Police support Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week #ItsNotOK
Victims of sexual abuse and violence are being encouraged to speak out as Suffolk Police supports a national week-long campaign to raise awareness.
Sexual Abuse& Sexual Violence Awareness Week takes place across the UK from Monday 5 February until Sunday 11 February, with the aim of raising awareness of the issues, using the hashtag #ItsNotOk.
Specialist providers of support to victims and survivors of sexual violence across Suffolk are teaming up and calling on organisations, individuals and agencies across the county to join them in saying ‘Suffolk says that all forms of sexual violence are not ok’.
The Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) called The Ferns in Ipswich, supports the work of Suffolk Constabulary in investigating serious sexual offences. It offers victims of sexual abuse round-the-clock medical care alongside emotional and practical support. Sexual abuse can happen to anyone and the service is open to women, children and men.
The Ferns provides medical examinations following a recent rape or sexual assault, without police involvement. However, if at any time a victim decides to talk to police, this can be arranged. It also offers the opportunity for those who have suffered abuse in the past to come and talk with trained crisis workers to discuss what happened to them and to see what support they may need to aid their recovery.
The SARC have just re-launched their website www.theferns-suffolk.org.uk which offers detailed information to victims about the type of services and support that is available. The site also offers an area for professionals, aimed at GPs and teachers, with information on referrals and how people can seek support.
Detective Superintendent Eamonn Bridger, head of Safeguarding at Suffolk Constabulary, said: "The effect on victims of sexual abuse and violence can be devastating and long lasting.
"I hope that this week of awareness will help to reassure victims that Suffolk Constabulary and its partners are committed to delivering excellent services to the victims of serious sexual offences. There has been significant investment in investigators and support services across the county and the Constabulary investment is now greater than ever.
"We take all reports of this nature extremely seriously and will do everything we can to investigate whilst signposting to the agencies that can be of greatest help in times of need. We are lucky in this county as there is a shared public sector vision for making a difference, whilst providing quality services to victims.
"We understand that victims might not want to tell police immediately what has happened to them so the role of the SARC is crucial here, offering a service that enables information to be given confidentially in a private, comfortable environment.”
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore, said: "I fully support this national awareness campaign. It is crucially important that victims of sexual abuse and violence know there is always someone here to help.
"We know that serious sexual offences are under-reported in Suffolk, and I understand why but I am determined that we do all we can to improve this situation. We need to work together to ensure that support is available so that victims feel confident to speak out. I am steadfast in my commitment to work with the Chief Constable and partners across the county to prevent and respond to domestic and sexual abuse. We all need to echo the hashtag of the campaign, ItsNotOK”.
During the awareness week, messages encouraging victims to come forward will be shared on Suffolk Police’s social media accounts using the hashtag, #ItsNotOk.
Anyone who would like to speak to someone in confidence about sexual abuse or violence can contact Suffolk Police on 101, or staff at The Ferns on 0300 1235058 or via email [email protected]
For further information, support and advice,
www.survivorsintransition.co.uk Survivors in Transition - Specialist support in Suffolk for female and male survivors of childhood sexual abuse, violence and exploitation
www.fsnb.org.uk Fresh Start – New beginnings, provides a therapeutic service for children and young people up to 21 years who have reported being sexually abused and to offer support for their families.
www.suffolkrapecrisis.org.uk Suffolk Rape Crisis – Support service open to anybody aged 14 or above who needs support following a rape or sexual assault