MP tells Commons of rape ordeal

Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Picture: Lisa Ferguson

South Queensferry MP Michelle Thomson moved colleagues to tears in the House of Commons as she revealed she was raped at the age of 14.

The former SNP MP told the Commons: “I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor.”

Independent Ms Thomson, who represents Edinburgh West, shared her personal story during a Commons debate focused on UN International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women.

She was comforted by former nationalist colleagues at the end of her speech, with Speaker John Bercow visibly moved.

Ms Thomson told the debate: “When I was 14 I was raped. As is common, it was by somebody who was known to me.

“He had offered to walk me home from a youth event and in those days everybody walked everywhere, it was quite common to do that.

“It was early evening, it wasn’t dark. I was wearing – I’m imagining, I’m guessing - jeans and a sweatshirt.”

Ms Thomson said she knew the area but they went a slightly different way, noting: “I didn’t think anything of it.

“He told me he wanted to show me something in a wooded area and at that point, I must admit, I was alarmed. I did have a warning bell - but I overrode that warning bell because I knew him and therefore there was a level of trust in place.

“To be honest, looking back, at that point I don’t think I knew what rape was. It was not something that was talked about.”

Ms Thomson added: “It was mercifully quick and I remember first of all feeling surprise, then fear, then horror as I realised I quite simply couldn’t escape - because he was stronger than me, and there was no sense even initially of any sexual desire from him, which I suppose, looking back, again I find odd.”

Ms Thomson said her senses were “absolutely numbed”, telling MPs: “Thinking about it now, 37 years later, I cannot remember hearing anything when I replay it in my mind.

“Now, as somebody who is an ex-professional musician who is very, very auditory, I find that quite telling.”

She said that afterwards she walked home alone crying, cold and shivering as she was in shock.

Ms Thomson said: “I didn’t tell my mother, I didn’t tell my father, I didn’t tell my friends and I didn’t tell the police. I bottled it all up inside me.

“I hoped, briefly and appallingly, that I might be pregnant so that would force a situation to help me control it.”

Ms Thomson said she felt “ashamed” that she had “allowed this to happen to me”, debating internally what had happened.

She added: “I felt I was spoiled and impure and really felt revulsion towards myself. I, of course, then detached from the child up to then I had been.

“Although, in reality, at the age of 14 it was probably the start of my sexual awakening, at that time, remembering back, sex was something that men did to women and perhaps this incident reinforced that early belief.”