A brave Northampton woman who was raped by her adopted father, has called on the Prime Minister to bring in tougher sentences for sexual offenders.
Siobhan Ames-Bell has waived her legal right to anonymity to talk to the Chronicle & Echo about her “hell”, in a bid to give other victims the courage to report their ordeals to the police.
Last week she saw Anthony Ames – the man she called “the closest thing to my father” – sent to prison for six-and-a-half years after he raped her while drunk at his home in Rectory Farm in May 2012.
He is likely to be out of prison on licence after serving half of that term, as the crime was judged to be in the lowest of three rape ‘categories’ in terms of the impact on its victim.
Siobhan, who left the area and moved to Newcastle while her step-father was on bail awaiting trial, said such jail terms were too lenient, considering the lasting effect the attack had on her.
She said: “My life has been completely turned upside down by this. I don’t trust people. I was forced to move to a place where I don’t know anyone. I will never let a man near me again. I now have seven locks on my door.
“I don’t sleep because I feel that as soon as I do, I will be able to smell him on me.
“For him to get six or so years and be out in three, I sometimes think if I could go back I wouldn’t have bothered to call the police.
“I want people to realise that victims are not getting enough help and support and offenders are not getting enough punishment.
“He has three years in prison, but I have the rest of my life to carry this with me.”
Siobhan, now 29, first noticed her adopted father had sexual ‘feelings’ for her when she was in her teens.
She said he would touch her inappropriately, engaging in prolonged hugs at times and showing aggression to her boyfriends.
It was not until May 2012, following her brother-in-law’s birthday party, that Ames carried out the act.
Siobhan has now written a letter to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, asking him to toughen up rape sentencing.
Her particular case was classed in the lowest category because the offence took place only once and victim assessments on her afterwards did not show she had suffered “severe psychological harm”.
Siobhan fears that most rapists go unpunished as victims would rather avoid the painful process of reporting such incidents to the police, when their attacker is only likely to get a short spell in jail.
Support charity, Rape Crisis, said only 15 percent of women and girls who experience sexual violence ever report it to the police.
“My faith in the justice system has been knocked down,” Siobhan said. “But this is why I want to encourage anyone that has been a victim of a similar situation to come forward.
“I feel that the more people that are convicted, the more likely we are to get the laws changed.
“If, by going in the newspaper, I can encourage just one woman, one girl, to come forward and stand tall, then it will be worth it.”
Siobhan said reporting the crime, which took place in the house she had grown up in, had caused a rift between her and her family.
The two years she spent while knowing her step-father – a man she called ‘dad’ and who had attended her parents’ evenings as a child – was on conditional bail, were the worst of her life, she said.
Now she is looking into setting up a charity to help support rape claimants while they are waiting for their alleged attackers to face judicial proceedings.