Amirah had been reluctant to tell her family about her experience at a party

Amirah’s mother called the SERICC Rape Crisis helpline to ask for advice regarding her 17 year old daughter who had disclosed the week previously that she had been raped by a college friend. Because she had attended the party against her family’s wishes, Amirah had been reluctant to tell what she had been through.  Amirah’s mother expressed her concern for the impact on the family’s honour. She described shame, anger and blaming her daughter and the way she was dressed for the rape.  The mother informed us

The counselling service also received a telephone call from Amirah’s sister Anita, requesting an opportunity to talk about how she could support her sister. An appointment was given for Anita and Amirah to attend together for a family session in which all the myths and facts around rape were addressed.

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that her sisters had told her to lock Amirah in her bedroom and beat her. These issues were addressed in a face to face counselling session for the mother, making it clear that the perpetrator was to blame for the rape, not Amirah.

The counselling service offered Amirah and her mother an appointment to come in to speak with a counsellor.  It was apparent from the outset that mother and daughter would have to be seen separately by two counsellors.  This was arranged during the initial session.

In her individual counselling. Amirah reassured the counsellor that she had not been locked in her bedroom and was being allowed out. She was given an informed choice session at which she stated that she did not wish to report the rape to the police as this would bring shame onto the family.  This situation was addressed during the counselling session ensuring that Amirah knew that she was not to blame for the rape.  She was also advised about sexual health issues and possible pregnancy. 

An appointment for the Sexual Health Clinic was made. Amirah was assisted with transport to attend the appointment and the counsellor was present during the testing.

What is sexual abuse?

Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual act or activity. There are many different kinds of sexual violence, including but not restricted to: rape, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, rape within marriage / relationships, forced marriage, so-called honour-based violence, female genital mutilation, trafficking, sexual exploitation, and ritual abuse.

Sexual violence can be perpetrated by a complete stranger, or by someone known and even trusted, such as a friend, colleague, family member, partner or ex-partner. Sexual violence can happen to anyone. No-one ever deserves or asks for it to happen.