Sexual violence changes lives - and so do we

Sexual violence changes lives - and so do we

Surviving rape or sexual abuse and coping with the traumatic aftermath can be the hardest thing a person can ever have to deal with. At Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, we provide a safe space for survivors to be listened to and believed. We cannot erase the abuse but we can work together to lessen its emotional power.

Over the last few years our much needed service has faced various challenges: increased demand due to more media coverage; and constant fire-fighting to maintain year-to-year funding.

Those accessing our service face new challenges from ‘welfare reforms’ which places a huge amount of pressure on an already vulnerable group of people and negatively impacts on their recovery. The constant threat of sanctions and repeated assessments for benefits relating to mental and physical illness and disability add to the traumatic stress of survivors.

The proposal to limit child tax credit to two children from April 2017 unless a woman can prove that further children are a result of rape is potentially harrowing. Rape Crisis Scotland’s Sandy Brindley comments: "It can be difficult for a rape survivor to disclose what has happened to them to their closest friends or family but under this proposal they will be expected to disclose it to the DWP in order to qualify for benefits."

"Most rapes aren’t reported to the police. How is someone going to 'prove' to the DWP that they have been raped?"

Women’s services are ever increasingly under threat from a lack of secure funding and squeezes on local and national government spending as a result of austerity. We are grateful to have received continued funding from the Scottish Government, which has increased this year with the announcement of a new strand of funding until 2017 for a national advocacy project with Rape Crisis Scotland.

Support is a lifeline for survivors of sexual violence and we must fund it properly. You can find out more about out our prevention work, training, information and support services here.

Anna Carr is an Information and Fundraising Worker for Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre