Survivors of sexual violence and the workers who support
them are no strangers to adversity.
The roots of Rape Crisis in Scotland sprang out of a determination to overcome the worst of human experience, and this most adaptable and resilient of movements has known many challenges over the four decades and more of its existence. The current pandemic is in many ways simply the latest in a very (very) long line of large-scale barriers faced by Rape Crisis services, and the pragmatism, positivity and refusal to bow to circumstance so clear in the arrangements introduced so swiftly this year by centres and the national office to minimise its impact on people looking for support (and maximise their opportunities to access this) echo some of the earliest impulses of our movement.
If the past year has offered any positives at all, one of them is certainly an opportunity for reflection. And in many respects, what this reveals is that in order to find our way forward it can help to look back. In the darkest days of 2020 it can make such a difference too, to remind ourselves just how far we’ve come. In the voices of the sisters who went before us, there is much that resonates with our own experiences, and the challenges we face in work that can change lives for the better – and sometimes even save them.
It’s hard to describe the feeling of waking up to a flurry of notifications on Twitter claiming Rape Crisis to be protecting abusive men when our very existence is to support and improve responses to survivors of sexual violence.
Nothing has changed and yet everything has changed.
We at Rape Crisis are no strangers to debate; we spend much of our time advocating for change in a society that still jokes about rape, a country where sexual comments are thrown out of passing cars at girls as young as seven as they walk home from school. But this isn’t business as usual, and as conversations around the Gender Recognition Act become increasingly worrying, let us set something straight.