Content note: This post discusses rape and suicide
Eleanor de Freitas was just 23 years old when she took her life.
Her story started like far too many others. She reported a rape to the police, and the police said there was insufficient evidence. It’s a script as tired as time: inconsistencies, blah blah blah. Unlike most other cases, though, it deviated radically from the script.
The man accused took out a private prosecution against Eleanor de Freitas. He must have been a rich, powerful man to do this. Her solicitors asked the CPS to stop this spiteful action, but the CPS decided to take it up for reasons which are currently completely unclear.
Eleanor de Freitas was a vulnerable woman, with bipolar disorder. She had been receiving counselling for rape. As soon as the summons came, this support was snatched away. Her mental health grew worse, and her psychiatrist deemed her not fit to stand trial.
Three days before the trial was due to start, Eleanor de Freitas took her life.
Her family would like the CPS to address the questions that they have, although so far this request is being blocked. Why did the CPS think it in the public interest to prosecute a sick young woman? Why didn’t they put a stop to the private prosecution that was quite literally killing her, despite its duty to think these things through? Why did they allow her vital counselling to be withdrawn?
The CPS need to address these questions, and their silence speaks volumes. There is something fishy going on.
I am inclined to believe Eleanor de Freitas, knowing what I know about rape and rape culture. I know that the police are fucking terrible at dealing with survivors coming forward, and don’t understand how the stress from trauma can lead to statements they deem “inconsistent”, because that’s how human brains work. I know that men falsely denying having committed rape is vastly more common than women making up false allegations. I know that society is far more inclined to give the men making denials the benefit of the doubt. I know that women with mental health problems are more likely to be disbelieved, thought to be mad.
I believe Eleanor de Freitas, and I want to know why the CPS helped a man to kill her.
Update 24/3/15: Men keep leaving comments explaining why one shouldn’t believe Eleanor de Freitas. I’ve not approved them because men get platforms to spout rubbish in all sorts of other places. Anyway, all of their comments make me believe Eleanor de Freitas even more. Their comments boil down to three threads:
- Eleanor’s mental health: as discussed earlier, women with mental health problems are less likely to be believed.
- Some CCTV evidence or other showing her in the company of the accused after the alleged rape: so? A lot of survivors end up spending time with their rapists. It’s really fucking common. Read this.
- They are saying Eleanor de Freitas was a sex worker: again, so fucking what? Whether this is true or not, sex workers can also be raped. In fact, sex workers are another group less likely to be believed.
In short, these comments remind me of Ched Evans supporters. And we all know Ched Evans did it. Every time I see rape apologism crop up, I believe Eleanor de Freitas even more.