Help Sarah’s Legal Challenge to Secure Female Only Rape Crisis Therapy

by Sarah Summers

Help Sarah’s Legal Challenge to Secure Female Only Rape Crisis Therapy

by Sarah Summers
Sarah Summers
Case Owner
I’m suing Brighton’s Rape Crisis Centre Survivors’ Network for discrimination because it refused to provide a women-only peer support group. I am a survivor of sexual abuse.
25
days to go
£77,425
pledged of £75,000 stretch target from 3,016 pledges
Pledge now
Sarah Summers
Case Owner
I’m suing Brighton’s Rape Crisis Centre Survivors’ Network for discrimination because it refused to provide a women-only peer support group. I am a survivor of sexual abuse.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: July 26, 2022

Claim form served on the Defendant

I just wanted to keep you updated on progress and confirm that my claim form has now been served (sent to) the solicitors acting for The Survivor's Network.  They now have 28 days to file th…

Read more

I’m suing Brighton’s Rape Crisis Centre Survivors’ Network for discrimination because it refused to provide a women-only peer support group.

I am a survivor of sexual abuse. When I was a child, I was abused by a family friend. Later, in my twenties, I was again raped by a man I knew. In both cases, I felt tricked and coerced by men, and I still have trouble trusting any men. I believe that every woman deserves the option of a safe, female-only space to heal from the trauma of rape and sexual abuse.

Survivors’ Network

The Survivors’ Network is the only rape crisis centre in Sussex. It receives funding from a number of public bodies, including the Brighton and Hove and East Sussex local authorities, The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, NHS, and the Ministry of Justice.

My experience

I sought help from the Survivors’ Network when circumstances meant I would have to come into contact with the man who had raped me in my local area. When I first joined a Peer Support Group run by the Survivors’ Network, I was relieved to be able to share my story with women who had lived similar experiences. My first few sessions were helpful and supportive, and I continued to attend weekly.

This changed in September 2021 when I arrived at the group and was surprised to see someone who appeared to be a man. I left the session feeling shaken and upset. There’s more about my story here.

I emailed the Survivors’ Network to I explain how I felt, and to suggest that one of the new peer support groups the charity was planning to run could be for survivors who were born female.

But the Survivors’ Network ruled out any change of policy. Instead, they suggested I be added to the 2 year waiting list for 1:1 support and told me to find another service in the city, knowing they are the only RC centre for Sussex.

My claim

The law that makes it possible to offer single-sex services is expressed in terms of permission, not obligation. My central argument is that the Survivors’ Network’s “trans inclusive” policy is indirectly discriminatory: that is, it puts women at a particular disadvantage compared to men, and can’t be justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. My lawyers say I have a good claim which I am more likely to win than lose – but lawyers can’t predict the outcome of cases with certainty, so there’s also a very real risk that I could lose and have to pay costs.

On 22 April 2022 I was granted court orders that allow me to bring my claim anonymously.

Why this matters

It is impossible for many female survivors to heal from trauma at the hands of men in a mixed sex space. It is impossible to share feelings around being manipulated and coerced by men and speak freely about male entitlement and privilege in a group with males in it, even if they identify as women.

Some female survivors have a trauma response to males which they cannot help. No amount of ‘education’ from trans rights activists can change this trauma response.

The importance of my case is not confined to rape counselling services. There are many spaces in which the sexes should be separated – changing rooms, hospital beds and domestic violence shelters. If they are not, women are simply unsafe.

Funding 

I am not in this for the money. If I am awarded any compensation, I will donate it to a VAWG charity that supports single sex spaces. To me this case is about protecting women’s rights to safe spaces.

I issued my claim on 29 April 2022. My lawyers have acted pro bono up to this point, but I cannot fight the case to a conclusion without funding.

I need to raise enough money to pay my own legal costs, and to cover the risk that I’ll lose and have to pay the other side’s costs too. People often get “after the event” insurance against the costs risk, but it’s not possible in a case like mine where, even if I win, the financial compensation is bound to be modest.

On reaching this initial target I shall then need to raise further funds to pay my legal fees and any costs that may be awarded against me should my claims be unsuccessful.

Transparency

I will publish all the information about the case that I am able to as soon as I reasonably can, by way of updates to this crowdfunding page.

Legal team

I am represented by Kate Lea and Elizabeth McGlone of Didlaw, Karon Monaghan QC of Matrix Chambers and Naomi Cunningham, a barrister at Outer Temple Chambers.


 

Update 1

Sarah Summers

July 26, 2022

Claim form served on the Defendant

I just wanted to keep you updated on progress and confirm that my claim form has now been served (sent to) the solicitors acting for The Survivor's Network.  They now have 28 days to file their defence.  I shall continue to keep you up to speed on developments.  

    There are no public comments on this case page.