Rachel Rounds finally got justice after 25 years
Many of Jimmy Saville’s victims were laughed at when they accused him, according to a new report last week from the NSPCC. In this week’s issue of Grazia, writer Rachel Rounds explains why historical abuse cases should still go to court… and why it took her a quarter of a century to prosecute the teacher who abused her.
Last year there were 6,000 recorded rapes of children and 10,000 of adults in England and Wales, yet government figures show that only one rape victim in 30 can expect to see their attacker brought to justice.
If today’s juries fail to believe the victims of rape and abuse when forensic science is so advanced and allegations of rape and abuse are supposedly taken seriously; then there is little likelihood that the adult victims of childhood sexual abuse will want to come forward when it is just their word against that of their abuser.
And believe me, I know how hard it is…
I was abused at the age of 13, by Graham Wilcock, a teacher at my school. It began two weeks after my father died of an epileptic attack.
He was supposed to have been a shoulder to cry on because everyone, including parents and the other teachers and pupils at the school, trusted him. None of us had any idea that he was a predatory paedophile.
From the first time he tried to kiss me, I knew what he was doing was wrong but I was so vulnerable after my dad’s death and so desperate for love and affection that I went along with it. He also told me he loved me and I believed him. For the next three years, he abused me at his home, on waste ground near his house and at the seafront near where he lived.
What happened to me cast a long shadow over my life. I had a self-destruct button; hated my own body; developed anorexia and even contemplated suicide.
In 2009 I heard a story about Wilcock from an old school friend and I finally decided to go to the police. They took my complaint seriously but I still had to give graphic video evidence about what had been done to me and listen to it read out aloud in court along with my impact statement. I can still remember my mum’s face and the way she gripped my hand throughout the trial.
Wilcock was sentenced to four years and strange though it may seem I still consider myself very fortunate because I was spared a jury trial as he had already pleaded guilty. Women who have to go through a jury trial know they will have to face all this and have their lives forensically ripped apart by the defence lawyer – knowing that family, friends and the media will hear it all.
Since I first spoke out, over 20 women have got in touch with me to tell me their horrific stories of rape and abuse by brothers, cousins, neighbours and teachers. With one exception none has taken their abuser to court. Because of the appalling hype surrounding the Savile case – I doubt any of them will go to court now. Why would they want their lives ripped apart only to watch their abusers walk free out of court because a jury didn’t believe them?
Read the full article in this week's issue of Grazia, on sale now.
Photo: Neil Haynes