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  1. Why does everything have to be a battle?

    A blog written by a former client and supporter of RSVP.

    I’m sitting in the waiting room. Legs shaking, heart racing, a bead of sweat
    leaves my face- Anxiety.

    My name is called, and I walk into the room like a lamb to the slaughter, my
    mind trying to distract itself from the triggers that start to occur. I hear
    the muffled voice of the gynaecologist talking about the ‘check-up’ I’m about
    to have, he starts to ask me questions, questions that I already know will be
    asked, preparing for my cue for those words I have to say, I immediately look
    away as the words escape my lips just so I don’t have to have that look, the
    look of shock, embarrassment for asking me and then pity- in that order. Those
    words come through hesitation.

    “I was raped and sexually abused”

    I also know what the reply will be, “I’m sorry I didn’t see this in
    your notes straight away” This is not because I can see the future, this
    is because no matter what appointment it may be this is what always

    Why does everything have to be a
    Why can’t I just walk in without all these feelings? Why is
    something so traumatic and important hidden away in the lost pages of doctor’s
    notes? Shouldn’t I be able to go to an appointment such as a baby scan for
    example without the reminder of the monster who took my innocence away, when
    you’re trying to move 3 steps forward just to be dragged 6 steps back?

    One of the experiences I had, started the same way, but this time my mom’s
    with me, she stands up with me almost in sync, the face of the doctor who’s
    doing today’s examination looks confused, her face full of disbelief- she
    hesitates as she shows us the way. I’m instantly annoyed at the judgement, she’s
    wondering to herself why a 30 year old woman needs her mom to assist her
    through this simple procedure. Nothing is mentioned, I walk into the room and
    the nurse has the same look on her face. They both shared a glare

    Like before, the questions are asked and answered, but she’s silent. Maybe
    she didn’t hear me as I lay down ready? She asks me again, I reply again and
    all of sudden everything changes, their body language changes, that look I was
    welcomed with has gone.
    “I didn’t see this on your notes” after scrolling for a few seconds
    she realises. An apology enters the room, her admitting her judgment. She
    offers another appointment with extra time so I can control the pace with whomever
    I feel comfortable with to hold my hand- all the steps that should of been in
    place in the first place. 

    This isn’t the first and I know it won’t be the last. Thankfully not every
    appointment is like this and I have had better experiences with a lot of help
    and compassion. 

    My idea is maybe a sign that survivors can have on their notes next to their
    names such as possibly a purple circle sticker- purple represents survivor of
    rape/sexual abuse.
    My background in working in a hospital and on our computer system we see certain
    signs about some patients background, for example we know immediately that if
    a  patient has a risk of illness which is contagious to anyone else, there
    is a circle that is black and yellow, or a patient that is a risk of falls,
    there is a little stick man that’s falling. These are somethings that we see
    straight away before we look into the patients notes. 

    Another suggestion is something similar to the domestic abuse sign which is having
    a closed fist with the thumb tucked in. For those who are unfamiliar with this
    sign, this is used when you ask for help discreetly or show that you are in
    distress without using your voice. Say maybe the same symbol but put your fist
    to your heart when you don’t feel you’re in a safe place or not in the right
    frame of mind to talk about it so automatically receptionists and doctors can
    put things in place ready for you. These are just small steps but big
    enough to change our experiences and may ease anxiety for many at appointments.

    RSVP offers an ISVA service to help survivors through health and other triggering
    appointments. Click here to find out more.

    Posted 23 June 2023
  2. Project evaluation – call for proposals

    We are looking for a researcher to conduct an independent evaluation of our sexual harassment in the workplace project with West Midlands Police. The project is delivered in partnership with Black Country Women’s Aid and CRASAC, and is funded by ROSA.

    The research should be completed by 30th November 2022. A written report and a separate summary document will be produced, and you will present your findings at an event, this event may take place beyond November 2022. Participation in some additional learning events may be expected.

    Full brief here:

    Please include the following in your proposal,

    • Outline of your research interests and why you are interested in this project
    • Your approach and methodology, particularly for involving WMP and the survivor panel
    • Suggested timeline of work, working towards 30th November 2022 end
    • Proposed budget

    Please email your proposal, and any queries, to Sarah Lafford, Head of Business Development. Proposals must be received by Sunday 28th November, 5pm.

