Saturday 24 August 2019

Woman who wrote open letter to her attempted rapist calls public response 'life-changing'

'All of these amazing responses have encouraged me to be proud of myself again. Talking is the best way to fully free yourself from pain,' she says

Sara Roebuck
Sara Roebuck

May Bulman

A young woman who wrote a powerful open letter to the man who tried to rape her said the response has “changed her life”.

Sara Roebuck from Halifax, in the UK, was undertaking an internship in Paris this January when she was attacked by a man in a club. 

Blocking the 24-year-old's escape with a fire extinguisher, he then threw her against a wall and attempted to undress her before pinning her down and trying to rape her.  

Almost a year later, Ms Roebuck “felt strong enough to put pen to paper” after encountering the man in court and has published an open letter to him in both French and English, entitled: "A letter to the man who tried to rape me".

She told The Independent: "It's really changed my life. It's so great to see all of this empowerment and love is ping-ponging around the globe.”

She added: “The response has been absolutely immense. I've never ever experienced anything of this size in my life. I have so many messages that I'm slowly getting through, trying to read as many messages as possible. The well wishes are so personal and intimate.

“It’s an incredible thing to feel so connected to complete strangers, that women can contact me and share with me their frustrations or painful stories on the issue we are all talking about. And to think that I triggered that - I'm just speechless."

She had received a "big reaction from dads," she said, adding: "A lot of them have even sent me photos of their daughters, telling me that they've printed it out and are saving it to show their daughters for when they grow up. It’s so touching."

Ms Roebuck, who is still living in Paris and studying for a Masters in European Affairs, added that the public support that has come out of her open letter has helped her to be "proud" of herself again. “I think I am in a place in my life now where I feel really happy and positive," she added.

"I have so many wonderful relationships. I'm at a great school and my mindset is now: Let's be proactive and move forward and leave the past in the past.

“All of these amazing responses are just reinforcing my vision and encouraging me to be proud of myself again.”

In the open letter to her attacker, Miss Roebuck wrote a detailed account of the traumatic ordeal she experienced.

"I write to you because this afternoon we met again, only the surroundings were not quite the same," she said.

"Your hands were cuffed behind your back, not sweatily gripped around my body. Your eyes were on the floor, not greedily inches away from my face."

She said that although people react in different ways, she believes opening up about what they went through is the best way to recover.

"Each person is unique and their reaction is never identical to someone else's, but I fundamentally believe that talking is the best way to fully free yourself from pain," she said.

Ms Roebuck's letter attracted an influx of support, with hundreds of people tweeting about it and commenting about it.

One woman wrote: “One of the most inspiring things I have ever read,” while another said: “People like you give us all strength."

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