Reflections From a Rape Crisis Support Worker
This post talks about sexual violence and may be triggering for some people.
"As a support worker, I am able to assist survivors in the realisation that they were not to blame, that they are not alone, and that the way they feel does not mean something is wrong with them, but is a normal response to what was done to them."
What is it like to be a support worker for a rape crisis centre? This question filled my mind with thoughts and reflections about all the survivors we've supported, the sessions we’ve had, the calls we’ve taken, all from people who made that leap of faith into our service. The ‘we’ I’m referring to is our team at RASASH, a group of women who share the same ethos, who support one another so that they can support others.
I find it hard to articulate what being a support worker at a rape crisis centre is like for me. I’ve found myself in the supermarket on my way home from work and the check-out assistant casually asks, “How’s your day been?" I pause for a second not knowing what I could possibly say that would do justice to the day I’ve had, so I smile and say, “good thanks, how’s your day?".
The truth is that today I sat with a woman who finally found the courage to tell someone that she'd been raped. That she felt so traumatised by the abuse she endured, that she felt like giving up.
I witnessed a woman cry as she told me that it was the first time anyone believed her. That she was able to say what had felt unspeakable for many years.
I watched a woman sit up tall, step into her power, and begin to face the pain that she'd been running from for so long.
I spent time with a man, who said it helped just to speak and be heard.
But most of all, today, I was humbled by survivors who, in spite of everything, have shown incredible strength just by still being here.
So, what does it feel like to be a support worker you ask? It’s feeling great anger and sadness about what some people do to others. It’s feeling outraged at society for facilitating and covering up abuse.
But overwhelmingly, it’s feeling thankful. Thankful to be part of a movement that fights back against ‘rape culture’ and supports survivors. Thankful to be trusted by a survivor to walk alongside them in their healing journey.
As a support worker, I am able to assist survivors in the realisation that they were not to blame, that they are not alone, and that the way they feel does not mean something is wrong with them, but is a normal response to what was done to them.
Every day, I am humbled by the strength of survivors. And each night, I go to bed feeling tired, but so incredibly grateful for the opportunity, ability, and the privilege to do what I do and for the support and love of my colleagues and my family.
The Rape & Sexual Abuse Service Highland (RASASH) provides free, confidential, and specialist support, information, and advocacy to survivors of sexual violence age 13+ as well as to their non-abusing partners and family. Our support line can be reached Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 09:30 - 12:30 and Tuesdays and Thursdays 13:30 - 16:30 by phone 03330 066 909, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or text 07451 288080.
If you would like to support the work of RASASH, donations can be made via the following link: https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/4220#!/DonationDetails
Disclaimer: the views expressed in this post are those of the respective author and are not necessarily shared by the #ChangeHerStory Campaign partners.