Rape Crisis Scotland: Podcast featuring sexual assault and rape survivors launched to encourage public conversation and better understanding


The Survivors Reference Group (SRG) within the charity launched the podcast mini-series on Monday and have four more episodes due to be released over coming months.

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Speaking exclusively to The ScotsmanBrenna said: “This is a small project for now because we wanted to see how it would go, but it was very much about trying to show that there is a diversity of experiences and that your life doesn’t just stop when you’ see experienced sexual violence or the justice system.

“There is so much power in survivors being able to share their truth and the nuance of it all. And that’s what we wanted to try to bring to a bigger audience.”

One topic discussed in the first episode is the concept of the “perfect victim”; someone who fits the narrative and evokes empathy from others who are willing to listen and understand their story. It is suggested that anyone who doesn’t fit that image is less likely to be understood and respected as a survivor.

Following the release of episode one, Lisa, 30, told The Scotsman: “The conversation is going in the wrong direction at the moment. There is no hope for survivors when they are reading the stories and front covers.

“Everything is about the big headline and while we get it, it’s also important for people to understand that the big stories – the footballers or the policemen – are not the only perpetrators.

Rape Crisis Scotland: Podcast featuring sexual assault and rape survivors launched to encourage public conversation and better understanding

“There are a lot of everyday people who you don’t think about, people in situations like myself who are assaulted within a relationship and there isn’t a great deal of conversation around that. It’s one of the reasons I put myself forward for this episode, to give people in situations like mine that wee bit of hope.”

The mother-of-four said people rarely see “what happens next” to survivors and the podcast aims to show that side of the discussion too, to reassure others they won’t not be in a dark place forever.

“You can get your life back and a stronger one at that,” she said.

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Rape Crisis Scotland: Podcast featuring sexual assault and rape survivors launched to encourage public conversation and better understanding

While episode two is expected next week, official dates for the following three have not been confirmed as the charity puts individuals first and wants to ensure they are in control of the process at all times.

Later episodes will cover topics including the justice system and justice process survivors go through when they report an incident of rape or sexual assault.

The SRG was set up by Rape Crisis Scotland almost three years ago to create a platform for survivors voices to be heard by decision makers and others who needed them.

The group – now 54 members strong – was initially formed to primarily discuss the justice system, but has evolved over time to cover a number of issues relating to sexual assault in Scotland.

The first episode of the podcast was released on Monday and the second will be released sometime next week.

Brenna described their conversations as being incredibly powerful and said the podcast concept was born from the idea that others would benefit from hearing directly from rape survivors.

Lisa agreed, saying: “I’ve been a member of the SRG pretty much since it started and I put myself forward for the podcast because the conversations we were having in team meetings were just so important.

“While there is some media coverage it shows unrealistic realities of what actually happens to a survivor, from the initial event to whether they go through with reporting it. All the members are at different stages – some haven’t yet reported it, some are going through the process and some have been through it.

“But one thing that is really evident no matter where you are is the bond that has been formed between us.

“As much as our family and friends mean well and want to help, there are just some things they don’t get and can’t support.”

Description of the podcast on Spotify streaming platform.

All the podcast episodes were recorded at the end of last year and reflecting on the process, Brenna said one of the reoccurring themes she noticed was the perception from the outside that survivors were either thriving inspirations or falling apart. But she said “what they actually say so often is that it is both”.

“There has got to be space to say ‘yes, you are incredibly strong and resilient and have hardened things you should not have had to’, and ‘yes it’s also been really difficult and there are darker days, but the solidarity you’ve got with each other is enough to get you through it’.”

The charity plans on using clips of the podcast in future training sessions that are delivered to police and other officials.

Brenna said: “The real stories stop it being hypothetical and force people to realize it is right in front of them.”

Lisa wanted to share one final message to any survivors who listen to their podcast over coming weeks.

“It doesn’t matter if you got justice or not,” she said.

“You deserve to be part of this community just as much as anyone else.

“I didn’t get to court and I used to think my story wasn’t important enough, but over the last year I’ve realized that isn’t the case at all and my experience is completely valid.

“Every survivor is unique, but nobody should be alone. You should be able to speak about it and be proud, don’t be ashamed.”

To listen to the first episode of the new podcast click here.

Rape Crisis Scotland helpline: 08088 01 03 02

For more information about the SRG visit Rape Crisis Scotland here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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