Historic rape victim opens up about ordeal thanks to support service

An historic rape victim has opened up about her decades-long ordeal after receiving help from a support service.

PICTURE POSED BY MODEL A woman showing signs of depression..
PICTURE POSED BY MODEL A woman showing signs of depression..

Barbara was raped 40 years ago but felt unable to report the attack at the time as she felt frightened, ashamed and feared she wouldn’t be believed.

She suffered severe bouts of depression and took anti-depressant medication as result of her ordeal.

But after turning to Staffordshire support service Survive, she has felt emboldened to speak out about what happened to her.

Barbara said: "I haven’t been able to trust people, and this affected my intimacy in relationships. I have grown-up children, but lost touch with them.

"I’ve worked on and off throughout my life, which was something I was very proud of, but losing my job during the pandemic left me feeling hopeless."

Barbara accesses Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) support through regular face-to-face appointments, phone calls and texts.

She has built a trusting relationship with her ISVA and opened up about family dynamics, mental and physical health, as well as her fears and aspirations for the future.

Her ISVA ensured that Barbara understood the criminal justice process, enabling her to report her experience to the police. Her ISVA liaised with the police to find up-to-date information on the investigation.

The pandemic left her feeling isolated and she has struggled with her mental health.

She said: "I feel very relieved that my finances are now stable. I’ve re-engaged with my mental health worker. I’ve also started studying a course online, which has helped me focus on something positive and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment again.

"I’m proud of myself for finally speaking out about the abuse, and with support from Survive I’m making positive changes in my life and feeling more in control. I’m taking one day at a time. I feel more motivated and happy. Today is a good day.’

The free service, launched in October 2020, is commissioned by the Staffordshire Commissioner’s Office with an investment of £300,000 per year for the next two years, and is delivered by Staffordshire Women’s Aid.

Staffordshire County Council also provide £20,000 per year towards the service and supported the commissioning process.

Victims can seek support whether they report the crime to the police or not. Services include a local helpline, counselling and a specialist support and advocacy service for victims, as well as support for close family members and significant others.

The 24-hour helpline is available on 0300 330 5959 or email referrals@staffordshirewomensaid.org.

  • Barbara's name was changed for this article.

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