Tuesday 7 March saw the launch of Rape Crisis Scotland’s (RCS) new campaign ‘I Just Froze’, which aims to challenge common misconceptions within discourse around the way that rape survivors react to the abuse that they suffer.
The campaign takes the structure of a range of videos and other online content which attempts to confront the issue of victims of sexual abuse hesitating to report their attackers.
RCS believe that the expectation that victims of sexual abuse must “fight back” is a barrier against victims receiving appropriate support and justice.
With the support of Police Scotland, the Scottish Government, and the Lord Advocate, ‘I Just Froze’ is the latest of RCS’s successful campaigns and the first to tackle jury misconceptions head-on. Only half of the survivors that come to RCS report their assaults to the police.
By working alongside these institutions, the campaign seeks to break down the physical and psychological barriers that prevent survivors from reporting.
RCS is a charitable organisation devoted to campaigning to raise awareness of sexual violence, and offering support for those affected. For over 30 years, the charity has been influential on a local and national level in the campaign against sexual violence, attempting to affect change to both attitudes and the law.
In an interview with STV, Sandy Brindley from Rape Crisis Scotland said: “We want to reach as many people as possible, because what we know is that these attitudes are held across all spectrums of society and all age groups.”
According to RCS, freezing is the most common reaction during a rape, more common than both the fight and flight responses to trauma. The videos that form RCS’s campaign are hard-hitting and highlight the issues that arise from the attitude that a victim must fight.
Scotland’s Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, told The Evening Times that: “When I’ve spoken with victims of these types of crime it is clear that each will react and respond in a different way. This is 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.”
Speaking directly to the viewer, the videos highlight why it is important to alter these attitudes. The campaign indicates that it may not only be oneself, family or friends that could be a victim of sexual assault.
It also cautions that when people find themselves on a jury in a rape trial, they may well hear the words ‘I just froze’.
Changing the misconceptions surrounding the way victims are unfairly expected to act changes the likelihood that the sexual assault will be reported, and that the jury will rule in favour of the victim.
The campaign has had a great deal of online support, including from Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Sturgeon tweeted: “This is so important. Please share as widely as you can. #ijustfroze.”
image: Rape Crisis Scotland