Monday, November 28, 2005

The girl who held my hand...

Yesterday was an emotional day. I have met many people from my train, and it has been wonderful to hear so many stories of bravery and friendship. To see passengers find each other again who stood next to each other in the dark, greet each other again as old friends is truly moving.

But I had never found anyone who stood right next to me, until yesterday, when I finally hugged the girl who travelled next to me, who walked behind me to Russell Square, who I talked to in the terrible darkness and whose hand I held. I wrote about her in the Sunday Times piece, and she had read my diary on the BBC and then tracked me down to urban 75 where I first wrote about what happened to me on July 7th, and found so much support and kindness from strangers. Telling my story on the u75 messageboard late at night on July 7th was the start of my making sense of the day, then the BBC picked it up and asked me to write my survivor diary for them, and that became the fortunate catalyst for so many survivors finding each other.

The girl whose hand I held and I spent yesterday afternoon in a pub talking and my story is her story, her story is my story. My story is not only personal to me but common to many people from the train, and that is why I wrote it anonymously. It was wonderful for me to finally find someone who was right there with me, it has helped a lot. She said: what you wrote is absolutely true, it is what happened to me. And seeing her bravery, her strength, her hopefulness and her sweetness and grace is fantastic. She is only 21 years old. She is coping magnificently.

On the Sunday Times piece yesterday coming out and now everyone knowing my past: previous media activity was agreed by the group and done with one objective - to let fellow passengers know about Kings Cross United. Media was done by various group members, (with me taking a 'fronting' role as my day job as a media director gave me some understanding of what to expect and how to handle it. And I wrote stuff, because most people said they wanted to be interviewed by someone who was on the train with them, not a reporter). But behind the scenes, other Kings Cross United survivors did lots of other stuff, including managing email enquiries ( many from the media, most of which we turned down, unless we thought they had a chance of reaching people from our train. Thus we said yes to BBC Hertfordshire and North London local radio, but no to international television. There was a careful strategy behind what we did.)

But yesterday, in the paper, I spoke with my own voice, not on behalf of all victims. I cannot possibly speak for all victims, as I have said on this blog again and again. But I was able to tell my personal story in my own words, why I am here, writing this diary, why I set up Kings Cross United with other survivors, for other survivors, why I wanted to speak out. I do not want to be a 'celebrity victim'. I cannot think of anything more stupid than being a celebrity, and I am not a victim.

Trauma is too hard a thing to carry alone, though, however strong you are. Other voices in the dark can help you carry on, at the time and on your journey after, like Ally at 'ducking for apples' blog in her moving post 'Droit de Seigneur'.

And the results of the Amnesty International survey on the attitudes of many towards rape are so dreadful, the recent court case about the girl who was drunk and could not recall giving consent to the sober man who walked her home because she was ill and staggering and then took her in the hallway, and then left her there. There is still much to say and to protest about, even in 2005.

So this is why I speak out, to encourage other people who have been raped or hurt to come forward, and to tell other people a little of what it is like, so that they can understand. Because I believe, passionately, that we need to talk to each other more, that we should speak out and listen more, rather than hate or hurt or hide away. And every voice that speaks out helps.

Here is a voice that many should read.

The story of Sophie, who was one of Garri Holness' and his gang victims of the multiple rape, twenty years ago.

There can be hope, there can be healing, there is life after the most terrible trauma and tragedy. As long as you are alive, there is always still hope. Sophie says:

I'm no longer a rape victim because I worked through a very painful
issue and came out the other side. Other rape victims need to know that you
should and can move on. Shoving painful stuff in a box doesn't work

She has nothing to say to Garri, and reading her interview, there are similarities with how I feel about my rapist - I have moved away from him, I am free of him, he is not my damn problem any more. Having said that, I think if I saw my rapist with a sign round his neck saying 'What About The Victims?' I would have the angry reaction Sophie had: some things are just too much to take.

I have said that if I met him, I would treat Garri as any other passenger on my train and talk to him about what happened to us both on carriage one if he wanted to, but his past is not mine to forgive, I can only talk to him in our shared present as people who took the same train.

Sophie's story is a story of hope, and dignity, and her 'brilliant' life now is a testament to her spirit and courage. I raise a glass to her tonight, and to all victims of violence. Never be ashamed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Rachel,

I read your article in the Sunday Times yesterday and was very moved by it. How you cannot be full of hate is beyond me, it shows what an amazing person you must be.


November 28, 2005 2:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Rachel

This is my second attempt to write a comment for your blog. I first tried immediately after reading your account of events in the Sunday Times, and the wave of emotion meant that what I wrote didn't make too much sense. I'm not sure what to write that doesn't sound trite.

