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“There’s lots of headlines about people who have been raped or sexually assaulted. Where are the stories about these people? Where is the message about the impact that it has?”

Liz & Phil Smith’s world as they knew it changed completely from the moment they discovered their daughter Charlotte had been raped.

“It just felt like we’d found ourselves in a wilderness, and that … there was no horizon, it was rocky everywhere, barren, no compass, nobody in sight, no place that you were aiming for. Just completely vulnerable.”

This news was for all of them only the beginning of a long and difficult journey. From health concerns, and a desperate search for support and information, to the quest for justice for what had happened to Charlotte, the Smiths stumbled on through a maze of confusion and disappointment which made an already painful situation very much more difficult.

This is not how it should be for survivors and their families, and in the hope that sharing what had happened to them could lead to change and help others in similar circumstances, Liz and Phil (with Charlotte’s full permission and support) spoke to Rape Crisis Scotland’s Sandy Brindley.

There are many parts to this family’s story, and every one highlights an area in which they were failed. In some cases a small change or simple detail could have made a world of difference.

We hope that ‘Imagine How it Feels’ will help people to understand the impact of sexual violence both on survivors and also on those close to them, so that they are able to respond with empathy, and with sensitive and practical assistance centred on their needs and wishes.

We also hope that through this story survivors and their families will know more about their rights: what they can ask for, and have a right to expect from the agencies and individuals they encounter in the aftermath of sexual violence.

You can listen here to each part of what happened and also find links to sources of support and further information.

* Content warning for descriptions of traumatic events directly and indirectly related to sexual violence and its aftermath.

Sexual health: PharmacyListen
Sexual health: ExaminationListen
Caring for a traumatised daughterListen
Stalking and the decision to reportListen
Reporting to the policeListen
Evidence and communicationListen
Apprehension and complaintListen
Procurator FiscalListen
Impact on familyListen
Risk assessment/ Duty of careListen
Imagine How It FeelsListen