The Rape Victim: A Project of the Committee on Women of the American Psychiatric Association ...

By Elaine Hilberman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
FIVE
COMMUNITY RAPE CRISIS CENTERS
In an historical context, it has been the women themselves who first identified rape as a traumatic event. They have taken the initiative in sensitizing our medical, social, and legal institutions to the extent to which cultural biases and attitudes have affected the treatment of the victim. Women in groups, first as informal groups of friends and later as formal organizations, have provided the stimulus for changes in hospital and criminal justice procedures as well as changes in the law itself. They have taken concrete action to provide support to victims and their families at a time when few if any professional resources were available. That this monograph has been written by a physician is an indication of their success.The last decade has witnessed the spontaneous appearance of growing numbers of community-based rape crisis centers as part of a nation-wide anti-rape movement. 1,2,3,4,5 These centers are largely staffed by volunteer nonprofessional women, some of whom have been raped in the past, or who have been close to someone who was raped. In keeping with the philosophy that "women need to organize themselves to help each other in a male-dominated culture which is insensitive to women's needs,"5 men are not usually accepted as volunteers in rape crisis programs. In some areas, however, men have been recruited to work with the victim's significant other males, or have organized themselves separately to support the sister group and to provide services to male friends and relatives of rape victims.Most community rape crisis centers have similar goals which include the following:5
1. To provide supportive services to victims.
2. To reform the institutions which deal with victims.
3. To educate themselves and the public on rape-related issues.
4. To reform the law.

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