Victims of sex attacks tell their stories

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 November, 2007, 12:00am

10 women recall their ordeals in a pioneering book for Hong Kong

The first book written by rape and sexual assault victims in Hong Kong will be launched tomorrow with the help of a crisis centre that has recorded an increasing number of rape victims seeking help.

10 Stories of Blossom After Rain, written in Chinese, describes the stories of 10 women who have been raped or sexually assaulted.

The book depicts the plight of the victims, their bravery in facing the courts and overcoming their nightmares.

It also records the distrust and suspicion some of the women faced in the criminal justice system.

Linda Wong Sau-yung, executive director of the Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women, said the book showed that victims were not necessarily weakened but with help and counselling could bloom again.

'Sexual assault victims are not necessarily ruined as many think. We can use another angle to look at this, they can be tougher and bloom again,' said Ms Wong, who encouraged the women to write the book.

But to help victims recover there had to be help from family support, specialised service and understanding by police.

The book's release marks the association's 10th anniversary.

Director of Social Welfare Stephen Fisher wrote a foreword saying the book would help him and others understand the struggles and plight facing sexually abused women.

'We hope that sexual violence victims don't hide from the problem. They should bravely face it, just like those featured in the book,' Mr Fisher wrote.

Ms Wong said the writers were scared to recall their memories of rape and sexual violence, but eventually conquered their fears.

'Some tried to write about their experiences a few times but in the end couldn't do it. They had to tell us the story and we did it for them.' The 10 women were chosen from 1,117 cases handled by the association's crisis centre, Rainlily, since its establishment in December 2000.

One of the victims was sexually assaulted by her grandfather when she was nine. Another is a 17-year-old girl who was drugged at a party and raped by a group. Ms Wong runs Rainlily with five social workers. They provide a one-stop service for victims, which includes making a report to police, accompanying victims to court and counselling.

The book reflects the need for the service. The number of sexual attack cases rose from 54 in 2001 to 226 last year. There were 103 cases in the first six months of this year.

Ms Wong said that the 10 contributors to the book had all recovered with the help of Rainlily, and hoped the book would encourage other sexual assault victims to seek help.

Shedding light on the mistreatment of victims in the justice system was another goal. Ms Wong said that when victims reported their cases to police, they were often repeatedly questioned by various officers asking the same questions.

'Victims have to repeat their ordeal many times to officers. It is a secondary trauma,' she said.

Ms Wong said police were often mistrustful of sexual assault victims and might question whether the victim's choice of dress encouraged sexual violence.

Ms Wong hopes the book will open people's eyes and stop them automatically blaming the victim and adding to their trauma.

Distrust of victims also extended to lawyers, who would sometimes harshly question victims on their sexual history. As a result many victims would not pursue the matter in court.

Proceeds of the book will go to the non-profit group.

10 Stories of Blossom After Rain will be available in bookstores from early next month. Copies can also be obtained by calling Ms Choi of Rainlily at 2392 2569.