Project V: Helping Victims Make Peace With Themselves
When is it right to talk about abuse? For some people talking openly about any type of abuse is difficult, especially when it comes to the effects of sexual abuse and rape; an uncomfortable and often harrowing subject. Yet 1 in 5 women experience some form of sexual violence during their lifetime, and men are also experiencing an increase in sexual assaults and rape with over 12,000 being reported each year; these shocking figures do not even include childhood sexual abuse, which accounts for over half of the reported sexual abuse in the UK
Some of you may have only recently become aware of
the scale of abuse that people have suffered (and are
still suffering) in the UK, following the media coverage including the #metoo movement and historical abuse cases making the headlines. This lack of awareness in
the general public of the problem needs to be addressed swiftly. Talking and being open about this huge and
life-changing problem will hopefully start a movement
for change within communities, towns and cities.
But this social change has not yet arrived and many people are still vulnerable, especially in economically poorer areas; including many places in the North of the UK.
In 2017, the UK recorded the highest amounts of violent sexual abuse (including domestic violence and rape) in Europe. Over one million women and over half a million men last year reported abuse and we do not know realistically how accurate these figures are, as many victims do not report abuse, in particular victims in the
13-21 age range.
Even though the age of consent is 16 in the UK and sex under the age of consent (16) is illegal; sometimes it is
only considered rape when dealing with victims under 13, or abusers over the age of 16. This therefore then lacks a definite label of rape unless the victim (13-16) makes a statement to the police. This means same age sexually abusive relationships (for example between two fourteen year olds) can occur with little retribution for the abuser and no support for the victim, unless the victim is proactive in defending themselves. As a result of what some call a grey area with same aged persons, it can also be made even more difficult if happening between a teenage couple; where the victim does not want to get the other person into trouble or wants to maintain a relationship in spite of the sexual abuse, due to mental or emotional problems.
As a society we should be very concerned with the whole process of sexual consent and safety - it is fundamental to educate people in their own rights for their own protection, self confidence and for future generations – to keep them safe and in loving relationships. We know that continued abuse can lead not only to physical, mental and emotional issues, but it can also lead to substance abuse, self abuse and suicide. And it has even been shown to be pattern forming across generations, by allowing abuse to happen in homes it can normalise abuse to victim’s children causing more abusive relationships because it has been ‘normalised’.
In North East Lincolnshire a new campaign called Project V has been formed to support and raise awareness of the effects of sexual abuse and rape for younger people. This is a vital lifeline in a relatively poor area, as funding gets ever tighter and as victims have limited access to rape crisis and support centres (information supported by Maps of Gaps).
The project has a twofold campaign;
Firstly it is aiming to educate people in the younger age range (13+); in schools and colleges by offering help and clarity with understanding the concept of consent and hopefully prevent abuse at its root. This clarification is especially important for younger generations, as a third of people believe women and girls who flirt are partially responsible for being raped (Amnesty, 2005) which is of course, not true. Being peer pressured into doing sexual acts you do not want to do is also a huge issue within teenage circles and again this is something the project is aiming to address.
It secondly is there offering help to people who have suffered abuse; in the form of talking therapies, advice and supporting. From just an understanding listener to help with communicating with the victims family and police when required.
All victims of abuse need help to understand the associated trauma, the lasting effects and recovery process involved. This can be especially difficult as conviction rates for rape are far lower than other crimes, with only 5.7% of reported rape cases ending in a conviction for the perpetrator. (Kelly, Lovett and Regan. Attrition in reported rape cases, 2005). How much harder it is to find closure for a victim if there has been no retribution for the abuser?
Project V is not there as a replacement for other critical services for young abuse survivors it is there to add a hand in a time of high levels of abuse, with stretched services, offering hope and support to people who need it.
About the founder:
“Starting Project V was important to me. It is a campaign about getting closure and justice for victims. After ending up in the situation myself, aged 15, I had no idea what to do. I didn’t know how to tell my parents or even how to report it to the police. I didn’t think I would be taken seriously as the situation was no longer classed as an emergency. I tried to ignore it and move on by myself, but it was impossible to do that. Victims need support. Luckily I found support but it wasn’t easy; many people do not find any support and this is an upsetting truth. I set up the campaign because it is so important to help other victims. Our campaign had some minimal funding to raise awareness of the project, but I would like to offer support to more people reaching further out into the community. We have a crowd funding page if you would like to donate towards this campaign. We’re hoping to be able to rent a space to work from and fund going into more schools and colleges to talk about this sensitive subject. As a vegan myself, I am sickened by abuse to any animal; and this includes other humans. We must work together to stop all violence, to all animals.”
Mica, founder & counsellor
If you or someone you know has been affected by anything contained in this article here are some useful links to other support groups (UK wide):
Rape Crisis: www.rapecrisis.org.uk
Victim Support: www.victimsupport.org.uk
The Samaritans: www.samaritans.org
If you would like to donate to Project V, please visit their Facebook page for the Crowdfunding details (link above).