Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Mental Health Support Following Sexual Assault (Scotland)

There are a number of places which can provide mental health support following an assault. This isn't a complete list, of course: if you want to look up more organisations yourself, you could start with this list on the Rape Crisis Scotland website.

Rape Crisis Centres
Rape crisis centres can support you in a huge number of ways, and despite the name, they're not just for crises. They have helplines which you can call for emotional support as well as practical support (such as where to get medical help, discussing and facilitating reporting options, accommodation.) They can usually arrange longer-term counselling too. The Rape Crisis Scotland helpline is open 6pm - midnight every day, 08088 01 03 02. Email support also available.

There are also local services around the country; you can find your closest here. Their helplines usually have more limited opening hours, often within business hours.

Some people have asked me whether Rape Crisis services also support men, as they were historically very female-oriented. In recent years, Rape Crisis Scotland has had a massive drive for inclusivityand men are welcomed on the national helpline. A couple of the local centres, however, are women-only. If you want to speak to a service aimed specifically at men, you can get in touch with
Survivors UK for support by web chat or SMS
Breathing Space for general mental health support, open to everyone but aimed at men. Call 0800 83 85 87, 6pm-2am Mon-Thurs, 6pm-6am Fri-Mon

Domestic Abuse Help Services
Scottish Women’s Aid have a helpline open 24 hours a day at 0800 027 1234. They can also provide ongoing counselling. Women only.

Abused Men in Scotland Helpline open 9am-4pm, Mon-Fri, 08088 00 00 24. They can provide one-to-one support but their only office is in Edinburgh. Men and non-binary people only.

They don’t solely deal with sexual assault, but if you need mental health crisis support, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, email jo@samaritans.org or find your closest branch on their website.

Your GP/NHS Support
If you receive medical care following an assault, then you should be offered ongoing mental health support. Even if you didn't receive medical care directly after an assault, you may want to let your GP know. They can refer you (more normally, give you the details to self-refer) to your local mental health service, or to a specialised sexual assault service. Personally, I've found that the type of referrals I've received from my GP has varied between local authorities: it seems to depend on the available resources in that area, and even where specialised sexual assault resources are available I've not always been directed to them. So it's useful to have an idea what's available in your area.

In Glasgow, you can self-refer to Sandyford Counselling and Support Services (SCASS) by calling 0141 211 6700. The services available vary in different parts of the country: if you would rather self-refer than go to your GP then you can find your local sexual health clinic here.

Private Therapy
Private therapy has upsides and downsides (other than cost). It maximises your level of control over who you talk to, what subjects/methods they specialise in, and when you can see your therapist (many offer appointments outwith business hours and offer initial appointments within a week). It also means you're free to go and see someone else if you feel they're not right for you. But you do require a certain degree of motivation to choose and book your own treatment.

Finding a kink-aware therapist: Pink Therapy is a directory of UK therapists who are experienced in working with alternative sexualities, including kinky and poly people. Then again, googling "kink friendly counselling $location" may serve you just fine.

This assumes that kink awareness is your main search criterion. You may want to look for, say, a trauma or sexual assault specialist, ask upfront what they know about kink, and decide whether you're happy with the response. Just because someone isn't kink-aware doesn't mean they won't be compassionate or open-minded; it does mean you may have to spend some time educating them if it's relevant to you. Here's a Pink Therapy article on choosing a therapist.

In Glasgow and surrounding area: There are relatively few local therapists with any kind of training or awareness surrounding BDSM. Here are a couple I know of. Typical rates are about £45/hr, some offer reduced rates for people with low incomes.
Allister Murdoch (also works from Edinburgh)
Tina Clark
Louise Crockert

Skype/phone therapy: If you don't live in the Central Belt and specifically want to see someone kink-friendly, you may not have any options. Regardless of where you are in the country, if you're open to Skype/phone therapy, you will open up a lot more options. There are a number of therapists in London who actually specialise in dealing with kinky people. Note that you will pay the usual "London premium": prices tend to be £60-110 an hour.

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