We have had problems receiving emails since Friday. Thankfully, the issue is now fixed and all new emails should arrive as normal but if you have tried to contact us by email over the last 3-4 days please do re-send your email or call us 0121 643 0301.
Sincere apologies if you have been waiting for a response from us.
Heather Flowe, a researcher from the University of Birmingham, has written this article summarising her research into the accuracy of police statements after a sexual assault where the survivor has drunk alcohol. She dispels some of the myths around the effect of alcohol on memory, and is educating professionals on her research in order to improve responses to survivors when they report sexual assaults.
Does alcohol intoxication during the rape impair the accuracy of survivors’ police statements?
Rape and sexual violence typically takes place outside of public view. Criminal investigations hinge on accounts given by the accused and the survivor. Usually, the accused and survivor know one another, and there is little physical evidence to corroborate the survivor’s account. Complicating matters further, the perpetrator and the survivor in the vast majority of rape and sexual violence cases were under the influence of alcohol during the offense. It is widely known that alcohol intoxication affects memory and attention. Thus, a key issue for legal practitioners is whether the parties involved are accurately remembering the incident.
Research on the effects of alcohol on witness memory accuracy in crime scenarios has dramatically increased in recent years. In these studies, research participants are given different doses of alcohol and afterwards are shown a mock crime, such as a theft. Participants are then questioned about what they saw, either when they are still intoxicated or after they have sobered up. A clear pattern emerges across these studies: Participants who were alcohol-intoxicated when they witnessed the mock crime give less complete accounts about the mock crime. Put differently, participants who were intoxicated are more likely to answer ‘I don’t know’ in response to the questions. However, the accuracy of the information recalled does not differ in relation to alcohol intoxication. Participants who were alcohol intoxicated during the crime provide accounts that are just as accurate as their sober counterparts. Research have also begun to investigate the effects of alcohol on memory for sexual violence. This work has also shown that participants who were under the influence of alcohol, as opposed to sober, give less complete accounts of the sexual violence, but their accounts are no more likely to have errors. Why is alcohol intoxication not associated with increased memory report errors? One possibility is that people who were under the influence of alcohol during the crime may report less information to investigators because they are concerned that alcohol may have affected their memory accuracy. Thus, they choose to report information only when they are relatively certain that it is accurate.
Our team is conducting additional research to help police and other legal practitioners improve their practice when interviewing intoxicated sexual assault survivors. This work is essential in increasing the low prosecution rates in sexual violence cases. Further, our work has shown that survivors of sexual violence who were under the influence of alcohol often do not report rape to the police because they blame themselves. Crucially, first responders and others who work with survivors need to dispel myths about alcohol and the accuracy of testimony in the furtherance of justice in rape cases.
For further reading:
Flowe, H. D., & Maltby, J. (2017). An experimental examination of alcohol consumption, alcohol expectancy and self-blame on willingness to report a hypothetical rape. Aggressive Behavior.
Flowe, H. D., Takarangi, M. K. T., *Humphries, J. E., & *Wright, D. S. (2016). Alcohol and remembering a hypothetical sexual assault: Can people who were under the influence of alcohol during the event provide accurate testimony? Memory, 24, 1042-1061. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2015.1064536
Schreiber Compo, N., Evans, J. R., Carol, R. N., Villalba, D., Ham, L. S., Garcia, T., & Rose, S. (2012). Intoxicated eyewitnesses: Better than their reputation?. Law and Human Behavior, 36, 77. doi: 10.1007/s10979-011-9273-5.
Heather D. Flowe
University of Birmingham, School of Psychology, Centre for Applied Psychology
Thank you to the generous folk who have granted our wish and bought essential children’s therapeutic resources from our Amazon wish list. They’ve gone straight into Vicky’s Room – our children’s and family room.
There’s lots of other items on the wish list, including books, feelings flash cards and admin items. It’s a really simple and direct way to support us in our 40th year. You can browse the wish list here.
If you want to take on a new challenge AND raise money for RSVP in our 40th year, why not take on the Peak District Challenge?
21-22 September, you would face a raise against time to complete a picturesque running/trekking challenge in the beautiful Peak District. There are 5 levels of difficulty you can choose from, read about them here.
All you need to do is register at www.peak-district-challenge.com and select RSVP as your chosen charity to receive sponsorship money. And then it’s time to get your friends and family involved by securing donations. We can help promote your challenge on social media, and will be rooting for you the whole way!
Enormous thanks to Steve who has set himself a huge fundraising (and physical!) challenge. He is running in all 28 EU member states before Britain exits the EU in March 2019.
He’s aiming to raise £10,000 that will be donated to RSVP and Changing Faces, a charity offering support and advice for people living with a condition that affects their physical appearance.
I’m going to attempt to run in all 28 countries of the European Union before Britain leaves at 11pm on 29 March 2019. In each country I’ll aim to run with local running groups and clubs, taking part in organised races when I can. Wherever I go, I’ll tell people about this crazy challenge, the reasons why it’s important to me and about the work of RSVP and Changing Faces. Please help me support these two fantastic charities.
Steve’s fundraiser page is live at https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/runningmerunningeu
All money donated to RSVP will go towards supporting survivors of sexual violence and abuse.
Our friends at University of Birmingham Vale Fest (Europe’s largest student-run charity festival) have been really supportive of RSVP. At last year’s event, RSVP (along with Basic Needs charity) were the selected beneficiaries of their fundraising efforts.
Here’s RSVP CEO Lisa celebrating with the Vale Fest team
The next Vale Fest is this Saturday, 2nd June in Edgbaston, Birmingham. They’re raising funds for SIFA Fireside and Shelterbox. More info here
Good luck guys!
