Providing specialist support when it’s needed, for as long as it’s needed.
Worcestershire Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre and Herefordshire Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre are both incorporated as part of West Mercia Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre, a charitable company limited by guarantee in England and Wales.
West Mercia Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre (WMRSASC), is the only organisation in Herefordshire and Worcestershire to offer specialist support to the victims of rape and sexual violence. Services are free, confidential and non-judgemental and currently available to survivors who have experienced any form of rape and/or sexual violence at any time in their lives.
Incorporated as WMRSASC in November 2009 (Charity Number 1136677 / Company Number 07083844), the charity was first established in 1986 as Worcestershire Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre (WRSASC), which, until recently, was still used as a trading name for services provided within the geographical borders of Worcestershire. We have operated continuously for the past three decades and have extensive experience of delivering and managing specialist rape crisis services. We are independent of government, the NHS, the police and local authorities and believe this is essential to our work. In 2011 we opened the doors to our Herefordshire centre, known until recently as Herefordshire Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre (HRSASC) which provides support within the geographical borders of Herefordshire.
Our primary aim has always been to provide support, information and advocacy to female victims and survivors of sexual violence. Over recent years WMRSASC has expanded some of its service provision to support men and boys but the provision of and importance of women only spaces has been maintained. This is because WMRSASC recognises that sexual violence is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality within our society and so is a crime that disproportionately affects women and girls.
WMRSASC’s services are provided from a feminist and human rights perspective and are designed to ensure the well-being, health and mental health effects of sexual violence and abuse are addressed in a safe service and victims and survivors are enabled to regain critical power and control lost through their experiences of sexual violence and abuse.
We provide a telephone helpline for female and male survivors and their supporters, face to face counselling for survivors over the age of 11, an Independent Sexual Violence Advisory Service survivors over the age of 5, a signposting service and internal and external training.
We have a proven track record of delivering high quality, well-used support services and innovating and developing new services. WMRSASC has established firm links with many local, regional and national agencies. Staff regularly attend partnership and network meetings, contribute to a wide range of forums and strategic alliances and provide specialist advice on rape and sexual violence issues. Networks attended include:
- Safer Worcester Partnership
- Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARAC)
- Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) Strategic Board, Clinical Governance and Communications sub groups
- CPS Violence Against Women Scrutiny Panel
- Worcestershire & Herefordshire Forums Against Domestic & Sexual Abuse
We also work with a range of agencies and staff who frequently come into contact with victims of rape and sexual violence in both the Statutory and Voluntary sectors, or who are based in agencies that can provide practical support. Partnership arrangements are regularly reviewed to ensure partnership working is effective and offers the best outcomes for victims. The Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA) work closely with the criminal justice system and are well placed to signpost and support clients in wider society.
WMRSASC constantly seeks to widen its network of contacts in order to:
- Publicise the services offered and increase awareness and access for all victims
- Facilitate a co-ordinated multi-agency approach to service provision
- Facilitate successful transitions and integration between other services and agencies.
- Provide an effective signposting service
- Maintain effective referral routes
- Agree care pathways
- Ensure quality of service provision and share good practice
- Ensure equality of access
- Increase understanding of the issues surrounding rape and sexual abuse
- Identify funding opportunities
- Influence agencies working with the victims of sexual violence
- Access resources, including opportunities to attend training programmes, talks and conferences
Sexual violence, including childhood sexual abuse, impacts on physical health, reproductive health, sexual health and mental health. It can cause anxiety and depression, sleep problems, nightmares and flashbacks, low self-esteem and lack of confidence, self-harm including drug and alcohol abuse and dependence, self-injury and eating disorders, suicide, chronic physical pain, sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancy and medical problems. It is linked with homelessness, unemployment, criminalisation, interrupted education and training, relationship issues and re-victimisation. It requires specialist support services.
Rape and childhood sexual abuse are isolating crimes. Victims often report feeling “different, not normal”. Their ability to function day-to-day is diminished and many clients report experiencing difficulty with relationships and work. A high percentage of clients also report problems sleeping, many related to anxiety, panic attacks and nightmares. Many victims of sexual violence are repeatedly victimised. The impact of sexual violence and the failure to address the underlying issues has wider consequence for our communities and society at large. Despite progress in the criminal justice process over recent years it is still estimated that up to nine in ten cases of rape go unreported and 38% of serious sexual assault victims tell no one about their experience.
We are here to provide support for change.