IT may be the season of goodwill – but Warwick-based charity Safeline is gearing up for a rise in reports of rape and child sex abuse.
Meanwhile, work is underway on a medical centre for Warwickshire and Coventry victims of sex attacks, where forensic evidence can be taken.
Safeline, which operates its counselling service across the county through outreach centres, said that statistically Christmas is the worst period for sexual offences.
Chief executive Lindsey Lavender said office parties, family get-togethers, drunken nights and an increased demand for babysitters all contributed to the increase.
She said: “Christmas is usually a time for celebration. Sadly though, Safeline finds the number of people sexually abused or raped increases and we appeal to anyone who has been abused – or know someone who has – to contact our helpline. Do not keep it to yourself.”
She added that the Jimmy Savile allegations had shown that sexual abuse and rape often went unreported and that people suffered in silence.
“But this does not have to be the case and we want to make people in Warwickshire aware of Safeline and the services we offer. “We have trained counsellors providing confidential counselling every week to support survivors of such abuse so they are able to move on more positively with their lives.
“Consultations are available to young and adult survivors, males and females – as well as their families and friends.”
Safeline has supported nearly 400 survivors of rape and sexual abuse this year, provided almost 6,500 hours of counselling and answered more than 600 helpline calls.
The new sexual assault referral centre will primarily focus on a medical response to a recent event, but will also give advice on other services that will assist in a victim’s recovery.
Staff will explain the options available and if at a later time they should decide to report the assault to the police the relevant forensic evidence will be available.
And with victim’s permission forensic evidence may still be passed to the police even if people want to stay anonymous.
Centre manager Tony Mumford said; “Agencies across Coventry and Warwickshire including the police, NHS and Warwickshire and Coventry councils together made a firm policy and financial commitment to improve services for survivors of sexual assault and establish a sexual assault referral centre in the region. This is now coming to fruition.”
The service is expected to be operational early next year and once construction of the building is complete it will be delivered to its location at George Eliot Hospital, Nuneaton, where it will be dropped into place by crane.
• Safeline can be contacted on helpline 0800 800 5005, 01926 408315, email firstname.lastname@example.org and www.safeline.co.uk
The Rape or Sexual Abuse Support Project on 01788 551151 and www.survivorguide.co.uk
The Terence Higgins Trust on 02476 229292 and www.tht.org.uk