A sexual violence referral centre or rape crisis centre provides specialised services to victims of sexual violence, such as immediate medical care and trauma support combined with immediate forensic examinations to collect the evidence needed for prosecution, plus long-term psychological counselling and therapy, support to victims during court proceedings, and other practical help.
Standards provided by the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence provide that such centres are available in sufficient numbers and are easy accessible, and that their services are performed in an appropriate manner. At least one such centre should be available per every 200 000 inhabitants.
Rape crisis centres may exist in many different forms and typically offer long-term help. Sexual violence referral centres, on the other hand, may specialise in immediate medical care, high-quality forensic practice and crisis intervention. They can be set up in a hospital setting to carry out medical checks and refer the victim to specialised women’s centres.
Council of Europe (2011). Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and its Explanatory Memorandum. Council of Europe Treaty Series No 210.