'I'm glad I spoke out about my rape,' lawmaker says

Police Scotland are investigating the allegations made by Michelle Thomson in the House of Commons.

Story highlights

  • It took Michelle Thomson 37 years to speak publicly about her experience
  • Scottish lawmaker tells CNN she hopes she's inspired others not to suffer in silence

(CNN)She moved the members of the House of Commons to tears with her vivid account of being raped at age 14.

And British lawmaker Michelle Thomson says that although she was "terribly nervous" before her speech, she is so glad she shared with the world the "appalling" experience she was too scared to tell her mother about as a girl.
"I think I just lacked courage at the time with my mother. I loved my mother dearly and I'm sorry she's not here anymore but I'm glad I've been able to do that now because if it could help other people who don't wait 37 years to come out about it, that would be really just a very pleasing thing," she told CNN.
    Thomson, 51, an Independent MP representing Edinburgh West in Scotland, spoke out Thursday during a parliamentary debate to mark the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
    She told fellow lawmakers she was raped after being led to a wooded area by someone she knew and trusted.
    "Afterwards I walked home alone. I was crying, I was cold, and I was shivering and I now realize that was, of course, the shock response," she said. "I didn't tell my mother. I didn't tell my father. I didn't tell my friends. And I didn't tell the police. I bottled it all up inside me."
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    Her courageous revelations left Speaker John Bercow visibly moved as he thanked Thomson "for what she said and the way in which she said it, which has left an indelible impression upon us all."
    She's since been hailed by hundreds on social media who have called her brave and courageous, from taxi drivers to politicians.
    "The response has been absolutely humbling. I have been overwhelmed by the emails, Facebook messages, letters, phone calls to say 'well done' but that's not the important thing," she told CNN.
    "The important thing is that it's reached people and if it can help people, then that makes it all worthwhile as far as I'm concerned."
    Thomson said her decision to speak about her experience was prompted by a desire to dispel the taboo surrounding stories of rape.
    "I felt it was a good opportunity to bring a very personal perspective to make the debate real, if you want. I felt able, very scared, but I felt able for the first time in my life to talk about it in that very public arena," she explained.
    "What I'm hoping is that many women will recognize their own voice in what I said and that it will either give them the courage to go and get help for it or to report it or realize that they too can get through something as appalling as this. I also hope that some men will look at it and think they need to play their role in making sure that these things stop happening in the first place."
    Michelle Thomson says she's been overwhelmed by the response to her speech.
    Thomson only told one of her fellow members of parliament what she was going to say -- but she did discuss it beforehand with her daughter, 20.
    "Her response was 'You go, girl,' which was great," she said.
    She also told her 22-year-old son and her husband.
    "All of my family I couldn't ask for more, they've been so supportive," she added.
    Thomson has since been in touch with Police Scotland, and thanked them via Twitter for their "rapid response."
    A police spokeswoman told CNN: "Speaking out about sexual abuse is incredibly difficult, and disclosures are often made many years after an incident took place."
    She added, "Police Scotland will listen to any such disclosure, regardless of the passage of time, and will investigate."