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Different yet Complementary: Two Approaches to Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence in the UK

NCJ Number
Criminology and Criminal Justice Volume: 11 Issue: 5 Dated: November 2011 Pages: 515-533
Amanda Robinson; Kirsty Hudson
Date Published
November 2011
19 pages
This article examines the advantages and limitations of delivering support to victims of sexual violence in two different settings.
This article explores the strengths and limitations of two different types of settings that provide specialist support to victims of sexual violence in the UK: Sexual Assault Referral Centers (SARCs) and voluntary sector organizations such as Rape Crisis. Qualitative data from six case study sites and quantitative data from 35 sexual violence projects in England and Wales revealed that the type of setting affected the types of referrals received and this, in turn, shaped the services required by victims and thus the nature of the work preformed. Consequently, each type of project had different emphases in their workload with which they were particularly well equipped to handle. Each type also had its own unique challenges; for example, while there were notable benefits from delivering support in partnership models, such as SARCs, their affiliation with statutory partners was perceived by some as a disadvantage, especially for those seeking support in relation to historical sexual abuse. On the other hand, those delivering support in voluntary sector projects had to work harder to establish and maintain relationships with other agencies, but their independence was seen to be greater and this was perceived as a strength for gaining access to victims and maintaining their confidence. Both approaches had notable benefits and, given the diverse array of sexual violence victims in any given area, providing these two different, yet complementary, approaches to supporting them is recommended. (Published Abstract)