#itsnotok: Making Sexual Abuse Everyone's Business

At Yellow Door, we believe that everyone has the right never to be forced or manipulated into any kind of sexual activity. This is why we are proud supporters of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week. This year brings us another opportunity for individuals and groups across the community to come together and generate awareness of the prevalence of sexual abuse and its impacts, and to promote discussions about what we can do as individuals and as a society to tackle sexual abuse and violence.

What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence and abuse is any type of unwanted sexual act or activity. It can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, sexuality, religion, class, background or any other characteristic.

To fully understand the prevalence of sexual violence is difficult; it is a crime that is extensively underreported and something that is often very difficult to talk about. However some things we do know are…

  • In England and Wales, there are an estimated 3.4 million female and 631,000 male adults who have experienced sexual violence.[1]

  • 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused; 1 in 3 will not tell anyone.[2]

  • An estimated 83% of those who experience rape or assault do not report to the police; 32% of survivors do not tell anyone at all. [3]

  • In a 2016 poll, it was shown that 85% of women aged 18-24 had faced sexual harassment in public spaces and 45% had experienced unwanted sexual touching.[4]

  • Despite the significant underreporting of sexual violence, last year there were more reported sexual offences than robberies.[5]

With over 33 years' experience supporting those who have experienced sexual violence and abuse, we know that the effects of sexual violence are vast and diverse. The impacts of sexual violence can be hugely detrimental individual health and wellbeing, as well as having substantial wider social impacts. Experiences can lead to an array of mental and physical health issues that many survivors may face throughout the rest of their life - many struggling to carry out day-to-day activities, being susceptible to further unhealthy relationships and becoming isolated from the wider community. We know that so much needs to change, and that awareness plays a key part in this.

By raising awareness and sparking conversations about sexual abuse, we can unite to ensure that survivors receive the support they need. We can also work together to challenge misconceptions and myths that disbelieves or even blames victims, that minimises the impact of abusive behaviours, and subsequentially perpetuates abuse.

Join us in sharing the message that sexual abuse, coercion, exploitation, harassment or violence - in any form and under any circumstance - is not ok.

How you can make a difference

We believe in the power of individuals, communities and organisations to make a difference. We know that by talking about it, together we can reduce the stigma of seeking help and support following experiences of sexual violence and abuse, and we can challenge and change narratives that blame survivors and perpetuate abuse.

It can be difficult to know where to start to make a difference.

Here are 5 simple ideas we’ve come up with to get you started...

1. Believe survivors

To disclose an experience of sexual abuse can take an extraordinary amount of courage for many survivors. If someone tells you about something they have experienced, believe them and reassure them that they are not to blame.

2. Offer support & promote self-care

There may be good days and bad days for those who have experienced sexual abuse. Let them know that they are not alone, provide support where you can, and offer them suggestions for looking after themselves. Be sure to check out our recent series of self-care blogs for ideas.

3. Challenge myths & misconceptions (when you feel safe and able!)

Despite growing awareness, an alarming number of people are still unclear about consent and what constitutes sexual violence. At the end of last year, a In December 2018, an End Violence against Women Coalition survey suggested that 1 in 3 people still believe that non-consensual sex is only rape if it involves physical violence. By challenging these views when we are in a situation that we feel safe and able to do so, we can gradually tackle the misconceptions around sexual violence.

NB. We recognise that it may not always be possible or appropriate to challenge myths, for instance in situations where you may feel intimidated or threatened by the person in question. It's important that you look after your own physical and mental health first and foremost.

4. Support your local sexual abuse services

As a registered charity, we rely on the support of donors, volunteers and other supporters across the community to deliver our services and work towards our objectives. If you’re interested in responding to, and preventing, sexual abuse through supporting Yellow Door, find out more about the may ways to show your commitment to the cause today.

5. Get informed and get sharing

Knowing what services and support operate in your area for those who have suffered abuse and/or violence, might just allow you offer vital information of where to seek support when someone most needs you. Remember, you might not always know when someone may be in need of help – by sharing information and posts on social media every now and then, you might be making more difference than you know.

How else will you be supporting Sexual Abuse & Sexual Abuse Awareness Week this year? Join the conversation using #itsnotok.

[1] Office of National Statistics, 2017

[2] NSPCC, 2011

[3] Crime Survey for England and Wales, 2017

[4] End Violence Against Women Coalition/You Gov, 2016.

[5] Office of National Statistics, 2018

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