On one day in Scotland 1,035 survivors of rape, sexual assault and abuse were waiting to access Rape Crisis support. Last year that number was just 582.

The wait is described as agonising, the support is described as lifesaving, so why is it that in a country that prides itself on its values of compassion and fairness so many survivors are being let down, so badly?

Behind these frankly horrifying figures are people – overwhelmingly but not exclusively women – hurting.

Many of them describe feeling trapped, unable to move on with their lives and come to terms with what has happened to them.

As a result of not being able to get support at the point of need, many report self-harming and feeling suicidal.

One survivor waiting for Rape Crisis support said: “I feel abandoned. I’m left with all this stuff in my head and the only way I can deal with it is to deny it’s real. I know this is just adding more to the trauma I’ve suffered for 44 years

and I don’t know if I’ll survive until I

get help.” – Survivor waiting for Rape Crisis Support

Rape and sexual crimes are traumatic violations that can have a devastating impact on people’s lives.

At Rape Crisis we meet people who have just been raped and don’t know where to turn or what to do, those who experienced sexual violence 30 years ago and haven’t told another soul, and everyone in between.

That is why specialist support when someone does come forward and ask for help is so important. It can seem counter-intuitive that many people who experience rape don’t come forward straight away, but less so if you ask yourself what happens when survivors of rape do speak out?

As #MeToo swept the planet we saw the experiences of many survivors here in Scotland replicated on the international stage.

Very often women in particular were blamed for having been drunk, shamed for having worn sexy underwear or for having slept with multiple men before their assault.

Their motives for speaking out were questioned and they were publicly disbelieved and undermined.

In this age of awakening about the extent and prevalence of sexual violence, people who should have known better publicly stood by men accused of inflicting serious harm.

Which part of that public conversation would entice you or give you the confidence to stand up and say, me too?

After being subject to a significant trauma the very last thing that anyone needs is to face excessive scrutiny and judgment for an incident that was fundamentally and unequivocally not their fault.

The fault for rape always lies firmly with the rapist.

As a crime, rape is so intimate that it affects people very differently.

It remains something that can be difficult to talk about and a subject that far too many people in our society shy away from.

It’s easier to say “that doesn’t happen here” than acknowledge that perpetrators live in our villages, towns, cities and communities.

It’s far simpler to empathise with survivors from afar than think that someone close to us has suffered at the hands of male violence, and yet statistically whether we know about it or not, someone we know has been raped. The response we’d want for them – for our friend, colleague, neighbour or family member – surely would be one of compassion and care.

We would want to know that in these terrible circumstances the people and resources would be there so that the person we love could talk, to find out what they need to and, hopefully in time, be supported to move forward.

That is the specialist response that Rape Crisis across Scotland provides across Scotland.

On just one day local services were providing ongoing support to 2,660 survivors, through counselling, advocacy, group work and crisis support. We don’t believe that anyone should ever face a wait for our services, and local centres work tirelessly and creatively each day to try to reach as many survivors as possible.

It is devastating that, on making the incredibly difficult and courageous step to seek support, that any survivor is added to a waiting list – sometimes of up to 12 months – and turned away.

We never want to turn someone in need of our help away. The reality is funding has not kept up with unprecedented demand that has almost doubled our waiting list in a year.

Centres are trying to do more, with less. At Rape Crisis Scotland we have launched a crowdfunding campaign to shed light on this issue and help bridge the gap, asking people to donate 16 Pounds For 16 Days.

In just a week we have smashed our initial target of £5,000 and raised more than £8,000 which is extraordinary, but we need more.

We know that crowdfunding is not a solution to this funding crisis.

The conversation around long-term, sustainable funding is ongoing. But if everyone who agrees that all survivors should have access to support at the point of need chips in just £16, we could really make a difference to the picture of waiting lists across Scotland right now.

Brenna Jessie is press and campaigns officer at Rape Crisis Scotland. To donate to the campaign, visit here.