Sexual Abuse & Violence Awareness Week It’s not OK – Nid yw’n iawn

It’s a sad indictment on our society that we still need to raise awareness and campaign to make sure people realise rape and sexual violence is common, is not the victim’s fault, is a crime, and is not OK. But this week is the third year we’re supporting the ‘It’s Not OK’ campaign to raise awareness that sexual abuse in Wales is not OK.

Sexual violence includes, but is not restricted to rape, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, rape within marriage/relationships and sexual exploitation. Rape and sexual abuse can be committed against anyone regardless of their sex, age, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality or ability.

It’s not OK that approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year; that’s roughly 11 rapes (of adults alone) every hour. Nearly half a million adults are sexually assaulted in England and Wales each year, and one in five women aged 16 – 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.

It’s not OK that rape myths are common in our society, because our communities should be places in which survivors feel safe and able to seek the help, support and justice they have a right to. Another reason why many may not feel able to speak out about or access support or report to the police, is that for nine in ten of us who are raped, the perpetrator is someone we know before the offence. But thousands of women and men, children and young people do speak out and try to get help, so it’s vital that specialist rape crisis and sexual violence services are funded to meet the demand for their support.

In Wales, there are a national network of specialist services delivering life-saving and life-changing support and preventative work in response to violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence as part of a network of UK provision. Some services are small local providers and others are regional and national in their scope. These services support those who have experienced rape and sexual violence in a relationship, in the family or by ex-partners. Some dedicated sexual violence support services support anyone who has been sexually abused, whoever the abuser is and whenever this happened in their lives, and this includes dedicated support for adult survivors of child sexual abuse.

It’s not OK that many dedicated rape and sexual support services lack capacity to meet the demand for their support due to under-funding. One service in Wales told us they recently saw a 78% increase in demand for their support over three years, and two specialist sexual violence services told us they faced a reduction in income for 2017-18 – a 17.5% cut in funds across both services- compared with 2016-17.

“It is almost irresponsible to encourage survivors / victims to come forward and then not properly fund the support services and counselling that they need to be able to move on and rebuild their life. The impact of sexual violence can last a life time and society will have failed them again if they cannot access timely and effective services” (Specialist service, Wales)

Rape and sexual violence is not inevitable, and could be radically reduced and prevented with the necessary political will and resources. It’s most definitely not OK that we are still calling for sustainable funding for specialist rape, sexual violence and other specialist services in Wales, so they can meet demand for support.

If you want to donate to or support specialist sexual violence services in your area in Wales, or access help and support, please see our website or contact details below:

Cyfannol Women’s Aid – Newport, Monmouthshire and Torfaen, South Wales
Counselling, advocacy, information, support, safe housing and groups for women survivors of rape and sexual violence
Helpline: 01495 742052
Email: [email protected]

New Pathways – Mid, West and South Wales
Specialist counselling and advocacy services for women, men, children and young people who have been affected by rape or sexual abuse
Telephone: 01685 379 310
Email: [email protected]

Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre – North Wales
Counselling, information, advice & support, groups and email support for women and men survivors of rape and sexual abuse
Telephone: 01248 670628
Email: [email protected]

Stepping Stones – Wrexham, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Conwy
Therapeutic service for adults who have been sexually abused as children
Telephone: 01978 352717
Email: [email protected]

Wales Live Fear Free Helpline
For 24-hour 365 days a year confidential support, for anyone impacted by rape, sexual violence or abuse, their friends or family members.
0808 80 10 800
We can support you in Welsh, English and any other languages using LanguageLine.
Text phone users can contact us via Type Talk on 1800108088010800
You can contact the Live Fear Free Helpline by text 24/7 on 078600 77 333