Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week
Week of Action
Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week (SASVAW) runs from 5 – 11 February and is the UK’s national week to raise awareness of sexual abuse and sexual violence. For the week, we have set up a range of easy to complete actions that will help make a real impact.
We have suggested one action per day, but if you miss one out or want to do them in a different order, that’s okay!
Monday – Myth Busting
We have all heard victim-blaming myths which imply that the survivor did something to bring about the attack. From what a person was wearing, to if they were drunk, or that abuse doesn’t happen in gay relationships. Well we are here to say that is wrong!
Today we are asking you to get on your socials and challenge a rape myth or post a positive statement. Feeling creative? We have created a blank sheet for you to write your own message, marked up with the #ItsNotOK and SASVAW logos. Don’t know what to say? No problem, we have a range of pre-written statements you can share on your socials.
Don’t forget to tag us @NottsSVSS
Wednesday – write to your MP
“IT SEEMS TO GO AGAINST THE FOUNDATION OF THERAPY – THAT IT’S AN OPEN AND NON-JUDGEMENTAL SPACE – WHEN YOUR NOTES FROM THERAPY COULD BE TAKEN LITERALLY TO JUDGE YOU.” Lucy, Counsellor at Nottinghamshire Sexual Violence Support Services.
For Wednesday’s action, we are asking you to write to your MP about the Keep Counselling Confidential campaign. The campaign highlights the use of counselling notes in the justice process, which has little relevance to a criminal case, but causes people to self-censor in therapy or choose not to seek justice.
The campaign asks for MPs to look at a ‘middle ground’ option, which is already in use in Australia:
- Any request for counselling or therapy notes is only made once a suspect has been arrested and charged.
- Requests for counselling notes are considered by a judge who is specially trained in this area, creating clear caselaw and consistency.
- Victims and survivors would be supported by an independent specialist lawyer who would help them decide if they are happy with handing over their counselling or therapy notes or if they would like to argue that these notes are privileged (they are private and cannot be made public).
- In cases when the judge has approved the request for counselling or therapy notes, any information found in them could only be used at trial if it is counted as significant evidence for either the prosecution or the defence. And that the public interest in this information being used outweighed any negative impacts.
The campaign is headed by many prominent organisations, including Rape Crisis England and Wales (RCEW) and the End Violence Against Women Coalition. It is endorsed BACP and UKCP counselling and therapy organisations.
How to complete the task
- If you’re not sure where to start with a letter we have drafted one that you can download and change as you need. Just remember to add your own name and address, so your MP knows they are working for you!
- You can find out who your MP is and how to contact them by using this link to the parliament website
- You can find out more about the campaign and read the full campaign brief on the RCEW website.
Thursday’s Action – talk to your employer
In a recent survey, it was established that only 24% of employers have a policy in place on domestic abuse. We know that around 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 to 7 males experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, of which sexual violence is often a factor. It is clear to us that more needs to be done.
Today, during sexual abuse and sexual violence awareness week, why not take a moment to check what policies your employer has in place.
If they don’t have something in place, why not send your HR team an email, highlighting that you have noticed this and ask whether it could be explored. You could send them information from CIPD which has lots of useful suggestions on what businesses can do: https://www.cipd.org/uk/knowledge/guides/supporting-employees-experiencing-domestic-abuse/
For employers that have a policy in place, why not see if they can also link to Your Journey – a survivor’s guide to support and reporting which has lots of useful local information about support and reporting options.
Friday’s Action – wear purple
On Friday 9 February we are asking all people to wear purple to show that you stand with victims-survivors and to help raise awareness about the week.
There is no set colour for SASVAW, but we do know that purple is a colour synonymous with support services in our sector. It is also non-gendered, which reflects the fact that anyone can be affected by sexual violence.
In colour psychology, purple speaks of harmony of the mind and emotions, mental stability and balance. While sexual violence brings about much upset and upheaval, the fact that counselling and support helps to bring calm, balance and renewal, makes purple the ideal colour for this day.
Don’t have anything purple – no problem!
Nottingham City Council will be illuminating the Council House in purple in solidarity with survivors from 5-9pm on the day. Why not take a selfie with council house behind you on your way through town, heading home from work or going out for the evening!
Help to spread the word!
Go all out wearing purple today by sharing your solidarity on your socials. Take a photo of yourself and share a positive message about how you’re standing with survivors today. Double your impact by tagging your friends and asking them to join you. Tag us in @nottssvss or use the hashtag #WearPurple4SASVAW
Saturday’s Action – the Safe Space Pledge
Heading out this Saturday ? Why not ask your favourite venue to sign up to the Safe Space Pledge.
The pledge contains 8 actions that venues will take to help keep women and girls safe. Over 100 pubs, clubs and shops have taken the pledge so far. And if you’re staying in, why not message them on social media.
More info on the pledge, including a downloadable guide can be found here.
Sunday’s Action – continue the conversation
This Sunday we are asking you to help keep the conversation going by taking part in our survey. In it we ask things like – what do you think survivors needs to know about sexual violence and what commitments you would like to hear on tackling sexual violence in the next General Election.
The survey is anonymous and we do not ask for your personal information. Any identifiable information you give us will be anonymised and identifying details deleted. Responses to the survey may be used to help us plan our work, communications and campaigns going forwards over the next year.