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New support services for survivors of rape and sexual violence

This-is-not-an-excuse-to-rape-me

Rowan Miller - Director of SARSAS, PCC Sue Mountstevens and Dr Heather Flowe - University of Leicester

Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS, formerly Bristol Rape Crisis) is pleased to extend its services into Somerset and Avon.

An average of 8 women across Somerset and Avon report rape or serious sexual assault to the police each week.Every week, there are another 52 that do not report. Research suggests 40% will tell nobody at all. SARSAS believe this is partly because they think they will not be believed and because there has been a lack of specialist support services available to them. Following funding from the Ministry of Justice, SARSAS now hopes to reach out to many of these women and offer a vital service.

SARSAS provides:

  • A confidential helpline 5 days a week including 3 evening sessions
  • One-to-one support from 6 different locations across the area
  • Specialist counselling in Bath, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire & Somerset

As part of its goal to raise awareness of working with sexual violence across multi-disciplinary services, SARSAS is also offering referral and disclosure workshops for professionals and has developed a ‘Survivor Pathway’ website to help people find the support they need.

SARSAS is working in partnership with the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner and Somerset County Council to raise awareness of rape myths through a new campaign ‘this is not an excuse to rape me’. This will be seen on billboards and public spaces throughout Somerset.

SARSAS was launched officially launch across Somerset and Avon today (March 7) at the Exchange House, Taunton.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens has made tackling violence sexual and domestic violence a priority and is passionate about improving access to support services. To coincide with the launch of SARSAS Sue Mountstevens has funded a “this is not an excuse to rape me campaign” across Somerset.

“There are no excuses for rape and sexual abuse and it is never the victim’s fault.  This is something I feel very passionate about and the reason I have funded a campaign which not only targets offenders but helps raise awareness of the specialist support services offered by Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support.

“There will be adverts across Somerset train stations and on social media with strong messaging and emotive imagery in a bid to tackle rape and sexual abuse.

“By working together with specialist partners and services we can help survivors of rape and sexual abuse receive a tailored and supportive response. Providing them with the help and care they need throughout their recovery,” said Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens.

Rowan Miller, Director of SARSAS:

“Until now, many rape and sexual abuse survivors have been facing their experiences alone. The estimated incidences across Avon and Somerset show how common it is that survivors do not report to the police but still suffer the devastating consequences that can last for years and even decades. It is critical that they are able to receive specialist support when and where they need it.”

 

 

 

Posted on Friday 7th March 2014
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