Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis (GCRC) have just launched a drop-in service for students at Strathclyde University. The service aims to provide access to support and information for young students who, quite often, do not know what type of help is out there. Whilst GCRC also run a drop-in service at their headquarters in Glasgow city centre, they recognise that the aspect of venturing out of your comfort zone to a strange centre could be quite daunting for some; hence one of the aims of having a drop-in service on campus is to make support more accessible and less stressful for the student.
The launch of the service comes as a result of GCRC working alongside the Equally Safe in Higher Education project (ESHE): a Scottish government funded initiative with the aim of eradicating gender based violence within Scottish higher education institutions. The project was developed in response to a report conducted in 2011 by the National Union of Students, which found that a staggering 1 in 4 female students reported having experienced ‘unwanted sexual behaviour’ during their studies.
Whilst the project focuses on educating students on gender based violence and so forth preventing it, it also recognises the detrimental effects that sexual violence can have upon a student’s time at university; primary parts of student life such as studying, socialising, or even the thought of sitting in a crowded lecture hall can be the toughest part of a survivor’s day, whilst the student’s mental and physical health can also be greatly affected too. Hence GCRC have collaborated with ESHE to provide a service that offers students support in order to lessen the impact upon their time at university.
The launch of the drop-in at Strathclyde is an amazing triumph for GCRC. Whilst it’s still a pilot scheme, the hopes for the future are bright with ambitions to install a similar service on every campus in Scotland. It’s taken a long time, but it seems that academic institutions are no longer ignoring sexual violence as a factor in student life and are finally doing something about it.
Yet this is just an example of the astounding work that Glasgow Rape Crisis, and Rape Crisis Scotland do for women and men; Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis have a Freephone and instant messaging service as well as their drop-in sessions every Wednesday and scheduled appointments.
They also offer legal help with their ‘support to report’ campaign, which is run by law advocates who offer support and information to anyone aged 13 and over who is thinking about reporting their sexual assault to the police. Rape Crisis Scotland also have a freephone service and information on drop-in services based all over Scotland, such as GCRC’s, can be found on their website.
With the opening of the drop-in service, GCRC hope to make the public more aware of the help that is available to those who have experienced, or know someone who has experienced rape or sexual abuse.
This year has been extremely busy for those at GCRC and also at Rape Crisis Scotland, who launched their I Just Froze campaign back in March. The campaign’s objective is to raise awareness of different reactions that the body has when faced with trauma, and that these reactions aren’t always what we would expect; some of us, when faced with trauma, will fight back, fly, or freeze. The significance of the campaign is that it highlights and challenges perceptions surrounding rape that deem the ‘right’ way to react to being sexually assaulted is to fight back, scream, or run away, whilst freezing up is never recognised as being an ‘appropriate’ reaction.
Victims often fear being judged because of not having the ‘right’ reaction, this can then discourage them from reporting the assault to the police, appearing in court, or even just seeking help and support. Between 2015-16, only 51% of survivors, who had used GCRC services, had reported their assault to the police. Whilst the number of people reporting their assaults to the police is increasing, there is still a large volume of the population who don’t.
The campaign aims to reduce the stigma surrounding rape and to raise awareness that ‘freezing’ is a completely natural reaction to rape, and as such stamp out the misconception that there is a ‘right’ or ‘appropriate’ reaction. The campaign has received astonishing support from the public and is a vital move forward towards changing the way rape and sexual assault is spoken about.
The work that the staff and volunteers at RSC and GCRC do is fundamental to the women, children, and men of Scotland and we are eternally grateful that there are such support services available to us. If you have experienced sexual assault and want to speak to someone about it please do not hesitate to contact the centre, they offer, free, confidential, non-judgemental support and advice for anyone who needs it.
The Rosey Project Community is a small network, ran by young service users of Glasgow Rape Crisis, who share and create informative and supportive resources on social media, such as articles, self-care tips, blog posts, personal experiences and advice.
They aim to compensate for the tremendous lack of informative resources available publicly and on the internet for young sexual assault survivors between the ages of 13-25. One RPC member commented on their personal experience with support material offered to them:
Personally, the support material I was offered didn’t help me but if we can create something that’s engaging and provides useful information to its readers, we will have achieved our goal. All we want to do is help people. We have been in their shoes and we want to do whatever we can to make those first steps easier.
Brave members of the Rosey Project Community were invited to parliament on the 15th of November to speak at the NSPCC’s report The Right to Recover. The report detailed what happens to a child after the disclosure or discovery of sexual abuse in the West of Scotland and campaigned for the provision of ‘therapeutic services’ for those children.
Three Rosey’s each got up and bravely told, to an audience of MP’s, West of Scotland Nurses, and other Rape Crisis Scotland centre members, their own personal experiences, covering issues that they wanted to be addressed both by the government and the public. They focused on living with the aftermath of sexual violence, attitudes and responses to sexual violence from academic institutions, and also the fantastic support made available to them by Rape Crisis Glasgow.
The reactions received from the audience were a mixture of ‘audible gasps, tears, and shock.’ followed by an overwhelming round of applause from the full room. The Rosey’s left Holyrood that day feeling ‘empowered’ to keep on pushing for change in regards to the way sexual violence is spoken about in Scotland.
The RPC is a branch of Glasgow Rape Crisis and has now launched a drop-in service ..for individuals aged 13-25 who have experienced sexual assault, every Thursday from 4-7 at the Rape Crisis Glasgow centre. One RPC member stated that the impact the project has had on her life:
This might sound annoying and cliché but at a time I felt my life was falling disintegrating in front of me, and the people I met through the centre felt like saviours. I had workshops on self-care which reminded me how to look after myself and that I was important. I had individual talking support where I could openly express my deepest thoughts, fears and emotions. I joined a support group where we discussed topics such as blame, guilt, and body image. The Rosey Project has so many amazing purposes.