Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Remembering Jill Saward

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-09-53-59Last week, activist and campaigner Jill Saward died. Saward, who was raped by multiple perpetrators in 1986, was the first British woman to waive anonymity in order to campaign for better support and treatment of victims of sexualised violence, media accountability, and better training for juries. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this time.

Below are a number of the tributes to Jill in the media:

Thank you, Jill Saward, for all you did  by @zoe_beaty

... We will remember Jill Saward as the woman who changed the course of history through sheer force of indefatigable strength and tenacity, who elevated thousands of victims to become survivors. We won’t remember Jill Saward as a rape victim. We will remember her as a leader and a heroic, impenetrable hurricane of hope. Not just as someone to be inspired by, but to emulate. Now is the time to uphold her legacy and propel it forward. And, especially today, to thank her.

Remembering Jill Saward by @UnderstandingSV

 ... Jill had so many qualities which shone through her campaign and advocacy work; these are widely recognised and have been reported extensively in the media.  In getting to know her, I truly experienced first-hand her kindness, compassion, generosity and sensitivity.  Jill was not only generous with her time for others but she gave me so many lovely gifts in the three years that I really knew her, most recently a Christmas-themed colouring in book for Christmas. ...

Remembering Jill Saward by Linda Riley

... Her work and impact was, and remains, so wide-ranging that it is almost impossible to single out one particular initiative or campaign, but we can all be grateful for her co-founding Juries, a group which campaigns for juries in cases of sexual assault to be briefed about myths and stereotypes which often hinder justice in the prosecution of sex crimes. ...

Remembering Jill Saward by Dr. Kate Cook

...Jill was brave, steadfast, a warrior for rape survivors and a heroine to many. She was also warm, kind, loving and really good fun. Reading this, you will know by now that I am one of the many who is missing her badly. ...

The great legacy British sexual assault activist Jill Saward leaves behind  via @DailyLifeAU

... The rape happened only 40 years ago. It's difficult to believe now, but at the time accused rapists were still allowed to represent themselves and cross-examine their victims in court. The press could (and did) publish identifiable photos of Jill before her rapists were charged, and there was no right of appeal against lenient sentences. Jill was the first rape victim in Britain to waive her right to anonymity, which she did so she could campaign for changing these grossly unfair laws. In only a few short years all of them were overturned, due in large part to Jill's advocacy. In the decades afterwards, she wrote a book about her experience, was an indefatigable advocate for reform of rape laws, and became a counsellor for other victims and their families. ...

Dani Garavelli: Jill Saward’s courage changed face of justice 

 ... Last week, Saward died of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 51. She would have liked, she once said, to have become something other than “the Ealing Vicarage Rape Victim”, but understood it would never happen. The first woman to waive her right to anonymity, she traded it for the opportunity to transform attitudes, and her legacy was a legal system which – while far from perfect – is much-improved. She also confronted her own unjustified feelings of shame head-on in the hopes future victims would be spared her burden. Saward taught us about the human capacity for forgiveness. She refused to harbour feelings of hatred or revenge towards her attackers, telling one interviewer that “you’re the one that gets damaged in the end”. Later – at his request – she met Robert Horscroft, the only one of the three defendants who did not rape her, and accepted his apology. “It’s not a question of whether you can or can’t forgive. It’s a question of whether you will or won’t,” she said. ...

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