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An insight with Mridul Wadhwa into working in a rape crisis centre

Friday 5th April 2019 16.00
Content warning: mentions of sexual assault and rape.Sexual violence is a sensitive, yet current issue that affects thousands of women on a yearly basis. Whilst crime rates in Scotland are decreasing, sexually based crimes have been on an upward trend since 1974.
Rape crisis centres are just one way a survivor can seek help after experiencing sexual violence of any kind. Mridul Wadhwa is a manager at the Forth Valley Rape Crisis Centre, dedicated to helping individuals overcome trauma. The Student had the opportunity to speak to Wadhwa about her experiences working with rape and sexual assault survivors.
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Having sexual violence disclosed to you can certainly be a challenging experience. Dealing with sensitive matters is just that - sensitive - and requires much thought and attention. The Student asked Wadhwa how she would recommend a friend or loved one reacted if violence was disclosed to them: “Try not to dig holes in people’s stories. This is not a logical narrative of an experience - it is the emotional narrative of an experience. People might not always remember what happened.

“Try to stay away from the idea of what they could have done to stay safe or even what you could have done as a friend to keep your friend safe. It is my belief that we don’t put ourselves in these positions. It is the perpetrator who decided to be violent. It is not a choice that we made. The message that we should be telling our friends who have disclosed this to us is that it is never their fault.

“Another thing that we should be thinking about is what happened after the disclosure. The whole decision as to what happens after the disclosure is up to the survivor. They should remain in complete control of that experience and as a friend I would recommend that you enable that control. Whether they report to the police or not is their decision.

“Sometimes a disclosure from a friend can be triggering for you in case you had those experiences. My advice would be to use rape crisis centres because they are not just for survivors. They are also for friends and family of those who have had a traumatic experience because it does take a lot of your to support someone who has gone through trauma. There is often guilt associated with wanting to ask for help when your friend is in greater need but for them to support them appropriately and effectively you have to be in a good place yourself. That’s why rape crisis centres support you.”

Rape crisis centres also offer sexual violence prevention education programs. Wadhwa’s centre is part of a national prevention program through education scheme. They offer a series of workshops hoping that young people become educated on different topics like gender and pornography.

If you are in need of help, call the RCS helpline at 08088 01 03 02. You can also call Wadhwa’s centre at 01786 439244 or email them at support@forthvalleyrapecrisis.org.uk.

You can also access their website, which features a “tap here to leave this site now” button in the upper right corner, if you wish to quickly leave the site.

Illustration: Karolina Zieba