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Why Chester rape victim is campaigning for support closer to home

Victim speaks to Women2day about why vital rape services should be available closer to Chester

The St Mary's Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Manchester has been a lifeline to rape victims, but one says there needs to be a service nearer to Chester

Over the past year I have written a number of articles about rape, after one reader who was a victim of rape herself, approached me asking me to focus on how the aftermath of such a harrowing experience can affect a woman.

The woman, who I have called 'Becky' for the purposes of this article, said she felt it was her obligation as a woman to use her own experience to help and inform other people who may be going through a similar situation.

When it first happened to her, Becky did not report it to police for two months and had no idea what to do, who to turn to or anything about how to deal with what had happened to her.

Support

The first thing she did was ring a friend who worked for a sexual abuse charity, and advised her to contact North West-based Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC), which provides vital support for victims of rape and sexual assault, and Manchester-based St Mary’s SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre), which offers constant advice, support and medical treatment.

Both were invaluable in giving support to Becky, especially St Mary’s, who offer forensic, counselling and aftercare service to anyone in the Greater Manchester and Cheshire area who has experienced rape or sexual assault, whether it’s happened recently or in the past.

They are on hand to give immediate crisis support, forensic medical examination and advice to victims and Becky describes it as ‘the greatest place in the world’.

Thanks to the compassion and sensitivity she was shown by both RASASC and St Mary’s, gradually Becky has been able to take each day as it comes and come to terms with what happened to her, as well as the resulting emotions that come with her experience.

But what she can’t understand is why services like St Mary’s SARC are not closer to home to people like her, living in Chester, and she now she wants to channel her energy into turning her own negative experience into a positive one that will benefit others, by campaigning to get some kind of hub started here.

“About 1,600 people went to St Mary’s last year,” she said. “This is the greatest place in the world but the build up on the journey is not pleasant.

“On the way there I felt sick. I could always phone them for support but if there was just one closer it would be so much easier. If you’ve just been traumatised, Manchester is a long way to go.

“If you are assaulted in Cheshire why is there not a hub here? There’s one in Liverpool and one in Manchester, surely victims in our county shouldn’t have to travel far at such a vulnerable time?

Becky added: “I want to campaign to change this to get a hub, a mini SARC or counselling/examination room.

“Even a room at the Countess or Wrexham would cut the journey in half.

“The point is, you should not have to spend 40 minutes in the car, working yourself up to having to talk about your trauma, just because you happen to live in Cheshire.”

“Something needs to change.”

Do you agree with Becky that there needs to be a service in Cheshire? Let us know in the comments below:

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