We received this feedback from one of our service users. Please be aware there is some swearing included before you read.
DRC: What is it good for?
By Service User K.
Half a lifetime ago, my friends and I would talk about what we wanted to be when we grew up. Funnily enough, no-one ever said "violent crime statistic".
Yet here I am as a current service user of Devon Rape Crisis, being one of the 5% of women in the UK who've been raped, and one of my best mates has survived a relationship which was both physically and psychologically abusive.
I feel daunted about writing an article for this site because I'm not sure if I can say anything either fresh or worth reading, but the trauma therapist helping me has assured me that such is the case, so I'll give it a go.
Something I wish I'd known immediately after it happened is that organisations like these offer practical as well as psychological support. You are, for example, entitled to free legal advice from a specialist Independent Sexual Violence Advisor from a SARC throughout a police investigation and court case. The cops are supposed to offer you that, but sometimes they don't, and I know I'd have appreciated it while my case was investigated.
I also wish I'd known earlier that the said psychological help is nothing to turn your nose up at either. Testimonials on this site from women who'd used DRC's services were what helped finally persuade me to get support, and I'm so glad I did. If you're reading this and unsure whether to make that call, do it. (And no, DRC isn't paying me to say that – I wish!)
My only regret is not phoning them sooner, and there are a couple reasons why I didn't.
Number one is (don't know if anyone can relate?) that I grew up thinking stuff like therapy was for whiny posh people. I was brought up to believe you should toughen up and get on with it – whatever 'it' was – and seeking help was essentially weak, something to be ashamed of.
My builder dad's favourite maxim was "Life's a bitch and then you die", and he didn't even complain about terminal cancer.
Another reason, however, is that I had an idea that what had happened to me wasn't a big enough deal to warrant the attention of any mental health worker. I hadn't been gang-raped or beaten up, so did it really count as traumatic? I wasn't unable to function in daily life or actively suicidal, so wouldn't I be unnecessarily adding to the workload of an already-overstretched service like DRC?
Well, I'm having my sixth session tomorrow, and it doesn't make me feel weak. The opposite's true. I get a sense of empowerment (like, a bit more than you get from watching a Dove advert) from them. I feel like I'm more than just a depressing statistic now.
More prosaically, my liver has benefitted from me no longer numbing emotion with booze. And, you know, you don't have to have gone through the worst of bad things that a woman ever survived in history to be deserving of support. My therapist doesn't think I'm a timewaster, and she genuinely cares about what happened to me, which is nice when the justice system doesn't seem to.
I was afraid that even if I wasn't a waste of her time, the therapy would be a waste of mine, but surprise surprise, the worker who supports me is a trained professional who knows what she's doing. Crystals and candles scented with bullshit don't come into it.