Older Women's Project
There is a chilling silence and invisibility around sexual violence against older women (aged 55 and over) in the South West of England and more widely across the United Kingdom. For some women this sexual violence will be recent and ongoing; for others it can go back decades to childhood, leaving them with a potential life sentence of trauma. Many will have experienced sexual violence multiple times.
The South West Rape Crisis Centre Partnership, which is made up of Somerset and Avon Rape & Sexual Abuse Support, Devon Rape Crisis & Sexual Abuse Services, The Women’s Centre Cornwall and the Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre Gloucestershire, undertook research to understand sexual violence experienced by women aged 55 and over (at any time in their life), themes around impact and coping strategies, and, information on barriers that may prevent older women from accessing specialist support services.
This project is ongoing and is sponsored by Comic Relief.
You can listen to the BBC Radio Devon interview and Occupy The Airwaves shows for more information about the Older Women's Project by clicking 'play' below.
Homeless Women's Project
Since February 2019, DRCSAS has been running a project supporting women with experiences of trauma who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Exeter. Working with two other local organisations, St Petrocks Resource Centre and Gabriel House Hostel, the project supports vulnerable women to develop coping strategies and work towards recovery from trauma.
Recognising that violence and abuse is both a cause and consequence of women’s homelessness, and that this group of women find it especially difficult to access specialist support, our Homeless Women’s Project provides a responsive, flexible, and effective service to homeless women in Exeter. Our Specialist Support Worker for Homeless Women provides trauma services within the settings and communities where homeless women live or meet, through a combination of drop-in sessions and scheduled meetings, depending on the needs and preferences of the individual woman. We work through building relationships with women and providing a safe space for them to explore and understand their experiences. We also equip them with skills to deal with trauma symptoms such as panic attacks, flashbacks and nightmares, increasing their ability to cope and move towards recovery.
We are also developing and delivering training in trauma interventions for staff working in homelessness settings, along with resources that can be used across partner agencies. This ensures that the project will have a sustainable and meaningful impact.
Drop-ins are held at:
St Petrock’s Resource Centre on Tuesdays, 8am-1pm
Gabriel House on Thursdays, 9am-12.30pm.
This project is ongoing and sponsored by Comic Relief.
Activism and Inclusion
Activism and inclusion are extremely important to DRCSAS, we are always looking at how we can improve. As an organisation we want to represent all of Devon’s diverse communities and raise awareness of our services to reach as many survivors as possible.
Activism and inclusion projects we are regularly involved in are:
Devon Reclaim the Night: an annual protest organised by DRCSAS to highlight the sexual harassment and violence women and girls experience on our streets. These marches are fully inclusive and are held during the 16 Days of Action (see below). We join sister marches across the UK, and the world, to highlight the need for change. Devon marches have been held in Exeter, Barnstaple and Torquay.
16 Days of Action: a global event held between the 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day. DRCSAS regularly host Reclaim the Night marches, however we have also been involved in theatre productions, online campaigns, craft / art / song / dance workshops and community events.
Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence awareness week: held annually in February DRCSAS work with UK based campaigners #ItsNotOk to highlight the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence and to raise awareness of our services.
International Women’s Day: we regularly support events hosted by the many excellent feminist organisations we have here in Devon. We attend marches, host stalls, provide event speakers, create interactive activities, host radio shows and much more.
Exeter Pride: this annual event is (usually) the first pride event in the UK each year, we march with our banner(s) and host a stall in the community section of the day event. We always have a fun and interactive activity and are keen to talk to as many people as possible to raise awareness of the service and celebrate Devon’s LGBTQ+ community.
Exeter Respect: an annual festival which features food, arts and crafts, music, dance and more to help eliminate racism and prejudice from the community and spread a simple message: All Different, All Equal! We attend the two day event every year selling T-shirts, hosting interactive activities and raising awareness of the organisation.
Blue Light Events: we host stalls to raise awareness of our services and the support available for people with learning disabilities and Autism.
College / University events: we regularly attend events at colleges in Devon and at the University of Exeter to raise awareness of our organisation and support educational institutions in the fight to eliminate sexual harassment and violence on campus.
These are just a few of the many events we attend and we are always keen to engage with new people and communities. If you are hosting an event, or feel there is an event/group we should be aware of, please let us know.