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I never said yes – Sarah’s story


Nicole Campbell, Pips Taylor and Sarah Lauren Scott

Sarah Lauren Scott

Four hundred and sixty days ago my life was changed forever. Four hundred and sixty days ago I was raped.

I was 19 years old, carefree and trying to figure out the balance between education, being a mother to my beautiful son, Jacob, and going out with my friends.

Wednesday, December 15 2010 was one of these days.

My son was with his father and I went out with my twin sister for a fun, girly night.

It all started off well, we sat in the ‘VIP’ section and began to drink and dance. The vodka mixers turned into double vodka mixers which then turned into straight shots of vodka until eventually we were just drinking straight out of the bottle.

It was approaching 1.30am when I noticed my sister outside the nightclub with a broken heel.

Minutes later she jumped into a taxi with a person I did not know too well. I was staying at her flat that night so it was imperative that I find her. I also wanted to make sure she was safe, that she wasn’t attacked.

Back in the nightclub I grabbed my things and started to worry until I saw a man, Tony, who I didn’t know very well but who had always been nice to me in the past.

I knew that he was friends with the person my sister had vanished with so I asked him if he knew where they might be. He casually told me that they were at his flat just up the road and that I should leave with him.

I didn’t doubt him. Maybe I should have. Was I naïve? Probably… You just don’t expect these things to happen. They always happen to someone else.

When we arrived at his flat the lights were out, there was no music, no people. I said to Tony that I needed to find my sister, and at that moment he grabbed me by both arms and dragged me in to a bedroom, throwing me on a mattress on the floor.

He raped me. Twice.

I struggled, screamed and tried my hardest to fight back. The more I struggled the angrier he became – he ended up beating me. There came a point when a neighbour complained about the noise.

He told me not to leave otherwise he would kill me. He closed the bedroom door and I lay there in the foetal position weeping quietly, trying to plan my next move. My escape.

I lay for what seemed like hours but in reality was probably around 30 minutes. I tiptoed out of the room and saw him sleeping on the living room couch, so I darted back, grabbing a bathrobe and bag of clothes by the bedroom door, and ran out in to the snowy December night.

I ran as fast as I could and even when I couldn’t breathe I kept running. I don’t know where I got the strength as my foot had been severely torn open during the assault.

I recall seeing two men smoking outside a B&B and thinking that I was finally saved but I wasn’t – they completely ignored my pleas for help and walked back indoors.

I screamed, “Help me, I’ve been raped, please help me.”

Eventually I collapsed by a graveyard as I couldn’t run any more.

I was running towards my sister’s flat, not towards a police station. I did not want to report my assault. I was drunk, wearing a short skirt; I’d willingly gone with him – who would believe me?

By some bizarre, amazing coincidence a shiny black car parked beside me, two suited men exited the vehicle identifying themselves as CID officers and asked if I was okay.

I was safe.

Four-hundred and sixty days. In that time I have attempted suicide twice, stayed in a psychiatric hospital for three weeks and given evidence against Tony – who I would later discover is really Adrian Ruddock, 38 years old and a convicted drug dealer with a list of prior convictions, one for carrying a firearm.

Luckily the jury believed me despite the fact I wasn’t quite a ‘perfect victim’. He was sentenced to eight years, and three years on license, in May 2011.

What happened to me was horrific. It has badly impacted my life in every aspect – I dropped out of college, I was severely depressed, it destroyed my faith in my ability as a mother and it made me hate myself.

Even now, after all this time, I think about what happened to me every day – I always see and hear him. He lives in my thoughts and plagues my nightmares.

Although I have learned to stop blaming myself, the pain doesn’t go away. I am going to think about my rape for the rest of my life. I have finally accepted this.

However, what I refuse to accept is sitting at home being bitter. I’m not going to accept being ashamed.

I’m not going to accept the low rape conviction rates. I’m not going to accept the fact that 27 per cent of people believe that I was responsible for my rape because I was drunk.

I’m not going to accept the fact that my mental health history from the age of 13 was exposed in court.

I’m not going to accept that one in four women will be raped in their lives. I’m not going to accept rape.

Just after my attacker was sentenced I made a decision that what he did was not going to ruin my life and I decided that if I have to think about what happened to me then I am going to put those thoughts, opinions and ideas to good use.

