Principle 13: Multiple supports within services

Crisis sexual assault support services are integrated with other psychosocial services to give survivors a “wrap around service”, best meeting the needs of the clients and the community.

To best meet the needs of survivors, services are most often integrated – crisis and non-crisis support services, court support, advocacy, on-going counselling, and prevention education. This enables provision of a “wrap-around service” with smooth transitions “connectedness of services”[1], to be able to meet multiple of the client’s needs at this and other points in their journey.

Integrated service provides longer term counselling and therapy for the needs of survivors. While studies vary on the proportions, all studies find that some sexual assault survivors will recover from the psychological impacts over a period of months, but that for many survivors, recovery time is measured in years. [2]

In an evaluation of New York rape crisis centres, survivors said that they needed long-term counselling, and group therapy.[13]

US services have tended to provide short term counselling only as a part of their services. In an evaluation across 19 sexual assault centers in Maryland, about 20% of those survivors who recommended service improvements wanted more therapy, more time for therapy sessions, and/or group therapy.[14]

A survivor’s recovery journey may have many points of acute and varying need. Integration of crisis, counselling and support and advocacy services allows for these needs to be met by a service with which the client feels comfortable, and a service which can reasonably be expected to understand the victims journey of recovery and needs.[5]

Such integration also means that we do not separate service delivery from lobbying, enabling a direct path from survivors, through services, to public voice. We become a channel for those voices rather than a dead end. This integrated response builds morale through keeping services involved as a part of the solutions on wider levels than only working with the individual survivors. We are not helpless in the face of this serious social problem with which we work every day.

Integration also serves our communities, providing consultation and education to our communities, along with keeping the addressing of sexual violence on the community agenda.  

  1.  Wall, L., & Quadara, A. (2014). Acknowledging complexity in the impacts of sexual victimization trauma. Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault. Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Government.
  2.  For a summary see Petrak, J. (2002). The psychological impact of sexual assault. In Petrak, J., & Hedge, B. (Eds). The trauma of sexual assault: Treatment, prevention and practice (pp.19-44). UK: Wiley.
  3.  Fry, D. (2007). A room of our own: Sexual assault survivors evaluate services. New York: New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault.
  4.  Monroe, L.M., Kinney, L., Weist, M., Dafeamekpor, D., & Reynolds, M. (2005). The experience of sexual assault: Findings from a statewide victim needs assessment. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 20, 767- 776.
  5. Patterson, D., & Laskey, S. (2011). The effectiveness of sexual assault services in multi-service agencies. National Research Centre on Domestic Violence

practice examples

  1. SASH-Nelson (Sexual Abuse Support and Healing) describes such integration as follows:
    Crisis support services might work alongside on-going counselling by providing support while the client is waiting to see a counsellor, or during times of acute need.  Both aspects of service can be matched to the client’s needs through in-house co-operation and consultation.
  2. Wellington HELP offers integrated social work and counselling services – a social worker might come into a counselling session to talk about reporting to police or other CYF or justice processes, or might work alongside the counselling providing psychoeducation to family members about sexual violence, the survivor’s needs and the process of secondary traumatization which can occur for family members.
  3. Many services provide telephone support to clients who are in counselling.