Christmas is a time of joy for many of us but, for the women and girls we support, the celebrations of others can intensify the impacts of sexual violence. With the added stress and anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the reality is that this festive season could be a lonely and difficult time for survivors.
The pandemic has meant an increase in demand and intensity of support across our services. Referrals to our counselling service alone have increased by 40% from the same time last year.
Women and girls need your support in these challenging times. Your donation will help to ensure that no survivor of sexual violence has to cope alone.Click here to make a donation
This is Beth’s story. Beth has used our email support service and has chosen to share her experience to show the difference your donation will make for local women and girls.
For over 20 years I thought that what happened to me could be pushed to the back of my mind and forgotten about. That approach worked with varying levels of success for a long time. For various reasons it was becoming harder, memories wouldn’t stay subdued as easily.
I went to see a therapist. Talking to her made me realise what actually happened to me and to acknowledge it for what it was, rape.
I still feel weird writing or saying that word, as though it was someone else, I mean that kind of thing couldn’t happen to me.
My idea of rape was more aligned to the stereotypical thinking of a stranger attacking someone at night, probably violently. He wasn’t a stranger, he had been my boyfriend, I knew him, so surely I couldn’t have been raped? I always felt I would be judged for my actions, that somehow people would try to blame me for what happened.
I blamed me, so why wouldn’t others?
Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre’s website gave me the feeling that there could be hope of feeling better, no matter how long ago the abuse happened, I was still important enough to deserve help.
One evening I decided to email the support service. I considered the phone line but really didn’t think that I would be able to physically say out loud the things I wanted and needed to say.
Sending that email was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am so grateful for the reply I received, it was amazing and really, I guess, life changing.
For the first time I felt listened to, I felt like every word I had written had been considered and replied to in a carefully thought out way. I felt understood and most importantly I didn’t feel alone anymore. It turned out that there were people who could understand what had happened to me and why I felt the way I was feeling.
Taking that step and emailing CRCC has changed a lot for me. I’m not sure if I can ever really thank them enough.
I used to feel really alone with my memories and although they will always be there, I don’t have to be so alone with it anymore. They made me realise it is okay to need help and to ask for it and to receive it.
This is why we want make sure we are always here for survivors. Sexual violence doesn’t stop for Christmas and neither do we.
By making a donation today you will help us be there for women and girls, like Beth, now and throughout the year to come.
We appreciate the difficult times we now live in but if you are able to help, anything you can donate makes a real and lasting difference to our work. You enable us to keep our vital services running and help us to develop our support to meet the needs of survivors.
Wishing you a very happy festive season.