Camilla backs drive to urge victims of sexual abuse to use health services for help
The NHS is here for you: Camilla backs campaign to urge victims of sexual abuse to use health services for help after £20million funding boost for referral centers
- Duchess of Cornwall backs campaign urging victims of abuse to come forward
- NHS England has announced a £20m funding increase over three years for referral centers
- Services include emergency contraception and mental health support referrals
A campaign urging victims of sexual and domestic abuse to come forward for NHS care has been backed by the Duchess of Cornwall.
Camilla, a long-time advocate for the work of rape support organizations, will visit a center this week to meet with survivors.
NHS England has announced a £20m funding increase over three years for Sexual Assault Referral Centers (Sarcs), which provide support to all victims of rape, sexual assault and abuse , regardless of when the incident occurred or whether they wish to involve the police.
Services available may include medical exams, emergency contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections, as well as referrals for mental health support.
A survey of over 4,100 people found that two in five people are unsure or unsure where they could get help after a sexual assault, with 72 per cent unaware of specialist NHS services providing confidential support .
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, (pictured) – who has long championed the work of rape support organizations – will visit a center this week to meet survivors
Camilla (pictured) has made the issue of sexual and domestic abuse against women a cornerstone of her public work since her early days as a member of the royal family
Almost one in five people said they had been sexually assaulted, but more than half did not seek help afterward, with 46% fearing they would not be believed.
Kate Davies, commissioning director for sexual assault services at the NHS, said: “Sexual assault or domestic violence can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, thousands of people don’t know where to turn to get the help they need. Today the NHS makes it clear that you can come to us.
“We provide confidential emotional, medical or practical support at our Sexual Assault Referral Centres, a dedicated safe space for anyone who needs it.
“We know it can take a long time to pick up the phone and take that first step – we’re here any time of the day or night, and we’ll support you through the process.”
Today, the first day of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, the NHS will announce the creation of two officers to oversee sexual and domestic abuse.
Despite official figures showing domestic violence and sexual assault have increased during the pandemic, NHS England said the number of people receiving help from Sarcs had halved after the first lockdown compared to 2019.
The centers have forensic examination facilities, should anyone wish to report an assault to the police. They can also arrange an informal chat with a specially trained police officer.
Laura Currer, chair of NHS England’s National Sexual Abuse and Assault Services Lived Experience Group, was 28 when she was doped [injected with drugs] on a night out with friends in Newcastle in 2015 and sexually assaulted.
She said: ‘I know from experience how difficult it can be to ask for help, but I will never forget the kind, caring and compassionate staff at Sarcs who were there to hold my hand during a of the worst times of my life.
NHS England has announced a £20m funding increase over three years for Sexual Assault Referral Centers (Sarcs), which provide support to all victims of rape, sexual assault and abuse , regardless of when the incident occurred or whether they wish to involve the police. Pictured: file image
“They walked me through the whole process and gave me the space and autonomy over my body that my abusers had taken away from me. I will be eternally grateful.
Camilla has made the issue of sexual and domestic abuse against women a cornerstone of her public work since her early days as a member of the royal family.
She even designed an initiative to provide rape victims with free toiletry bags to use after invasive forensic examinations.
Writing in Women’s Institute magazine in November, Camilla made an impassioned call for ‘retirement from domestic violence forever’ and pointed out that two women are killed every week by a current or former partner in England and Wales.
The campaign was also backed by former Prime Minister Theresa May, who said: “It’s important that victims of sexual assault and abuse know the NHS is there for them.”