The “WhatHappens When…” series
The handbook of gender-based violence services we hope you’ll never have to use.
TW: This entire article discusses multiple forms of gender based violence including SA and R*pe
The issue of violence against women has hit the headlines recently following the tragic death of Sarah Everard, but as most women know, this issue has been front page news for us long before this recent incident. Gender-based violence goes hand in hand with the experience of being a woman. An alarming study found that just 3% of women in the UK did not recall ever having experienced sexual harassment. Most of us will experience some degree of violence towards us and we can only hope that it is in a milder form. This is unacceptable but
currently, quite simply our reality. This is an issue that affects women of all ages, races and backgrounds. Most women you know will have a story and that is a heartbreaking fact
As women we are constantly modifying our behaviour, sometimes subconsciously, in an attempt to avoid harm. We are taught to wear bright clothing, to take the most populated route, to keep a key wedged between our fingers for protection. We do all of these things and yet it is never enough. We are still harassed and attacked – daily. Women should be allowed to walk and run without fear, it is that simple. We should not have to “do the right things”; no matter where you are, how dark it is, whether you have had a drink – no one deserves to feel unsafe, it is unacceptable.
We also know that violence occurs at home, behind closed doors. In fact, one in three women globally will be subjected to physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. In England and Wales, two women a week are killed by their partner and during 2020 as a result of lockdown, domestic attacks against women doubled between March and April in comparison to the previous ten years. Crucially, that is only the cases which were reported, as we know many women are unable to come forward and many have lost faith in the systems which are meant to protect them.
In light of this, Mojatu is introducing a series entitled What Happens When, highlighting key services in the city of Nottingham you can turn to if you experience violence. At Mojatu we are committed to ending sexual violence on a global scale and challenging the damaging patriarchal structures that uphold the sexism we face on a daily basis. We must pressure our government to fix our system of justice to make reports unignorable and make misogyny illegal on a national scale. However, this is going to be a long road and sadly cannot and will
not change overnight. Unlike COVID-19, violence against women cannot be stopped with a vaccine. Therefore, it is likely that gender-based violence will be an issue we face for years to come and while it is terrible, statistically you may find yourself in need of help and support
at sometime in your life. We have looked for the best places to turn to so that you don’t have to. You are not alone and there are people who can help you. We must change how we treat women in our society but until we completely tackle the real and constant threat of violence,
you can use What Happens When to access the support you need.
Sources: World Health Organisation (WHO), UN Women UK and the British Medical Journal.
What Happens When….
The Topaz Centre
As part of the What Happens When series we spotlight The Topaz Centre and the services you can access from them.About The Topaz Centre: The Topaz Centre is a “Sexual Assault Referral Centre”. They offer free support and practical help to anyone who has experienced sexual violence or abuse and lives in Nottinghamshire. All healthcare professionals at Topaz are women (if you feel more comfortable with a man this can be arranged but may cause a small delay in receiving immediate care). How does The Topaz Centre work? Clients can assess Topaz in two ways: Police and other professionals who may refer individuals Self- referral pathway, in which the individual books an appointment. If you are accessing the services as part of a police case we are provided with a “first account”, but if you come independently then Topaz will take a “full disclosure” which outlines what has happened. Topaz also offers the ability to write the account yourselves rather than having to verbally recount. To self-refer please call the helpline or email:
0800 085 9993 and firstname.lastname@example.org.Topaz has a one-hour response time, therefore once calling up the helpline Topaz should be able to see you within one hour if this suits the individual. Topaz has a 24-7 service, when calling ‘out of hours’ (before 8am and after 8pm) it depends on the nature of the situation and the level of medical need to determine the most appropriate time. When attending the Topaz Centre you will be seen by one Nurse and one Crisis Worker. Self-referral does not involve the police unless the individual wants to – any evidence or accounts are kept on record for two years and it is up to the individual if they would like to refer the case to the police. If there is a safeguarding concern then the nurse does have a duty of care to act upon. What happens after you’ve been referred? You will be asked to come into the Topaz Centre for an appointment. This means that you will be the only client present during this time to remove any possibility of seeing other people. Throughout the process you will only be seen by one nurse. Next there is a medical consultation which includes a general health screening and a mental health checkup, among other questions that might be relevant to you. The forensic suite then conducts an assessment from ‘top to toe’. Swabs are also taken at this stage if necessary, including the use of a “colposcope”. You are then provided with after care which includes identification of any further help needed such as emergency contraception, medication for blood borne viruses, safeguarding concerns and domestic violence. You are encouraged to ask questions at any point if you need anything explained or feel uncomfortable. COVID-19 Safety Procedures Before coming into the Topaz will ask you some coronavirus screening questions. If you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 or you have received a positive COVID-19 you are still able to access the services at Topaz, but nurses just need to be prepared and you will be moved into a different suite to accommodate. There are some services offered remotely due to COVID-19 and the individual’s needs. Topaz can do remote assessments at the first stage if the individual feels better doing this. How long does the process take? There is not a restricted time period. The process is up to the individual as Topaz understands that each individual is different, and you may need additional time for support. Sometimes individuals can be at Topaz for 2 to 4 hours. There will only be one nurse and one crisis worker assisting you, this is to make sure that you are looked after by the same faces and this may also help if you do decide to progress as a police report. Contact Details: Telephone Number: 0800 085 9993 Email: email@example.com For the SARC address and details of how to get to the Topaz Centre for your arranged appointment please make sure you contact the SARC directly. By Iona Mcnab and Kathryn Embree