Posts Tagged ‘blame’

Over the past few weeks Count Me In Cymru has been looking into the issue of rape in Wales; speaking to victims, campaigners and third sector workers to see how we can stand together with survivors who become isolated by society.

So here’s the scenario.

A woman in Wales is raped. What questions do we want to ask?

Why did it happen?

A recent survey by Amnesty International showed that over a third of Welsh students interviewed thought a woman was totally or partially responsible for being raped if she was drunk, or had behaved in a flirty way. 42% said she was totally or partially to blame if she didn’t say ‘no’ clearly.

This mindset of blaming the victim is unique to violent crimes against women. If someone is mugged on a night out, no-one leaps to ask if they were drunk at the time; if they were showing off their belongings; or if they fought back. If a man is raped, no-one calls him a slut.

Stephanie Lubbock, 24, from Bridgend was attacked while on holiday but managed to escape. Stephanie shared her thoughts on attitudes towards victims:

The fact that victims often don’t know where to get support in Wales is another issue. This leads us to our next question.

Where can victims go for help?

The answer to this question can be unclear to victims. When it comes to support, there is one Rape Crisis centre in Wales. One. At least that’s how it seems.

 For a victim searching for a Rape Crisis centre, Wales looks like this:

In reality, there is more provision, albeit with considerable gaps in provision to some areas:

In North Wales you will find the one and only victim support centre that is Rape Crisis affiliated. There are other rape support agencies across Wales with other names, which offer counselling and emotional support. Additionally there are sexual advice referral centres, which deal the procedural criminal justice aspects of rape prosecutions. The lack of clarity over which centres provide which services can cause confusion for victims.

Linda Thomas*, from South Wales, who was raped many years ago, said: “Looking for the well-known name Rape Crisis doesn’t help. There is another name, which I forget now, Pathways? Something like that. How the hell does it help not to have a recognisable name of a great service to be able to turn to? Rape Crisis I believe is in North Wales. I’m in South Wales, and this Pathways thingy was miles away too. Forget it. Where could I go?”

Jackie Stamp, Chief Executive of New Pathways rape support agency, explained that the decision not to include the word ‘rape’ in the names of their centres was a conscious one:

Val Lunn, National Development Manager for Rape Crisis (England and Wales), said Rape Crisis is aware of the lack of services in Wales:

With large gaps in facilities for rape survivors in Wales and confusion surrounding the types of services each centre offers, there seems considerable room for improvement.

What happens next?

On November 25 Rape Crisis launched its new National Service Standards, which aim to guarantee the same levels of service to rape survivors, no matter where they live in the UK. This initiative will have little effect in Wales, as only one centre is rape crisis affiliated. But such an approach might help survivors to identify where the services exist and to know what to expect.

When it comes to attitudes towards rape and rape victims, these are ever-changing.  In October an old campaign poster from 2008, which read: “Don’t be a victim. Drink Responsibly” was found displayed in South Wales and caused an outcry. This shows how far attitudes have come in three years that police are no longer attributing instances of rape to the behaviour of the victim. Rape Crisis Scotland has recently flipped this mind-set on its head and created a tongue in cheek campaign entitled ‘Ten Top Tips to end rape’.

This campaign has had mixed responses. Some have applauded its ballsy and sarcastic tone, while others feel that rape is something that should never be joked about. Whatever your opinion, campaigns like this get people talking, and the more we talk about rape, the more we can challenge negative attitudes. Sadly, we can’t make rape go away overnight, so we need to speak up and keep the conversation about rape ongoing.

*Names have been changed for legal reasons