Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre struggling with 'unprecedented demand' as 300 victims wait up to a year for support

More than 1,000 sexual abuse victims in Scotland are left without appropriate support every day.

Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 6:38 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 6:43 am
More than 280 survivors of sexual violence across Edinburgh are waiting up to 12 months for support (Photo: Shutterstock)

More than 280 survivors of sexual violence across Edinburgh, East Lothian, and Midlothian are waiting up to 12 months for support as Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre struggles to cope with unprecedented demand, new figures have shown.

This finding reflects the shocking national figures that show on a typical day in Scotland 1035 people who have experienced sexual violence are left without appropriate support due to lack of funding for services.

Waiting nearly a year for support

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A survivor from Edinburgh has shared her own “heartbreak” of enduring a year-long wait and she is now campaigning for quicker support to help the hundreds of survivors in Lothian still waiting “to take that first breath”.

The survivor, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had to wait nearly a year after leaving her violent ex-partner to receive her first appointment at the city centre.

She said: “I first contacted Rape Crisis in early 2014 after what is now the final attack by an ex-partner and was told that I would be added to the waiting list. I was not told how long it would take to start counselling, but would see updates on social media about the waiting lists being closed and various services being limited due to funding.”

Eleven months after she initially contacted the centre the survivor at last received the help she required and could begin her healing journey.

She said: “I felt like I held my breath for that whole time I was waiting for counselling as I tried the best I could just to keep going.”

Sex crimes on the increase

Figures from Police Scotland show that sexual crimes have increased consistently over the last ten years which has led employees at the centre to worry that their wait list is likely to increase without further funding.

Caroline Burrell, centre director of Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre said: “Survivors repeatedly tell us that having to wait for our support further compounds their psychological distress.

“At the point, survivors make contact with us, many are experiencing post-traumatic stress symptoms and are already finding it difficult to cope, and then are told they may have to wait up to a year for support.

“It is devastating, and for some survivors, it increases the risk of self-harm or suicide attempts, as they are not able to get the support they need when they need it.”