Annie Rose & Lynne Tooze
The ISVA Perspective
Annie Rose & Lynne Tooze submitted their own chapter based on their observations as ISVAs for Respond UK.
Annie Rose has been working as an ISVA (Independent sexual violence advisor) at Respond for around 7 years. She previously worked for Victim Support and Rape Crisis and has worked with victim/survivors of sexual violence for over fifteen years. Prior to specializing in sexual violence, she worked in the domestic violence field for Refuge and Women’s Aid. She has a Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling (Humanistic) and attended the post graduate ISVA course in Worcester in 2012. She is passionate about raising awareness around the issues faced by people with a learning disability.
Lynne Tooze has been working at Respond since September 2016. She has been an ISVA since July 2010 when she was working at Eaves and then Refuge. She previously qualified with an Honours degree in Therapy and Awareness in 1993 and as an ISVA in 2013. She has worked in many different services supporting people made vulnerable by their life experiences and has worked extensively within domestic abuse services. She is passionate about sharing information around healing and life after the trauma of sexual violence.
Both Annie and Lynne have worked together for many years and started the London-wide ISVA support group which is facilitated by the SOECA partnership team. They have been proactive in raising awareness of the issues faced by people who report sexual violence to the police and take the frequently difficult journey through the criminal justice system.
This is an excerpt:
“Sexual violence is traumatic and is viewed as a crime second only to homicide in its violence and gravity within the CJS. It is therefore strange and incomprehensible that so many excuses for, and myths around, rape and sexual assault are so readily found in our society. Society recoils from accepting what rape really is, how traumatizing and damaging it is and how prevalent it is against women, young people and children. The responsibility is shifted to the victim all too frequently and assumptions, rape myths, and negation of seriousness seem to become normal responses and reactions.
Alcohol, drugs, sexual history, mental health, sexual preferences, sexuality, learning disability, disability culture, race and even immigration status become weapons to use against victims. It’s an insidious and destructive force which seeks to undermine a victim’s experience with all manner of irrelevancies. Many victims will report, many victims will not. There is no right or wrong response. The decision a person makes will be a difficult one either way.”
They talk about training, wait times to get to court, how the jury needs to understand the trauma of rape. They also give a whole list of suggested improvements to the System which I would love to see implemented.
This quote is powerful and I believe that any case that is dropped due to ‘suitability’ of the witness/victim should not be allowed to be dropped at all:
“There should be no judgments around women in prostitution, women with no recourse to public funds, women with alcohol and substance use issues and women with mental health issues. There is no ‘ideal’ witness, there is only the witness who is the victim of sexual violence. To drop cases because the victim is not ‘ideal’ is quite outrageous.”
Respond offers workshops and training around supporting people with a learning disability who have experienced abuse and trauma. http://respond.org.uk/
There was a lot more we discussed, but I don’t want to give it all away before you read it!
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