Lucy Spraggan: coming forward about rape on your own terms
Musician Lucy Spraggan has told the Guardian that she was raped during the production of the X-Factor in 2012. Spraggan discusses the rape and its impact on her life in her new book, Process: Finding My Way Through.
Spraggan, then 20 years old, was raped by a porter at the hotel where she and fellow contestant Rylan Clark had been staying during the competition. Spraggan subsequently withdrew from the competition, and the porter was later convicted of rape and given a ten-year prison sentence.
Victims of sexual offences in England and Wales are entitled to lifetime anonymity in criminal proceedings against the perpetrators of those offences, and so Spraggan’s name was not published at the time. Despite this she describes members of the press offering family members money to talk to them about the story, and a journalist attempting to secretly record her discussing the rape. It is good to see that Spraggan has been able to come forward in her own time and on her own terms, despite the appalling pressure she experienced from the media.
While these awful experiences are very specific, in other ways the impact of the rape on Spraggan’s life is one many survivors of rape and sexual assault will find familiar. Spraggan talks about the shame she felt, her PTSD diagnosis, and the way she began to drink heavily to cope with the trauma of what had happened. She also talks about the lack of support she received after the criminal trial had concluded, something we know from our own clients is a common issue experienced by victims within the criminal justice system.
When stories like this come out, some survivors can feel that they are less brave or strong somehow for choosing not to talk publicly about their experiences, or because they have not disclosed to anybody what happened. This is not true. While some of our clients have talked about their experiences publicly, others feel more comfortable only discussing them with us, the police, or with close family members. These are all perfectly legitimate ways to handle things, and what matters is what is right for you and your wellbeing going forward.
Many survivors who contact us about making a civil claim are nervous about doing so because they worry that this means they will have to tell other people in their lives about what happened, or that it will become public record if it goes to court. Anything you say to us is confidential, and if your case moves forward with us, we will always explain all your options when it comes to disclosing what has happened. It is also important to understand that in the civil courts just as in the criminal court victims of sexual offences have a right to request anonymity, which is something we do on behalf of the majority of our clients.
If you have experienced rape or sexual assault, please feel free to get in touch with our team of expert abuse solicitors today. We assist clients on a no-win no-fee basis, and have recently launched a therapy fund for our clients, to ensure that those who would benefit from mental health support do not need to wait until the end of their case to receive it.