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Campaigners praise Michelle Thomson’s rape speech bravery

Campaigners have praised an MP for her bravery after she revealed in the House of Commons that she was raped at the age of 14.

Independent Michelle Thomson moved MPs to tears as she told them “I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor” during a debate on the UN’s International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women.

The MP for Edinburgh West told the Commons she had known her attacker and afterwards had “bottled it all up inside”.

Ms Thomson related how the rape had “fatally undermined” her self-esteem, confidence and sense of self-worth, and said she had not sought help until her mid-40s.

During the same debate, Labour MP Tracy Brabin recounted how a man attempted to rape her when she was at university aged 20.

Ms Thomson’s decision to share her story publicly was hailed as “brave and important” by Rape Crisis Scotland.

National co-ordinator Sandy Brindley said: “Many women who have been raped find it very hard to tell anyone about what has happened.

“It is not uncommon for women to contact rape crisis many years after a rape and tell us this is the first time they have ever spoken about it.

“Someone speaking so publicly about rape can send a strong message to other rape survivors – that the shame is not theirs, and it is okay to talk about it and to seek support.

“There is support out there for anyone who does want to talk about what happened, however long ago it took place.

“The Rape Crisis Scotland national helpline is open every night from 6pm till midnight – the number to call is 08088 01 03 02.”

Sarah Green, co-director of the End Violence Against Women coalition, said: “Michelle Thomson is to be commended for speaking out clearly about her rape as a 14-year-old girl.

“Sadly, rape is an extremely common offence and thousands of women could tell a similar story to Michelle.

“They would also talk about the way they froze rather than fighting back, and they would also talk about not telling others close to them for wanting to protect those people.

“Michelle talked about finally getting some help to talk about what happened many years later when she was in her 40s.

“While many survivors of rape choose not to report to the police, and not to tell friends and family, specialist counselling services like Rape Crisis can make a real difference to their wellbeing.

“We need politicians, everyone working on the frontline of our public services and journalists to understand what Michelle’s story tells us about how those who are raped often question themselves and about how they protect others by not disclosing.”

Former SNP colleagues of Ms Thomson, who resigned the party whip amid an investigation into property transactions, also praised her bravery.

On Twitter, SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP hailed her “hugely brave and moving testimony” while Tasmina Sheikh MP said: “My friend and colleague Michelle Thomson’s bravery and courage knows no bounds.

“A powerful and deeply moving speech.”

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