture that has left many too scared to speak out.
It is this culture that has left many feeling like they are the ones to blame and that somehow, they are responsible for another causing them harm.
Duffy writes that following the assault, she spent almost ten years completely on her own. It is only in telling her story that she now feels ‘free’ and ‘liberated’. This provides a small insight into how difficult and long the recovery process will be. For many, speaking out will be the first step on that journey.
It is fundamental that those that are high profile continue to speak out about their own experiences. In doing this, we move towards a society that will end stigma. To hopefully, create a different society where no one is too frightened to come forward.
There will always be power in speaking out as its take a significant amount of courage to break down the personal barriers that have been built. It is only in coming together that changes can continue to happen.
‘…The realisation that the very thing that hurt me, will become the very thing that heals me. I faced a deeply inhumane experience; only humanity can heal that.’
Aimee Anne Duffy from DuffyWords.com
The article provides an insight into why it is so important to speak out. In writing this post, Duffy’s sexual assault is no longer her companion and it will no longer define her as a person. In breaking the silence, she is able to reclaim control and to start the process of closing that chapter of her life.
Blog by Emma Wheelhouse, Survivors Team