When receiving vital care feels like you are re-living traumatic events, something has to be done.
We ACT because they … support women to re-gain control over their health, their bodies and themselves following sexual assault.
The My Body Back clinic opened on the 6th August 2015 in Barts Health NHS Trust providing a cervical screening clinic especially for women who have experienced sexual violence and a clinic where women who have been raped can self-test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
My Body Back is about ‘women reclaiming power over their lives, their bodies and their choices’. Early intervention is vital for treating cervical cancer and cervical screening can save lives. However, going for these type of tests can trigger traumatic memories for many women so they avoid going for testing which could be life-saving.
At the My Body Back clinic all of the female staff are trained to work with women who have experienced sexual violence. There is also a Sexual Violence Health Advocate (SVHA) who can support women going to the clinic throughout the process. My Body Back recognises that the process can be emotional and discusses each woman’s individual needs to make sure they are comfortable throughout the smear test. An emphasis is on control. For example, if there are certain body positions a woman does not like or phrases she would prefer are not used during the test, then these will not be used.
They also run Café V, is a space for women to learn about loving their bodies after violence. These run on a Saturday morning, and are a safe space for those who attend to talk about enjoying sex again – by themselves or with a partner – and any problems they may be experiencing. The project is essentially about women reclaiming power over their lives, their bodies and their choices.
Services like My Body Back are rare and at present they are by no means guaranteed. The Istanbul Convention would ensure that survivors ‘have access to services facilitating their recovery from violence’ [Article 20]. My Body Back is a brilliant example of a service that does this in a powerful way – one well worth protecting.
ACT: Sign the Petition to ratify the Istanbul Convention and protect and expand on lifesaving services like My Body Back
SUPPORT: Find out more about how you can support the My Body Back project