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The details of Duffy’s rape ordeal are horrifying, but we mustn’t ignore them

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Kayleigh Dray
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Duffy

Duffy’s story is a must-read, even if we want to ignore bad news at the moment.

warning: this article contains distressing content which may prove triggering for some.

As we all struggle to deal with the emotional upheaval of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, many of us have made a conscious effort to stop engaging with bad news. And, while there’s no denying that the 24/7 news cycle can negatively impact our wellbeing, it’s still important to engage with those stories which we deem as upsetting.

Take, for instance, the fact that Duffy has shared further horrifying details about being “raped, drugged and kept captive”.

Writing on her website duffywords.com, the Grammy Award-winning singer behind 2008’s best-selling album Rockferry writes: “It was my birthday, I was drugged at a restaurant, I was drugged then for four weeks and travelled to a foreign country.

“I can’t remember getting on the plane and came round in the back of a travelling vehicle.”

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Duffy continues: “I was put into a hotel room and the perpetrator returned and raped me.

“I remember the pain and trying to stay conscious in the room after it happened.

“I was stuck with him for another day, he didn’t look at me, I was to walk behind him, I was somewhat conscious and withdrawn. I could have been disposed of by him.”

Duffy adds that, after it happened, someone she knew “saw me on my balcony staring into space, wrapped in a blanket”.

“I cannot remember getting home. The person said I was yellow in colour and I was like a dead person,” she says. “They were obviously frightened but did not want to interfere, they had never seen anything like it.”

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Duffy has written well over 3,500 words about her ordeal. And, yes, it’s an upsetting read. But, despite the ongoing pandemic, it’s still an important one.

Indeed, it’s worth remembering that, shortly after Duffy first spoke out about her ordeal in February, helplines for victims of sexual assault and abuse saw a rise in calls. So significant was the spike, in fact, that the singer was praised by campaigners and trauma experts for inspiring other victims to come forward and inform potential jury members about the impact of trauma.

As Katie Russell, from Rape Crisis, told The Guardian: “Rape is still a very under-discussed, misunderstood and under-reported crime, so when someone like Duffy speaks out in such a powerful way it can make other survivors feel a little bit less alone and less ashamed – which is a very common emotion, now matter how unfounded.

“Duffy is speaking now after a long time, which is really common in our experience. It’s important to remember that the vast majority of people don’t report rape, and those that do may take some time – and anyone who ends up on a jury should remember that it is a very common impact of trauma.”

Duffy, likewise, believes her story will help to soothe hearts during the Covid-19 pandemic. As she says, she’s sharing her ordeal now because “we are living in a hurting world”.

“While we are observing a great amount of suffering and loss in our world, in what seems like a battle that cannot be won, it compels us to truly appreciate the gift of life, and the gift of love, and the values that matter the most,” she says.

“And what I can share, during this shared experience, is the science. The brain’s ‘dorsal anterior cingulate cortex’, which registers physical pain, is activated when we are isolated.

“Knowing the mind’s science enables you to manage it,” she continues. “And isolation is a small price to pay for saving lives, therefore we must be strong in the face of it. This demands us all, as one, to act for each other; never has mindfulness been so vital as it is now.”

If you, or anyone you know, needs help and support, you can call the Rape Crisis national helpline on 0808 802 9999 (open 12pm - 2.30pm and 7pm - 9.30pm daily). You can also find your nearest centre here or visit the website for more information here.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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