How has RSACC supported survivors during the pandemic?
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted all of our lives and for some people it has only exacerbated challenges they were already struggling to cope with. This is the case for many survivors of sexual violence and is the reason why our team at RSACC has been so committed to continuing our support despite the huge challenges presented by lockdown. We have had to adapt how we work and we have definitely noticed some common themes in the issues survivors are facing.
How are survivors affected?
Many survivors of historic sexual abuse or violence are living with the mental repercussions years and even decades later. Many of our clients are reaching out to us at this time for intensive support to help them manage and survive with mental ill health.
We’re also seeing survivors who previously accessed our support coming back to us as the current situation has left them struggling to cope. Many survivors are telling us that lockdown and isolation is leading to more time to think about and mentally re-live their trauma.
Survivors are also impacted and feel “cut off” by other services closing or suspending their operations such as medical appointments being cancelled, more difficulty communicating with the police and criminal justice proceedings being delayed.
“I’m struggling to cope but I’ve had to put my therapy and recovery on the back burner. I’ve just got to get on with it and look after my family. I have no time on my own.”
“All the things I usually do to help me cope with my trauma were blocked. Going outside, seeing my friends, my counselling sessions. I feel like I’ve gone back to square one.”
How have we adapted our support?
During lockdown we suspended face to face support such as one to one counselling sessions to keep everyone safe from the virus.
Sadly for many survivors this makes it extremely challenging for them to get the emotional and practical support they need from us, being unable to access a private, safe space. They may be in close confines with their perpetrator or feel they’re unable to ring fence time for themselves amongst work and caring for children and or relatives. This creates a pressure cooker of stress and anxiety. Although the majority of survivors of sexual violence are women and girls, sexual violence affects men and boys too. Our services are accessible to both female and male survivors.
We have worked hard to adapt our services at this time including;
- Extending our helpline capacity
Our confidential helpline 0300 222 5730 is open, for any person affected by domestic abuse and/or sexual violence from Monday to Thursday from 10am – 2pm.
- Telephone and video counselling sessions
Our trained counsellors are still delivering sessions remotely for those survivors who are able to access them.
- Regular check-in calls
We are keeping in regular contact with those we’re supporting, checking in on their wellbeing and reminding them that we are still here for them.
- Signposting to online chat support
Rape Crisis England and Wales is still running its live chat support service. Confidential emotional support service for women and girls who have experienced sexual violence. You can find out more including opening times here.
What are the wider implications?
Like other survivor organisations across the country, we are anticipating a big spike in people contacting us for support post-lockdown. Survivors may have delayed reaching out for the support they need about historic abuse or may have experienced sexual violence during this time. Many are also facing uncertainty about delayed criminal proceedings which is adding to mental pain and anxiety.
How can I help?
There is help available to anyone who needs it right now. Please spread the word and let people know.
This is an extremely uncertain time for RSACC and the survivors who rely on our support. Please consider setting up a monthly donation to give us some reassurance at this time that we can continue our work or make a one-off donation. You can donate here.
We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported us in any way during this challenging time. It gives us such an incredible boost to know you’ve got our backs and we’re in this together.