BCHA has begun running drop-in sessions for anyone experiencing sexual violence or domestic abuse
BCHA has begun running drop-in sessions for anyone experiencing sexual violence or domestic abuse

One in three women over the age of 16 in Britain were subjected to at least one form of harassment in the year to November 2021. And this increases to two in three for women aged 16 to 34.

Forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG) are numerous and alarmingly ever-evolving, with street harassment, coercive control, trafficking, unwanted touching, workplace harassment, revenge-porn and cyber-flashing just some of the many behaviours which can force women to live in fear.

Unfortunately, all too often the onus is put on women and girls to keep themselves safe or mitigate for male violence.

Whilst statistics show the majority of sexual violence targets women, it can happen to anyone, with one in twenty men experiencing rape or sexual assault as an adult.

But awareness campaigns like Sexual Abuse and Violence Awareness Week can shine a necessary light on the abuse anyone can face on a daily basis.

They can ensure survivors can recognise abuse and seek support. They can challenge perpetrators and empower others to know how to safely intervene if they witness unacceptable abuse.

They can also educate young people about healthy relationships and consent.

And they are an opportunity for anyone who wants to use their voice to join a conversation with thousands of others.

Together, through campaigns, we can raise those voices to a level that can be heard, spotlight support services and engage people across the country and our communities in the discussion.

At BCHA we work hard to help survivors of abuse, harassment and human trafficking escape and recover from the traumatic situations they have experienced.

We run a number of services and projects for people who need support to stay safe including: support for survivors of human trafficking, support in the community for survivors of domestic abuse and Safe houses and refuges.

We recognise the importance of not only offering a place of safety, but also the vital support people need to overcome the emotional trauma and begin rebuilding confidence and self-esteem. Outside of our refuges and safe houses, our outreach workers provide practical and emotional support in peoples’ homes and communities. We run several drop-in sessions for anyone experiencing sexual violence or domestic abuse to speak with our team in a safe environment.

We also help children who have been affected by abuse in their families.

Amy Smith is Senior Practitioner for our Respite Rooms in the Bournemouth, Christchurch Poole (BCP) area - supporting women who have experienced domestic abuse and sexual violence and are also at risk of homelessness.

In her previous role as a domestic abuse Support Worker, Amy also piloted an outreach service supporting LGBTQIA+ survivors of domestic abuse in the community. For this work she was awarded 'Inclusion Champion' at the Women In Housing Awards 2021.

She said: “Sexual violence and VAWG continues to be a prevalent issue that we are seeing reported regularly in the news, so it's important that awareness of support services for survivors are shared. BCHA's domestic abuse and VAWG services work closely with our local sexual violence services to ensure our customers have access to support if they need it.

For more details, read about BCHA's services for people affected by abuse.

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