We are absolutely delighted to be one of only eight charities selected from more than 350 organisations to receive a 2018 GSK IMPACT Award. This prestigious national award recognises charities that are doing excellent work to improve people’s health and well-being. As part of our win we will receive £30,000 in funding as part of the prize, as well as expert support and development from The King’s Fund. We couldn’t be more pleased.
Two of our team have been in London this week, taking part in a Kings Fund hosted training programme. Four of the team will be at tonight’s award ceremony, where an overall winner will be announced, receiving an additional £10,000.
The GSK Impact Award is a prestigious award and a huge acknowledgement of the big hearted, bold support we show people affected by sexual trauma.
You can tune into the award ceremony live tonight from 7.30pm on the GSK Facebook page. Feel free to tune in and root for us 🙂
We would like to say a massive thank you to Jude and to Kate who supported RSVP in our special 40th year by running the recent London Marathon 2018.
In this blog Kate reflects on her marathon experience, her first ever one, and how she is delighted to have raised £1,528. We are amazed at this and at Jude’s efforts too, which saw her raise £789. Both have shown their bold support for and belief in survivors and raised a colossal amount. THANK YOU.
Enjoy reading Kate’s blog about her experience of running her first ever marathon, for RSVP too and saying “I believe you” to people affected by sexual abuse.
Well after months of training in the rain, snow and minus temperatures the day of the hottest London marathon in history arrived. I was extremely nervous but also eager to put my training to the test and to experience something I had waited years to do!
It was an amazing experience, the crowds support shouting and willing you on is unbelievable and there really is a spirit of London that’s difficult to explain but will stay with me. It was tough there’s no doubt, it felt harder then I ever could have imagined, and the heat no doubt played a huge part in that; seeing people collapsing and struggling was so upsetting.
I was really lucky to have 10 spots where I saw my wonderful friends and family which I am so grateful for and they willed me through to the end.
I also felt especially privileged to be running for RSVP and for all of the survivors that this wonderful charity continues to help. I feel so humbled to have raised over £1,500 including Gift Aid, people are extremely generous and I am forever grateful.
I am proud to say, I completed it, in 6 hours and 9 minutes! It was an amazing experience and I achieved a personal goal, being able to support RSVP too, in such a way, made it even more special.
Thank you again to everyone for your support and sponsorship, it meant so much to me, to RSVP and the people they support.
West Midlands Police have very generously donated 95 handbags and a wide range of toiletries too. These will be handed out to female sex workers who have faced or are at risk of sexual violence and abuse, and are accessing services offered via the new Red Project. The donations will mean women will receive everyday essentials in the handbags and information about support services too.
The Red Project is a West Midlands wide service offered by RSVP, Black Country Womens Aid (BCWA) and CRASAC. It’s a partnership which is funded via the Tampon Tax, specifically for female sex workers facing or at risk of sexual abuse.
From left to right:
Clare, Prevention Worker from RSVP
Sally Simpson, Detective Chief Inspector from West Midlands Police
Alison, Butterfly Project worker from BCWA
Detective Chief Inspector Sally Simpson, Lead for Rape and Serious Sexual Offences, Modern Slavery and Sex Work at Public Protection Unit, West Midlands Police, acknowledges how female sex workers are often targeted and how the project will help to build relationships.
“West Midlands Police recognise that sex workers can be incredibly vulnerable as they are targeted for violent and serious sexual crimes. For many reasons sex workers find it difficult to report offences and engage with the police. The handbag project is a great way for WMP to work closely with our partners in RSVP/Black Country Women’s Aid/CRASAC to distribute vital safety information and information about support services such as Sexual Assault Referral Centres and National Ugly Mugs. By supporting this project we hope to build the trust of sex workers so they may feel able to report either directly or through the outreach and prevention workers so that we can target those people who seek to cause them harm.”
We are delighted to receive the donations from the police as they enable us to deliver items to those in the greatest need and get the project, which only started last year, off to such a great start. Thanks to all involved.
Hi, I’m Kate and I wanted to give you an update about my training for the London Marathon on Sunday 22nd April which I’m running for RSVP. It will be my first ever marathon and I’m delighted and proud to be running for this amazing charity.
I am now well into my training with less than a month to go! I have trained up to 22 miles, my longest run ever, and it’s fair to say that I am so tired! I have trained in the sun, the rain and the snow and who knows what the next few weeks will bring. Along with a long run I am also running another 3 times a week, doing spin and power plates and some yoga. I don’t know where I’m finding the time, it’s very time consuming but it’s well worth it.
This charity, their services and this cause is important to so many people and is undoubtedly the thing that keeps me motivated. I volunteered for this fantastic and important cause for over 10 years on the helpline, it is a charity that’s very special to me. RSVP enables survivors to have support and a safe space to explore their thoughts and feelings through the helpline, coffee mornings, counselling, groups and advocacy for children and adults of all genders.
I applied for a ballot place for the marathon 8 times and finally got a place this year. I always wanted to do this as a personal challenge and also to raise money for this special charity, I am not a natural runner and so this really is a challenge! Through my Online and offline fundraising I’ve already raised over £800 and I am overwhelmed and humbled by the support my friends and family have shown. If you’d like to support me or check what total I’m up to click through to my page here.
RSVP is 40 this year (they set up in 1978) so it’s perfect that I can do this during this year and play my part in supporting this special local cause. I am hoping to keep injury free in the final lead up to the marathon and I really can’t wait for the day!
If like Kate you’d like to support RSVP and get involved in our special year there are all kinds of ways you can do this. Some ideas will raise funds for us without you spending anything extra! Click here for ideas. Thank you.