ORGANISATIONS working with the survivors of sexual abuse and violence are highlighting the support available here in Leeds as part of a national awareness week.
It’s Not Ok – Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week was established to encourage discussion about what has been described as the ‘silent epidemic’ of our time.
Official statistics show one in every 14 adults in England and Wales suffer sexual abuse as a child, with up to 90 per cent going on to develop mental health issues by adulthood.
NHS commissioners in Leeds have responded by supporting an innovative project for survivors of child sexual abuse.
Managed by Women’s Counselling and Therapy Service alongside Leeds Involving People, it will seek to raise the profile of this issue within the city’s mental health services.
Jane Williams, who has a leading role in mental health commissioning, said: “Commissioners are keen to see child sexual abuse recognised for the trauma it is, and supported from this perspective.
“Local support from survivors has been very positive.”
Meanwhile, Support After Rape and Sexual Violence Leeds has reported a considerable increase in demand for its advocacy services.
The charity, which supports all women and girls affected by sexual violence, also launched a counselling service in October.
Counselling coordinator Erene Hadjiioannou said: “Many women report being unable to access specialist long-term counselling for free in a women-only space – and that this lack of provision exacerbates the impact of sexual violence on their lives. Being unheard and often disbelieved means they carry their trauma on their own for a long time, and simply being able to speak to a counsellor here is a huge relief.”