Wednesday 26 April 2017

Commons in tears as MP reveals rape at age of 14

Michelle Thomson. Photo: PA
Michelle Thomson. Photo: PA

Laura Hughes in London

MPs were reduced to tears yesterday as they listened in silence while a colleague revealed she was raped as a 14-year-old girl.

Michelle Thomson, the independent MP for Edinburgh West, said she felt "ashamed" after a man she knew took her into the woods and assaulted her as he walked her home from a youth event.

Speaking in a debate about eliminating violence against women, Ms Thomson told the House of Commons: "I'm not a victim, I'm a survivor."

She revealed she hadn't told her parents and that despite being happily married for 25 years, the rape had "fatally undermined" her self-esteem.

Ms Thomson (51) said the attack had been "mercifully quick" but added that it had left her feeling "spoiled and impure and felt revulsion toward myself".

She told MPs: "When I was 14 I was raped. As is common, it was by somebody who was known to me.

"He had offered to walk me home from a youth event and in those days everybody walked everywhere, it was quite ­common to do that.

"It was early evening, it wasn't dark. I was wearing - I'm imagining, I'm guessing - jeans and a sweatshirt.

"He told me he wanted to show me something in a wooded area and at that point, I must admit, I was alarmed. I did have a warning bell - but I overrode that warning bell because I knew him.

"To be honest, looking back, at that point I don't think I knew what rape was. It was not something that was talked about."

Ms Thomson said her ­senses were "absolutely numbed", ­telling MPs: "Thinking about it now, 37 years later, I cannot remember hearing anything when I replay it in my mind."

She added: "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."

After the incident she said she didn't tell her parents, her friends or the police. "I bottled it all up inside me," she said.

"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" that she had ­"allowed this to happen to me".

She added: "I felt I was spoiled and impure and really felt revulsion toward 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." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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