West Mercia Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre calls on councillors to make sexual violence a priority

Published November 25, 2014 by JS2

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A CENTRE providing support to victims of rape and sexual violence is asking for the support of local councillors in ensuring the needs of victims are a priority in the county.

West Mercia Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre has started a petition to gain support in getting more focus on dealing with sexual violence in a strategic document within Worcestershire and Herefordshire.

Jocelyn Anderson, the chief officer at the centre, said that despite the current focus on sexual exploitation in the media and society, neither sexual violence or the needs of sexual violence survivors are a priority in any strategic document within the two counties.

“There is a sexual violence strategy within Worcestershire but it does not link into any overarching strategy and sexual violence is not considered within any other document. It is a positive and encouraging step forward but does not go far enough,” she said.

“It matters because sexual violence impacts upon all aspects of life — one in four women will be sexually assaulted and one in 20 children before they are 16. It does not discriminate — women, men and children are all assaulted.

“But the simple fact is that if people get the support they need, when they need it, they can recover from these crimes against them.”

Ms Anderson has now launched the campaign to encourage councillors to prioritise sexual violence.

She said: “There is a general assumption that if people need support to cope that it is available for them. It is not available to all and because it is not included as a strategic priority in any document it will not be considered as a specialist service that needs to be provided. We do not think it is right, morally or ethically to leave survivors without a voice, without support or without consideration in strategic decisions.

“We need to place support for victims of sexual violence more firmly within the public health and local authority agenda.

“We are asking for the support of all local councillors to make this happen.

“We have continuously provided services since 1986, but demand for what we do continues to exceed supply. Between last April and March this year 853 new clients accessed the centre for face to face support and nine per cent of these were under the age of 16.

“This does not include people that we have supported on the helpline or by email. We provide a free, confidential and non-judgemental support service for survivors who have experienced any form of sexual violence or abuse, either recent or historic.”
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