Leeds rape survivors’ urgent need for independent counselling service

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AN independent counselling service for Leeds women who have been raped or suffered sexual violence has been launched.

The new service, provided by Support After Rape and Sexual Violence Leeds (SARSVL), was sparked by an urgent need for specialist counselling services within the city which can provide tailored, long-term support.

The launch comes after the number of callers to the charity’s helpline almost doubled within a year, with 954 women and girls receiving support in 2014 and some 1,861 last year.

Katie Russell, trustee of SARSVL, said: “Experiencing any form of sexual violence can impact every aspect of a woman’s life and sometimes makes even the smallest thing seem like a huge challenge. Many women feel stuck, as if they don’t understand what’s happening to them and that they can’t move on with their lives.

“Women who access our existing helpline and advocacy services have told us that they find it very difficult to access counselling, especially if they cannot afford private therapy, and some have had other services tell them that they can’t work through their experiences of sexual violence with them because they don’t have the specialist expertise.”

The counselling service is available in one-to-one or group formats for any woman aged 18 and above who has experienced rape and/or sexual violence of any kind at any times in their lives.

They are encouraged to talk about the issues affecting them with trained women counsellors and supported to learn to manage any difficulties they have so they can begin to move on with their lives.

A previous user of SARSVL’s services said in her feedback to them: “Thank you SARSVL. My friend has told me she noticed a positive change in me and I told her you lovely ladies at SARSVL have been a big factor in that change. Without your care SARSVL I could have gone to a very different place.”

If you would like to access our counselling service please call 01132 200 2936 or email counselling@sarsvl.org.uk. To find out more about the counselling service visit www.supportafterrapeleeds.org.uk/counselling