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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Sociology Department Staff

Publication details for Professor Nicole Westmarland

Westmarland, N. & Alderson, S. (2013). The health, mental health and well-being benefits of Rape Crisis counselling. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 28(17): 3265-3282.

Author(s) from Durham


There is very little research on interventions to alleviate the distress experienced following rape. This action research project developed and piloted the “Taking Back Control” tool that measured the impact of rape crisis counseling over time. Five rape crisis centers in the North of England agreed to pilot the tool, which was administered by the client’s counselor, either on Week 1 or 2, and then repeated every 6 weeks until the end of counseling. Eighty-seven clients completed at least two questionnaires. This allowed us to measure change from their first compared with their last data collection point. The most change was made in relation to the statement “I feel empowered and in control of my life,” where 61% strongly/disagreed at the first data collection point compared with 31% at the last data collection point. Large shifts were also seen in relation to “I have ‘flashbacks’ about what happened” and “I have panic attacks.” Overall, some degree of positive change was seen for all measures. This research, despite some limitations, begins to develop an evidence base for rape crisis centers to demonstrate their benefits and to assess and develop their own practice.