Raising Awareness Of Sexual Abuse And Violence

8th February 2018

As Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week continues, we are being reminded of the importance of talking about the subject.

The national #itsnotok campaign is raising awareness of the issue, and the support that is available for those who need it.

People across the UK and in the Channel Islands have been using the hashtag on social media to show their support.

Guernsey’s most senior politician, Deputy Gavin St Pier, is among them:

 

Senior Manager of Safer, Carol Le Page, says:

‘We have got specialists both at safer and at victim and witness support who are trained in working with victims of sexual abuse and sexual violence. So there are people that can help over here. You don’t have to go through it alone and you don’t have to report it to the Police. But obviously, if you are in danger, phone 999. 

We see quite a lot of cases, particularly in young people, where they don’t realise the issues around consent and that they have a right to say ‘no’ at any stage during any intimate relationship. That is something that we do need to get out to people and get out to, certainly younger people.’

Carol Le Page says there are still some gaps in the support system, however, which the organisations are working on:

‘People want help. They want to access things like pregnancy testing and tests for sexual transmitted disease and those type of things. There are things that we can do and help to support them, but there isn’t a coordinated place, one-stop-shop, where you can come and where we can gather the evidence which can then be used if you change your mind and decide to report it as a crime.’ 

Manager of Victim and Witness Support, Amanda Winkett, says:

‘It’s a very covert subject. It’s something that we have to bring out in our community and be prepared to talk about, because there are issues out there. If we can talk about it, people will feel more about to come forward and report crimes, and get the support that they deserve. 

I think the NSPCC figures at the moment are, 31% of women between 18 and 24 have experienced sexual abuse in childhood. The male figures are under-reported, there aren’t as many statistics available, and we need to understand that, typically, because of male socialisation, men aren’t as willing to report. We need to break through that.’ 

Chief Executive of The Youth Commission, Kerstin Neason, says:

‘One of the things that the Youth Commissions for Guernsey and Alderney are particularly interested in is raising awareness with young people around their rights and what good healthy relationships look like. And, actually ‘#itsnotok’ is a fantastic initiative, and a really good opportunity to link young people in with the conversation. 

Nobody wants to scaremonger, but I think it’s also fair to say it’s more prevalent than people probably believe. So actually, having the right conversation that says there is help out there if you feel like you need someone to talk to. Have conversations where young people understand the situations around domestic violence and abuse and sexual abuse and exploitation, that’s a really food conversation to have.’ 

If you need help, you can contact Safer 24 hours a day on 721999, Victim and Witness Support during office hours on 713000, and the Youth Commission on 756099.

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