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Documentary raises awareness of sexual assault referral centres


Rape Aware Website - www.rapeaware.org.uk

A documentary highlighting the essential work of sexual assault referral centres airs tonight on BBC One.

The film follows the work of St Mary's which is based in Manchester and takes viewers through the process of seeking the help they need if they have been a victim of rape or sexual assault.

46 of these facilities exist across the country and offer support to anyone who has been a victim, regardless of whether they want to involve us.

In Avon and Somerset, our sexual assault referral centre, The Bridge helps people across the force area. They offer medical help, psychological and practical support to try and help you deal with the effects of such a violent crime.

The service which launched in 2009 is open to everyone regardless of whether you want to speak to us. If you do decide to report the crime to us their specialist workers also help you through the process until its conclusion.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: "It is vital that men, women and children who experience sexual violence are able to access services when and where they need them. Rape and sexual assault is never the victim's fault and I want to make it clear that there are people here to help who will understand, take you seriously and believe you.

"The police and other agencies are committed to tackling these awful crimes and there are a number of great organisations both across Avon and Somerset and nationally who can help and offer specialist advocacy services and support.

"In particular, The Bridge is a high quality, supportive service for anyone in Avon and Somerset who is in need of their help. I encourage any victim of sexual violence to make contact with The Bridge so they can help them on the road to recovery."

Chief Superintendent Sarah Crew, the force lead on rape and sexual assault said: "Programmes like this are essential in raising awareness of rape and sexual assault and the services that are available to all victims of this heinous crime. Rape and sexual assault is never your fault and we are dedicated to helping you.

"While we would always encourage you to report to us, it is imperative that regardless, you get the emotional and practical support needed to try and deal with what has happened to you.

"Rape and sexual assault is still a taboo subject for many, raising awareness in this way can only encourage more people to come forward and report rape, dispel some of the myths and stereotypes around rape and showcase the high quality services we have in Avon and Somerset that are available to help all victims."

In 2012 the Bridge helped over 400 people. Debbie Hewlett, the centre manager said: "All of the staff at the Bridge are specialists in this area and exist solely to help you if you have been a victim of rape or sexual assault.

"We area available 24/7, 365 days a year and are free of charge.

"Too many people are still afraid to talk about what has happened to them or get the help they need because they're scared of what might happen or who might find out. We are a confidential service and your best interests are at the heart of what we do.

"You don't have to involve the police if you come here so if you are concerned or worried please call us; we are always here to help." 

If you have been a victim of rape or sexual assault you can turn to the Bridge at www.turntothebridge.org or for more information about the crime and how we can help visit www.rapeaware.org  



Posted on Tuesday 28th May 2013
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