A young woman who recorded herself being “raped” by her former boyfriend has slammed the court system after he was acquitted of the alleged attack.
And the 24-year-old says she is now living in fear of reprisals from the man, who is likely to be released from prison soon after serving a sentence for less serious offences.
The victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had been in a violent and abusive relationship with the man for about four years before he allegedly raped her.
She had suffered violence at his hands in the past, but says this was the first time he had sexually abused her.
“It wasn’t bad all the time but when he was in that mood it was dreadful,” the woman said.
“I suffered a fractured rib following one violent attack when he kicked me very hard in the side after he repeatedly punched me and dragged me from one room to another by my hair.”
One day the man came home drunk at 5am and demanded sex.
When she refused he became abusive and she claims he initiated sex anyway – but during the attack she was able to turn her phone on to record what was happening.
During the harrowing 16-minute recording, which the Tele has heard, the woman can be heard crying, screaming with pain, telling the man he is hurting her and begging him to stop.
Several times during the recording she is clearly heard telling him “no” and to “let up” and to leave her alone.
The woman said: “You can hear me screaming, crying and telling him I feel sick – to which he replies ‘good’. I’m telling him he’s hurting me, that I was scared, telling him to stop it and being told to shut up.
“It’s a 16-minute recording that leaves nothing to the imagination. I was incredibly fortunate to get that evidence given the circumstances.
“Near the end of the recording you can hear him blaming me for what had happened.
“When I first handed the evidence over to the police, an officer said it was the most horrific thing in terms of evidence he’d ever heard in his seven years as a detective.”
But despite the recording being played in court, the man was acquitted with a not proven verdict on the rape and assault to serious injury charges.
The woman said the man’s solicitors tried to paint her as someone unlikely to be raped due to her otherwise successful background.
“His defence was this was role-play sex. It was not. I’ve never had sex like this and would never want to,” she said.
“The defence said I ‘lacked emotion’ when giving evidence, despite crying three times.
“The defence also used the fact I have a degree, a good job, I’m a homeowner and drive a car as an argument concluding that I couldn’t be a victim of rape and other violent abuse I suffered by him.
“How the jury came to that conclusion is something I will never understand.
“Is the court system to blame? There are some things that went on during the trial and in the run-up to it that I was not happy about.
“What message is this sending out to other victims of rape, or a victim or witness of any crime, when recorded evidence isn’t enough for a conviction?
“There needs to be awareness of how the justice system fails us so badly.
“There needs to be change somewhere. I hope my story can help spark or strengthen some kind of movement for change.
“I have decided to share this recording with the Tele and to talk about what happened to me in a bid to highlight what women like me come up against when they come forward with allegations of rape.”
The man is currently in custody awaiting sentence for a number of other offences – but the woman expects him to be released soon given the time he has already served.
She said she now fears for her life in case the man seeks revenge for her taking him to court – or that he might take it out on another future partner.
“I am genuinely terrified that he will kill me,” she said.
“Nothing held him back from getting to me before and now he’ll be angry at me for speaking up and managing to gather the evidence against him.
“He now knows what he can get away with – what will stop him going even further next time if there are no consequences to be faced even with overwhelming evidence?
“He could also do this again to someone else.”
‘Insurmountable wall’ between rape victims and access to justice
One of Dundee’s leading sexual abuse charities said today it had “serious concerns” about the ability of the current system to deliver justice to victims of rape.
Helen Hampton, acting manager of Dundee and Angus Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, said: “The private nature of most sexual violence means that many survivors face so many challenges in their case even being taken to court, let alone securing a conviction.
“Securing evidence with corroboration for a deeply traumatising act mostly committed behind closed doors with virtually no chance of witnesses is indescribably challenging, putting an often insurmountable wall up between survivors and access to justice.”
Ms Hampton said many women the charity spoke to felt let down by the justice system.
She added: “It’s a shocking truth that in Scotland today some survivors have reported that the justice process was worse than the rape itself.
“We have serious concerns about the ability of the current system to deliver justice, especially given the apparent reluctance of juries to convict, even in cases where there is significant evidence.
“There are serious questions too about the not proven verdict – a widely misunderstood third verdict in Scotland disproportionately used in rape cases – and whether it plays a role in guilty men walking free.
“It is well worth all of us reflecting on what message it sends to survivors thinking about reporting rape – knowing full well that securing sufficient evidence is a challenge – that a literal audio recording did not carry the weight necessary to secure a conviction.”