ARCS Manawatu began in March 1982 in response to a number of sexual assaults that were happening in the community. A public meeting was held to discuss what could be done to stop this violence occurring and from that meeting the Palmerston North Women’s Neighbourhood Action Group was formed. The three main objectives of the Group were to form a rape crisis phone service; to hold public meetings across Palmerston North to raise the issue of sexual violence; and to provide education on sexual violence to the public.
In August 1984 the Rape Crisis office opened at Square Edge. We became an incorporated society in 1986 and changed our name to Manawatu Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre in 2001. This name change coincided with a move to the Women’s Centre in Waldegrave Street.
In November 2009 our name was again changed to Abuse & Rape Crisis Support Manawatu, becoming commonly known as ARCS Manawatu, to more accurately reflect that some of our programmes covered family violence. In January 2010 we relocated to our current location at 10 Linton Street and had five staff.
In 2015, we opened additional offices in Levin and Dannevirke to provide services to Horowhenua (through to Otaki) and Tararua. We now have a dedicated and experienced staff of 21.