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Where where you when you heard the news?

Updated: Oct 30, 2019

I sat in the sexual health clinic today thinking about the Tory Party Conference.

The plastic chairs cracked and pinched as I tried not to look at the lady opposite me with the black eye.

“Why didn’t you report it at the time?” the nurse asked. “Because the only reason would be to protect another woman. It would be his word against mine. The chances of a conviction are so slim, it just wasn’t a priority.” She asked me if I wanted to speak to someone about the attack. I shook my head and dislodged some of the water which was making my sight blurry. She asked me why not. And I found myself telling her that I already had help for previous rapes, so I should leave the much needed spaces for other women. My need is just important as theirs, she told me.

And it may be. But there’s just not enough to go around.

I said it felt like asking for another plate of food when some people are still going hungry. Thanks to Boris’s broken promise, there is now one rape crisis centre in London. One.

I feel like I am stealing from another woman in need. And why is that? Because I know there is just not enough for all. This is the real life impact these cuts have. That in a sexual violence unit I am having to weigh up the morals of taking away scant help from another. And I cannot be the only one.

I sat there in the bleak waiting room with the paint peeling, wondering how many people wept over their decision to go to food banks, not for fear of the tabloid bullying, or the shame pushed with the sliced loaves, but because they knew there would be a little bit less for someone else if they managed to get fed that night. I thought about the time I walked three hours to hospital with a broken ankle because I know the ambulances are under such pressure, I could not bear the thought that someone else would be missing vital medical attention if I made that call.

I’ve been called naive, and I’m utterly comfortable with the accusation. For what I see is the title of naivety being slung at people who want to see the beauty and love of humanity rather than the baseline figure and the bank statements.

And as I sat there, with the Conservative Party Conference being subtitled in the background, watching our children being sold out, our health service being sold off and our old folk being fobbed off, I wondered where we diverged, myself and these members of the same species, who at profit line couldn’t give a damn about the human cost of their number fiddling and pocketing.

There are people, real life people, at the bottom of these cuts they are slashing us with. Don’t tell me we’re all in this together when I doubt a single person in the cabinet has had to worry about whether they would be able to afford to eat this evening. Don’t tell me you’re investing in apprenticeships when you’ve made damn sure there are no paid jobs to go to at the end of them. Don’t tell me the NHS is broken when I am sat there awaiting help for being physically brutalised, because I have chosen to, not because I have earned enough to. Don’t tell me you have concerns about immigration when you are happy to sell weapons to corrupt regimes, so surprisingly, people don’t want to live there anymore. Don’t tell me we have enough money to go and bomb a conveniently oil rich country with a load of we-didn’t-like-the-bombs-first-time-around made terrorists, when we don’t have enough money to look after the people who are living here paying for those bombs in the first place. Don’t tell me there’s not enough to go around when legal tax loopholes and immoral tax avoidance equates to more than the total cuts to education, healthcare and housing – our basic survival is being demeaned to win corporate favour.

Yes I’m angry. And no, I don’t give a damn about the magical all righteous deficit we all must obey. I care about the 9 year old I sat on a curb with this weekend who’s Mum told her they couldn’t afford birthdays this year.

And I care about the woman who will be having to wait longer for help, because eventually I nodded. Because if we can’t look after ourselves in these times, our children will be taught that money is all that matters and they do not.

You’re not securing a better future, Osborne. You’re stealing it.


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