New support for South West victims of sexual offences

A NEW online resource is being made available to South West victims of sexual offences.

To mark Human Rights Day today (Monday) and the final day of the international 16 Days of Action movement, Public Health England and partners across the South West are urging survivors and local organisations to seek tailored local support to tackle or overcome the impact of sexual abuse and violence.

Sexual abuse and violence take place at all levels of society, regardless of age, social class, race, religion, sexuality or disability. Over the past eight years, the number of sexual offences recorded by police across the South West has more than doubled from 4,346 in 2010/11 to 11,968 in 2017/18.

The increase in reports of sexual offences is thought to be driven by improvements in recording practices and a greater willingness of victims to come forward to report crimes, including non-recent victims.

However it’s estimated that 83 per cent of victims will still not want to report an assault to police – and an estimated 28 per cent of women who experience rape or sexual abuse will tell no one, so numbers could be significantly higher.

It has never been more important to provide a local source of support and guidance for survivors, their families or friends, and health professionals.

Public Health England worked with Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse (SARSAS), and the Office for Sexual Health, with funding from NHS England, to develop the South West Survivor Pathway.  It is an invaluable online resource designed to support professionals working with survivors – and their families, friends, colleagues and employers – to help them access services across the South West.

The website signposts to is a huge range of specialist  organisations accessible to anyone who has experienced sexual violence and abuse.One such organisation is Devon and Cornwall Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC).

Lyndsay Howell, Devon & Cornwall SARC General Manager, commented: “This can be an incredibly stressful and upsetting time for victims, their families, parents or partners.

“At the Devon & Cornwall SARC we provide services and support for women, men and children who have been raped or sexually assaulted. Being cared for by a specially trained NHS doctor and being able to talk through the experience is often the start of the recovery process and many find it therapeutic.

“The Survivor Pathway helps to direct people to the specialist services they need from us.”

Lara Snowdon, Public Health England South West Violence Prevention Lead, added: “The South West Survivor Pathway brings together the range of specialist sexual violence services from the across the South West. The resource is broken down by local authority and was developed with people who work in the sexual violence  sector.

“The aim of the website is to provide a trusted source of information that is regularly updated, is practical and easy to use for professionals working with survivors, and for survivors and their families who are looking to access support.

“We want to reassure people who are using the site, that we do not ask for or collect any personal information about you so you can feel confident that the site protects your anonymity. We know how daunting it can be to navigate through the health system to know how to get support and we hope this website will make that journey much easier.

“These services are often vital in rebuilding lives and acknowledging the long-term effects of sexual trauma.”

Visit the website for full details, services and support.

Woodmead Halls
About Francesca Evans 2641 Articles
Francesca grew up in Lyme Regis and has worked in community journalism in the area since 2011, having gained a First Class Honours degree in journalism and her NCTJ qualifications at Southampton Solent University.

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