I shaved my head for Rape Crisis!
Back in April, I read this article "Only £10 has been donated to Rape Crisis since Broadchurch started - why?" that discusses some of the challenges Rape Crisis centres face raising donations.
"The truth is that Rape Crisis centres have long struggled to attract the volume of donations on which other causes rely, despite the wide-ranging and often lifelong physical, mental and emotional health and social impacts sexual violence has on survivors."
"Even though 20% of women have been through it, do those who haven’t believe they are immune to sexual violence because they would never act in certain ways? Deep down, do we think survivors aren’t deserving because it’s just a little bit their own fault?"
I was furious that the misconceptions some people have about rape and sexual violence could actually translate into less support for survivors and I decided I would try to raise some money for Rape Crisis.
Rape Crisis England and Wales is a national charity and the umbrella body for a network of independent member Rape Crisis Centres. As well as supporting the work of local services, they also raise awareness and understanding of sexual violence in the wider community and with national government.
Sponsored runs/walks/swims etc. aren't an option for me for health reasons. So, fuelled by the fact there had been a multitude of stories in the news reporting of victim-blaming, lenient sentences for offenders and cuts to services (I really was prepared to do something drastic!) I settled on shaving my hair off.
Fundraising started at the end of April with 52 days until the head shave. I sincerely apologise to anyone who's been on my Facebook/Twitter since then and has heard about nothing else!
The support and enthusiasm, especially all the lovely messages on the donation page, has been overwhelming. I'm very lucky and grateful to have such generous colleagues, friends and family. I also got coverage from the Bristol Post early on - read their article here - which was very exciting.
In order to prepare for having my head shaved, I brought a sun hat and winter hat and started practising the 'bright eye shadow' look. If not my hair, I thought I should make a statement with something else. Many people have told me how easily my head will burn in the sun, so I also brought some 'head and face' sunscreen spray - who knew such a thing existed!?
We reached the initial target of £300, two weeks before the event, allowing me to increase it to £500 which was hit the morning of the head shave. The total is now well over £500 and still rising which is incredible.
Having my head shaved was scary but nowhere near as bad as I thought. First my hair was plaited and the plait snipped off to be sent to the Little Princess Trust who make wigs for children with cancer. I was left with a bob and that was cut straight into with the razor. I ended up with a 'number one'. It's nice and cool in a breeze but the weirdest thing has got to be the feeling when I put my head down on a cold pillow!
I am 100% glad I did it. Virtually everyday, through people I meet in my voluntary work or from stories online, I hear about the devastating effects that rape and other forms of sexual violence have on lives and how much difference dedicated, specialist support services who understand women’s experiences make. I couldn't think of a more worthwhile cause to lose my hair for.
There's still time to sponsor my head shave! (All donations go directly to Rape Crisis): www.justgiving.com/fundraising/chloheadshave.