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Where is care in the country? Let's provide rural victim survivors of sexual assault with after-hours crisis care

1 Apr 2008

This paper reviews 2007 research by Debra Parkinson looking at the value of Crisis Care Units (CCU) for recent victim/survivors of sexual assault. One of the original purposes of the research was to establish the need and lobby for Crisis Care Units in rural locations. Since that time the Victorian State Government has announced funding for rural CCUs. The researchers interviewed six women victim/survivors: three from a city location who had access to a CCU, and three from rural communities who did not. The accounts of the women illustrate the vital importance of being able to access a competent, compassionate and professional service in the immediate aftermath of sexual assault or when disclosing sexual assault. This is a time of extreme distress and confusion. The women's stories highlighted the value of having a support person who could inform them about legal procedures, medical examinations and so on, as well as listening to and believing the experience of the women. Actually being able to facilitate access to the appropriate professionals is difficult, especially in rural areas, and the ability of the CCUs to arrange this will be of enormous benefit, as the women in the city found. The quote from Louise (above) sums up the common theme of the women's experiences and captures the valuable role that a CCU can serve. While the main focus of the research is to illustrate the value of the immediate response of the CCU, there is a secondary theme highlighting the extremely important role of the Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) Counsellor Advocates in supporting all victim survivors at different stages in the process (not just the immediate response).

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