London's only Rape Crisis Centre faces closure, as Boris ignores funding plight

by Jess McCabe // 6 February 2009, 12:53

The Guardian carries a piece outlining the continuing funding struggles of London's sole remaining Rape Crisis centre.

Yvonne Traynor, chief exec of the branch of Rape Crisis (I can't quite work out from the story which it is) explains:

The NHS doesn't offer specialist rape crisis assistance. They offer short-term courses, but women who may have been abused for 10 or 15 years when they were children may find that six weeks of counselling is not enough. Sometimes we work with people for up to a year. Last year we saw 320 women, but also offered emergency couselling and a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week telephone helpline.

We need £250,000 a year just to tick over. The Home Office bailed us out last year with £63,000, and £1m was set aside for similar organisations across the country, but there is no long-term security. We have no stability. We survive only through these ad hoc grants, so we can't plan ahead. We don't know if we will still be here in four years' time. This is a tragedy for women.

We do very quiet work, behind the scenes. I think part of the problem is that we are not loud enough. We are too busy doing work counselling to enter into activism. We don't have the time to engage with local government.

Later, she adds:

There has been a backlash against the women's movement. I think local authorities think we are a pain in the neck. We are not taken seriously, and much less so now than a decade ago.

Alexandra at BitchBuzz contacted Yvonne, after reading the piece, and got some further information:

“Boris Johnson did promise us sustainable funding for the next four years (pre his election) but since a meeting with the mayor’s office in October last year, we have not heard anything!”

It's a dire situation.


Comments From You

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 06 February 2009 at 13:33

Yvonne Trayner is the Chief Executive Officer of the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre which is based in Croydon, Surrey. It is this Rape Crisis centre which unless the Government and Boris change their minds will close. Of course we supposedly do not need Rape Crisis Centres because Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCS) which are administered and funded by central Government supposedly provide adequate support and assistance to women and girl survivors of male sexual violence.

But it is not widely known these centres only provide support for females and males who have recently experienced any form of male sexual violence committed against them. Rape Crisis Centres (the few remaining ones) provide long-term support and specialist care to women and girls who have experienced male sexual violence, irrespective of whether the male violence occurred last week, last year, ten years ago or even 20 years ago. Central government refuses to accept that victims of male sexual violence are not a 'one size fits all.' Neither does the government or Boris accept it is common for female survivors of male sexual violence to seek support and assistance only after a long period of time has elapsed since the male violence was committed against them.

Six sessions with a professional therapist are supposed to 'fix' female survivors of male sexual violence. Reality is long-term support is needed but government and Boris are only concerned with one issue and that is economics. Women's right of having adequate and holistic professional support which is not dependent on the survivor's ability to pay is clearly a non-issue for the male-dominated government and Boris.

More money and funding is being given to knife crime than the innumerable crimes of male violence against women. The reason why knife crime is given more prominence and importance is because it is primarily male on male violence committed in the public sphere. But one would not know this since the gender of both perpetrators and victims are commonly hidden by using the word 'people.'

Male on female sexual violence is overwhelmingly committed within the private sphere and given it is all too often not acknowledged as male sexual violence but just normal and appropriate male heterosexual behaviour, no surprises this social injustice to women and girls continues to be ignored. How long before all Rape Crisis centres are closed?

Already Scotland's parliament has axed what is termed 'ring fencing' in respect of providing adequate funding to various voluntary women's groups supporting female survivors of male violence in all its forms. 'Ring fencing' was a way of guaranteeing long-term adequate funding to these organisations. But, now even this guarantee has been removed because in our current economic climate it has been decided other issues have more priority than supporting women and girls who have experienced routine and daily male violence.

Backlash? What backlash? Male violence against women is increasingly seen as a non-issue and the gains second wave feminists made are increasingly being eroded because we have supposedly equal parity with men. I wish!

