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National sexual abuse and sexual violence awareness week

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens and Police are supporting Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week to encourage people to talk about sexual abuse and sexual violence.

In Avon and Somerset an average of three reports of rape are received each day.

The majority of victims are female (87%) with 15% aged 16 and under, but we have seen a 38% increase in male victims since 2014, with 21% of male victims aged 16 or younger.

PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “I have spoken to many victims of sexual abuse and sexual violence during my time as PCC who have told me they felt alone and that they couldn’t talk to anyone.

"They’ve also told me of the relief, when they’ve shared their story with someone who’s then been able to help them.

“I am very clear that there are no excuses for any form of abuse and it’s never the victim’s fault. As your PCC, tackling these crimes is something I’ve always been passionate about.

" It’s why I’ve made protecting the most vulnerable from harm the most important priority in my Police and Crime Plan and I will continue to be a fierce advocate for victims.

“I am committed to tackling violence against men, women and children ensuring that all victims have access to the right support when and where they need it. If you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse or sexual violence, please tell someone. Even if you are not ready to report to the police, there are people who can help.”

A growing issue is the number of crimes reported where victims met their attackers on dating apps.

We know only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report to the police so our message is simply, You don’t have to tell us. Just tell someone.

Superintendent Marie Wright said: "In many cases rape and sexual assault is committed by someone the victim knows, which makes it very hard to talk about and is one reason it remains under-reported.

“We understand victims might not want to talk to us but we urge anyone who has been a victim to tell someone; there are some fantastic support services available.

"Our promise to all victims is that if you do tell us, we will believe you, no matter who you are or when the assault happened. There is no excuse for rape.”

The week long campaign will focus on reminding people that sexual assault and violence is unacceptable – whoever you are, whatever the circumstances. We will provide advice for parents and young people on keeping safe; signpost to support services and put a ‘face to a name’ of the people you might meet if you talk to us.

For further information visit www.thisisnotanexcuse.org/rape-and-sexual-assault/help-and-support. For more information about the national campaign visit www.sexualabuseandsexualviolenceawarenessweek.org and on social media via the hashtag #ItsNotOk.
Posted on Monday 6th February 2017
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