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Sexual Assault Survivor's Best Friend Marries Her Rapist

| by Lauren Briggs

A sexual assault victim whose best friend married her rapist has spoken out about her experience.

The 26-year-old British victim, who remains anonymous, developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after Royal Army Medical Corps officer Daniel Howard sexually assaulted her in February 2014, Metro reports.

After she came forward about the attack, her best friend, April, who was Howard's fiancee at the time, cut her off.

"I was meant to be a bridesmaid at her wedding," the victim told the Mirror. "We were meant to have children at similar times and raise them together. I only said something in the first place to try to protect April.

"I couldn’t have stood in church on her wedding day knowing what had happened and that it would most probably happen again."

The woman said that she lost her boyfriend to suicide shortly after the assault, as he blamed himself for what had happened.

The court sentenced Howard in mid-September to seven years in prison. After a night out, he assaulted her at his home in Durham, England, and later told a "ludicrous, cold-blooded and insulting" story in which he blamed the victim, a court document said.

Howard told the court that the woman, overcome with jealousy of his and April's relationship, found one of his sex toys and used it to frame him by planting DNA evidence on herself.

The victim said Howard forced himself upon her, saying, "Don't tell April," then later asked if she had a good time, according to the Mirror.

Howard was acquitted of raping another woman in 2008, but some people close to the case believe that he is a repeat offender who will strike again.

"He is a control freak with a dangerous attitude towards women,” said a source close to the case. “There is a very real concern other potential victims will come forward.”

The survivor said she suffers from flashbacks and anxiety attacks and will likely never fully recover.

"It sounds silly, but I’m frightened someone will come and get me again and no one will know," she said. "I had a good job, a strong relationship, a bright future, a plan for a house. I just feel damaged and broken."

Sources: Metro, Mirror / Photo Credit: County Durham Police via Metro