I want to wish you and every one in KCU the best. KCU is an inspiration, and offers hope not just to itself, but to the rest of us - who have not had to fight to survive as you have, but remain lost and shocked by the events.
Thank you for sharing your story, and, I recognise, the stories of everyone on that train.

Fran (

November 28, 2005 4:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish you all the best - these last posts have been really moving

S x

November 28, 2005 6:51 pm  
Blogger Clare said...


I'm so glad you finally got to meet the girl who held your hand and to see how she is coping.

Thank you for sharing so many details of your life with us ... good and bad.


November 28, 2005 7:17 pm  
Anonymous seth said...

hi rachel,

i have just finished reading your article and my head is could all of this happen to u? y do bad things happen (more than once) to good people?

i agreee with the share your life with us...good bad and otherwise....really does make you an amazing person...

i hope that u and j are doing well.


November 28, 2005 7:30 pm  
Blogger Dee said...

Your story yesterday was amazing. What I can't understand is why such a cruel attack was not covered by the media at the time, surely it would have been a lesson to women everywhere that they can fight back?

November 28, 2005 10:17 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Rachel,
I have been reading your diary from the start and have wanted to write many times, but somehow couldn't find the words. Having just read your Sunday Times article, I now feel compelled to thank you for sharing your experiences publicly.

You are truly remarkable, and your story is one of hope which has deeply touched me. I pray that you will continue to recover, and continue to write and share your message of compassion and survival. I feel blessed just by reading your work, as I am sure many others do.

Please continue your writing; the world is a better place for it.

November 28, 2005 10:50 pm  
Blogger MuppetLord said...

I cannot find the words that can describe my shock at what you have been through, but I am in awe of your determination to make it a part of the past.

I hope you live life to the full. Inadequate words I know, but it'll have to do.

November 28, 2005 11:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Rachel,
Have you thought about writing a book? Maybe your purpose on this earth is greater than working in advertising/media...I think we sorely need to hear more voices like yours. You are an inspiration.

November 28, 2005 11:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you.

November 29, 2005 2:13 pm  
Blogger Ally said...

I think you are right, speaking out helps other people - some of the responses and comments that I have got, your own included, have reinforced that for me.

What if EVERYONE who had been through attacks could find it in themselves to to speak out about what happened and how they dealt with it? It would be so powerful.

November 29, 2005 3:25 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thanks everybody, the comment son this blog are fantastic and none of you know how much they keep me going at times.

Ally. YES. In fact, shall we see if we can get something going where people do just that - anonymously share their stories?

A magazine has contacted me about a campaign they are thinking of starting for more justice in rape trials, you interested? Anyone else got stuff they want to say?

November 29, 2005 3:42 pm  
Blogger Ally said...

Yes, I'm interested. Have you seen my friend Cheryl' piece, posted today? I'm also happy to take this to email if you'd prefer to!

November 29, 2005 3:56 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Just read her astonishing piece. Wow. Please, everyone else read too. Will post about it when \I can ( am at work right now)

Yes, email.

I'm teaching a dance class tonight, and my home PC is wobbly, might have to get back to you tomorrow as may not be able to get online.

November 29, 2005 4:20 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the mother of the girl whose hand you held. I've known about you since 7 July. I knew how you held her hand, how you had an injury to your arm and how you walked out of the tunnel one behind the other encouraging each other. She never thought she would ever see you again, although you were the only survivor she really wanted to meet up with. Thank you for setting up the blog, website and enabling all who were struck to meet and support each other. Good luck to all in the healing and recovery process.

December 03, 2005 1:15 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am the victim of a random act of horrific violence, yet I find it very difficult to identify with the people on this website. Why? Because I have never found anyone who could or would listen to my personal horror story. No, I don't live in the back of beyond, I live in the city, right in the middle of hundreds and thousands of so called civlised people, yet, nobody cares about what happened to me.

December 09, 2005 1:05 am  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Dearest second anonymous
Sometimes its not about not caring, its about personal strength. Sometimes people don't feel they can cope with the pressure of taking what we have to say, and they run scared, praying that someone 'more qualified' will pick up the reins, so they don't have to face the idea that it could have been them. So many people still live by the tenet that if they deny something bad it will just go away.
Please, as you value your anonymity, why not blog it? Let us know where. Just 'getting it out there' is sometimes the biggest step towards release of all the pent up emotions and a little rest.
I for one, promise I will read, if you do that. You might not get any more intelligent comments from me than 'Oh My God' or 'Shit', but when things are really bad its hard to know what to say.
Hugs, if you'll accept them.

December 29, 2005 8:08 pm  

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