Gender Recognition Reform Bill: Predatory and abusive men like the pedophile who stole my soul will exploit proposed legislation – Susan Dalgety

Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison says violence against women and girls is caused by ‘predatory and abusive men and not trans people’ (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA)

Instead, I will focus on one woman’s personal story. She’s not famous, or special, just a woman, born and raised in a rural corner of Scotland.

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She was a serious child, who preferred books to running, and from an early age lost herself in a world far from the mundane but happy reality of her life.

Today, she would have been a huge Harry Potter fan. At the time, she immersed herself in the boarding school books of Enid Blyton, dreaming of Mallory Towers and becoming best friends with the naughtiest girl in school.

She dreamed of being a member of the Secret Seven, and to this day finds crime thrillers a welcome release. When she grew up, she wanted to be a detective or a journalist.

She quickly skimmed through her classwork, reveling in the little red grammar book her peers struggled to understand. Project work was his favorite subject. She still fondly remembers her opus on the British coal and steel industry and her treatise on Northern Ireland, compiled just before the Troubles broke out.

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Life was sweet. Her parents had very little money, but her home was steeped in love and the vanilla scent of her mother’s homemade baking.

Then, at the age of 11, on the cusp of adolescence, her world shattered, but remained the same. She was sexually assaulted. Not once, but relentlessly. Once or twice a week for a year until she goes to high school. The abuse continued for another year after that, but only sporadically as she learned to avoid the man who had stolen her soul.

The worst was when he was done. He pressed a damp penny into his shaking hand and groaned, thank you. As if it were a consensual act, one that she, a small child whose breasts had not yet begun to bud, had agreed to share with him.

The shame of those sixpence still haunts her. As soon as she was freed from her attacker, she would rush to the village confectionery and spend her money on sweet treats. Even now, she wonders why she didn’t throw those coins in the dirt, where they belonged.

In the decades that followed, she shared her story sparingly, first with her mother when she was 18, drunk and desperate.

His sister knows. Her husband. A good friend. But that’s about all. She spoke of her single parenthood, her poverty, her passage as a young homeless mother, but never publicly about the man who destroyed her childhood, and in hindsight, her adolescence.

First in her family to go to university, she dropped out and gave birth to her first son at the age of 19. Experts will tell you now that chaotic behavior is a reasonable response to abuse. In the 1970s, she was simply considered ill-mannered.

This girl was me. And on Thursday I heard a woman, a mother, proclaim in our Parliament that there is no evidence that ‘predatory and abusive men have ever had to pretend to be something else in order to engage in abusive and predator”.

Never mind that some MSPs – the people we elect to care for our country and its people – applauded his crude statement. Or that LGBT activists later hailed her “line” as brilliant.

She addressed these words to the women and girls of Scotland, many of whom know only too well that sexual predators lurk in plain sight, like mine. That throughout history violent men have used their positions of power, their uniforms, their position in society to pretend to be something they are not.

There are young girls this morning who last night will have been abused by a violent man posing as a friend of the family, as a father-in-law, as a businessman.

I don’t know why Shona Robison and her close friend and patron, Nicola Sturgeon, refuse to believe women when we say we fear the consequences of a law that redefines what it means to be a woman.

I don’t know why trans activists and their allies call us fanatics, transphobes, right-wing accomplices, when we’re only pointing out, as the Equality and Human Rights Commission recently did , that the bill will affect women’s rights.

What I do know is that on Thursday two of Scotland’s most powerful women betrayed every other woman and girl in the country. All 2.7 million of us.

I recovered from my ordeal. Or at least I found a way to deal with it by not talking about it, by pretending that I was not a victim, but a strong and powerful woman. I won’t talk about it again.

But really, I’m still that scared little girl, terrified of the predatory man pretending to be my friend. Thursday, Shona Robison broke my heart. But it won’t break our spirit.

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