Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week

Suffolk Constabulary is supporting Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week, and this year’s focus is on abuse in the family environment.

Sexual abuse and sexual violence in a family setting includes parental abuse, sibling abuse, female genital mutilation (FGM) and marital sexual violence.

Perpetrators may not always be related to the victim but instead be a person who feels like family.
The awareness week takes place across the UK from Monday 6 February until Sunday 12 February.

Throughout the week specialist providers of support to victims and survivors of sexual violence 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’.

To start the week, officers will be joining partners for the launch event on Monday 6 February at 10am until 4pm at the Foyer of the University of Suffolk in Ipswich.

Officers will stand alongside Survivors in Transition (SIT), Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk Rape Crisis and Fresh Start, New Beginnings and other local partners to raise awareness of the support available relating to sexual abuse and sexual violence, and encourage victims to come forward.

During the awareness week, Suffolk police will be sharing messages on social media using the hashtag #SuffolkSaysItsNotOK.

Temporary Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Smith says: “There are many reasons why incidents of sexual abuse and abuse in a family setting can remain undisclosed.

“Victims may fear their abuser, may feel at fault or responsible for the abuse, fear they won’t be believed, not want their abuser to get into trouble, and those with different cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs could face additional barriers.

“Sexual abuse and sexual violence is abhorrent in any setting, but may feel particularly isolating in a family environment. Adult survivors, children and young people deserve to have support services that listen, believe and respect them.

“Whilst intrafamilial abuse is particularly challenging, I want to reassure victims that police and partners are committed to supporting survivors across Suffolk. We take all reports of sexual abuse and violence extremely seriously and are committed to ensuring our investigations are conducted with sensitivity and empathy.”

For further help and advice you can contact police by dialling 101 or visit our website https://www.suffolk.police.uk/advice/assault-abuse-threats

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore says: “Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “Highlighting the issue of sexual abuse and violence is absolutely crucial if we are going to reduce incidents of this repugnant behaviour.

“We all have a part to play to support victims and we need to make sure support is easily accessible and avenues for reporting are clear.

“It is quite shocking to me that anyone is exposed to such dreadful behaviour and can find themselves being abused and threatened by those that should be protecting them. It is a very sad reflection on our society and something we all need to work together on to eliminate.  We need to send out a very clear message that ‘Suffolk says that all forms of sexual violence are not ok’.”

The Suffolk Sexual Assault Referral Centre (also known as the SARC) provides specialist tailored support to victims through Crisis Workers and Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs). This includes medical examinations following a recent rape or sexual assault, which can be done without any police involvement. If, at any time, a victim decides to talk to police, this can be arranged.

The Ferns also supports those who have suffered abuse in the past as well as providing impartial information to victims concerning their options, accessing health services such as sexual health screening and specialist support including counselling. ISVAs also provide information on other services the person may require including health and social care, housing, or benefits.

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] or visit https://www.theferns-suffolk.org.uk

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 females aged 14 or above who needs support following a rape or sexual assault