61 serious sexual assaults take place in Somerset and Avon every week – that is nine women a day and nearly one woman every 2 ½ hours.*In this area, one in five women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime.
SARSAS (Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support) believes that one is too many. Today, it launches its ‘One in Five Appeal’. With a goal of £60,000, SARSAS hopes to help more women and girl survivors.
Bristol alone is home to an estimated 8,500 women who have be raped and 39,000 female survivors of sexual violence – the majority of them are not receiving vital counselling and support. The One in Five Appeal aims to raise awareness of the scale of the issue, challenge the atrocities committed against victims and care for women on the journey to recovery.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “There are no excuses for rape and sexual abuse and it is never the victim’s fault. Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support provide an invaluable service to victims, who are in need of a place to turn to help them recover and become survivors. Tackling these crimes has been a priority for me as PCC and will continue to be a key area of focus in my second term.
“I am joining SARSAS in its campaign to take a stand against sexual abuse and reiterate their message that one victim of sexual violence is one too many. We must make our voices heard to help survivors of rape and sexual abuse in their time of need, providing them with tailored care and ultimately putting them back in control.”
SARSAS supports survivors through an email and telephone answering service, therapeutic therapy and specialist counselling – services that could dramatically expand with additional funds.
Rowan Miller, Director at SARSAS, said: “We believe that many will be shocked by the number of people in Somerset and Avon that have experienced sexual violence, which includes rape, sexual harassment, childhood abuse and stalking.
“The One in Five Appeal is intended not only to raise the funds we need to help more women and girls, but to bring the harrowing reality of the scale of sexual violence out of the shadows.
“What we do is not ‘tea and sympathy’. We want survivors to know they do not need to suffer alone or in silence, and that there is valuable upport available to them.”
There are many ways in which people can help SARSAS towards their £60,000 target from organising a fundraising event, donating space for events or Tweeting about the appeal with the hashtag #oneistoomany
For more information about SARSAS, how to donated to the One in Five Appeal, or how to get support if you are a victim of sexual violence, visit www.sarsas.org.uk or call 0808 801 0456.
*Ministry of Justice report: An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales, 10th January 2013
Posted on Monday 11th July 2016