How Suffolk charities are helping to support survivors of sex abuse
The impact of childhood sexual abuse can be devastating and long-lasting but thanks to various organisations in Suffolk, victims are being helped to rebuild their lives.
This week is Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week and charites and support agencies such as Fresh Start, New Beginnings (FSNB) are able to provide services to help young people and families make sense of what has happened to them.
FSNB was formed in 2012 and since then has helped more than 1,300 victims of sexual abuse through the charity's therapy centres across Suffolk and Norfolk.
The charity, whose head office is based in Ipswich, currently supports around 200 children across both counties - with a waiting list of approximately 50.
MORE: Town hall will turn purple to encourage victims of sexual violence to speak outTo mark the awareness week, the charity has told the story of Megan - not her real name - and how FSNB were able to help.
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Megan was 14 when she spoke out about the abuse she had been suffering at the hands of her father from a very young age.
By the time she had built up the courage to speak, she was angry about what had happened to her, while also battling very low self-esteem and experiencing regular traumatic flashbacks.
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These challenges meant Megan was struggling at school, her schoolwork was suffering, and she was finding relationships hard because she couldn't trust people.
At home, communication with her mum was breaking down, so Megan was facing trauma and anxiety in every area of her life.
Once contact had been made with FSNB, Megan was invited along to its Girls' Group. The group gave her a safe space to share her experiences and to realise that she was not alone. This was followed up with one-to-one therapeutic sessions, which helped her explore and understand her anger.
Now, Megan's wellbeing has significantly improved, and she has started to re-build the relationships with her friends and her family. Being surrounded by people who could support and understand her, Megan realised that she was not to blame, that she was not alone, and that she has a circle of people she can turn to for help and support.
MORE: The charities fighting sexual violence in SuffolkSexual Abuse and Sexual Awareness Week
The fifth national Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week began on Monday, with the message #itsnotok.
Ipswich deputy mayor Jane Riley joined representatives from Survivors in Transition, Suffolk Rape Crisis, Fresh Start New Beginnings, The Ferns, Norfolk and Suffolk Victim Care, Wassup, Terence Higgins Trust, Restitute, Suffolk County Council, and Suffolk police on Friday at Ipswich Town Hall to launch the week.
The town hall will be lit purple all week to mark the national week of action, and people can engage with events and activites by using the hashtag #itsnotok.
Fresh Start, New Beginnings can be reached Monday to Friday, 9am to 5.30pm on 01473 353355.