    Posted 2 November 2021
  3. Counselling evaluation

    We have extended our external evaluation of the adult counselling service at RSVP, so that we will be evaluating the service up to 2024. In this phase, the evaluation has focused on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the adult counselling service. It looks at how the service adapted in unprecedented circumstances and the impact of significant changes in delivery for survivors and the team; the impact of national lockdown on new referrals into the service and what has been learnt from the pandemic to inform the service in the future.

    The full report can be read here:

    Recommendations include:

    • Maintain the blended approach to adult counselling where survivors can access face-to-face, online or telephone counselling, depending on their needs and preferences. Remote support via phone and online widens access to the counselling service.
    • New internal communication tools and team wellbeing initiatives should not be lost with the return to in-person working. There
      is still a great deal of uncertainty about the continuing
      impacts of the pandemic therefore this way of working should continue
    • A dedicated investment of time in the short term on paperless systems will improve administrative processes
    • Some people would benefit from a post counselling session self-care guide. Sessions can at times feel tough and very emotional, and self-care immediately after is needed.
    • Some people would benefit from seeing a photo of their counsellor before their first session. This would feel more relational and friendly than only having a name.

    If you would like to read previous phases of the evaluation, go to:

    Posted 28 October 2021
  4. You & Me

    Thank you to the survivor who submitted this poem, and the five other poems published over the past few days. We really appreciate you sharing your words with us and other survivors.

    A year

    since you started to help my broken




    Comfort film with

    pancake making

    Sleeping with you – my naked person

    Valentine’s day chocolates and prosecco in


    When the stitches


    I held onto


    Violent crying I can’t                                                                                   (stop)

    Raw emotions that open

    up the wound

    Phantom pains

    Force memories back

    But you are here

    Holding onto me too

    fish and chips and

    good sex

    Your voice comforting me on the train



    I was broken

    I was no longer me

    Now I am me

    Me with you

    Posted 7 September 2021
  5. i want to write a happy poem

    i want to write a happy poem

    but while I’m still sad

    you make me safer

    anchored to your body

    my fingertips graze over your chest

    following to your nipples and collarbone

    kissing you, chin to cheek

    your lips on my neck and hands giving me heat


    i wear your hoodie to have your arms around

    me again

    outlining my smiles with your finger

    we wait for the miles between us to cease

    your hands in my hair again

    brushing your fingers through it

    you like my cheeky grin

    hands that warm mine

    and fit as if by design.

    Posted 6 September 2021
  6. i smiled through the pain

    i smiled through the pain in the morning

    as I knew you’d have to


    i kissed you goodbye

    now I can only cry

    i feared the thud would be heard through the


    violence echoes in the silence

    now I just have blood

    a bruised body

    and pain where I sit

    is this what I get for being called fit?

    Posted 5 September 2021
  7. i let you in

    i let you in

    so I deserved the cries of pain

    i felt the shame





    it’s my fault, I repeat

    a mantra, as I destroy the sheets

    my mind in constant retreat

    the guilt is all


    Posted 4 September 2021
  8. Ghost

    You’re my ghost.

    In the back of my mind.

    The night we spent together haunting me.

    Where are you?

    Your name makes me shudder.

    I recognise the smell of you.

    Leave me alone!

    Invading my thoughts and fantasies…

    Biting kisses, forceful pushes and cries of pain.

    Your fingers snake around my neck.

    In my mouth.

    I beg, I turn away, push you off me.


    Again and again and again.

    Removing your hand again, again.

    Clutching at the mattress with no relief.

    Moaning in fear of force.

    Blood splattered.

    Squeezing me tight.

    I close my eyes.

    And then your hand goes again.

    I go quiet.

    Staring at my shelves.

    Rectangular, ordered.

    Block it out.

    I sleep with my arms around you,

    We kiss goodbye.

    Sitting in the showers I cry.


    I can’t sit.

    I can’t pee.

    What’s happened to me?

    Only I cry and hold the pain.

    In the darkness you push my head down again.

