"I just froze": This campaign aims to show that not all rape victims fight back

Lauren Sharkey
The ‘I Just Froze’ campaign aims to teach jurors that freezing is a natural response to rape [Photo: Rape Crisis Scotland]

A new campaign is to be launched in Scotland which will help challenge the myths surrounding rape.

Many people believe that a ‘fight or flight’ response is the only legitimate way to stop rape. But the I Just Froze campaign aims to teach the public that there is no correct way of dealing with sexual assault and that a large majority of victims freeze instead of fighting back.

Fight or Freeze #IJUSTFROZE from Rape Crisis Scotland on Vimeo.

Next month, judges in Scotland will begin to inform the jury that there can be “good reason” why a victim did not give physical resistance or why they may have taken considerable time to report a violent crime.

“I’d been brought up to fight back if anything like that ever happened. But I didn’t fight. I froze,” one rape victim told the BBC. “Fear takes over. Sometimes it’s the safest option. And there’s no shame in it. It’s important for other victims to know.”

Rape Crisis Scotland’s national coordinator, Sandy Brindley agrees: “We need people to know that freezing is a normal reaction. Responses to rape can be so very different to how we would expect or imagine that some people find them hard to believe.”

As of next month, jurors will be told that many victims do not fight back [Photo: Rape Crisis Scotland]

This concerted effort to stop victim blaming has been supported by a number of high-profile court officials in the country such as Justice Secretary Michael Matheson.

“This is such 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,” he stated. “We are trying to change public perceptions and understanding of the full impact that a heinous crime like rape can have on the victim.”

Statistics show that around 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped each year in England and Wales alone with only 15% of those reporting the crime to the police. Hopefully, this new initiative will help potential jurors understand the mindset of a rape victim and spark similar launches in the rest of the UK.

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