CAMPAIGNERs hope a new, hard-hitting online advertising push will help change public perceptions about survivors of rape.

Rape Crisis Scotland and the Scottish Government say victims of violent sexual abuse are too often made to feel guilty or to blame for the attack against them if they did not fight back.

This, they say, can stop people who have been raped from coming forward to police.

Sandy Brindley, national coordinator for Rape Crisis Scotland, will launch the campaign today along with Justice Secretary Michael Matheson and Police Scotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley. She said that too often people were being judged for an entirely normal response.

“Survivors of rape often tell us that they just froze, that they couldn’t move, or cry out,” she said. “This is a normal response to trauma. We hope that the 'I just froze' campaign shows exactly why it’s so important that everyone understands this; because one day someone – maybe a friend, partner or family member – might tell you that they have been raped. Or one day you might be on a jury listening to someone say that they thought they thought they’d fight back, but they just froze.”

The Lord Advocate, James Wolffe, QC, said: “There are myths about sexual offences, and it is our duty as prosecutors to challenge them. Justice can only be served when victims of crime have the confidence to come forward and to speak up. I want anyone who has been the victim of rape, or indeed of any sexual offence, to know that prosecutors understand the wide variety of natural responses of victims to such offences.”

One survivor who is working with Rape Crisis Scotland says it took her almost a year before she was able to say out loud that she had been repeatedly raped and sexually abused by a boyfriend.

“I was so ashamed, and also I felt because I hadn’t fought back that I was somehow to blame, that I somehow had asked for or deserved it. And that took a really long time to come to terms with.

“I’m a neuroscientist now, and I’ve done a lot of reading around the freeze response, and the body’s natural instincts to protect you. And it wasn’t until I understood that my body was protecting me – and that in fighting back something so much worse might have happened that makes me shudder now – that I was able to come to terms with it. I had to come to terms with the fact that my body was right to protect me. “ She added: “I’ve seen it a million times on programmes, in films, in real life, in news articles, where the victim is blamed, and I think I blamed myself, and I know that other women I know who have been through something similar have also blamed themselves, and we’re so busy blaming ourselves that we don’t want to come forward and be blamed by society as well”.