One in four women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

Take a moment to think about it. One quarter of women. And it’s not just happening to nameless people in a faraway place; it’s happening here, in our city, to our friends and neighbours and families.

It’s a sobering statistic, and a stark reality that most of us would like to shy away from. It’s a tough subject to talk about. There’s always the temptation to avoid it; to sweep it under the carpet. But pretending that it doesn’t happen won’t make it stop. And it won’t help the survivors of these kinds of crimes recover.

The Edinburgh Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre puts these survivors first. It’s a free, discreet service that has been offering support and information to people who have experience sexual assault or abuse for over 35 years. It also has specialist departments for helping those who are underage or transgendered. Last year, it provided support to over 400 people in and around the community.

It’s also currently under threat. The funding stream that allows them to stay open ends in May 2014, and without this money, 75% of their services could be drawn to a halt.

Dealing with survivors of assault is something that requires extensive amounts of time, training and sensitivity. Money should not even be a concern, and it’s frustrating and infuriating to see services like this one struggling through lack of it. With imminent withdrawal of funding, they’ve been forced to rely more heavily on public donations. The community has rallied; over £40,000 has already been raised, but there’s a constant need for more funds.

Laura Mulcahy is the founder of the Save EWRASAC Society and the organiser of a fundraiser that will be taking place this Thursday in aid of the centre.

The event will feature an auction (with prizes donated by Edinburgh businesses) and a vintage clothes swap. All proceeds go towards the centre; so if you’re feeling a bit jaded and Grinch-y by all the Christmas consumerism, this is a great opportunity to do some guilt-free present shopping, or pick yourself up some festive new garb for the party season.

The event will also feature a talk which will discuss the work that the centre does, and the necessity of keeping these resources available to people who need them.

As someone who has also used the centre’s resources in the past, Laura stresses the importance of keeping places like EWRASAC open. “If people didn’t have access to the centre and their services, the outcome would be devastating. They would be left isolated and unsupported.  Without them, I would not have got my life back together as quickly as I have.”

The fundraiser takes place at The Counting House, on West Nicolson Street in Edinburgh, and starts at 7pm on the 5th of December. Everyone is welcome to come and join in the fun.

If you would like to sign the petition campaigning for the continued funding of EWRASAC, it can be found here. (link – To keep updated with news and get invited to future events, you can like the Save EWRASAC facebook page. (link –

If you, or someone you know, have experienced sexual abuse or assault, you can get in touch with the centre through their website for support and information about what to do next. (link –

For hundreds of people in Edinburgh and the Lothians, EWRASAC has meant the difference between going unheard and unsupported, and being given the chance to rebuild their life after their assault. But it can only continue to provide this service to survivors in the future if it’s able to remain open; and that rests entirely in our hands.

Article reproduced here is no longer available online. Published by RAWRRR! Magazine (December 2013)

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