Victoria // Posted 06 February 2009 at 15:27

The long waiting lists and the fear of being dismissed ("Well, you've coped all right up until now...") already deter so many survivors of past rape and sexual abuse from trying to get help, especially as many such women may have low self-esteem as a result of their experiences and a tendency to feel as though they're wasting everybody's time anyway. Nothing can ever replace the work done by charities such as Rape Crisis. We need to start putting heavy pressure on Johnson to make him keep his promises.

femmegaygal // Posted 06 February 2009 at 15:48

I am a survivor of rape. I am a survivor of domestic abuse. I am a feminist. I am one of the many people that rape crisis centres have helped.

I was in an abusive relationship when I was 16 for 12 months. He was emotionally, physically and sexually abusive. When I left him he stalked me and wrote me letters in blood. He tried to buy a gun. Eventually he left the country but even now 14 years later he still occasionally finds ways to contact me.

At 20 I started getting flashbacks. I went to my universities counselling service but the only counseller available was a man. I didn't want to talk to a man. I went to my GP (also male) and he arranged for me to see a CPN(a woman). It helped. The flashbacks mostly stopped but after 6 sessions it ended.

When I was 26 I was in a fantastic relationship with a wonderful man. I still had problems with flashbacks occasionally and with sex. I decided to seek help. 10 years on. I called rape crisis. I saw a counseller for almost a year. It helped me to understand why I decided to stay. It helped me to see that the decisions that I made then were not the same that I would now. That my capacity to decide things has changed. I have changed. That it wasn't that I was just weak and foolish.

I am 30 now. I am more than a survivor. I am grateful for the work of the rape crisis centres and their wonderful, dedicated staff. They change lives.

Lara // Posted 13 February 2009 at 09:26

What can we do to help? Is there anyone we should be writing to?

Anton Howes // Posted 25 February 2009 at 01:10

I am not a feminist, but only today I set up the facebook campaign to stop the closure of the London Rape Crisis Centre.

I did this both as an individual, and in my capacity as leader of the Social Liberalist Party in the UK. However, I am determined for this to be a Non-Party political campaign, and it is likely that Liberal Youth and perhaps the Liberal Democrats will join the campaign.

You know how urgent this is. You can join the campaign here: http://www.new.facebook.com/group.php?gid=67872108711&ref=mf

Sabre // Posted 25 February 2009 at 11:47

Anton Howes

I can't resist asking... why aren't you a feminist?

Anton Howes // Posted 10 March 2009 at 01:49

Sabre, because feminism is such a broad definition - I prefer to define myself as a liberal - that of course includes lots of feminist ideals.

Jess McCabe // Posted 10 March 2009 at 14:20

Anton - feminism's too broad for you, so you call yourself a liberal?! That's the broadest of broad categories! I would really urge you to consider what the implications are of not identifying yourself as at least pro-feminist.

Anton Howes // Posted 10 March 2009 at 23:46

Jess,
OK, I should have been a bit more specific. :P

I subscribe to basic feminist ideals of equality of rights with men - so yes, I am pro-feminist.

However, I'm not part of the feminist movement, but instead prefer to define myself as a liberal.

Philippa // Posted 23 March 2010 at 16:59

Hi
I have just finished watching the BBC progs. on Women and am horrified at the story of a gang rape on a girl/woman of 18.

Reading the blogs and article above I am furious at learning that there is no money to keep a Rape Crisis Centre in London and elsewhere etc. I cannot understand why those women who have climbed the ladder of success by our hard won efforts in the 1970's to get girls into top jobs in the city haven't yet come to the rescue. Aren't many earning huge sums - perhaps men don't want to acknowledge there is a problem here, or are women to blame for turning a blind eye? Why go to councils for handouts - women could sponser several centres in London. Some women e.g. Victoria Beckham have money to burn, if women in all walks of life came together in several groups the problem could be solved. Many women now earn high salaries and have had experiences with mens attitudes to women especially in the workplace that they never would have had. We older feminists secured their freedom for them during the 60's and 70's.

It's payback time girls - so go to it, don't watch men win in this court anymore.

We live in capitalist times, don't wait for a Socialist handout because it will not arrive...

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