Run by Oxford based charity Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre (OSARCC), the group will be open to any woman over the age of 18 who has experienced sexual violence at any time in her life, whether as an adult or a child.
A previous support group member, Jennifer*, commented: “The group offers women the space to meet other women who have had similar experiences in a safe space, where you can say how you feel without judgement, but also to people who actually 'know' how you feel. Although it was not easy, over time it was possible to face the things that have been locked away for 30 years; with the gentle, but strong support from the facilitators. The groups have completely turned my life around, I am now more confident and my friends and colleagues have all said that I am a completely different person to the one I was 18 months ago... it is definitely thanks to OSARCC.”
OSARCC Service Manager, Natalie Brook, said: “Our pilot project last year saw incredible results, with the support group service having a very positive impact on the lives of the women who joined it. Specialist services for female survivors of sexual violence are rare and underfunded in Oxfordshire – despite the number of people accessing our services increasing year on year - so we are delighted to announce a continuation of the service for the next year.”
Nearly one in four women will have experienced some form of sexual violence or abuse in their lifetime. Almost 500 sexual offences, including 111 rapes, were reported to police in Oxfordshire in 2011-12 but this is likely to be a tiny fraction of the numbers that actually took place due to low reporting figures. Funding for specialist support services is increasingly hard to find, with the current economic climate and cuts to public services making it difficult to maintain service provision for many rape crisis centres, including OSARCC.
The groups will run weekly in twelve week cycles, facilitated by an experienced counsellor and group facilitator at a confidential location in central Oxford. Anyone interested in the service should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or text or call 07506 412422.
*Not her real name but one chosen by the group member quoted to protect her anonymity.
Notes to editors:
1. For more information contact Natalie Brook on 01865 725311 or email email@example.com.
2. OSARCC offers specialist services for women and girls who have been raped or have experienced other forms of sexual abuse – whether as adults or children, recently or in the past. We run a telephone helpline, email support service, peer support groups and do outreach work in the local community.
To find out more, and to support OSARCC, visit www.oxfordrapecrisis.net
3. Rape and sexual violence is far more prevalent than many realise – almost a quarter of women (23%) experience sexual assault as an adult.
4. The Big Lottery Fund is the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding across the UK. The Fund aims to enable others to make real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need.