A week of awareness about local support services for victims of sexual assault and abuse launches today (Monday 7 February).
The campaign, called ‘It’s Not OK’, aims to reach under reported groups which include men, older women, those from faith backgrounds, students and LGBT+ communities.
It’s Not OK is a partnership campaign between Leicestershire Police and local support agencies who all provide advice and support to people who have experienced these types of abuse, help them to deal with what has happened to them and work together to rebuild their lives.
These services are available to adults and young people regardless of race, age, background or gender, whether or not the crimes are recent or historic or reported to the police.
Detective Chief Inspector Lucy Batchelor said: “We know from research and experience that there are many reasons why survivors and witnesses don’t come forward and report sexual offences to the police and we want to change that, giving more options to report offences including the option to report anonymously.”
Manager of Juniper Lodge (a Sexual Assault Referral Centre known as SARC), Millie Gant, said: “Sexual abuse and sexual violence are sensitive topics and we hope that our involvement in this week of awareness will encourage people to come forward who haven’t already.
“We know there are barriers which impact on people choosing to come forward and we want to reassure those people that you will be treated non-judgementally.
“Every person contacting us is given the time and space to discuss what they want to, with no pressure to report to the police.
“The SARC is a safe place where you can discuss your options with a crisis worker regardless of your gender or gender identity. How you choose to proceed is entirely up to you, you will be wholly supported with all the decisions you make.
“If you have been a victim of sexual abuse or violence or have concerns about a loved one, please know that everyone at the SARC, support organisations and the police, are accessible to you for advice. This can be either by telephone or initially on-line if you feel it is too overwhelming to pick up the phone.”
Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner, Rupert Matthews, said; “Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Police and Crime Commissioner Rupert Matthews said: "Taking those first small steps in accepting help can be a difficult and painful experience. We are fortunate where we live to have the experience and expertise of a wealth of professionals and volunteers who are trained and ready to make that process easier.
"Nobody should suffer in silence. We are working together as one team to support victims and walk with them during their journey to recovery."
The campaigns format is via a series of social media graphics which depict images of those we are trying to reach along with real-life quotes from people who have used the specialised services on offer.
This year we are also putting a voice to those experiences which will play out as users scroll through their social media feed.
Here are some examples of service user quotes submitted:
“My first appointment was not what I had built it up to be. Everyone was warm, down-to-earth and supportive. I came away feeling like it would be okay to talk about what happened to me.”
“I’ve come such a long way. I wanted to address my childhood and I have, and I have now got closure which is amazing.”
“I feel calmer, and I feel more capable in dealing with challenging memories and emotions.”
Details for our partner agencies are in the table below:
Are a health charity, supporting the LGBT+ community with their sexual and overall health needs and concerns