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
battle? 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
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
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.
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. email@example.com
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:
- 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:
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.
since you started to help my broken
Comfort film with
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
Force memories back
But you are here
Holding onto me too
fish and chips and
Your voice comforting me on the train
I was broken
I was no longer me
Now I am me
Me with you
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
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.
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?
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
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.
Squeezing me tight.
I close my eyes.
And then your hand goes again.
I go quiet.
Staring at my shelves.
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
Excuses at every block.
Confusion at every question.
Every place on campus,
A tag on Facebook,
Snagging at memories.
Your words burn.
I struggle to see anything worth inside of me.
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
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!