Watch Michelle Thomson's rape survivor story move MPs to tears

Edinburgh West MP, Michelle Thomson spoke of her ordeal in the House of Commons. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Edinburgh West MP, Michelle Thomson spoke of her ordeal in the House of Commons. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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The former SNP MP moved colleagues to tears after revealing she was raped at 14, telling the Commons: “I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor.”

Independent Michelle 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.”

When I was 14 I was raped. As is common, it was by somebody who was known to me.

Michelle Thomson MP

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.

Her decision to share her story publicly was hailed as “brave and important” by Rape Crisis Scotland.

National co-ordinator Sandy Brindley said: “Many women who have been raped find it very hard to tell anyone about what has happened.

“It is not uncommon for women to contact rape crisis many years after a rape and tell us this is the first time they have ever spoken about it.

“Someone speaking so publicly about rape can send a strong message to other rape survivors - that the shame is not theirs, and it is okay to talk about it and to seek support.

“There is support out there for anyone who does want to talk about what happened, however long ago it took place.

“The Rape Crisis Scotland national helpline is open every night from 6pm till midnight - the number to call is 08088 01 03 02.”