BLOG: A Morning At Scottish Borders Rape Crisis Centre
Across the country, Rape Crisis centres deliver vital services to survivors of sexual violence. Scottish Borders Rape Crisis Centre offers emotional and practical support, information and advocacy to women and girls aged 12 up across the local authority. In this guest blog for 16 Days of Action, Susie Stein, Chief Executive Officer, describes a typical morning for the Centre, and the challenges and rewards of delivering a service that is such a lifeline.
We have a lengthy waiting list for survivors to access regular support, one of our Support Workers makes contact every 6-8 weeks to check in. One of the survivors the worker spoke to 6 weeks ago was feeling anxious and upset as she had just found out via social media that her perpetrator had been charged with the rape of another woman. She was struggling with her emotions, not sleeping and not eating. They discussed her coping strategies and what works for her when she is feeling this way. By chatting this through with her, she reported that she had forgotten some of her strategies and planned to spend some more time on herself over the next week or so. Six weeks later things had shifted for her, she is managing her anxiety as best she can and feels more in control of her emotions. She is aware that it will be another 6 months on the waiting list before she will be allocated a support worker but thanked me for keeping in touch and told me that she knows she isn’t forgotten about and appreciates the regular telephone calls.
One of our Support & Advocacy workers met with a survivor today for the first time, the referral indicates she would like to report a rape within an abusive relationship to the Police. The worker answered her questions about the process and what would happen and explained the ways in which she could support her. The survivor definitely wants to go ahead with reporting. After the meeting the worker phoned the Police to arrange for a female Sexual Offences Liaison Officer to come to our centre to take a statement from the survivor. Being able to request a female officer and have the statement taken somewhere safe and supportive makes a real difference in what can be a very traumatic process.
Two of our Support Worker met to discuss the success and improvements to be made to short courses we recently facilitated, one on assertiveness and the other on managing anxiety. The first workshop looks at setting boundaries and having an assertive communication style, while the second one focuses on cognitive and body-based approaches to managing anxiety. We have received very positive feedback for both courses with survivors reporting increased confidence, self-worth, feeling more empowered and having more knowledge about anxiety, more control over their anxious thoughts and also learning ways to relax their body.