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MP Michelle Thomson contacts police after Commons rape speech

Michelle Thomson MP has made contact with police after revealing she was raped as a 14-year-old girl.

The independent MP told the House of Commons on Thursday she was attacked in a wooded area 37 years ago by someone she knew.

The Edinburgh West representative moved fellow MPs to tears as she told them "I'm not a victim, I'm a survivor" during a debate on the UN's International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women.

Campaigners and fellow politicians have praised her for her bravery in speaking out.

The MP said she has been "overwhelmed" by the supportive messages she has received.

In a tweet on Friday, she stated: "Humbled by the responses and support. Thanks also to @policescotland for their rapid response and with whom I have made contact."

Police have not commented on the message. However, it is understood officers would make an approach to an individual to see if they want to take matters further if they publicly disclose they have been the victim of an offence.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said earlier: "Speaking out about sexual abuse is incredibly difficult and disclosures are often made many years after an incident took place.

"Police Scotland will listen to any such disclosure, regardless of the passage of time, and will investigate.

"Our response is always victim-focused and every investigation will be tailored to meet their individual needs."

The MP told the Commons she had known her attacker and afterwards had "bottled it all up inside".

Ms Thomson related how the rape had "fatally undermined" her self-esteem, confidence and sense of self-worth, and said she had not sought help until her mid-40s.

"I carried that guilt, anger, fear, sadness and bitterness for years," she told MPs.

Ms Thomson later told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme that a decade ago she wanted to ''go after'' her attacker but seeking help had given her "a liberty to move on".

She said: "I'm not doing this to try and go after somebody, it's not what it's about for me - hence the 'I'm not a victim, I'm a survivor'.

"Had it been even 10 years ago I would had said probably 'No, I want to go after him' and I remember after it happened I used to idly daydream - 'If I could do this to him, if I could do that' - because I was so angry and bitter. I'm not now.

"That, I would stress, is a personal perspective I'm taking and everybody must take their own view about how they want to move forward. I would encourage everyone to do what they feel is right for them."

Ms Thomson's decision to share her story publicly was hailed as "brave and important" by Rape Crisis Scotland.

National co-ordinator Sandy Brindley said: "Someone speaking so publicly about rape can send a strong message to other rape survivors - that the shame is not theirs and it is okay to talk about it and to seek support."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the speech as "very moving and incredibly brave", and said it would help give strength to others.

In a later blog post on her website, Ms Thomson thanked people who have been in touch with messages of support.

She wrote: " In place of my usual weekly update, I just wanted to take this time to say a few short words of thanks. It was a very difficult decision for me to speak about my rape.

"I was already planning to speak in the chamber during the debate on violence against women. However, as the date approached, I began to consider the possibility of relating my own story in the chamber.

"My mind was made up when I realised that if I shared my personal experience, it might help others who have been suffering in silence.

"It was not an easy decision but I hope that by speaking out I have been able to use my position as an MP to promote change.

"The House of Commons often appears on TV to be a place of very stark division. This debate on violence against women was a genuine cross-party moment and I was moved by the response from MPs in the chamber to my story.

"I would also like to thank all of the people who have contacted me on Twitter, Facebook, via email, on the phone, or by dropping into my office.

"Your messages are hugely appreciated and I will try to respond to as many of you as I can in the next few weeks."

The MP said attitudes need to change so that people know "being a survivor of violence is nothing to be ashamed of".

She added: "I would encourage anyone reading this who has suffered as I once did to seek out help. I have listed some numbers below for charities who can offer advice and guidance.

"Please do not suffer alone, there are others who can help you with your pain and you have nothing to be ashamed of."

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