In place of my usual weekly update, I just wanted to take this time to say a few short words of thanks. It was a very difficult decision for me to speak about my rape. I was already planning to speak in the chamber during the debate on violence against women. However, as the date approached I began to consider the possibility of relating my own story in the chamber. My mind was made up when I realised that if I shared my personal experience, it might help others who have been suffering in silence. It was not an easy decision, but I hope that by speaking out I have been able to use my position as an MP to promote change.
The House of Commons often appears on TV to be a place of very stark division. This debate on violence against women was a genuine cross party moment and I was moved by the response from MPs in the chamber to my story. I would also like to thank all of the people who have contacted me on Twitter, Facebook, via email, on the phone, or by dropping into my office. Your messages are hugely appreciated and I will try to respond to as many of you as I can in the next few weeks.
Ultimately this issue is bigger than what happened to me. We need to change attitudes across the UK, to teach both women and men that being a survivor of violence is nothing to be ashamed of. I would encourage anyone reading this who has suffered as I once did, to seek out help. I have listed some numbers below for charities who can offer advice and guidance. Please do not suffer alone, there are others who can help you with your pain and you have nothing to be ashamed of.
Scottish Women's Aid - http://www.scottishwomensaid.org.uk/ 0131 226 6606
Scottish Rape Crisis - http://www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk/ 0141 331 4180
Abused men in Scotland - http://www.abusedmeninscotland.org/ 0808 800 0024