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Calls to rape crisis lines increase

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Organisations across the UK reporting a huge increase in calls to helplines.

Rape crisis hotlines and child abuse charities across the country have seen a significant increase in calls to their helplines in the wake of the horrific allegations of abuse by Jimmy Savile.

Organisations across the UK have reported a huge increase in calls to helplines.

The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) saw an increase in one 10-day period of seven times the usual amount of calls.

Rape Crisis England and Wales centres say they have seen a 20 per cent increase in callers, with one centre getting as many callers in a day as they usually get in a week.

The callers are in some cases disclosing abuse from many years before, but in some cases are reporting abuse that is still ongoing .

The NSPCC, who have also seen a sharp increase in calls to their helpline said, “The case of Jimmy Savile has caught the attention of the entire country.

“And whilst we have seen a wave of calls relating to abuse by the late celebrity, as well as calls from other adults who were abused in childhood, we have also seen a very welcome surge of calls relating to children suffering abuse right now.

“This is especially encouraging as we may be able to help stop this abuse in its tracks and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC) have just published their statistics for October and have not only seen an increase of 42 per cent in calls to their helpline for this month - from 246 in 2011, to 351 in 2012, but also report an increased rate of disclosure to their outreach worker.

Sarah Learmonth, from CRASAC, told WVoN, “Our Youth Worker is having more children approach her while she is doing preventative training at schools, to disclose, and the other 2 outreach workers are seeing the same trend.

“Our counselling referrals are up by 28 per cent so far this year and referrals to the Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) for people either in crisis or who are going through the criminal justice process and need more practical support have increased by 25 per cent.”

With such an increase in demand centres, like CRASAC, across the country are in depserate need of additional funding so that they can continue to provide this much needed resource for victims.

Some have even gone as far as asking the BBC to support them financially, or at the very least to advertise the helpline numbers when reporting on the news story.

CRASAC said: “The BBC and ITV haven’t seen fit to give Rape Crisis or NAPAC free advertising and if kids want to disclose because of Savile triggering their thoughts, how lucky do they have to be to end up in one of our Youth Worker’s events in order to tell someone.”

It’s not an anomaly specific to the Savile news story.

Very often when a high profile rape or abuse story hits the mainstream media, calls to such centres increase.

CRASAC reported a similar increase earlier this year when footballer Ched Evans was convicted of rape.

Last year helplines reported as much as an 800 per cent increase following a storyline in Coronation Street which featured rape.

So why do we see this huge spike in calls?

Their are two main reasons calls to centres increase at times like this.

Firstly, seeing and hearing about rape and child abuse has a ‘trigger’ effect on other victims, causing them to relive painful memories of their own abuse and reach out for help.

But secondly, when victims hear news reports of other victims being taken seriously, and see rapists being convicted, it gives them increased confidence that their own story will be believed and listened to.

Alan Collins from Pannone, a firm of solicitors which specialises in helping victims of sex abuse, says it has seen a five-fold increase in people coming forward since women started to come forward and report Savile’s abuse.

He said, “In my opinion that enables the victims to say, ‘Yes, if I now step forward and take that step of reporting what happened to me, it will be taken seriously – I’m not going to be ridiculed, I’m not going to be dismissed’.”

Sadly we still live in a culture that does not always readily believe the victim, whether they are a child or adult that is reporting sexual abuse or rape.

Rape apology is rife and it is shockingly common for judges and jurys to seriously take into consideration a woman’s attire, previous sexual encounters, flirting or state of intoxication when passing verdicts in rape cases.

In the UK only 6-7 per cent of rapes reported to the police end in conviction.

Rape Crisis estimates that 40 per cent of adults who are raped tell no one about it and that 31 per cent of children who are abused reach adulthood without having disclosed their abuse.

Earlier this year website Mumsnet launched their We Believe You campaign, to try and encourage victims that their voice will be heard, as sadly, they’re often not.

As if further proof was needed that victims of sexual abuse are not always taken seriously, last month we saw the condeming report published by the Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board, after nine men were jailed in May for grooming girls as young as 13.

They found that despite victims reporting to multiple agencies, including the police and social services, the abuse continued.

Unbelievably, the report also shows some officials believed vulnerable girls as young as 10 – who were being groomed for sexual abuse – were “making their own choices”.

There has been a lot of talk in the media about the Savile case being indicative of a different time and a different culture, where abuse and cover-ups like that could continue unhindered, buoyed by the spirit of sexual liberatation of the 60s and 70s.

Oh, if it were so, that these shocking revelations were of a certain time and place now long gone.

As the deluge of calls to helplines goes to show, abuse is still happening all around us.

And it’s saddening that it’s only at times of national news stories or soap opera plots that many victims feel able to come forward and report.

We need to work toward a significant change in our culture, towards a point where victims of rape and abuse know they will be listened to,  believed and helped, at any time.

If you have been the victim of rape or sexual abuse here are the number of some national and local helplines that you can call in confidence:

Rape Crisis UK & Wales freephone helpline:  0808 802 9999
12 – 2.30pm
7 – 9.30pm

National Association for Children Abused in Childhood  Support Line: 0800 085 3330

Childline  0800 1111

CRASAC  Helpline: 024 7627 7777

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