A Dundee women’s charity is fundraising to pay for bigger premises after a sharp increase in rape victims seeking help.
The Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (WRASAC) has seen a 15% spike in new referrals, going from 244 in 2014/15 to 281 in 2015/16, as well as a steady year-on-year increase since 2012.
Altogether this financial year, the charity supported 389 survivors of rape, sexual abuse and exploitation, with 60 women involved in, or at risk of prostitution.
The charity’s manager also highlighted longer waiting times for support due to the increase in referrals, with the average wait being 99 days and one woman having to wait a 216 days.
Dundee manager Sinead Daly said: “Because of an increase in referrals, we have recruited more volunteers in order to try to reduce the waiting times for support.
“While the women are on the waiting list, we provide crisis support to help them cope with the immediate impact of trauma until they can get more long-term help.
“We are now outgrowing our small premises and have made a decision to take two more rooms in the building, which cost over £6000 a year.
“This would enable us to offer more appointments and will give our volunteers more space to work from.
“We have an urgent need to ensure we can meet the needs of survivors. It’s not good enough to have women who have experienced such trauma having to wait so long for support.
“In truth, we don’t know whether the increase in referrals is bad because more rapes are happening, or good because more people have the confidence to report assaults.
“There isn’t enough research into that at the moment, but personally I suspect it’s a bit of both.
“Another interesting trend we’ve seen is that before, the ratio between people coming to us with historic sexual abuse and recent assaults was around 60/40. Now it seems to be 50/50, with more recent assaults being reported.”
Of the women referred in 2015/16, a total of 134 have experienced psychological trauma including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, 73 women reported suicide attempts and 158 women experienced anxiety.
Sinead added: “As well as helping women with trauma, from December we launched an advocacy service that helps women through police investigations and the court process, and we have helped 66 women.
“We also have a service that allows women who don’t want to contact the police straight away to get a forensic examination, with the evidence being held for seven years.
“If they do want to report the assault in the future then the evidence will be there.”
A WRASAC fundraising gala will be held on November 18 at the Woodlands Hotel in Broughty Ferry with a slap-up meal, comedy and a disco, costing £22pp.
To book, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01382205556.