7 February 2017

Sheffield supports the clear message that will be promoted nationally during Sexual Violence and Awareness Week this year – #itsnotok

People are reminded if it’s not your body; it’s not your decision. Make sure you get consent. Sex without consent is rape or sexual assault.

The awareness week, which runs between 6 – 12 February every year, is an opportunity for both the general public and organisations to talk about the issues surrounding sexual abuse and how they can be prevented.

In Sheffield, there are a number of services easily available to victims of sexual violence.

People can seek support following an assault from the Sexual Assault Referral Centre at Hackenthorpe Lodge, funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and NHS England. Victims can access healthcare, and gather evidence when reporting an incident to the Police.

The Sheffield Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (SRASAC) provide follow on care for both male and female victims.

SRASAC, which is supported by Sheffield City Council, offers a free and confidential service to all those who may have experienced sexual abuse, sexual violence or rape at any time in their lives.
One victim who approached the centre said: “I have felt like here at SRASAC a healing process began. When I first started I was very alienated. I was consumed with hurt, confusion, anger, anxiety and fear. I was suicidal, I didn’t know how to cope (or at least I thought I didn’t) I wanted a way out and SRASAC offered me that.

“Through the service I was able to work through my past, connect the dots, explore strategies, gain support and professional insight. It was very useful to have someone listen to me without fear of interruption so that I may also listen to myself and through the process I learnt a great deal about myself and therefore how to help myself.”

Meera Kulkarni from SRASAC said “Rape and other forms of sexual violence are understandably topics that many people find difficult to talk about. Through our frontline work, we know that sexual violence and abuse survivors often struggle with feelings of shame, guilt and self-blame that can make it difficult to talk to anyone about their experiences.

“Survivors also often fear that others will blame them or that they won’t be believed. We want all survivors to know that it’s not ok. They are not to blame and we are here to help and support them”.

There is no typical survivor or victim and everyone who approaches the Centre is treated as an individual.

Councilllor Cate McDonald, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care at Sheffield City Council, said: “It is important that victims of sexual assault receive the right support and I’d urge anyone to get in touch with Sheffield’s services when they are ready. This might be at different times for different people, and might be some time after an assault has taken place. But trained staff are ready to help whenever someone is ready to talk.”

The law is clear: having any kind of sex without getting consent is illegal and is rape or sexual assault. During the awareness week victims are encouraged to break the silence and ask for help and support.

Another victim of sexual abuse who preferred to stay anonymous said: “SRASAC is an organisation that I cannot speak more highly of. They had genuine empathy, respect and understanding of what I was experiencing and the effect that that had on my life.

“They helped me to develop strategies for taking some control back over my life. I learnt to trust them and share some of my experiences something that l never thought l would be able to. They were accepting of where l was at and let me re discover some faith in myself. Together we found ways of coping and living with everyday life.

“It is something that is still with me every day, but now l have more resources to deal with it and combat the effects.”

For more information about Sexual Violence and Awareness Week visit http://sexualabuseandsexualviolenceawarenessweek.org, use Facebook or follow @itsnotok2017 on Twitter.

Get in touch

SRASAC offer free specialist counselling (upto 20 sessions) for people aged 13 and older.

They also offer an Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA) service which provides practical and emotional support to victims through the criminal justice system. This service is available for children, their families and adults.

To contact the Sheffield Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre visit http://www.sheffieldrapecrisis.org.uk/, use the free confidential telephone helpline on 0808 802 0013 or 0114 2412766 for general enquiries.

To contact Hackenthorpe Lodge Sexual Assault Referral Centre call 0330 223 0938 office or call 0330 223 0099 call centre. It is a 24 hour service and welcomes self-referrals.

To contact the Sheffield Domestic Abuse visit http://sheffielddact.org.uk/domestic-abuse/ or call the helpline on 0800 808 22 41.

Call 999 in an emergency.