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New system offers more support for assault victims
5:00pm Thursday 21st March 2013 in News
A CENTRE for victims of rape and sexual assault is now taking self-referrals, which experts say will mean more people get help.
The Glade sexual assault ref-erral centre in Bransford, near Worcester, is now taking self-referrals for people who have been raped or sexually assaulted within the last 28 days.
Men or women who have been attacked can now ring a 24-hour helpline and samples can be stored for seven years giving people time to consider whether they want to back a criminal prosecution.
Emma Durmaz, the centre’s clinical manager and forensic nurse examiner, said about 300 sex crimes are reported every year in the West Mercia area, with the number growing.
On average there is around one rape or sexual assault reported every day, she said. “It is really difficult when the people who attack them are acq-uaintances or partners. We all know they have sex, but the question is about the consent. “That’s why a lot of people with a partner do not want to go to the police. “They feel, evidentially, that it would not be anything a jury would convict on. There are some members of the public who still do not think you can rape your own wife. The big thing is about being believed. They find it difficult to come forward bec-ause they think they won’t be believed.”
Staff at the centre believe the new self-referral system could increase the number of people they help by as much as 10 per cent, the equivalent of around 30 people a year.
Mrs Durmaz said if someone was raped or sexually assaulted by their husband or partner in a domestic context the victim may not want to immediately involve the police, so it helps for them to be able to self-refer.
The number of men reporting rapes is particularly low, ano-ther reason why self-referral may help reach more people.
Mrs Durmaz said: “Now they have a 24-hour number they can ring. They can still report to us and we will perform a forensic examination if they need one.” Even if someone has not been attacked within the last 28 days, the Glade can still put them in touch with other agencies which can help. Mrs Durmaz said the new self-referral service, introduced in February, will give more power to victims.
“We want to empower them and give them a choice. If you do want to go to the police we will support you. If you don’t want to go to the police, we will still be here.”
The free phone number is 0808 1782058 which you can call for an initial risk assessments and to discuss your options.