Woman shares traumatic story of police dismissing gang rape as 'boyfriend row'

17 February 2022, 13:36

By Amelia Isaacs

Sensitive content warning: Sexual violence/rape

This brave woman shared her traumatic story of police dismissing her gang rape as a "row with her boyfriend".

This caller shared her story with James O'Brien of a police officer repeatedly dismissing her as hysterical, calling her gang rape "a row with her boyfriend".

The woman, Sue, said she was on a night out with friends when she left to sober up at a chip shop opposite the club.

She was then spiked and taken down a back route without CCTV and raped by a gang in the city.

To get away, she convinced one of the gang members she would take him home with her if they got in a taxi, after which she says she "freaked out" because she felt safe.

The driver got the man out of the taxi, who returned with a male police officer.

Sue said: "I was hysterical because I was just so desperate to get away.

"I was like 'I just want to go home, please let me go home.' I just wanted to go home.

"He said, 'So what you’re saying is you’ve had a row with your boyfriend and you don’t want to press charges.'

"And I said, 'No that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is these men have done something terrible but I can’t do anything because I need to go home.

"So he just said, 'Yeah yeah you’ve had a row with your boyfriend and you’re not pressing charges.'

"And he gave his card to the taxi driver and the taxi driver drove me home."

When she got home, her husband called the police officer, who said the same thing to him.

Her husband then thought she was cheating on him.

Sue said her friends then arrived at her house and when she saw her sister she broke down.

Her sister then called a different police force, and two female officers that were "absolutely fantastic" came to the house.

She said: "They said that it was very, very common and they hear it a lot that this other police force just dismiss women as hysterical and just don’t do anything and just want them out of the city so they don’t have to deal with them.

She continued: "This is a gang that is in operation. They do it as sort of sport, perhaps.

"The police know. They know about it.

"Because they told me they know about them.

"If that one police officer had dealt with me differently at the time, perhaps they would’ve been caught, perhaps other women wouldn’t have to go through this.

"If he’d been honest, perhaps I’d still be married."

James O'Brien said: "I’m astounded by your courage in making this call and telling this story and the power that you wield in making other people sit up and realise what is real and what does happen."

She replied: "My story’s not unique. That’s the scariest thing. It is not unique.

"It is so much more common than you think.

"Among various support groups I’ve found on Facebook the stories are so similar and the experiences with the police are so similar.

"I’m assuming they think ‘They won’t remember, they’re too out of it, it’s too much work.'

"I don’t know."

She was told by the police that even if she went through the process of trying to identify the gang who raped her, they would be a 5% chance of conviction.

She decided not to, in part because it also meant she would be withheld therapy until she had been to court.

Four years later she has had an interim diagnosis for PTSD, but thinks she's still 18 months away from getting trauma therapy.

Her husband took her decision not to go to court as an admission of guilt.

She finished with saying: "Never, ever, ever let your friend leave the group.

"No matter how fine they are. Safety in numbers."

If you are affected by any of the above and need emotional support, the contact the Samaritans helpline 24 hours a day on 116 223, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch or visit samaritans.org.