Survivors of sexual violence are being denied support

We're supporting Fern to call on government to properly fund Rape Crisis services and specialist independent support services. Sign the petition and tell Theresa May no survivor should be turned away when they need support.

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  • There were 6,355 survivors on Rape Crisis waiting lists as of March 2018. Demand for support continues to grow.

  • 20% of women and 4% of men have experienced some type of sexual assault since the age of 16. The vast majority of victims (86%) do not report their experiences to the police.

  • The Istanbul Convention states there should be at least 150 Rape Crisis Centres in England and Wales. There are only 44.

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Fern was raped while travelling abroad. She returned to the UK and sought help from her nearest Rape Crisis Centre. Due to the huge levels of demand they were facing and government failures to fund vital services, Fern was turned away and unable to access support. She as lucky enough to get private therapy through work. But she knows there are thousands of survivors who aren’t so lucky. She is calling on the government to support Rape Crisis specialist services.

At EVAW we estimate that the government needs to provide a minimum of £195 million each year to Rape Crisis services to properly respond to need, with a significant proportion ring fenced for specialist BME services. The overall income of the network as it stands is £20 million. Centres constantly face the potential they might have to close as demand far outstrips the minimal funding they receive. Many centres are forced to operate lengthy waiting lists and some have to make the heart-wrenching decision to close their waiting lists altogether.

Listen to Fern tell her story in the video below:

The EVAW 2018 YouGov survey showed that people consider access to counselling more important than access to police and courts process for survivors of rape. Our survey revealed that 60% of people believe that access to free counselling is readily available for rape survivors. This is not the case. In March 2018 there were 6,355 survivors on Rape Crisis waiting lists. A number expected to have increased this year with the ever growing demand for support services

Fern has written to the Prime Minister demanding she properly funds life saving services and to discuss the current appalling lack of support.

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14th May Update from Fern

This week I wrote a piece for Mumsnet in which I discuss my motivation for starting the #NoSurvivorTurnedAway petition.

I also spoke to Cosmopolitan UK recently about the petition and you can read their piece here.

Thank you, everybody, for helping me to raise awareness of how widespread lack of access to rape support services is. This week as Downing Street lit itself green for #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and rallied us all to ‘work together’ to look after our mental health, we must continue to hold this government to account for its treatment of victims and survivors of sexual violence and remind them that it is their inaction that has forced Rape Crises centres across the country to close their waiting lists.

It’s great to see that 44 MPs have already pledged their names to the Istanbul Convention Early Day Motion. Please do write to your MP and ask them to do the same if you haven’t already!

Thank you everybody,

Fern

1st May Update from Fern

Yesterday I met with a Special Adviser to the Prime Minister and Justice Minister, Edward Argar MP to discuss the under-funding crisis currently facing rape support services all over the country which, as you will know by now, has forced many to close their waiting lists.

What this meeting shows is that our voices are being heard and pressure is being felt by the government. The Ministry of Justice assures me that it is working to address the issues raised in the petition  – namely that support services for victims and survivors of sexual violence are currently inaccessible – but frankly, they’re still not working quickly enough. Because waiting lists are still closed.

Why should we wait any longer?

You may remember that when I launched the petition, I also wrote to the Prime Minister to ask her to meet with me to discuss the urgent action that must be taken *now*. She is yet to offer to meet with me and so I need your help to continue applying the pressure! Let’s get to 250,000 signatures so that she can ignore our voices no longer. I’m taking this right to the very top and will not stop until I get there. Yesterday’s meeting showed that if we just keep up the pressure then we can achieve this.

Speaking of pressure, as you know last week Wera Hobhouse MP tabled her Early Day Motion calling on the government to bring forward legislation to enshrine the Istanbul Convention in UK law, which will ensure victims of sexual violence can access the support services they need. This is now at 35 signatures which is GREAT! We need MPs to show that they care about this issue, and we won’t stop until we can have a proper debate in Parliament so PLEASE write to your MP and ask them to sign! You can download a draft letter to send to your MP here.

Lastly, you may have seen the “news” story about victims of rape being asked to hand over their phones when they report their assault to the police, or risk their cases being dropped if they refuse to do so. This is has been happening to victims for years, but there is something you can do to help! Warrior Women and The Gemini Project are working in collaboration to donate old unused phones to those who have had to hand theirs over to the police whilst their case is being investigated. Please consider donating any old phones you may have!

Thanks all, great things are happening and it really is all because of you.

Take care
Fern

25th April Update from Fern:

“Wera Hobhouse MP has today tabled an Early Day Motion calling for the government to finally enshrine the Istanbul Convention into law which advises that there is provision for at least 150 Rape Crisis centres throughout England and Wales in order to meet demand. As you will know from signing my petition, there are currently 44 and many of those regularly have to shut their waiting lists leaving thousands of survivors of sexual violence without the support they need to help them recover from the trauma they have suffered.

 

By tabling this EDM, Wera hopes to change that. We are going to need as many MPs as possible to sign their names to it so please contact your MP *right now* and ask if they care that as you are reading this, rape crisis centre waiting lists throughout the country are closed. Ask if they will stand with the 153,000 of you who have already signed this petition and create real change that will mean that nobody will ever have to be turned away again from life-saving services like I was.

 

You can access a template letter to send to your local MP [here] and check their contact details [here]. 

  

In the meantime, there are some AMAZING women out there shedding actual blood, sweat and tears to address the current underfunding crisis. Georgina is running the London Marathon for Solace Women’s Aid, who runs Rape Crisis’ North London centre and Faye White is running a half marathon for Rape Crisis England & Wales next month. It should never be the burden of survivors to ensure vital services can get the funding they need, and it is yet another mark of shame on this government that these women have had to step up because their government has refused to. Please do consider sponsoring them if you can, or sharing their pages if you can’t!

 

As always, thank you SO much for all your support so far. Today’s EDM really would not have happened without you. I am still being contacted by women who have had similar experiences to me and you only need to read the comments of the petition to feel how widespread the impact this underfunding crisis is. To all those who have reached out to me personally, and those who have shared their stories via the petition, I promise I have heard you. Over 153,000 people have heard you. And we will all keep fighting.”

Photo Credit Louise Johansson

 

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