Holding It Together

Read the report

Read stories from Rape Crisis workers, learn about innovative ways that services are being delivered and view statistics that reveal the enormity of the challenges faced.

Covid-19 changed all of us. Every member of our society was forced to adapt in some way to a new – and often scary – reality. For many victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, rape and all forms of sexual violence, this new reality was especially hard – with the pandemic dealing them yet another blow on top of the many challenges they already faced.

With many victims and survivors experiencing compounding traumas as a result, Rape Crisis Centres were also left facing a monumental challenge of their own. How to respond to a record demand for counselling and support in the middle of a pandemic?

In 2020-21, Rape Crisis Centres provided almost 1.1 million sessions of specialist support. This was an increase of 41% from 2019-20.

Our new report gives you just a little snapshot of all of the incredible ways they did this.

And, it shows why their work should serve as inspiration for our society to make providing specialist support to victims and survivors of sexual violence a top priority.

During the pandemic, Rape Crisis Centres:

  • Developed new services such as “walk and talk” counselling, and found creative ways to move existing services online.
  • Employed Independent Sexual Violence Advisors or Advocates (ISVAs) who continued to enter courts and police stations to support survivors and victims, at great personal risk.
  • Bought phones and laptops for asylum-seeking and trafficked women and provided them with tech support so they could continue having access to services.
  • Ensured that women with learning difficulties and autism could continue to deliver their specialist training and be empowered to gain qualifications.
Two women are talking. One is looking at a tablet. The other is talking on the phone.

“As Rape Crisis Centres, we just held it together; we were sitting in spaces with other agencies that had collapsed, imploded, buckled under the pressure … It never occurred to us that we would shut down because we keep survivors at the heart of what we do.”

What next?

Now, as the pandemic eases and responses shift, it is vital to remember that the urgent needs of victims and survivors of sexual violence and abuse have not gone away.

10,000 victims and survivors are currently sitting on our waiting lists.

Our Rape Crisis Centres have demonstrated over the past 18 months that they have the ability to scale up services, but without planned and sustained investment these numbers will only grow and grow.

We need funders and commissioners to provide longer-term, flexible funding that covers Centres’ core costs. This would mean that Centres can focus on developing and growing their services – rather than constantly responding to destabilising cycles of redundancies and recruitment.

We need Government departments to work jointly to provide a long-term sustainable funding solution for all specialist sexual violence and abuse support services. There is now an opportunity with the establishment of the Victim’s Funding Strategy and the forthcoming Victim’s Bill.

And, we need to improve victim and survivors’ experiences of the justice system. The Government needs to pilot new initiatives that could reduce long delays to trials and improve attrition rates.

For our full recommendations, download the report.

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About Rape Crisis England & Wales

Rape Crisis England & Wales (RCEW) is the national membership body for a network of 39 autonomous member Rape Crisis Centres across England and Wales. RCEW exists to raise awareness and understanding of sexual violence and abuse in all its forms, improve services and promote the needs and rights of women and girls who have experienced sexual abuse, rape and all forms of sexual violence. We also work towards the elimination of sexual violence and abuse, raising awareness in the wider community and with government.