More than support to court: Rape victims and specialist sexual violence services

Marianne Hester*, Sarah-Jane Walker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
374 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This article explores the involvement of specialist sexual violence services, including Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs), in supporting victims/survivors of rape and sexual abuse to engage with the criminal justice system (CJS) in England and Wales. The underpinning research, conducted in one area of England, included referral data from the police and key specialist sexual violence services, interviews with 15 victims/survivors of sexual violence in contact with the police and specialist services, and interviews with 14 practitioners from sexual violence and related services. We examine the complex needs of victims/survivors of sexual violence (who have experienced historical child sexual abuse, acquaintance rape or rape in the context of intimate partner abuse), how their needs differ and vary over time, and the ways in which these diverse and changing needs are met by specialist sexual violence services. Non-specialist agencies, such as statutory mental health services, are unable to provide similarly targeted responses. The research found that specialist sexual violence services play particularly crucial roles through the use of approaches that can be characterised as flexible, enabling, holding and mending. However, this important work could easily be lost in the current climate of local service commissioning, to the great detriment of victims/survivors of sexual violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-328
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Review of Victimology
Volume24
Issue number3
Early online date6 Dec 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018

Structured keywords

  • Gender Research Group
  • SPS Centre for Gender and Violence Research

Keywords

  • ISVAs
  • Rape
  • sexual violence
  • sexual violence services
  • victim needs

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