'No-one believed me' - sexual abuse survivor tells her story
PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 May 2019
Six in every seven rape cases in the area are closed by police because of a lack of evidence, and one sexual abuse victim speaks out about why she did not report it straight away.
In 2018, only 60 of 1,502 rape cases in Avon and Somerset ended with a suspect being charged.
Home Office statistics revealed the most common reason for rape investigations being closed is due to evidential difficulties.
Thirty five per cent of cases when a suspect had been identified, fell apart because the victim did not support police action or withdrew support from it.
Carie Towler was six years old when she was touched inappropriately by a man who also exposed himself in front of her.
She said: "I didn't report it for a long time. You run through the scenario in your head for a long time and when I did step forward, I was made to feel like I was the one who had done something wrong. No-one believed me."
Carie, aged 49, tracked down her abuser more than 30 years after the events and confronted him but said she was 'going in blind without any support'.
She added: "What makes me angry is women are encouraged to report sexual abuse but then are made to feel like they are in the wrong."
The statistics revealed 33 per cent of cases when the suspect was identified and the police had the victim's support ended because of a lack of evidence.
Recently, consent forms asking rape victims for permission to access their messages, emails, photographs and social media have been rolled out across England.
Carie said: "It is hard enough for people to speak up about it. But now when they report it they have to hand over their phones.
"This is another kick in the teeth for survivors to have them taken off them and rooted through."
The new rule, which was introduce this month, meant victims who did not hand in their phones risked cases against their attackers not going ahead.
She said: "I slipped through every crack there was and I never got any justice."
An Avon and Somerset police spokesman said: "There's been an increase in the number of offences of rape and sexual assault reported to us, which is extremely positive as it shows people have increased trust and confidence in our response to these crimes.
"Our response to rape and sexual assault is victim-focused and providing the right outcome for each individual affected by this abhorrent crime.
"In some cases, a prosecution and appearance in court is not what a victim wants or is best for them."