The charities fighting sexual violence in Suffolk

Fiona Ellis, founder of Survivors in Transition Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Fiona Ellis, founder of Survivors in Transition Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Sexual violence and sexual abuse is too frequent in Suffolk - and the county’s agencies are uniting to let survivors know who can support them.

Sexual violence charities, Suffolk police and community organisations in the county want to make their services known to residents who may be suffering at the hands of abusers.

Running from February 4-10, Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Week is shining a vital light on the problems afflicting women, children and men in the UK today.

Fiona Ellis, founder of Survivors in Transition, said: “This week of awareness is something that happens nationally, but we want to make sure everyone knows what groups and statutory services, especially the police, are accessible in our county this year.

“There’s an organic nature to this work - the longer we spend helping, the more agencies we find are already in Suffolk and supporting survivors.

“The provision in Suffolk is there, it’s just about making anyone affected aware.

“With so much bad news in the press we think it is important to direct people to those who can help them and spread a positive message.”

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The campaign will be using the hashtag #itsnotok for the week of action.

Although the final plans for the week are still under wraps, agencies across Suffolk are accessible and hoping that more people will be aware of the services they provide.

Many of these website have easy to access exit links and advice on how to keep your browsing history clear of the resources below.

Who is in Suffolk and how can they help?

The Ferns - Suffolk’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) - Open for self-referrals and those disclosing incidents of sexual assault, this is often the first place a survivor of sexual abuse or violence will need to visit.

Incidents reported here do not have to be taken to the police but can involve medical checks for injuries, sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancies.

The website carries a section on definitions of sexual violence and what myths surround this kind of abuse.

Staff at SARCs operate without judgement and will not force anyone to report a crime or tell another agency unless a survivor wishes to.

The SARC can call be called for free 24 hours a day on 0300 1235058, with crisis workers and nurses answering enquiries.

Fresh Start, New Beginnings - Works through Suffolk and Norfolk and was set up to provide a therapeutic service for children and young people up to 21 years who have reported being sexually abused, and to offer support for their families.

It helps children and young people make sense of the confusion they feel and to teach them coping strategies to deal with the difficulties they face.

Copies of their book “It’s Okay To Tell” were distributed to every school and GPs surgery in Suffolk, explaining what is and is not okay for someone to ask them to do.

Fresh Start, New Beginnings can be reached Monday-Friday, 9am-5.30pm on 01473 353355.

Survivors in Transition - This Ipswich-based charity supports men and women who have experienced sexual abuse in childhood, through a range of trauma-informed, psycho-educational activities including one-to-one and group therapy, counselling, advocacy, research and training to become empowered and improve self-esteem and resilience.

Their office is open five days a week and will work where demand is highest in Suffolk, but can also work with individuals online and over the phone.

Survivors in Transition can be called Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm on 07765 052282.

Suffolk Rape Crisis - A female-only space, the team provides support to women and girls aged 14 and above who have experienced any form of sexual violence.

The charity can provide 25 weeks of free, specialist counselling with a fully trained counsellor in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft.

If you call the charity, staff can offer emotional support over the telephone and direct survivors to their counselling service or other services in the area.

Suffolk Rape Crisis’ free confidential hotline can be called Tuesday and Thurday, 7-9pm on 0800 0850 520.

Suffolk County Council - The council offers help and advice for domestic abuse survivors and all forms of violence against women and girls.

Like other agencies, SCC start their advice with the message that those being sexually abused are not to blame, the perpetrators are.

There is a list of contact numbers for specific groups and situations and advice on what to do if you are being abused.

Suffolk County Council’s social services can be called for free, Mon-Thurs, 8am-5.20pm (Fri, 4.20pm) on 0808 8004005.

What can Suffolk Constabulary do to help?

Suffolk Constabulary can be reached for free, 24 hours a day, by calling 101 with non-emergency incidents (always call 999 in an emergency) and also have a wealth of information online to support anyone living with sexual violence or survivors of sexual abuse:

• Covering your tracks online - If you are in an abusive relationship or believe your online activity is being tracked, Suffolk Constabulary have guides on what to do to remain anonymous and clear your history no matter which browser you are using.

• Domestic Abuse - The force is committed to stopping all for of domestic abuse and intervening where possible in instances of coercive or controlling behaviour.

Abuse can be psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional. Police work with all the agencies listed above and more to help survivors find the support they need.

If you are unsure whether your partner’s behaviour constitutes abuse there are also examples of the behaviour to watch out for.

• Childhood Sexual Exploitation - Many young people who are being abused don’t realise they are at risk and won’t ask for help.

Some can see themselves as willing participants when in fact their behaviour is anything but consenting and Suffolk police have a list of the warning signs that a child might be being sexually abused.

What are the other numbers I can call?

National Domestic Violence - call for free 24 hours a day - 08082 000247

Ipswich, Lighthouse Women’s Aid - call for free 24 hours a day - 01473 745111

Waveney, Haven Women’s Aid Project - call for free 24 hours a day - 08454 674876

Bury St Edmunds Women’s Refuge - 01284 753085

Men’s Advice Line - call for free Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm - 0808 8010327

Karma Nirvana - ‘Honour’ Based Violence, Forced Marriage, Female Genital Mutilation - call for free Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm - 0800 5999247

NSPCC - call for free 24 hours a day - 0808 800 5000

NSPCC - FGM advice and support - 0800 028 3550

Victim Support - call for free 24 hours a day - 0808 1689 111

Samaritans - call for free 24 hours a day - 116 123

Childline - call for free 24 hours a day (for children or on behalf of children) - 0800 1111

NHS - call for free 24 hours a day on 111

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