Huge rise in demand for Rape Crisis services
One year after the broadcast of the documentary which revealed the late Jimmy Savile’s prolific rape and sexual abuse (1), Rape Crisis England & Wales, the country’s leading sexual violence charity for women and girls, today reports a 40% increase in calls to its national helpline over the last year.
Since the documentary was broadcast in early October 2012, the National Rape Crisis Helpline has received 78,000 calls, compared with 55,000 during the previous 12 months. Local Rape Crisis Centres across the country have likewise experienced an increase in the use of their range of services over the same period.
Despite this enormous demand for support from those who’ve experienced sexual violence, however, including large numbers of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, the Helpline receives no dedicated national funding.
Rape Crisis England & Wales is calling for cross-party commitment to ensuring that the vital Helpline service, and equally crucial local Rape Crisis services, can survive and grow through the changing landscape and beyond.
Spokeswoman Katie Russell said:
“Shocking as the revelations of the last year have been, they’ve reinforced what we within the Rape Crisis movement have learnt through our 40 years’ experience of providing specialist support to women and girls; that sexual violence sadly happens a lot more than most people think, and that the impacts for the survivor can be devastating and lifelong.
“Over 60% of those who use Rape Crisis services come to us because of events that took place three years or more ago, and many are adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. One positive outcome of the last year is that so many of these survivors have at last been heard, recognised, believed, and given the confidence to seek support, often for the very first time.
“The National Rape Crisis Helpline is open every day of the year but for limited hours due to a lack of funds, and this means it can take callers many attempts to get through to the specially trained workers who staff it. The need and demand for the service are overwhelming. Just as importantly, our member Rape Crisis Centres in towns and counties across England and Wales provide a range of specialist local support from helplines to advocacy to counselling, but some do struggle to find the funding to keep going year after year. Sexual violence survivors deserve and have the right to sustainable services, invested in by government.”
Joint Home Office, Ministry of Justice and Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures released in January 2013 estimated that over 85,000 women are raped and over 400,000 are sexually assaulted in England and Wales every year. Only around 15% currently report to the police.
Katie Russell added:
“Because Rape Crisis services are confidential and independent, many women and girls feel safe and confident to come to us even when they haven’t gone to the police, or perhaps confided to anyone in their lives until that point. We’re also crucially there for women and girls who’ve been affected by sexual violence no matter how long ago it took place, so we support many adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse who have been living with their experiences for decades. We know from this frontline work how difficult it can be for those raped and sexually abused as children to seek help at the time. This is reflected in the fact that 450 survivors have reported Savile since his death, while only four felt able to during his lifetime (2). This is one among many reasons why our services and their continuation are so vital.”
For more information, interviews and briefings:
Notes to editors:
1. The ITV Exposure documentary which controversially, finally, revealed the fact and the possible extent of Jimmy Savile’s rape and sexual abuse of children and young women was broadcast on Wednesday 3rd October 2012 and was followed by scores and soon hundreds of calls to police forces across the country from other victims.
2. From ‘Giving Victims a Voice: Joint report into sexual allegations made against Jimmy Savile’ by David Gray, Detective Superintendent with the Metropolitan Police Service and Peter Watt of the NSPCC, January 2013.