Petition of support for Worthing rape victim takes off online

Maggie Ellis, founder and director of the Lifecentre charity. Picture: Kate Shemilt
Maggie Ellis, founder and director of the Lifecentre charity. Picture: Kate Shemilt

An online petition to show support for the woman who was raped in broad daylight in Worthing has attracted more than 200 signatures.

The page on Change.org was set up by members of the Worthing Feminist Book Group to show solidarity with the woman and raise money for Lifecentre, a Sussex-based charity that supports survivors of rape and sexual abuse.

As well as raising money, hopefully it will draw the attention of other people who have suffered in this way

Maggie Ellis, founder and director of Lifecentre

Group member Sarah Lewis-Hammond said the petition has taken off, with more than 240 people signing it so far.

“We were appalled at what had happened and wanted to do something constructive.

“The letter expresses support for the victim against a backdrop of a justice system that consistently fails woman, even though one in four adult women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime.”

The incident occurred on Tuesday, April 19, at around 5pm. The 21-year-old local woman was in Westcourt Road at around 5pm when a man approached her from behind, before dragging her into an alleyway, police said.

More than 40 people have commented on the petition page with messages of support.

Linda McVeigh from Worthing said: “Daytime, nighttime, busy place, quiet place... it shouldn’t matter. Women have a right to be safe.”

Many men have also expressed their anger over the incident. “As a man we need to stand up and say no more! Everybody should be treated with respect,” said Juan Baeza from Worthing.

Another user, Antony Grace from Worthing, said much more needed to be done ‘to drive out society’s general victim blaming when it comes to sexual violence’.

Maggie Ellis, founder and director of Lifecentre, has welcomed the petition.

She said: “As well as raising money, hopefully it will draw the attention of other people who have suffered in this way. The message is: you are not alone. There are people who are here to help you in your recovery.”

On Friday, police released an efit of the suspect.

If you witnessed the incident, contact police on 101 quoting Operation Clandon.

To find out more about Lifecentre, visit lifecentre.uk.com.

To sign the petition, click here.