Sexual abuse survivors and their families get help on their journey of recovery
Over the last year PCC Katy Bourne has invested a total of £470k into sexual abuse support services across Sussex. This includes a recent uplift of £135k to fund specialist projects within these services, including outreach workers and additional counselling support.
On Monday (21st October) she met with representatives from Survivors Network, Life Centre, Counselling Plus Community, Rape Crisis Surrey & Sussex and Mankind. They spoke about the survivors that they have been able to support with this funding and the positive impact this had made to their lives. However, they also stressed the need to expand their services even further, with more people coming forward than ever before.
Mrs Bourne comments: “Sexual abuse of any kind can have a significant and long-lasting impact on those who experience it. Being able to access support at a time which is right for a victim can help them cope with their experience and navigate the often complex criminal justice system.
“With more and more victims having the confidence to come forward and seek help, it was important to increase funding for these services. I want to ensure that victims of sexual abuse continue to get the help and support they need."
Michele Hyman-Wilson, a Child Independent Sexual Violence Advisor from Survivors Network comments: "We are so reliant on funding. What has been so overwhelming is the generosity of the funders. Without them I don't know where we would be. To be able to provide this consistent level of care and support for children is so important."
Kathryn Slatter, CEO of LifeCentre said: "The quality of care we deliver is really important. We invest in specialist training for our volunteers. We have 27 at the moment and are training 14 more. People who ring our helplines like to talk to the same voice. It is reassuring for them and being on the end of the phone, people tend to be able to open up more."
Yvonne Traynor from Rape Crisis Surrey and Sussex said: "It's really important we get out into the community. We need to get out there and talk. We have a hub down in Worthing and we hope to open more in East Sussex to make it easier for people. This extra money will go towards outreach for communications and groups."
Mum Claire knows firsthand how sexual abuse can impact a victim and those closest to them. Her daughter was sexually assaulted at a young age and she described the moment she found out as though a ‘bomb had gone off’.
Claire said: “I was always that person that thought ‘well this will never happen to me and my family’ but it did and the reality is that it could happen to anybody. There were no warning signs. People who do this are opportunists, they are clever and will manipulate whoever it is that they are abusing.
“Speak to your kids. Assure them that if they ever need to tell you something that they have been told to keep a secret, they will be believed and they will not get into trouble.
“I can’t thank the police and support services enough. Both the officer working the case and Michele from Survivors Network checked in all the time and because of this constant support my daughter was able to give her evidence. She is now getting counselling from Life Centre and this is helping her so much.
“We are working towards a new normal for our family.”
If you have been a victim of sexual abuse you can find details of help and support on Safe Space Sussex: http://www.safespacesussex.org.uk/