On the morning of 1 February 2016 I attended the launch of the inaugural Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

Putting together a schedule of events for the week of 1 to 7 February 2016 the aim is to highlight that there are specialist services to help those who have suffered sexual abuse and sexual violence. The week is to encourage discussions for everyone and to try and raise awareness of sexual violence that goes on in every setting, be that elder abuse, rape in a relationship or childhood abuse.

Professor Tania Byron & Graham Ritchie

Professor Tania Byron and Graham Ritchie, Principal Policy Adviser for Child Sexual Abuse, were the speakers at the launch.

Professor Tania Byron spoke about the ongoing difficulties faced by survivors of sexual abuse and sexual violence as well as those who are currently being affected. She provided staggering and depressing statistics surrounding the disclosure of abuse by those who suffer it and the continued slashing of budgets meaning that individuals find it difficult to obtain justice and the therapeutic support they need.

Two survivors spoke briefly about their experiences in a moving and thought provoking way. One survivor explained how he was able to obtain the therapeutic support he required because he had private healthcare acknowledging that the cuts to the NHS means that thousands of others in the same position are left to languish on a waiting list.

Graham Ritchie spoke about the Rights of the Child and what can be done to help people to understand the issues that surround sexual abuse. Along with the Children’s Commissioner’s team, he is trying to ensure that laws and policies are put in to place to protect children and young people. My favourite part of his speech was his response to those who ask him does he not find his job depressing. His response? It is the most motivating and rewarding role so why would he be depressed.

What can you do?

This year’s topic is ‘It’s not OK’. If you are an individual you can get involved on social media using the hashtag ‘#itsnotok’. If you are an organisation become part of the dialogue. People who have been affected by sexual abuse need to know that there are some people and organisations that are there to help them.

Find out more information.