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ARCH Teesside help give voice to survivors during Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

21 Feb 2022

Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week 2022 might be over, however, the work we do at ARCH Teesside continues, every day and every week throughout every year.

It is important to take the time to reflect on the importance of SAASVAW and what was achieved. The week helps to bring sexual abuse and sexual violence out of the shadows and ensures that victims and survivors are informed of the specialist support available that may help them to make an informed choice.

This year’s event, which ran from Monday, February 7 to Sunday, February 13, showed Middlesbrough Council and ARCH Teesside joining forces to raise awareness of the specialist support available.

Landmarks in Middlesbrough – including the Town Hall, Central Library, Base Camp, and Middlesbrough’s iconic Bottle of Notes turned green in support of local services and charities providing safe and confidential spaces for men, women, and children who have experienced recent or historical sexual abuse or violence.

ARCH Teesside CEO Nicky Harkin said: “In the last six months, we have seen a 53% increase in referrals compared to the previous year.

It’s clear there is a demand for our services, and we want to make sure that everyone who needs support can get it.

“Sexual Violence Awareness Week is a great platform to help us get the message out that there is support available for victims of sexual violence and that you are not alone.”

BBC Radio Tees also promoted ARCH specialist services and heard from one of our supporters reinforcing the important message that people will be heard and believed and that victims and survivors are not alone.

Detective Superintendent Helen Baker from the Cleveland Police RASSO unit, created a small video for the week, to help remove any barriers that face victims and survivors when thinking about reporting sexual violence to the police, in particular historical cases of sexual abuse.

ARCH was over at Teesside University on Thursday, having important conversations with students and hearing from them about some of the messages that they have been told around sexual violence and keeping themselves safe. These included victim-blaming messages such, as don’t go out at night, don’t be defensive, don’t be friendly, don’t wear revealing clothes, don’t stay over at a male’s house, and then other messages such as be bold and strong, and learn self-defense. These messages from our young people are concerning, and emphasise the need for our new ARCH-Ed Prevention Programme to be rolled out across Middlesbrough’s youth providers and educational settings, which will help inform and educate our children and young people.

Bottle of Notes in green for ARCH Teesside.

To finish the week there was an awareness-raising ‘Cutting Out’ event that took place on Friday, February 11th which was hosted by renowned theatre-maker, activist, mental health campaigner, and abuse survivor Viv Gordon.

Part performance, part installation, part collective, the performance is a call for action about community connection and belonging for the silent and isolated survivors of child sex abuse.

It forms part of a national art installation project which aims to highlight the 11 million survivors of CSA estimated to be in the UK, with those attending the event being asked to show their support by displaying ‘cut out’ dolls on social media.

The week’s various activities helped to highlight the importance of victims’ and survivors’ voices by showing that there is support available and that victims and survivors will be seen, heard, and believed.

We would like to thank our partners Middlesbrough Council and Mayor Andy Preston, Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse Lead for Middlesbrough Council, Claire Moore, DS Helen Barker, Cleveland Police, and Police Crime Commissioner Steve Turner for helping support the ARCH and the week.

With other support locally from Healthwatch Middlesbrough and Redcar, Teesside Safeguarding Adults Board, Kooth and Qwell as well as nationally Rape Crisis England and Wales. A special thank you to Viv Gordon and Co for bringing her ‘Cutting Out’ performance to Teesside.

A final thank you to everyone who liked, or shared our posts on social media or had conversations with staff at events –  it is safe to say that we were able to spread the message that sexual abuse and sexual violence #isnotok and reinforce that Arch are here to support any victim and survivors, no matter how long ago it may have occurred.

We believe. We care. We are with you.

For more information about our services, visit the relevant pages on our website. Follow us on social media. Or you can call 01642 822331 and ask to speak to a member of the team.

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