A project which offers support to women on their body image after they have survived a sexual assault will launch a clinic in Glasgow in mid February.
The ‘My Body Back’ (MBB) project will be the first of its kind in Scotland and will support women from across the West of Scotland who have survived a sexual assault to have their routine smear tests in a supportive environment.
Being the survivor of a sexual assault may have a devastating effect on people and there are a range of supports available in the immediate aftermath.
But survivors may need additional support to get the health care they need, particularly healthcare that requires examination such as a smear test.
The MBB clinic will provide specialised health care for women who have experienced sexual violence and support recovery by improving access to cytology and some sexual health care, as well as a having someone listen and understand their unique experiences and health needs.
The MBB clinic in Glasgow is a collaboration between the London based charity My Body Back, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the West of Scotland Managed Clinical Network for Sexual Health, Rape Crisis Scotland and Rape Crisis Glasgow and Clyde.
Funding to establish and evaluate this project has been provided by The Voluntary Action Fund’s Equally Safe - Violence Against Women and Girls’ Fund.
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.
Pavan Amara, who founded the My Body Back 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.
“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.”
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.”
The clinic will be available 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 and who will share good practice.
Sandie Barton, Director of Operations, Rape Crisis Scotland said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Glasgow & Clyde Rape Crisis and the NHS, developing trauma informed services that put survivors needs at the centre of service design and delivery.
“We know from women that sexual violence can create barriers to getting the care and health services they need, and addressing this directly can have positive outcomes not only for their immediate health needs, but for wider recovery and wellbeing.
“We look forward to the launch, and hope that the learning here can inform service delivery across the country.”
Making an appointment is easy and can be done by visiting the website: www.mybodybackproject.com/book-clinic-appointment/
Additional information on the My Body Back project can be found at www.mybodybackproject.com or on Twitter @mybodybackproj.
Notes to Editors
The West of Scotland Sexual Health Managed Clinical Network (MCN) incorporates sexual health services from five West of Scotland NHS Boards - NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Ayrshire and Arra, NHS Dumfries and Galloway, NHS Forth Valley and NHS Lanarkshire. The network exists to support service improvement in sexual health services and encourage joint working and practice exchange between the five Boards.
My Body Back clinics offer specialised health care for women who have experienced sexual violence, through its MBB Clinics.
The first MBB Clinic was started in St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London in August 2015, in partnership with Barts Health NHS Trust, offering cervical screening, STI testing and contraceptive care to women who have experienced sexual assault at some point in their lives.
The second MBB Clinic started in the Royal London Hospital in August 2016, and was also in partnership with Barts Health NHS Trust – it began offering maternity care for women who have experienced sexual violence.
All clinics involve a sensitive consultation process, the MBB pathway and specialised medical care, and MBB trained clinicians. The Scottish MBB clinic will open in February 2018.
In October 2017, the Care Quality Commission singled out the MBB Clinics as “an innovative service” and “an area of outstanding practice”. For a PDF copy of the report, just request it and we can send it to you.
In 2016, its first full year of running, the MBB Clinic won the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ David Bromham Memorial Award. The prestigious national award is given for work which “through inspiration, innovation or energy has furthered the practice of sexual and reproductive healthcare”.
The Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre is a support service for women and girls aged 13 years and over who have been raped, sexually assaulted or sexually abused at some point in their lifetime. Volunteers from Rape Crisis have undertaken training with My Body Back and will provide one to one support for women before, during and after accessing the service.
Rape Crisis Scotland is the national office for the Rape Crisis movement in Scotland. They operate the national Rape Crisis helpline and offer email support for everyone affected by sexual violence, no matter when and where it happened.