I was going to turn this negative experience in to positive activism. Who says one person cannot make a difference?

On Wednesday, March 28 at 9pm a documentary called ‘I Never Said Yes’ will air on BBC Three. It forms part of their Criminal Britain season.

It features a number of women, including myself, talking about what we have experienced – not just our ordeal but how the police treated us, how society treated us and how we were treated in court.

The programme also talks to young boys, police officers and lawyers to get to the truth about rape in the UK.

I talk about what I am doing to change a system that lets so many women down.

I am telling my story because I believe the number of women who have been in my position is appallingly under-reported and under prosecuted.

If my words can change the views of one person who may one day be on the jury for an alcohol facilitated rape, then I will have done my job.

If my story can make one survivor no longer believe that she was to blame for what happened to her then it is all worth it.

One of the things I am most proud of that will feature on ‘I Never Said Yes’ are the seminars I have given to police officers.

I have spoken with prospective Sexual Offences Liaison Officers with Grampian Police to tell them my story and share with them my advice.

An amazing part of this is that even some of the older, higher-ranking officers have sat down and listened to me. I have taught them to treat victims with respect, compassion and always, always believe what they say.

I hope to do more of this in the future – the Crown Prosecution have asked me to talk for them, too.

Grampian Police took up one of my suggestions and now provide sexual assault victims with a mobile phone and clean, new clothing as these are things that are stripped from you as evidence and can lay in storage for months, even years.

It’s the little things that can add up to ease the trauma of someone suffering like I did.

During filming I had the pleasure to meet another Scottish survivor called Nicole Campbell (Cosmopolitan’s Survivor of the Year 2011) who set up the charity SAVI (Sexual Assault Victims Initiative) to help young victims of sexual assault.

It was truly inspirational to meet another woman who was not letting what happened to her destroy her life.

Things are not perfect – I still have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and I worry about the day that the man who raped me will be released, but for now I’m trying to help other women who are or will be in my position.

I’m still on my journey towards recovery. I have plans for the future that include speaking in schools about rape and consent.

I don’t want sympathy – I want to make people think, change their attitudes about rape and help those who have fallen victim to this heinous crime.

You can read more about Sarah’s story here.

  1. vicki wharton says:

    Hi Sarah, I too was raped, twice, before I was even 16. Like you, I have used the anger I feel towards a society that would rather silence the victim through blame than deal with the attitudes of men which lead to this crime to fund my activism. Keep on doing what you are doing, by speaking out you are, inch by inch, taking back your life. It won’t be the same life that you had before your attack, that man has killed that person, but from out of the ashes a stronger, wiser phoenix is rising. You are being reborn … take courage from yourself and those around you who have had to tread the same path. We are with in spirit, every step of the way.

  2. Jennifer Edwards says:

    I had the exact same thing happen to me. Different variables but same story. I was out drinking one night with my best friend. We met up with a guy friend of mine and his brother who were going to be our ride home that night. It just happened to be the two brothers drove separately to the bar that night and they both drove single cab trucks (could only fit two people per truck) I knew she wanted to hook up with one brother so I willingly got in the truck with the other brother to give her some “time alone” with him. We were headed to the same place, the brothers apartment. I knew the other brother well (the one my friend wanted to hook up with) and felt fairly safe with my decision to ride back with the brother I didn’t know. I had no intention of hooking up with this guy nor was I attracted to him in any way shape or form. We arrived at the apartment before my friend did so I went inside to get out of the cold and never once thought that my life was about to change forever. My friend never showed up and I ended up raped and beaten. I decided not to chance pressing charges because the brothers father just happen to be a judge and I knew my chances at a conviction were next to none with all the variables stacked against me. To this day, this one event has change my life forever. Who would I have been if this didn’t happen? I think that’s the one question that bothers me the most. I am almost 40 years old now and not a day goes by without me think about that day and though I have set up a system to deal with those moments when this tragedy crosses my mind like immediately turning on my audible or turning music up in the car, it’s still only does but so much to quell those images from my mind and this happened almost 20 years ago. My advice for any woman who has been through this is do not isolate. There are other woman who have the same story only with different variables. Find strength in them and eventually you will find your own strength again.

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