RESIDENTS in Hampshire are being reminded of the support available to them if they are facing sexual abuse and sexual violence.

Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, which runs from February 5 to February 11, is a national week of action bringing organisations and communities together to highlight the support available, as well as raise awareness.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Donna Jones, said: “This week is about highlighting the cause, making sure that victims of sexual abuse and sexual violence know that they’re not alone.

Hampshire Chronicle: Police and crime commissioner Donna Jones inside the new Bitterne police station. Picture: David George

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“Reporting a crime to the police and pursuing a criminal justice outcome isn’t the right course of action for all victims. Some victims decide getting the support they need is the first or only step needed when they’re feeling at their most vulnerable."

PCC Donna Jones says she has invested nearly £4.5M over a five-and-a-half-year period to fund the Frankie Worker Service and an all-age Sexual Crime Therapeutic Service to support victims of sexual violence and abuse.

The Frankie Worker Service involves one-to-one therapeutic counselling and play therapy support to children and young people aged 0-18 years who are victims of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or female genital mutilation.

The all-age Sexual Crime Therapeutic Service provides a telephone helpline, therapeutic support and activities to help adults, children and young people who have experienced sexual abuse, assault and rape at any time in their lives.

The PCC says she has also ring-fenced a further £500K to bring down waiting lists, particularly for children and young people across the two counties who are waiting to access support services.

PCC Donna Jones added: “I’m committed to providing help that is transformative and life-changing. That’s why I’m also investing more funding to tackle waiting lists, particularly among U18s.

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"No child should have to wait for expert support. I am committed to ensuring people living across our communities have access to the very best victim support in the country.”

Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) are also funded by the PCC to guide victims and their families through the criminal justice system and ensure people get the counselling needed.

The PCC said: “Reducing sexual violence and sexual abuse starts with a culture change. Attitudes towards women and girls especially, must change if we are to reduce crimes of a sexual nature, harassment and rape.

“It is right that we should be calling out, challenging and advocating for all victims of sexual harassment, abuse and violence because if left unchecked and unchallenged, this behaviour often becomes normalised especially with young people.”

A multi-agency board was set up by the PCC in October 2021 to tackle violence against women and girls, to improve the operational response and support given to victims of sexual violence as well as preventive work to stop the problem and disrupt perpetrators.

Support is also available for victims of domestic abuse and stalking, and the Restorative Justice service helps victims hold their offenders to account. Victims do not need to report to the police to access this support.

More information can be found on at Victim and Witness Support.