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Girl is still haunted by rape ordeal

A TEENAGE girl who was brutally raped in her family home in Great Harwood has spoken out a year after her terrifying ordeal.

STILL a prisoner of her thoughts ... the rape victim one year on.
STILL a prisoner of her thoughts ... the rape victim one year on.

A TEENAGE girl who was brutally raped in her family home in Great Harwood has spoken out a year after her terrifying ordeal.

The 19-year-old's attacker has never been brought to justice but the police investigation into the crime is continuing and officers remain hopeful of a breakthrough.

The victim, who was attacked on 19 January last year, just two days after her 18th birthday, said she is still haunted by the memory of what happened and finds herself constantly looking over her shoulder.

She said: "It's hard because I didn't see him properly. He could be anyone. He could be stood next to me in a pub or I could see him in the street and I would not know.

"He said that he would watch me and I don't know whether he knows everything about me. He could follow me every day. That's the hardest part - not knowing.

"I have visions of him coming back and I still have nightmares. Some days I wake up and think he is there. I still worry. I am on my guard and I think that I always will be. I try to block the thoughts out by thinking of a song."

Following the trauma of the rape, the attractive blonde was forced to drop out of college and give up horse riding and skating because she was afraid to be out alone.

Now, one year later, she has returned to college to do a National Diploma in Sports Therapy and is engaged to her boyfriend of a year-and-a-half. But although she is trying hard to get on with the rest of her life, the shadow of the attack still hangs over her.

She said: "I still like to do the things I used to do but it's hard work because if somebody doesn't give me a lift I can't go. I am not too bad during the day. It's when it gets dark. I used to be independent before this and I would go off to places on my own.

"Now I find myself looking over my shoulder, and if I see someone who looks a bit dodgy I flap and run into a shop. It's really trivial things like going swimming and to aerobics. If somebody can't pick me up I won't go. I used to like watching Crimewatch and Touch of Frost on the TV but I can't watch them now, I get all shaky."

She told how she feels enormous sympathy when she hears of other rape cases on the television and urged women to be on their guard at all times.

She added: "I would tell other girls to stick together and not to go out alone. You never think it's going to happen to you. I would just like to warn people to be on their guard. People think they will be okay but you just don't know. You see things on TV and you think that you would fight back and hit them or kick them but you don't. You are in shock and you are numb. I just froze."

The girl's mother said that the events of 19 January had torn her family apart, and expressed fears her daughter's attacker would strike again.

She added: "It's still very raw. It has changed her life completely. It's split our family up really, as she now lives with her boyfriend because she just can't stay here. We talked about moving but at the end of the day why should we?

"I have had plenty of support from family and friends and work colleagues but you have just got to get on with it and you get through it. I do worry that he is still out there and he is still watching us. I just hope that he doesn't attack somebody else.

"Somebody must know something. He is very calculating and he has thought about what he has done and I think he will do it again. I hope they catch him before he claims another victim."

  • THE rape which shocked all of Great Harwood was described by the man leading the hunt as a "heinous and premedititated attack''. And Detective Inspector Neil Hunter vowed they would never give up trying to catch the attacker.

The sex beast had apparently followed the young woman home from work before forcing his way into her home in Blackburn Road around 9pm, bundling her to the floor and raping her under threat of violence.

Police set up an incident room, staged a reconstruction of the crime, issued an artist's impression and appealed for information on the Crimewatch TV programme. But all their inquiries drew a blank and it is thought the attacker may not be a local man.

DC Jill Evans said: "We pretty much exhausted the whole of Great Harwood in our inquiries. All of the calls which came in, including 70 from Crimewatch, were followed up."

She said it was possible that people who did not come forward due to personal circumstances last year may now be in a position to pass information on to the police.

She said: "We are hoping that if something has changed in someone's life they may forward a name to us. We have the rapist's DNA on the database, so if a name is put forward and he is not involved we can eliminate him straightaway."

Anyone with information is asked to contact Great Harwood CID on 353342 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


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