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Poldark’s Ciara Charteris chose not to report her rapist. Now, she’s taking the power back

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Kayleigh Dray
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Ciara Charteris attends the "Mary Quant" VIP preview at the Victoria & Albert Museum on April 03, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Joe Maher/Getty Images)

Poldark actor Ciara Charteris has spoken out about being sexually assaulted by a “close friend.” 

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

There are many misconceptions about sexual assault – one of the most common of which is the idea that the perpetrator is usually a stranger. While this can be the case, according to Rape Crisis England and Wales, approximately 90% of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, such as in the case of intimate partner sexual violence or acquaintance rape.

Perpetrators of the latter might be a date, a classmate, a neighbour, or a friend’s significant other. The list is endless and no matter the relationship to the attacker or previous sexual history, sexual assault is sexual assault.

Now, Poldark actor Ciara Charteris has made the point loud and clear by talking of her own experience of rape by someone she knew.

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Writing about the traumatic experience on survivors’ blog I Am Arla, Charteris says that the assault took place on a friends birthday night out in 2015.

“Although I have struggled to say the word rape out loud for a long time, I knew that’s what had happened,” she writes.

“Despite saying no numerous times, begging him to get off me, my flight mode was not attuned to protect me from a rapist that had the face of my best friend.

“So I just shut my eyes and passed out in terrified defeat.”

iara Charteris attends the BAFTA Film Gala at the The Savoy Hotel, ahead of the EE British Academy Film Awards
Ciara Charteris’ story is a stark reminder that only around 10% of rapes are committed by ‘strangers’.

Charteris chose not to report her rapist to the police, and instead decided “to deal with it by never seeing or speaking to him again.”

After realising that “he was exploiting a freedom I had given him,” though, Charteris says she went to the police in December 2019.

“In March 2020, just as Covid-19 lock-down came with a new set of rules I was already used to, I got the call to say that he would not be charged,” she says.

“This was not surprising, and to quote the police: ‘it does not make him innocent.’”

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Charteris adds: “For any Rape Apologists out there – [I will share] more on how the system is unequivocally built to protect men like him, and how blatantly those working in it know it, next time.

“I had achieved what I set out to do and his name will forever be listed with the police. Nevertheless, the decision not to charge him still hit hard.”

Charteris, who says she is keen to “take the power back” from her rapist, concludes: “When it comes to sexual assault and rape, I am not the worst case, I am not the first case, and sadly I will not be the last.

“But I am done letting the weakness of others define me.

“No matter what difficulties life chucks at us, I believe with honesty and kindness at the heart we are all undefeatable.”

If you would like more information or support, visit Rape Crisis UK – or, alternatively, call 0808 802 9999 (usual opening times are noon - 2.30pm and 7 - 9.30pm any day of the year and also between 3 - 5.30pm on weekdays).

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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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