Break the silence: sexual violence is never OK

With recent worldwide media highlighting the prevalence of sexual violence from Hollywood to Westminster, the Safer Cornwall partnership are urging people to break the silence locally.

The partnership will be holding a number of public events across Cornwall during Sexual Violence Awareness Week, 5 – 11 February, to break down some of the barriers, myths and issues around sexual violence.

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Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual act or activity. There are many different kinds of sexual violence, including but not restricted to: rape, sexual assault, child sexual abuse and sexual harassment. Sexual violence occurs throughout the world and has a massive impact on victims, both physically and mentally. It is estimated that 2.7% of women and 0.7% of men experienced any kind of sexual assault in the last 12 months. This is equivalent to approximately 5,000 victims in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly: 1,000 men and 4,000 women.

In addition, it is estimated that 1 in 20 children are victims of contact sexual abuse (around 2,300 young people in Cornwall). Although there has been an increasing number of reports to the police and to specialist support services, many people still don’t make a report.

Safer Cornwall partners, SARC (Sexual Abuse Referral Centres) and ISVA (Independent Sexual Violence Advisors) services, will be providing information to the public on the range of services they offer and how they can support individuals who may know of someone who has experienced sexual violence, or have experienced it themselves.

To raise awareness and provide information on how to protect yourself or get help if you experience sexual violence, Safer Cornwall partners will host a range of events at the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust and New County Hall in Truro, as well as host a Facebook Live event.

Sue James, Cornwall Councillor for Portfolio holder for Environment and Public Protection, said: “As a community we all need to be aware of sexual abuse and sexual violence so we can be sensitive to the voice of victims and ensure they are listened to and heard. We must challenge the culture that keeps victims silent within our community.

“Those that abuse can make victims feel it's their fault or make them fearful of speaking out. Sexual abuse and sexual violence is massively under reported in Cornwall and when people find the courage to speak out, the abuse is not always recognised or condemned as it should be. This week is about sending a clear message that sexual violence is never OK. Help and support services are there for anyone needing them so there is no need to struggle with the hurt alone. It is not OK” she said.

Paul Walker, Chief Fire Officer and Chair of Safer Cornwall, said: “Across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly the impact of sexual violence is felt by  victims, their families and children and also the wider community. It’s important that we raise awareness of not only the issues, but also how to get help.”

Michelle Davies, Safer Cornwall Strategy Lead for Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence, said:  “We want people affected by sexual violence to come forward from behind those closed doors and to access the support available. National Sexual Violence Awareness Week is an opportunity for all services to highlight the wide range of fantastic support that is on offer and stand side-by-side to show our commitment to a zero tolerance of domestic abuse and sexual violence in Cornwall”. 

The week will be launched at Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust (RCHT) on Monday 5 February 2018 from 10:00 to 13:00 and will include  a sexual violence awareness session for professionals which will cover  what is sexual violence, its impact on victims and survivors, the police response to sexual violence, and specialist support services.

Other events being held during the week include:

  • Monday 5 – Wednesday 7 February, 10:00 – 14:00, Trelawney Wing RCHT -  Information displays offering details of support and guidance
  • Monday 5 February, 19:00- 20:00 and Thursday 8 February 12:00-13:00 - Live Question and Answer sessions for the public with a Crisis Worker and Independent Sexual Violence Advisor via Facebook
  • Friday 9 February, 10:00-16:00, Long Gallery, New County Hall  - Information displays offering details of support and guidance.

To report an incident of sexual violence or raise a concern, please contact the Sexual Abuse Referral Centre (SARC) on 01872 272059 who can provide support, guidance and referrals.

For more information on Sexual Violence please visit the Safer Cornwall website

The Safer Cornwall Partnership includes Cornwall Council, Devon and Cornwall Police, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, National Probation Service, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall Community Rehabilitation Company and NHS Kernow as well as a wide range of other public sector, voluntary, community and private organisations.

Story posted 6 February 2018