The look

I’ve seen it a few times now. That look I get when I tell people that I want to work with victims of sexual violence. It’s a sort of quizzical grimace, and it’s hard to hide no matter how fleeting. To some extent I understand it. After all, why on earth would I want to leave behind a well paid job sector, for one that despite being necessary, isn’t? Why would I put myself through the agony of helping others at what will quite probably be the lowest time in their lives? Why would I want to remind myself that evil things happen, to women, children and men, and that they happen on our doorsteps?

Because I  no longer have a choice. For years, I secretly harboured this desire to help those who’ve been subjected to sexual violence in all its guises. When I met my husband, I told him, but kept it quiet from friends and family. That passion however, has now become so strong that I have to give in to it, and I no longer keep quiet about my aspirations. Training as an ISVA (Independent Sexual Violence Adviser), has stoked the fire, and whilst I’ve no idea where this journey will end, I know that I’m so determined, that I will find work in the field, and work that’s right for the skills and qualities that I have to offer. It’s unlikely to be well paid; I will have to deal with other people’s sorrow, anger and pain; and I will time and again realise that I’m not as worldly wise as I thought I was; but I will be making a difference. And for me, that’s what it boils down to. I’ve never been materialistic, I don’t hanker after designer goods, and I have a pathological fear of luxury hotels. I just want to help, even if it’s one person.


  1. I’m passing along information for a work being produced on rape and sexual violence by Merril Smith: “As a historian, I know that people have always done evil and “the good old days” have never existed. The Internet and social media makes us more aware of the terrors that exist, as well as offer evil-doers a way to advertise.
    I’ve seen the Vagina Monologues a few times in both professional and college productions. Both of my daughters were also involved in their college productions. It is a tradition at many US colleges/Universities to perform the Vagina Monologues on or around Valentine’s Day. I also believe that “art has the power to transform people. . .” One of my daughters calls herself an “artivist.”
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences, and good luck with your reading!

    I’m working on two reference books on rape and sexual violence:

    Perhaps you are interested in contributing. All best wishes, Jadi

    1. Thanks so much for this Jadi – I’m definitely interested in contributing! The Vagina Monologues is fantastic isn’t it? I try to see it every time it comes to town. You’re so right about the so called ‘good old days’. I have a history degree and it both fascinates and alarms me that some people think that sexual violence is a new thing. Like you say, the internet has also made it possible for perpetrators to commit offences that much more easily, especially against children, and too often to escape prosecution.

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