Victims of sexual violence are being encouraged to come forward during a national week-long campaign to raise awareness of the issue.
Today is the start of Sexual Violence Awareness Week and the Police and Crime Commissioner and two specialist services he commissions are urging victims to come forward – whether they want to report to the police or not.
The Police and Crime Commissioner co-funds two Cleveland services: Teesside Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and the Cleveland-wide Independent Sexual Violence Advocate (ISVA) service.
Teesside SARC is a dedicated facility that provides support for victims of sexual violence in crisis and the centre has supported 338 clients between April and October 2018.
An Independent Sexual Violence Advocate is an individual who will support a victim during every step of their journey, whether they report to the police or not.
The ISVA service, delivered by Arch North East, has received 348 referrals for adults, young people and children and offered 3769 specialist counselling sessions since April 2018.
Landmarks in Hartlepool, Redcar and Middlesbrough will turn green to raise awareness of the campaign.
PCC Barry Coppinger said: “I’m incredibly proud to fund two fantastic services that can provide a lifeline to victims of sexual violence, whether they choose to report the incident to the police or not.
“I am passionate about giving victims and survivors back the power that their abuser has taken away – by giving them options to use a service that is right for them.
“My new Police and Crime Plan further builds on the progress we have already made in Cleveland to tackle sexual violence and prevent further victimisation.”
Arch Manager Nicky Harkin said: “This awareness week is a great platform to spread the message that specialist support is available following rape or sexual violence.
“Our team can help people with their long-term recovery, no matter when the incident took place, supporting them to make choices that are right for them and their future.
“Sexual Violence impacts everyone and we hope that people will stand with us this week in saying #ItsNotOk!”
SARC Manager Sue Smith said: “Sexual Violence Awareness Week provides an opportunity to highlight not just the scale of sexual offences but also as the impact these crimes have upon the victims.
“The SARC Support Co-ordinators are specially trained staff available for anyone across Teesside who wants to discuss their options or seek help and support.”
Teesside SARC can be contacted 24 hours a day on 03333 448 283 and Arch North East can be reached on 01642 822331.
Posted on Monday 4th February 2019