Wellington Rape Crisis to restore all services

By Hayden Donnell

Hundreds of people expressed disgust at the Hell Pizza's decision to post the entry on Facebook. Photo / File / Brett Phibbs
Hundreds of people expressed disgust at the Hell Pizza's decision to post the entry on Facebook. Photo / File / Brett Phibbs

Wellington Rape Crisis is restoring all its services after a massive fundraising effort sparked by outrage at a post made on Facebook by Hell Pizza.

The agency revealed it had to close its doors on Fridays because of a $55,000 hole in its 2012/13 finances in an announcement made on August 13.

Its plight received extra attention when Hell Pizza announced the winning entry of its Facebook 'Confessional' competition on Wednesday.

The entry described an incident of sexual abuse where the 'confessor' put his penis in the mouth of a drunk man who had passed out.

Hundreds of people expressed disgust at the company's decision, with many comparing it to making light of crimes committed by notorious 'Beast of Blenheim' rapist Stewart Murray Wilson.

Hell apologised for the post and agreed to give $10,000 to Wellington Rape Crisis, along with matching donations made at the organisation's fundraising page dollar for dollar.

Wellington Rape Crisis manager Natalie Gousmett said the agency had received $55,000 in donations in the last week, with much of the money coming since Hell made its dollar for dollar guarantee.

She was "absolutely overwhelmed" at the community support, which meant the agency only had to go through one week of operating limited services.

"A big part of this fundraising success has been the dollar-for-dollar pledge by Hell Pizza for donations to our Fundy site but we have also received donations from over 550 individuals. It really shows that the community values and supports the work we do with survivors of rape and sexual abuse and their support people."

Ms Gousmett said meeting the target meant five-day-a-week counselling and support services would be offered to rape survivors for the rest of the financial year.

However a similar funding deficit was likely again next year because of "chronic underfunding" of services working with survivors of sexual violence, she said.

"We hope we will see some sustainable and consistent funding solutions come out of this soon. In the meantime we will continue to rely on donations and fundraising to deliver our core services."

Wellington Rape Crisis has been providing support services to rape victims for 35 years.

It faced funding problems after its client list grew from 543 in 2010/11 to 995 in 2011/12.

Hell Pizza has a long history of making controversial marketing decisions.

The company said sorry after including the message "You will marry a transgender" in its "misfortune" cookies last December.

In 2011, Hell was accused of "spiritual abuse" for putting up a billboard showing a bun decorated with an inverted pentacle symbol and the words: "For a limited time. A bit like Jesus."

A 2006 campaign where condoms were randomly mailed out prompted a record 685 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority. The complaints were upheld.

- Herald Online

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