Current care for victims of sexual violence and future sexual assault care centres in Belgium: the perspective of victims

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Background: Sexual violence is a global health problem. After ratifying the Convention of Istanbul in 2016, this Belgian study was set up to map the perspective of victims of rape on the current sexual violence care provision in Belgium and to inquire on their need for more specialised and holistic care in future Sexual Assault Care Centres.
Methods: Sixteen rape victims participated in this sub-study. A mixed-method design (questionnaire, in-depth interview or small focus group) was applied depending on the time elapsed between rape and participation. Descriptive Thematic Framework Analysis was performed in duo.
Results: The participants thought it of utmost importance that every victim should receive all medical, psychological and forensic care without necessarily having to involve the police first. They stated that the current Belgian sexual violence care provision could be much more patient-centred, specifically the forensic examination and psychological care. Alongside medical and psychological consequences, victims emphasised the high personal financial and relational burden of sexual violence. The holistic care offered in Sexual Assault Care Centres was perceived to enhance the recovery process of victims of sexual violence. Their doors should be open to all victims and their relatives. They should not only provide acute care for the victim, but also improve victims’ reintegration into society while reducing their personal costs significantly.
Conclusion: All care for victims of sexual violence, especially forensic and psychological care, needs drastic improvement in Belgium. All participants agreed that having specialised, multidisciplinary and longitudinal care in a Sexual Assault Care Centre that would be open 24/7 for everyone, victims and their significant others, would be an improvement to the currently available care all over Belgium.
Trial registration: This research was registered on April 1st 2016. Registration number B670201628242.
Keywords: Sexual violence, Rape, Victims, Belgium, Healthcare Centre

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Authors & affiliation: 
Laura Peeters1* , Anke Vandenberghe1, Bavo Hendriks1, Christine Gilles2, Kristien Roelens1 and Ines Keygnaert1 1 International Centre for Reproductive Health (ICRH), Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Corneel Heymanslaan 10, UZP114, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium. 2 Department of obstetrics and gynecology, CHU Saint Pierre, Université Libre de Bruxelles, rue Haute 320, 1000 Brussels, Belgium.
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Published In: 
Peeters et al. BMC International Health and Human Rights (2019) 19:21 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12914-019-0207-5
Publication date: 
Thursday, June 27, 2019