Campaign aims to heighten awareness about how victims respond to rape
Rape survivors have welcomed a new campaign designed to challenge misconceptions about how people react when attacked.
‘I just froze’ is centred on two creative animations, narrated by Scots actor Daniela Nardini.
The online campaign emphasises that freezing is a common, natural response to rape, challenging prevalent beliefs that ‘fight or flight’ are the only valid responses to trauma.
Sandy Brindley, National Coordinator for Rape Crisis Scotland, said many of us think that we know how we or other people would respond to rape, but the truth is there is just no knowing.
“Responses to rape can be so very different to how we would expect or imagine that some people find them hard to believe,” she said.
“Survivors of rape often tell us that they just froze, that they couldn't move, or cry out. This is a normal response to trauma. We hope that the ‘I just froze’ campaign shows exactly why it’s so important that everyone understands this; because one day someone, maybe a friend, partner or family member, might tell you that they have been raped. Or one day you might be on a jury listening to someone say that they thought they thought they’d fight back, but they just froze.”
Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, added: “What’s really important about the I just froze campaign is that we are trying to change public perceptions and understanding of the full impact that a heinous crime like rape can have on the victim.
“When I’ve spoken with victims of these types of crime it is clear that each will react and respond in a different way and this is such a crucial campaign to educate us all about how survivors of rape can be better understood and supported to come forward, report their attack and get access to the help they deserve.”
James Wolffe, QC, Lord Advocate, said that it was the duty of prosecutors to challenge myths around rape.
"Justice can only be served when victims of crime have the confidence to come forward and to speak up,” he said.
“I want anyone who has been the victim of rape, or indeed of any sexual offence, to know that prosecutors understand the wide variety of natural responses of victims to such offences.
“No one who has been the victim of such a crime should be deterred from reporting it.”
One survivor who is working with Rape Crisis Scotland says it took her almost a year before she was able to say out loud that she had been repeatedly raped and sexually abused by a boyfriend.
“I was so ashamed, and also I felt because I hadn’t fought back that I was somehow to blame, that I somehow had asked for or deserved it. And that took a really long time to come to terms with.
“I’m a neuroscientist now, and I’ve done a lot of reading around the freeze response, and the body’s natural instincts to protect you.
"And it wasn’t until I understood that my body was protecting me – and that in fighting back something so much worse might have happened that makes me shudder now – that I was able to come to terms with it. I had to come to terms with the fact that my body was right to protect me."