History of PARCS
PARCS emerged in 1981 as a grass root initiative run by women for women. Individual centres emerged in different ways some were the result of months of planning whilst others sprung up virtually overnight. All of the centres developed in response to the needs of survivors of sexual exploitation and most relied upon the support of volunteers…some things never change! Initially PARCS provided telephone and practical support but later developed to provide counselling, psychotherapy, group work and prevention. PARCS began offering a service to men in 1994 and in 1996 its counselling and prevention service for young people was launched.
Finding the resources to support the service was a constant challenge, particularly in the early days. However, funding was sought and acquired from many different sources, often with a great deal of effort and inventiveness.
Whilst PARCS continues to believe that it is important to provide a therapeutic service for survivors, the charity also wanted to have an impact on the incidence of sexual abuse/exploitation and rape, believing that prevention has to be better. The charity has developed its prevention programme to reflect this aim.
PARCS believes that education should focus on the need for consent in sexual interactions and on challenging the notion that sexual coercion is acceptable. This in turn has an impact on the incidence of rape and on rape convictions. Young people’s sexual scripts often contain the use of pressure or even force as normative elements of sexual interaction. It follows that interventions aimed at reducing the acceptance of sexual abuse/exploitation and challenging the myths about rape should start as early as possible.
PARCS provides information, emotional support, counselling and psychotherapy to survivors of sexual violation no matter how long ago the abuse happened. The charity also runs a community based prevention programme in Portsmouth and provides specialist training, consultation and supervision to professionals working in the field of sexual abuse/exploitation.
PARCS began to offer counselling to survivors of domestic abuse in September 2012. The specialist services (which cover Portsmouth and South East Hampshire) are provided by a small team of dedicated staff and volunteers.