Jill Saward (1965 - 2017)

Jill Saward, an influential British campaigner against sexual violence, died Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, after having a stroke, according to multiple news sources. She was 51.

Saward’s family announced her death in a news statement on her official website: “It is with deep shock and great sadness that we must announce that Jill Saward (Jill Drake) died this morning in New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton, following a subarachnoid (hemorrhage) on Tuesday. … In consultation with medical staff, the family readily agreed to Jill’s desire to be an organ donor.

“Jill dedicated the past 30 years of her life to helping other people. It gives us great comfort to know that our wonderful wife, mother and sister was able to help other people to the very end. We would like to thank all those who contributed to her medical care in recent days.

“We are also so very grateful for the many expressions of prayer, love and support we have received.

“At this stage we would appreciate space and time to come to terms with what has happened.”

Saward came to prominence as the first person in the U.K. to waive her anonymity as a rape survivor after she was sexually assaulted during a burglary at her father’s vicarage in 1986.

After her attack, Saward advocated in a variety of roles in support of victims of sexual violence during the 1990s. In addition to establishing a support group for survivors, she campaigned vigorously to gain legal and social justice for them.

Saward, who was born Jan. 15, 1965, in Liverpool, England, co-wrote a book about her ordeal, “Rape: My Story,” in 1990.

Her husband, Gavin Drake, and their three sons survive her.

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