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

  • Peeters, Laura1
  • Vandenberghe, Anke1
  • Hendriks, Bavo1
  • Gilles, Christine2
  • Roelens, Kristien1
  • Keygnaert, Ines1
  • 1 Ghent University, International Centre for Reproductive Health (ICRH), Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Corneel Heymanslaan 10, UZP114, Ghent, B-9000, Belgium , Ghent (Belgium)
  • 2 Université Libre de Bruxelles, Department of obstetrics and gynecology, CHU Saint Pierre, rue Haute 320, Brussels, 1000, Belgium , Brussels (Belgium)
Published Article
BMC International Health and Human Rights
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Jun 27, 2019
DOI: 10.1186/s12914-019-0207-5
Springer Nature


BackgroundSexual 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.MethodsSixteen 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.ResultsThe 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.ConclusionAll 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 registrationThis research was registered on April 1st 2016. Registration number B670201628242.

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