Story – Molly’s moving on
November 24, 2017
Molly, Solace Women’s Aid
Earlier this year I was raped by an ex-partner, I reported it to the police and they investigated and decided not to go ahead and take it to court. During the investigation he was under bail conditions after his arrest to not contact me, now he is legally able to contact me.
One week after hearing the devastating news from the police, my workplace told us that our office will be moving to the area he lives in, the area where I was raped. Our office is moving in January. I could not face going to that area every day. I have since quit my job and am moving away to have a fresh start.
This has been one of the darkest periods of my life. Getting help and support was very difficult women’s services have been hugely affected by austerity cuts, with 95 per cent of women’s services having been effected.
I used to work at a women’s charity, I know where to go for help, and as a white woman with legal status in this country, unfortunately I am much more able to access help than some of the most vulnerable women in the country.
Despite knowing where to go, and feeling like I would be taken relatively seriously, it still takes a huge amount of courage and strength to pick up the phone to tell someone what has happened, or to walk into the hospital and report it.
I stayed in bed for five days before I could even speak to anyone. And then, when I did try to call, no one answered the phone. I called helplines 15 times in those days, and no one answered.
This is not because they don’t care or they are a bad service, it is because they are so overstretched they cannot answer every call. Eventually, my friend came round and took me to the hospital, and we got in touch with Solace Women’s Aid where I was given an ISVA.
An ISVA is an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor, they come with you to report, to the courts, they come with you to the hospital, to appointments, they answer your calls and they know you, they take you for coffee to talk things through, they tell you what you are legally entitled to, they help you get what you need.
My ISVA was called Anna, and she is the only ISVA for the whole of South London, there is another ISVA at Rape Crisis, but her waiting list was between 6 and 12 months.
Anna somehow made time for me, despite drowning in a huge caseload, and supported me with compassion, expertise, and conviction for six months. Her friendship and support made this time much more bearable.