    Body broken, bruised in bad places.

    I must carry on, this is just another


    The chance I have you after your call to meet

    Small talk.

    Excuses at every block.

    Confusion at every question.



    Every place on campus,

    A tag on Facebook,

    Snagging at memories.

    Me gagging.

    Your words burn.

    I struggle to see anything worth inside of me.

    Posted 3 September 2021
  9. All Women

    A survivor has sent some poems to share with here with other survivors. Watch this space for more poems.

    I had my first crush when I was 11.

    Soft, excited, feelings – a high five, a hello made my day.

    I was 12 when I was first asked out by a boy.

    I was 13 when the boy sitting next to me in Geography class asked if a guy had popped my cherry yet.

    I was 14 when I was first catcalled and honked at on a run.

    I was 18 when I was told I was expected to dress more conservatively.

    And at 19 I was sexually abused and I thought my life was over.

    The pain that night – 29 November 2019 – was so bad I thought I was going to die.

    To me it came out of nowhere and it was a completely random event.

    So when at 20 for voicing my opinion that went against the leader of our group I was called aggressive.

    I thought no.

    I am strong. I am feisty. And you don’t like that I have a voice, which goes against yours.

    But too bad, I am here

    and here

    to stay.

    Posted 2 September 2021
  10. The Unspoken: a true story

    Rebecca Parsons has shared an extract of her book ‘The Unspoken: a true story’, which tells her true story of child sex abuse survival. Rebecca says ‘I know this book will bring comfort and help to those who are in of need it’.

    My name is Rebecca Parsons, and I was sexually abused for four years from the age of six. Separate to that, I have also been sexually assaulted by three different men, and I have been in two violent, unfaithful, manipulative relationships which tore apart my trust in men. I haven’t known my self-worth since my dad left home before my abuse.

       I intend to bring light and awareness to a subject devastating enough to raise the hairs on your arms, making you more aware of what sexual abuse victims truly go through. Shall we get into it?

    So, what about us everyday people? Our pain, our hurt and the strength we have needed in order to pull ourselves through the darkest of days? You see, when we ‘everyday people’ speak up, many are quickly dismissed and face embarrassment, but when famous people speak up, it is considered brave and inspirational. Usually, you will find that they are inspirations to people who have been lucky enough to have not experienced any non-consensual sexual encounters. You see, too many ‘everyday people’ have learnt to stay quiet. If you don’t, you feel the suffering of feeling embarrassed, discomfort, resentment, unworthiness, and most common of all, not being ‘normal’. Once I had to take time off work for my own mental health. I phoned and was already crying before they answered. But I had only recently started to see my worth and put myself first before life got too much for me. I told them I would happily go in and explain my life story. I was genuinely willing to go in and open the boxes in my head, knowing how that would affect me, all to make sure they understood me. Their response:

    “Well, what about us? We need to find cover.”

    Are you kidding me? All my life I have tried to keep things hidden for fear of sounding selfish. The one time I was willing to explain it to somebody, so they see I was not mentally stable, they think about themselves and their business! I thanked her – for what, I was unsure of – but I felt rage boiling within. From that day, my mindset changed. Never again would I allow myself to feel like that. I know how scary seeking help is. I know how scary it is to relive your past. I also know that many people might think they are over their trauma, but perhaps at one point they will need this book, because something has brought their torment to the surface. I am here. For you all, I am here. I am going to show you just how much you can do and what you can overcome, because you are brave and strong. You’re still on this earth, right? That tells me how strong you are instantly. Another reason for this book is so that partners of loved ones can hopefully get a greater understanding of what they are going through. And parents of children who have been through this: this book is also for you, to help you understand and to be understood yourself. If you’re a stranger to all of this, then perhaps you just want a better awareness of this horrible abuse which seems to happen everywhere and never disappears. I began to work on myself, knowing that my self-worth had to change, too! From that point on, I committed to putting myself and my mental health first. After all, I have a beautiful son to live for.  So here I am, writing the true story of behind a victim’s eyes. For the beautiful people who can relate to this book in any way, well this is for you and I’m here to tell you that I’ve got you!

                                                                             Love, Becky x

    Posted 24 August 2021

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