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Male survivors of sexual abuse in Norfolk urged to come forward

As part of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Week, victims of sexual abuse are being encouraged to come forward.

Norfolk Police are supporting the week-long national awareness campaign which ends on Sunday 9 February, 2020.

Organisations across Norfolk will unite in solidarity to raise awareness of the issue through #itsnotok.

It follows two men who were victims of sexual abuse as children, who have urged others to speak up and seek support.

The men were given help from the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) to aid their recoveries and inspire others to come forward.

Nigel, who's in his sixties, was sexually abused as a child and spoke to SARC - more commonly known as Harbour Centre - years after the abuse occured.

‘‘It took me many years to speak out about what happened, I had carried it around with me and it had an impact on my confidence and mental health.

"When I came to the Harbour Centre, they were fantastic and have helped me deal with what happened and start to move forward with my life.

"I would encourage anyone who has experienced sexual abuse or violence to seek help.’’

Scott - in his forties - suffered with addiction and spent time in prison, before speaking out on the abuse he suffered.

‘‘I feel it’s well worth coming forward, it’s definitely been a positive thing.

"It felt a bit daunting at the time but the Harbour Centre were really good with me.’’

The centre is jointly-funded by Norfolk Police and NHS England and have trained professional working around the clock.

Norfolk has seen an increase in reports of sexual offences including rape, for both men and women.

There were 2,009 reports of sexual offences, including rape, against women in 2018, increasing to 2,174 in 2019 and for men the figure has also risen from 347 in 2018 to 413 in 2019. 

Detective Superintendent Andy Coller, head of safeguarding at Norfolk Constabulary, said:

"We know sexual abuse and violence can leave a trail of devastation on the lives of those affected. 

"We are raising awareness around the services we offer in Norfolk as part of Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

"We are hoping to encourage any victims and survivors to come forward, in particular we are looking to encourage boys and men to seek help.

"We want to address some of the barriers that prevent them from speaking out and getting support, such as men being seen as weak for talking about their emotions when withholding them can take a huge mental toll.

"We also know that there are many reasons why people feel they cannot come forward and get help, ranging from embarrassment to shame and blaming themselves when they are not responsible.

"Calling the police is not the only place you can go to get help; the SARC offers a safe place where you can speak up in a comfortable environment while your information is kept confidential.”

The centre also offers medical examinations without police involvement and immediate support through their 24/7 helpline.

Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) also provide emotional and practical support tailored to the needs of the individual seeking help.

SARC Manager, Claire Scholes added they are there for everyone and she she sees a lot less men:

Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Lorne Green, added: 

"It’s important that survivors of sexual abuse and sexual violence know that, once they take that monumental step to speak up and reach out for help, the support they need will be there.

"We owe it to them to ensure that is the case, and I am proud to be able to say that Norfolk is graced with excellent support services like the SARC.

"The experiences of these two survivors are testament to the difference the right support can make in helping survivors regain the confidence, dignity and self-esteem that others have sought to take from them.”

If you want to speak to someone in confidence about sexual abuse contact Norfolk Police on 101 or the Harbour Centre on 01603 276381 or email contact@theharbourcentre.co.uk



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