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Attending the Rape Crisis England and Wales Conference

Attending the Rape Crisis England and Wales Conference

I am writing this blog post shortly after attending a two-day Rape Crisis England and Wales conference in Manchester. This was my first conference, and I must say it was such a powerful experience.

From the opening session, I knew the conference was going to be something very special. Seeing hundreds of women come together to stand up for something that they are so passionate about was incredible. And to be a small part of that movement myself felt so surreal. There was something about being in a room full of people with the same intentions that hit differently. It’s not every day you can have a conversation with someone about something so emotionally intrusive yet so freeing and rewarding.

I learnt so much throughout my time at the conference, but one thing that does stand out for me is how mothers and children who have experienced rape and sexual abuse are treated in Family Courts. Seeing a mother of a survivor of child sexual abuse sit before me and explain the never-ending heartache, torture and suffering for trying to protect her child was devastatingly heart-breaking. She advised other mothers going through the same thing to not disclose anything of the same nature to authorities, as the outcome would most likely be one you don’t want. The process for any mother in the Family Court was new to me and something I found utterly shocking. I learnt very quickly just how much the system needs to change, it needs to protect survivors rather than perpetrators.

On the second day, two incredible women, Payzee Mahmod and Amna Abdullatif, spoke out about creating real social change. I was inspired by hearing the changes they have made already, regardless of how challenging they were. I was inspired by their determination to make positive changes for women fighting against justice, and anyone else who needed it. They shared their experiences, and I could truly see the hard work and passion they put into each campaign. This was the last session of the conference, and it left me feeling privileged to have been able to hear their personal stories. I left feeling motivated and inspired to continue supporting survivors in as many ways as I can, and to become a more significant part of the movement going forward. The strength I saw in each woman at the conference has encouraged me to make an even greater impact in the work I already do. It has also given me a deeper insight into what survivors might be going through, and how difficult it may be.

As someone new to supporting survivors at Chester Sexual Abuse Support Service, I feel the conference was the insight I needed at this stage in my career. I feel excited and driven to do as much as I can for the organisation alongside the counselling service I am currently providing for survivors at CSASS. The conference exceeded all my expectations, and I feel so grateful to have been given the opportunity to attend.