New clinic to open for sexual violence survivors

19 February 2018, 11:17

domestic abuse

A "groundbreaking" new clinic offering specialised health care for victims of sexual violence opens this month.

The My Body Back (MBB) project, said to be the first of its kind in Scotland, will provide a supportive environment where survivors can have their routine smear tests.

It will be based at the Sandyford in Glasgow.

Experts said survivors of sexual violence may need additional support to get the health care they need, particularly healthcare that requires intimate examination.

Pavan Amara, who founded the London based charity in 2015, said:  "I started My Body Back after I was raped myself, and found there were no services for how awful being raped left me feeling about my physicality.

"There was a lot of emotional support but zero support that recognised how being raped had hugely affected my body image and how terribly I felt about it afterwards.

"This left me with lots of problems, but no support services to deal with it. So, I started the project myself, to help other women who I know are experiencing the same problems.

"It is the first specialised service that focuses on how women who have experienced violence feel about their bodies."

She added: "I started the project after interviewing thirty other women about how rape had left them feeling about their bodies.

"All thirty said they had problems with enjoying sex again, problems with body image, and big problems accessing healthcare as they didn't want to be touched by a stranger such as a health professional."

The MBB clinic in Glasgow is a collaboration between MBB, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the West of Scotland Managed Clinical Network for Sexual Health, Rape Crisis Scotland and Rape Crisis Glasgow and Clyde.

It will provide specialised health care for women who have experienced sexual violence and will ensure they have someone who can listen and understand their unique experiences and health needs.

Dr Pauline McGough, West of Scotland Managed Clinical Network for Sexual Health, added:  "This is a really exciting new service for women survivors of sexual violence in the west of Scotland.

"When one of our clinicians first highlighted My Body Back we knew that this was a groundbreaking service who we wanted to work with and adapt to a Scottish context.

"We are delighted to be working in partnership with My Body Back and our colleagues at Rape Crisis Glasgow and Clyde and Rape Crisis Scotland to establish this service at the Sandyford in Glasgow.

"Women will be able to access a service which is tailored to their needs and specific concerns with comprehensive support afterwards from a range of providers."

As well as establishing the clinical service, the project will develop resources,  training materials and offer training to staff working in sexual health services with the aim of improving the understanding of clinicians and experiences of survivors.

The clinic, which opens later in February, will be available on the second Saturday of every month but patents need to book an appointment slot beforehand.

The service will be staffed by NHS doctors, nurses, counsellors, administrators and volunteers from Rape Crisis who have been trained by the London MBB team.