Today Rape Crisis England and Wales report there are currently nearly 10,000 people on waiting lists to see counsellors and therapists at Rape Crisis centres, double the number from four years ago. Waiting lists for people who have experienced sexual violence have risen to the longest on record, and here at SARSAS we are no different.
The need for our support has increased every year since we started and this year has been the largest increase ever, with increases ranging from 35% – 50% higher than the previous year.
We are trying to meet demand, increasing our counselling by 40%, investing in support groups and offering support calls to those on our waiting lists but we know it is not enough.
Women and girls come to us when they need the support, their night terrors are getting worse, they are struggling to leave the house, they are experiencing debilitating flashbacks…people come to us because they need support to cope with the effects of trauma and they need it now, not in months or even years.
We are pleased that rape and sexual abuse has been acknowledged as an issue that is magnified by Covid, the covid based funding made available has helped but this year it is only an 18% increase that does not meet the 47% increase in people wanting support.
Short-term funding isn’t the solution. It comes with big logistical challenges and raises expectations in the community. It creates a support cliff edge where services are at risk of losing crucial funding on a yearly basis.
We need long-term funding that allows us to meet ever increasing local demand in a sustainable way coupled with a much stronger prevention focus to prevent the victimisation of tomorrow. We want to end gender-based violence and we want those who have experienced it to get the support they deserve.