‘Say The Word’ Tackles Stigma Around Rape and Gives Survivors a Voice

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

There are various words that hold negative connotations, rightly so, but often these words are the ones that are the hardest to say. They are hard because they hold a stigma. Kate Hames is one inspirational woman working to tear down that stigma with her own lived experience. At the ages of 16 and 26, Kate was raped. It was only after sharing her experience through her blog platform that others reached out with similar experiences and messages of relatability. Astonishingly, Kate took this as motivation to publish a collaborative book of survivors stories, titled ‘Say The Word’.

Kate has shown sexual assault survivors that they are not alone and has encouraged normalised use of word ‘rape’ to vocalise this

Sharing My Story

Kate discusses how the collaborative book was created, commenting, “‘Say The Word’ started from when I shared a post on my blog called ‘Why do we find it so difficult to say the word ‘rape’.’ I had been wanting to share my story for years but was reluctant to do so out of fear of my abuser making contact”

Kate also felt hesitant about sharing her story at the time as she didn’t want her grandmother to read about it. She elaborates, “My Nana sadly passed away in 2016, it was probably about a year or so later, maybe 2, that I felt ready to share it. I had only ever told a handful of people, most of which were therapists, so to tell the world was a scary thought.

I was raped not once but twice, on two separate occasions, 10 years apart by men who were known to me, they were in my life and one of which I trusted. We were friends. I felt ashamed about the ordeal for many years after, I have suffered anxiety, PTSD and depression. I still have to deal with these on occasion but I use my trauma to help others now and this aids in my therapy.”

Mental Battles and The Aftermath

Although Kate has turned a terrible event on its’ head and used it as a foundation to build upon and help others, she has faced a long, challenging time to get to where she is today. She recalls this time, elaborating, “After the first time I didn’t tell a soul for 2 years. I didn’t cope well at all. I had severe depression but nobody knew why. I was only 16 so I was seen to be a lazy teenager etc and so on! It robbed me of my confidence and my opportunities to pursue dreams of moving to America, becoming an actor. My depression crippled me.”

10 years later, after overcoming a lot of the mental health issues that resulted from the traumatic experience, Kate was raped again. Describing herself as better prepared the second time, the pain was still hidden from those around her. Kate reflects, “Eventually I went to see a therapist in 2015. I worked through it all. Got my thoughts processed correctly and started to sort out what was going on in my head. I started self development and I slowly started building my dream life”.

An Inspirational Turnaround

Years later, Kate made the decision to share her story through a blog post on her website. Little did she know the immensely positive impact sharing her story would have. She received an abundance of supportive messages with survivors coming forward commenting on how brave she was and how they wished to someday share their story.

Kate’s book, Say The Word, is available to buy on Amazon.

Kate describes feeling strongly about giving these people an outlet to share their story. She reflects, “I decided to put a book together, give survivors the chance to share – anonymously if they wished. I was worried about what people would say. Luckily all messages and comments I have received have been positive. I did, unfortunately, have someone who kept reporting my posts to Facebook whenever I shared my blog post or spoke about rape. I kept appealing to Facebook and eventually the reports stopped.”

The Work Never Stops

Looking to the future, Kate is currently taking submissions for another book as many have sent messages of regret that they hadn’t contributed to the first book.

Highlighted in data reported by Rape Crisis, approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men experience rape, attempted rape or sexual assault in England and Wales every year. Kate’s work will reassure victims that they are not alone, raise awareness and provide those who have been silenced with a voice.

Kate states, “I will carry on giving people a platform to share for as long as I possible can! The first book was published in May 2020 and now we’re in the middle of producing ‘Say the Word’ as a play! I’d always envisioned that it would go on stage, it was something I had thought of before I even published the book. So now I’m sharing and promoting this amazing collaboration as far and wide as possible! To let people know it’s never their fault, they’re never to blame and they can make it through this.”

For anyone who may have experienced sexual assault, Kate advises that they talk to a trustworthy person and seek professional help as soon as possible. She comments, “Remind yourself, every day, that this is NOT your fault. You are not to blame and you can recover from this. You’ll most certainly not be the person you were before, but you can work through this. You’ll be stronger and more resilient.”

Signposting

Lifecentre

0808 802 0808 (freephone)
07717 989 022 (textline)
lifecentre.uk.com
Support for survivors of sexual abuse and anyone supporting them, including a helpline, text support and email counselling.

One in Four

0800 170 0314
oneinfour.org.uk
Offers advocacy and counselling services and information for people who have experienced sexual abuse.

The Survivors Trust

08088 010 818thesurvivorstrust.org
Lists local specialist services for survivors of sexual violence, including advocates and Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs).

In the case of an emergency please call 999 or 101.

Do you have an inspirational story to share? Get in touch.

Posted by

Writer, blogger for Bath Mind, and BA Hons Journalism and Publishing student at Bath Spa University.

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