This week is the third annual Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week. There are events up and down the country between 5th February and 11th February. By raising awareness of this sensitive issue, organisers hope that people who have experienced abuse will come forward and seek support. The week’s slogan/hashtag is #ItsNotOk.
Domestic Abuse and Sexual Abuse
The national charity Refuge – supporters of women and children who have experienced domestic abuse – defines sexual violence as “…any kind of sexual activity (involving physical contact, words or photographs) that takes place without the other person’s full and informed consent.”
At Leeway, we work to support people who have experienced domestic abuse. We understand that abuse can take many forms. Abusers seek to exert their power in different ways and abuse can be violent, psychological, financial, sexual or some combination of any or all of these. The police recorded 8,878 domestic abuse-related rapes in the year ending March 2016 (the most recent year for which crime statistics are available). It is highly likely that many other cases of sexual assault and rape went unreported.
One government report – An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales, 2013 – acknowledges that only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report it. The report also states that approximately 90% of those who are raped knew the perpetrator prior to the offence.
Educating a New Generation
We would like to see cases of abuse falling as a new generation grows up. An important step towards achieving this goal is adequate education. We therefore support the government's initiative to include lessons about healthy relationships, respect, love and care as part of the compulsory Sex and Relationship Education part of the curriculum.
Katie Ghose, CEO of Women’s Aid has said:
“In order for young people to have safe and healthy relationships – free from abuse – relationship and sex education must tackle the sexism and harmful attitudes about gender that are a root cause of domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and girls. We want to see comprehensive and high-quality relationship and sex education in all schools, covering consent and coercive control as well as where children and young people can go to for help and support.”
It is vitally important that people who are experiencing domestic abuse or sexual abuse are able to access appropriate help. We fully support the aims of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week. #ItsNotOk.
As well as supporting over 9000 adults, children and young people who experience domestic abuse, we also run training sessions to raise awareness and educate people in spotting the signs of domestic abuse. If you would like to know more about these sessions, please call us on 0300 561 0077 or email email@example.com.
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