A charity that helps adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse is helping more men than women for the first time in its five year existence.
Those behind Survivors in Transition (SiT), based in Fore Street in Ipswich, believe the increase could be due to the high media profile of police investigations into sex abuse allegations such as Operation Yewtree.
Fiona Ellis, operations director at the charity that offers support and counselling to men and women across Suffolk, said the number of men being seen had more than doubled between 2013 and 2014 – with men accounting for 34 of the 52 people currently being seen by SiT.
Ms Ellis, added: “For the first time we are working with more men than women. In the last couple of weeks we have seen an increase in particularly men, but individuals making enquiries being affected by institutional abuse, which is never the norm for us. Usually 80% to 90% of the people we work with have been affected by abuse within the home.”
Ms Ellis said the spike in men coming forward has contributed to a 240% increase in the overall demand for their services and seen people from as far as Cambridge seek support.
She added: “Anxiety is one of the reasons people don’t come forward. There’s an overwhelming sense of shame, so breaking that silence takes a huge amount of courage.
“Our service has grown so quickly since those cases in the media, and we want to try and reduce the anxiety of using the service.”
However, while SiT has seen an increase in men using the service, it is not a situation that has been seen nationally.
Michael May, director of business development at national charity Survivors UK, said: “I don’t know if there’s a particularly gendered response because the press coverage has been about institutions. Society tells men they have to be strong and protect themselves, so they may have been too scared to come forward for help.”
To combat the problem SiT aims to respond to people within 48 hours and assess them within two weeks, before creating tailored programmes when not everyone is ready for counselling or group sessions.
For more information call 07765 052282 or visit survivorsintransition.co.uk.
By Jason Noble