It was an amazing achievement for survivors to open up with other people that have experienced the same traumatic things.
The participants in the REAL. Conference, attended a young persons’ mental health conference with other agencies and felt that they did not present young peoples’ voices. They wanted to change that.
As young survivors of sexual abuse, they witnessed – first hand – how unprepared statutory services are in dealing with it. Statutory services are very frightening to young people and didn’t help the situation when they didn’t speak to them like they were victims – but perpetrators. The police, schools, social workers bombarded them with questions that felt more like an interrogation. And when certain members of social services accused them of ‘asking for it’ or told them they were lying or at fault, it made the situation even worse. They decided to do something about it and voice the changes they feel are necessary so future victims can have a much better process in dealing with abuse.
This campaign was a huge success in portraying the message they wanted to share: “Social services need to change their ways in dealing with sexual abuse cases”. Our conference was named REAL. – with each letter representing a personal quality that needed to be developed within the different job roles professionals have in the social service sector.
It was an amazing achievement for survivors to open up with other people that have experienced the same traumatic things. It has also as made them feel more confident. They have encouraged adults of all ages and job statuses to have a different mindset on these sensitive subjects.
Participants felt that the campaign can be used to talk more about how we could encourage male victims of sexual abuse to open up about their troubles and how social services could be improved to help that.
The campaign was based around Essex – this is a national problem and the message needs to now spread across the UK.
They hope their nomination will help spread this message that young survivors’ voices need to be heard.
Who else was involved?
We would like the rest of the group who delivered the sessions, Mitchell, Shinara, Katie W, Olivia, Millie, Katie H, Emily, Yasemin, Beth, Skylar and Toni. We would also like to thank our funders, Ian Wake, Director of Public Health Thurrock and Mark Livermore, Children’s Commissioning Manger Thurrock Council. Thanks all the staff at SERICC Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre who supported us on the day and with the development of the project.