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New campaign aims to raise awareness of help and support after rape and sexual assault

The20Bridge20Poster

A new campaign has been launched to encourage anyone affected by rape or sexual assault to seek support.

The campaign has been set up by The Bridge, Avon and Somerset’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre.

The Bridge offer medical, emotional and practical support to anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted.

Nationally, there has been a rise in recorded sexual offences over the last three years, with 40% more people coming forward to police during the year to June 2015.

In 2014, The Bridge provided support to almost 1000 people – double the number compared with 2013. Figures this year predict a similar number of people coming forward in relation to recent and non-recent sexual offences, with nearly 500 people contacting The Bridge in the first six months of 2015.

The Bridge is looking to highlight the support they offer with the help of a new campaign, which includes the launch of a new website.

www.thebridgecanhelp.org.uk provides information to anyone affected by rape and sexual assault. The site has specific advice sections for men, women and under 18s, alongside information for family, friends and professionals.

The Bridge offer free and confidential advice 24/7, 365 days a year on 0117 342 6999. The new campaign will see the helpline number displayed on leaflets and posters in GP surgeries, university campuses and other public places across the Avon and Somerset area.

Development of the new website and materials has been supported by Avon and Somerset Police and funded by Avon and Somerset’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “The Bridge Sexual Assault Referral Centre is co-funded by my office and NHS England and I was delighted to extend further support for the new website. It is a great source of information for victims, friends, family and professionals across Avon and Somerset – easy to navigate, victim focused and accessible.

“It’s 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. 

“We have many high quality support services in Avon and Somerset, including The Bridge who are there for anyone who is in need of their help, support or advice. I would strongly encourage any victim of sexual violence to visit the new website and make contact with The Bridge so they can help you on the road to recovery.”

Debbie Burunou, Centre Manager at The Bridge, said: “With sexual assault and rape affecting an estimated 85,000 women and 12,000 men in the UK each year, it is vital support services are visible and easily accessible in the Avon and Somerset area.

“We have seen a significant increase in the number of people seeking support over the past few years, a result of people having more confidence to come forward knowing they will be believed.

“If you have been affected by rape or sexual assault, our specialist team is here for you. You can contact The Bridge for medical care and emotional support now and decide about talking to the police later.

“It doesn’t matter when you were assaulted, where it happened or who did it – we’ll listen to your experience and help you to get the support you choose.”

Posted on Monday 26th October 2015
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