What is Map of Gaps?

Map of Gaps is a unique campaign by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the End Violence Against Women coalition which maps services for women who have experienced violence. Whilst men and boys may also experience some of these forms of violence, they are disproportionately experienced by women. The scale of violence in women's lives, the contexts it takes place in, its meaning and consequences, all make violence against women part of the continued inequality between women and men.

We have mapped services that work primarily on violence against women and provide significant support to female victims/survivors. This includes voluntary sector services, such as Rape Crisis Centres and domestic violence refuges, as well as statutory services such as Specialist Domestic Violence Courts and Sexual Assault Referral Centres.

We define a specialised support service as one which is aimed primarily at violence against women and offers direct support to women who experience violence.

From counselling to emergency accommodation and outreach programmes, specialised services offer a range of options to support women who have experienced violence in different ways.

They include:

  • Rape Crisis Centres
  • Domestic violence services including refuges
  • Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) services, including those focussed on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
  • Specialist Domestic Violence Courts
  • Sexual violence services
  • Sexual assault referral centres
  • Support for prostitution, trafficking and sexual exploitation.

These services exist to provide a safe space in which women can tell someone about their experience of violence without fear, where they are believed and respected, and where they are given the possibility to explore their options, seek justice and begin to repair the damage of violence. So whether they need a safe place to stay, support in pursuing justice or counselling, there must be a specific service to help them.

Services are run either by the voluntary sector, (for example Rape Crisis Centres, refuges, domestic violence outreach projects, support for ethnic minority women and for trafficked women) or based in the statutory sector (for example Sexual Assault Referral Centres).

Although generalised services like health centres and re-housing programmes are valuable, they are not counted as specialised services because their primary purpose is not to help women recover from violence.

The geographic plotting was carried out by geographers in the Cities Institute, London Metropolitan University, with services located within local authority boundaries. It covers all the local administrative categories of District Authorities and Unitary Authorities.

Map of Gaps is a ground-breaking project. It is possible that there are small organisations who are not able to publicise themselves very widely that have not been mapped. We apologise in advance if this has happened and would be pleased to be alerted to the existence of such services.

Research was carried out by the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit and the Cities Institute at the London Metropolitan University. For further information about the research, please email cwasu@londonmet.ac.uk or go to their website www.cwasu.org

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