#ItsNotOk -Supporting Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week 2023

This week is Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week 2023.

This week, 6th -12th February is Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week 2023. The week aims to raise awareness of sexual abuse and sexual violence and encourage people and organisations to engage in conversations that could support people subjected to harm and abuse.

In support we have collated some useful resources here in this page. To join the conversation online follow the hashtag  #ItsNotOk on Twitter and help generate more awareness for the week.

What is Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse includes a number of coerced sexual acts. Examples of sexual abuse include:

  • Rape
  • Indecent exposure
  • Sexual harassment
  • Inappropriate looking or touching
  • Sexual teasing or innuendo
  • Sexual photography

This form of abuse can also include subjecting someone to pornography, or witnessing sexual acts or sexual assault. The factor that links all of these examples is that the person does not consent, or they feel pressured into consenting.

Recognise the Signs of Sexual Abuse

There are a number of physical signs to look out for, including the physical signs like cuts and bruises, unprecedented difficulty walking or sitting, irritation, pain or bleeding in the genital area.

Equally there are more subtle signs to look out for. For instance, a person might start using explicit sexual language. Or they might demonstrate significant changes in their behaviour and attitude towards sex. They might seem distant and listless. They may also develop sleeping problems.

Even if there are no physical signs of sexual abuse, abusers still leave their mark. The victim might refuse help with personal care. They might also be reluctant to be alone with certain people. Some victims of sexual abuse could start to self-harm.

Reporting Sexual Abuse

Whenever it happened –  remember it is never too late to get support for sexual abuse or sexual violence.

If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police

Contact Victim Support’s 24/7 Support line on 08 08 16 89 111.

Follow this link for a list of additional helpline services.

Organisations that can provide support and additional resources include: 

  • NHS Sexual Assault Referral Centres offer medical, practical and emotional support to anyone who has been raped sexually assaulted or abused. They have specially trained doctors, nurses and support workers that operate 24/7.
  • Survivors UK offer a national online helpline, individual and group counselling for boys, men and non-binary people aged 13+ who have experienced sexual violence at any time in their lives. They also offer training for organisations and professionals.
  • The Survivors Trust support those subjected to abuse and provide training and resources for professionals and organisations.
  • Karma Nirvana support those subjected to honour-based abuse and forced marriage by running the national Honour Based Abuse Helpline and provide training to frontline practitioners and professionals.
  • The Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse and Bedfordshire’s Institute for Health Research has been exploring how to address knowledge gaps around professional practice in supporting children from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds who are at risk of, or experiencing, child sexual abuse.
  • The Eve Appeal has produced guidance about attending cervical screening for survivors of rape, sexual abuse or assault, and offers tips to which may help people feel more comfortable about their appointment.